Last Friday, in one sitting, I drove from Orange County, California to Seattle, Washington, my old stomping grounds. I left at 6:00 am Friday and arrived at 2:00 am Saturday. This is a list of some of the things I saw:
-Pavement. Lots of pavement.
-The sunrise gradually warm the hazy skies over Los Angeles.
-A sprinkler spraying water over a dry field, but the water turned to mist in the heat and drifted away before it could hit the soil. When I drove past, it looked as though the sprinkler was tired of being a sprinkler, and wanted instead to be a rainbow machine.
-Miles of cows on a cattle farm. Typically I don’t measure livestock in units of distance, but here it was appropriate. I’m not sure what the proper unit to measure stench is, but let’s just say it was not mild.
-A cow carcass on the side of the road.
-A tractor with eight foot tall wheels and a footprint wider than the lane it was ‘in,’ rolling through town like it was a compact car.
-The jet stream overhead as it pulled a ribbon of wispy clouds across the sky.
-Signs everywhere telling politicians to “STOP THE DUST BOWL.”
-Christian themed rap was on the radio… and it was good. I was shocked.
-A line of southbound cars backed up so long that while driving 75 mph I was able to listen to “Kashmir” by Led Zepplin in its entirety before the line thinned out. I wanted to roll down my window and shout to those blissfully unaware of the traffipocalypse, “Turn back now! You can still be saved!”
-A motorcycle made by John Deer parked on the sidewalk at a truck stop. It looked old, and was probably rare, but all I could think of was the CEO of John Deer thinking, “How can we cut grass faster?”
-A young man poppin’ bottles by the dumpster in broad day light — literally. His job was to forcefully dispose of empty wine bottles from the night before.
-A bumber sticker for “KONY 2012”
-A sign for “BRAKE TEST AREA” before a long steep downhill… isn’t the whole hill a brake test anyways? I already did the hard part of getting over the hill–why do you have to take a practice test when you only need to pass the final exam?
-Entire orchards and fields dried up and abandoned with only dust devils patrolling the rows of gnarled trees.
-Half of a deer. It came and went so fast in my headlights that avoiding it was simply a matter of reflex, yet the sight, although brief, is something I can’t unsee.
-Two guys on the radio talking about their new book, “Treat Me Like a Customer,” which is about managing relationships with the same devotion you would give to your work. I took notes. Better to learn now than as an afterthought.
-Tumbleweeds that have long since stopped tumbling.
-Several nameless roads waiting for a name. “Road 22.” “Road 8.” “Road 12.” I think they’re just placeholders waiting for someone to do something amazing so they can rename the roads, but right now they’re still waiting.
-A phone conversation that ended with the exchange, “Sorry, it’s hard to hear you.” “Sounds good :) Bye!”
-Tire skid marks that trailed off the road and ended at the foot of a large tree where a white cross and flowers were set.
-The familiar signs, streets, and scenery, all slightly different than I’d left them.