See Level

Ocotillo, California  


Stardate: February 8, 2015


As I gaze out of my tent at the reddening horizon, awaiting the glorious desert sunrise, I count my blessings:

-      The massive colony of fire ants, or possibly inferno ants, 12 feet north northwest, has embraced us as friend, not foe.

-      Among the seven items on the shelf of the destitute, gas-pumps-removed, kept-open-by-love-and-stubbornness convenience store behind which we’re camped was the best strawberry jam I’ve ever tasted.

-      For those of you who remember the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, the female half of the couple fighting an apparently losing battle to keep their business going, in a hamlet of 277 deserting souls, is Jessica Rabbit’s sister – an improbable, extraordinary, pleasing sight amidst the harsher-edged boulders and cacti.

-      With our route hugging the Mexican frontier, the Border Patrol (every second vehicle on the road), ceaselessly vigilant, protecting America from Dangerous Depleting Hispanic Hordes, has apparently determined that we pose no threat to The Way Things Should Be; troubling whiffs of Winston Smith all about.

-      Zooming down from the mountains on Interstate 8 through In-Ko-Pah Gorge, amidst a landscape lacking only a broken, tilted Statue of Liberty, losing two days of climbing in one hour, we encountered no damn stinking apes.

Okay, now I’ll count my curses:

-      The individual responsible for font control on the set of biking maps we’re using needs to rethink his settings.  When you’re cycling through the desert, possibly short of food, water, and tranquil thoughts, and the map, using font so large it spills over the side of the paper, indicates a town - nay metropolis - five miles ahead, a certain degree of raised expectation is fostered with respect to the goods and services awaiting cyclists with poor planning skills.  When, five miles later, you arrive at a tumbleweed-laden crossroads with a sign pointing to an abandoned Slinky factory on one corner and a shuttered Jim Jones “Just Do It!” Kool-Ade stand on the other, disappointment naturally ensues.

-      The part about this trip where we’re supposed to be filming jokes and stories from enchanting, quirky, and enthusiastic characters we meet along the way has, so far, kinda slipped through the cracks.  Part of it I blame on the black miasma of self-loathing I immersed myself in for a couple of days following the implosion of Barc’s Chair into Barc’s Bench.  And part of it I blame on the bracing transition from armchair musing of riding up mountains with over-laden bikes - waving happily to awestruck observers - to real-world riding up mountains with over-laden bikes – a surprising and significant difference, leading to end-of-day malaise, kill-me-now thoughts, and a total disinclination to interact with strangers, unless they’re selling hemlock.

That’s it for blessings and curses.  Dowd out.