June 21, 2010

Can you get moonburn?

I am sitting at Joshua tree camp ground. It is 9:47 all is dark… no, all is not lit up by human light. The moon in the sky though shines like a beacon.

I needed to write now, battery power: 1hr 28 minutes, hopefully that will be enough

I am in the desert, there is an animal or bug that sings… I am so ignorant, I don’t know what it is, some giant cricket?

I left San Diego around 1 pm I think, I spent a huge amount of time writing the morning blog and posting photos. I tried to go see my friend John but he was away from home until Monday night and I did not really think the best thing was to stick around San Diego for another 2 days.

I talked to him on the phone, it was good to hear his voice. We don’t call our friends enough…

San Diego is a sweet town, I rode around a route I had done on the bicycle when I came for training camps here… It’s hard to believe I rode so far.. there are flowers everywhere, it’s beautiful, the air is cool the sun is bright, it’s kind of perfect. One could really become part of this world here.

I headed out on the I5. All was fluid, the cars flying by, I felt relaxed. I keep having these moments where I am in awe of being where I am. I smile under the faceshield. The the traffic slugged up.. meaning slug pace, that gave me an opportunity to use my newly acquired skills. I was much better, It’s actually quite zen, if you don’t start thinking. Like riding the bike, if you think you’re having half the fun. This traffic jam went on for miles and miles, again. I wanted out of the mire. There were no exits to parrallel or contiguous freeways for a long time. Dang.

Finally I saw : 74 East. Good enough. I took that, and wow. Motorcycle heaven. Twisties, beautiful pavement , few cars, gorgeous scenery. There were lots of bikes going in the other direction. That went on for a long time.

One of the good sections of HWY 74 East

I got into a town, got to look on the map… strange place, got gas, kept going. It was dreary for a while, and finally 74 turned into even more of an amazing thing. I’m still experimenting with the turns and I applied some of the comments my stranger from yesterday said to me : don’t fight, go with it.. so I managed to get this really relaxed grip, I leaned right into the front of the bike and embraced the curves as if I wanted to swallow them and it worked. I had some masterpieces. But again, when I started to think I lost a bit of the flow, so gotta learn not to think more. Feel, be, don’t think.

I finally caught up to really slow drivers and instead of biting my lips I pulled over to a look out.

I got off the bike and realized it was sweltering. I walked around and looked and suddenly this massive emotion overtook me. I started to cry. The hills, the rocks, the shapes of the gully the language of the wind, I felt as if spirits were grabbing at me. Pictures flooded my mind, other times, My stomach and all my insides were knotted. I could almost hear voices. I am getting to where I should go I thought.

Where the spirits linger near Palm Desert

The rocks speak

life in the desert

I got back on the bike, grateful for its generous giving of miles, I think I am over 3000 miles already.

I got back on the road and it was eerie. Rocks, desert, a huge long curvy down the mountain road with massive switch backs, you could feel the temperature rise as fast as I was going down, it went to almost cool to hot, hotter, hotter than hot. Then I got to this unreal avenue. I straightened up and looked around : Giant palm trees, manicured lawns, beige buildings with terra cotta tiles, fancy names for places, Desert Palm. I cruised the main street. Everything is huge, unnatural and surrounded by the forbidding landscape of rocks, sand and hills cut with an axe.

It was now around 6 pm maybe, I was hungry, I did not eat since breakfast and I could feel my body getting drained.

I got gas and ask Samir the attendant with a russian accent for a restaurant. He directed me to a Mexican place right down the street. He said : you could go up the street here but why pay more money for the same food? I had to agree. The water was heavenly, and the food pretty good.

I took off and looked for a pharmacy, I am going to need sunscreen. So far I’ve been clad in leather and helmet but I have a feeling I will be exposing more of my flesh to the sun these next weeks. The cool coastal weather is now a thing of the past.

At this point I am on the 111, It’s getting dark. I am looking for a ramp for the 10 and I can’t find it. It’s that time where my visor is getting to be a nuisance. As good as it is during the day its just a bit too dark if you are looking for street signs. At one point this car started to veer into my lane and run me over, I slowed and honked my horn, it seemed a bit vicious. I stayed back. Sometimes people suck but then I tried to forgive and not let fear creep in. I stayed behind for a while and they slowed down, so much so that they ended up behind me… Ok all is good. Finally they turned right, good riddance.

I finally got the ramp for the freeway. I was shocked into this massive hurling traffic, lights, trucks, lanes and interchange sort of intersection, I floored it and got with the rhythm of it. It was like fiction, after all the quiet miles this was like a souped up light show.

I kept on. It’s hot. I keep checking the heat gauge on the bike just to be sure. The wind picks up, it is violent, unforgiving, angry. I catch a look in the rear view mirror and the horizon is the outline of the mountains basking in a red-orange-purplish final glow. The town is a sea of lights, an island in the darkness of the desert.

I am feeling the spirits again. My stomach feels funny again. 120 KM per hour. I feel I have to be polite, there is a respect that is demanded. A sign says to turn off the AC for the next ten miles to avoid overheating. The wind now is not blasting, it’s like a hand holding gently the front of the bike. I pass some semis, I got my feet on the back foot rests, fully astride on the bike, the leather grips the saddle, I am ever so vigilant. This is large, unthinkably large and we take it all for granted. I see SUVs blast by, humans go from A to B I float between the letters feeling this tremendous force, feeling this tremendous risk I take challenging the spirits of the desert.

But my moon hovers over, incredibly bright tonight. A beacon. My ally. It’s night. I ride.

I finally see the sign for Joshua Tree state park. I am the only one getting off the Freeway. I am not runnning towards another sea of lights, I am moving in deeper in the desert. It’s a narrow ribbon of black asphalt with a brand new yellow line that pulls me forward. I go slow, again, I feel I am required to respect. It’s quite a long way to the camp ground. I get there, I stop. Turn off the engine.

It’s unbelievable. The light is so bright, the stars are faded, but the vegetation has a silvery glow. I laugh. Then I cry. It’s so amazing. Simply amazing. Overwhelmingly, stupendously glorious. Dwarfed, the tears roll down my face. My ears are ringing from the road, the wind and the engine noise. Here I stand. Joshua Tree.

Today I thought : “I feel so alive”

I don’t want this to end.


One Response to “Moonburn?”

  1. David Says:

    Ah, Joshua Tree, I can not tell you how many days and nights I spent there Danielle, now you begin to know where I grew up.


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