Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Come From The Water

Tucson is a lot like dirt. The houses are brown. The trees are brown. The people are brown. Tucson feels like a city that God created from the dust and then forgot to clean up.

"Excuse me sir"
"Excuse me sir"
"Excuse me Sir!"
"I am passing through town on a road trip, and I wanted to know if this Walmart allows overnighting in your parking lot."
"We don't allow RVs."
"What about my truck?"
"Is it a recreational vehicle?"
"No, it is just a pickup truck with a little camper shell on the back."
He stares for a moment, "No" and then he turns and walks off.

I stopped to pick up a piece of litter that was blowing down the street. It turned out to be personal ads for gay men.

I got a $60 ticket from the University of Arizona for "parking against the flow of traffic" on a deserted street.

The three redeeming qualities of Tucson are:
1. The Center for Creative Photography
2. The Sonoma desert museum
3. It is too hot for the girls to wear long sleeves

1000 Years of Solitude

I have never been to such a lonely place in all of my travels. I have been parked at Sotol Vista in Big Bend National Park for more than an hour and only one car has passed. The last 70 miles of road that I passed has been nothing but empty countryside, with only a border patrol station and at two visitors centers to break up the view.

All day I have traveled through desert, stopping at canyons and gulches that I passed to take a few pictures. The terrain has gone from low trees, to dead dry brush, to green desert valley (?), to high plateau. I spoke to three people today. I spoke once at a rest stop, once to ask about a bathroom at a gas station, and once at the Big Bend visitor’s center. Each time, I have been surprised by the sound of my own voice. I can only imagine how lonely the girl working at the visitor’s center must get during the summer off season.

Now I am sitting completely naked on the top of a mountain waiting for the sun to set over Mexico. It is funny to me to be sitting in one country, watching the sun set over another country. I wonder what I will hear from the L-rd in all of this solitude.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Oasis

The desert is much greener than I imagined. Everywhere that I look around here there are trees, flowers and prairies. There is a cool breeze blowing off of the Amistad Reservoir, and the cool morning air is filled with the calls of ducks, cranes, and song birds. Everything is peaceful here, and though it is not quiet, every sound that I hear, the rustle of leaves blowing in the breeze, the buzz of insects, the gurgles of water disturbed by fishes, all of these things are restful.

The campground is empty except for day users. I keep expecting to look up and see the deer that I photographed yesterday evening. Aside from those deer and jack rabbits, I have not seen any large animals near the campground. That is probably a good thing, because I tried to sleep outside on a park bench for several hours last night. It took almost no effort to build a fire in these conditions, and once I had a decent little blaze going, I crawled onto my sleeping pad on one of the park benches and slept very poorly for several hours. Finally around midnight I moved back to the truck, which is slightly more level than the park bench, and managed to sleep well through the entire night.

I am amazed by the natural beauty of this place. This morning, I found a secluded area along the edge of the lake where I could strip down and take a bath in the crystal clear waters, while fish swam past my ankles. This area stands in such sharp contrast to San Antonio.

San Antonio is a large urban sprawl, not so spread out as Houston, with a laid back attitude and a beautiful downtown. Much of the east and west side of San Antonio is extremely poor, and gang life is a reality in these areas. The Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio is the opposite of the east and west sides. The Riverwalk is a beautifully constructed and landscaped canal, lined with restaurants, shopping centers, fountains and waterfalls. Everyone is nicely, though sometimes scantily, dressed, and you can feel the money being spent

Just off of the Riverwalk is the Alamo, or what is left of it. Much of the Alamo property was bought and turned into streets and buildings a long time ago. Today you can still see the church, as well as several other buildings and walls that are nearby. What amazes me about the Alamo today is that, in typical Texas fashion, the park/museum is free to the public and is maintained entirely by donations and sales from the gift shop.

I really love Texas, not for the heat or the dry flat scenery, but for the people, for the belief that if we can do it ourselves we should, for the freedom to keep arms and defend your home, for the pride which Texans hold for their state and for themselves. There is something very attractive about that. It may not be the most Christian attitude, we are called to be humble and help each other, but it is still an attitude that I can really respect.