Tuesday, March 08, 2005

This Week's First Adventure

The first step is to get in a monstrous rental car and drive east as far as you possibly can, so far you think it will last forever, on highways no narrower than eight lanes. Then stop for a pee break at the information centre of a small, posh, private university of which you have never heard -- well, driver and one passenger pee, and the other two passengers play hackysack. Then back on the highway, and you can see that it really won't go on forever because it narrows to six lanes, practically a bunny-filled meadow after where you came from. Of course concrete doesn't give up that easily, and you go under five -- count them, five -- tiers of overpasses swooping this way and that above you all at once.

But eventually it really does start to look like nature. Of course, you knew it was coming, because there have been mountains visible for ages. Or at least kind of visible. In fact, only the snow-sprayed peaks have made much of an impression above the patented, Angelean hazey smog smoggy haze that lets straight up seem blue while straight ahead fades to grey before it goes too far. But eventually that's gone too. Instead of comparing this highway to other stretches of highway you have known -- some like the QEW between Toronto and Hamilton, some like the 401 across Toronto, some like the 400 headed north from Toronto -- you start comparing the hills and mountains and greenery. Some looks like a mix of northern Ontario and the Canadian Rockies, particularly the early portion of the Alberta side. But sometimes it looks more like the Scottish highlands. And pretty soon it just looks like itself -- hills, but kind of crinkled. Then there are hundreds of electricity generating windmills, and a gradual transition from green to brown.

You get there and it is like a landscape from the original Star Trek series. You are on a dirt track. The Joshua trees look like something from the golden age of pulp sci-fi, with their fluffy brown trunks with puffy green tips, and the random boulders and great hills made of stone seem to have been rather gaudily and deliberately put there just for effect. When you drop off your passangers, you take a few brief seconds to put the palm of one hand on a twenty foot high granite rock and watch a rosey sunset over jagged edges.

Then it's back in the car for a lonely drive back into the depths of LA in the dark, where a cosy warm peopled apartment awaits.

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