Tuesday, February 14, 2006

last week, yesterday, today, tomorrow

[alpine, california]

[february 14, 2006]

This morning I woke up to the sound of birds in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

Yesterday I met a Swiss couple riding their bicycles from the southern tip of south America to Prudeau Bay in Alaska. It was their second day in the United States.

The day before yesterday I ate at the Mexican dinner fundraiser for the sixth grade class in Boulevard, California, population 415. That night I ate dinner number 2 and watched the Olympics – snowboarding and speedskating – with the local firefighters. They told us that in dispatch radio lingo, they are require to refer to illegal aliens at ‘international travelers’ (Boulevard is located 5 miles from the Mexican border). That evening, an ‘international traveler’ stopped by the firehouse, looking for a ride.

Last week I rode past sand dunes that look like what I think of when I picture the Sahara desert. Only these dunes were crawling with dune buggies, ATVs, 4-wheelers and motor bikes. That night we camped at a campground at the edge of the dunes, surrounded by sand, RVs, 4-wheelers, and their riders – a subculture I never knew existed. I fell asleep to the whine and buzz of two-stroke engines frolicking in the sand.

Last week I rode through Imperial Valley, 50 feet below sea level and a big farming area; they grow all sorts of fruits and veggies here, in irrigated fields stretching st-patrick’s day green as far as the eye can see: broccoli, carrots, mangos, lettuce, oranges, etc.

Last week I rode through Quartzite, Arizona. This is a town which seems to have more RVs than houses, maybe more RVs than people. It’s also supposed to be the wrold’s largest flea market. The town felt like one big state fair where the only price of admission is that you must be older than 50 and drive an RV. I had morning coffee with the residents of Desert Gardens RV park; they live in places like North Dakota, Alaska and Montana during the summer…

About ten days ago I spent a couple days in Tempe, Arizona. The house we stayed at had an orange tree in the front yard. I picked oranges, cut them into wedges, and ate them, picked, cut, and ate, one after the other….

A couple weeks ago I rode by copper mines nestled in the mountains near Miami, Arizona. It looked as if the mining company had scooped off the tops of the mountains in order to scoop out the copper. I rode by piles of tailings (mining lingo for waste products) the size of mountains. One pile was white like sand, the other black as coal. The mining company’s motto: “Zero and beyond.”

Last month I discovered west Texas. And the desert. This winter I discovered cycling. Gas free, unless you count all the gorp and Luna bars…

Tomorrow I’ll be riding my bicycle to the Pacific Ocean.