I can’t decide if I want to start with the drive or the motel. I guess the motel. I feel homesick. I am in a dark box with a TV from the 80s and a microwave from the 70s. I paid $5 extra/night for this microwave.
The desert drive through Arizona was blue. Blue cast on everything. The mountains, the sand, the shrubs. It was pretty. I listened to The War on Drugs, Pearl Jam, Jackson Browne, and some other greats. I ate a sausage and cheese sandwich from a gas station and then a chicken wrap with fries from Applebee’s in Yuma. Applebee’s doesn’t do many things right but this is one they do. It was 110 outside for most of the trip. I was relieved to see the coolant still full when I pulled over to check. I wonder how many people I drove by cooking meth deep in the desert in an RV. I saw border patrol apprehending two young men, Hispanic, covered in dirt just across the border. There were many trailer parks. A lot of old cars. I was perplexed by the fact that people actually seemed to chose to live there.
But Yarnell takes the cake. When I pulled up to the motel I was sure the actual, fully renovated Hotel with a spa was just behind it, tucked away from the main road. But nah. Just this leaning pile of boards and bugs with a blown out sign and the scent of murder-mystery. For $57.50 a night I get to assume everything I brought with me will have to be incinerated before heading home. I just can’t pass up a good deal on accommodations. And the only other option was a tent in the middle of the desert 2 miles removed from the nearest establishment. Which might sound cool to some but that’s just a liiiitle too outdoorsy for me.
There was just a loud knock on my back door. I didn’t even know I had a back door. But a loud door knock was something I had predicted in my head since arriving. Soon they would kick down the door and try to pistol whip me before stealing all of my electronics. But this time it was just Leslie, the motel manager, asking me to back my car up three feet so she could park her car – that was already parked. I’m not sure on this – will have more info in a couple of days – but what I think I just witnessed was her driving her car around the building for absolutely no reason just to repark it in the exact same spot.
“Thank you so much. I’m just terrible at parallel parking and didn’t want to hit your car!”
But your car was already parked…
She couldn’t have been nicer about it. But why the lap? Was that a tick? A superstition? If I don’t do that will I not wake up tomorrow? Why the Guy Fieri haircut and cargo shorts? I’ll keep an eye on it.
I stopped seeing Priuses (Priuii?) about 100 miles East of San Diego. Out here if you drive a Prius then you’re ‘some kinda queer.’ Even my horse whisperer therapist – 64 year old miniature sized person Colleen – picked me up in a Ram 2500. So imagine everyone’s surprise at the local hoot n’ nanny when I pulled up in my Toyota Prius with black rims and stepped out in my brown leather Frye boots that double as the foundation of my cowboy look.
I am going to sleep with all of my belongings on the bed in a big pile. And then maybe me on top of the pile. I don’t think scorpions can crawl that high.
Lance stopped in his tracks when she opened the trailer gate. Then I talked to him. What do you say to a horse? I wasn’t sure so I just leaned my face close to his and he headbutted me which was a reassuring sign that we were bonding because that’s what I do with Woody.
I rode him for two hours through the desert landscape. There were no people, no cars, no sounds, no distractions in any direction as far as I could see. We walked, trotted, and cantered for a while. I had a good rhythm with him and a few times I would think about him doing something and then he did it. The great horsemen in the world say that horses are telepathic. I’m uncertain on this but think they have such an incredible sensitivity for movement and expressions that their read is as good as anyone’s.
I wasn’t supposed to ride tonight but I got in early and Colleen wanted some company on her evening ride. I was given the advice coming into this trip to take it very slow. That it wasn’t about getting on a horse but being in relationship with one. People can get very hurt riding horses when they aren’t ready and that wasn’t the goal for me.
“Well, you’re here early. I’ve got a horse that doesn’t really like anyone to ride him but I think you could handle it. What do you say?”
And hour later we were side-stepping a steep rock cliff before cantering through a wash surrounded by deep grey clouds dropping lightning and thunder in the distance.
My interpretation of taking it slow.
My first big realization was that horses are very dirty and I don’t like seeing the hair from their backs accumulate on my palms after brushing. Perhaps I can have Colleen bring Lance to me already brushed in the future. It is a good thing I brought baby wipes and a Purell pump for after the saddling. I just wasn’t expecting to be the only one who did this.
I don’t know what is supposed to happen. I’m trying to keep my expectations low. My motel room is helping. Maybe a little too low actually. I am guessing the death count in here is in the high 30s. It’s 8:30pm and I’m hoping I can pass out soon. Because there is absolutely nothing to do.
No wifi, no cell signal, I didn’t bring any fucking books. What kind of vacation is this? But the stars should be nice. Although there is a barking dog out back and it doesn’t feel inviting as I can only imagine who is out there. Leslie just yelled for it to shut the hell up, goddamnit! I like Leslie a lot.
A man earlier spat on the ground in front of me and then said, “How’s it goin’ boss?” in a very nice and neighborly tone. I met Santa Claus at T-Birds and broke a cardinal rule of respect for mountain people by secretly taking his picture for Instagram. The long white bear, red long-sleeved shirt, and blue suspenders were too much to pass up. It’s easy when you do it an no one sees and there’s no consequence. But when he got up and walked out with his pizza box I noticed a big limp he probably sustained while working at the mill. He couldn’t get the door open and kept talking to himself. When he finally got it he said, “See, there you go old buddy.” That’s when I hated myself hard in my gut for the next 18 straight minutes for capitalizing on his look among my constituents. Even though it got a ton of comments.
I could be talking to all of these people and having an experience. Immersing. Instead I’m sitting outside and documenting. Something I always do. Perhaps I will be inclined to change that at some point. It’s hard to think I have anything in common with these people but that kind of thinking gets all of us in a lot of trouble. I can simply ask them where they are from and what brought them to Yarnell. Ask if they ride horses and if they have hobbies and shit like that.
So I tried it. Asking a wobbly man in his 40s where he was from and what kind of horse he road. He told me he rode a steel horse and I nodded my head like I knew what kind that was because I didn’t want him to know the Prius behind him was mine or that this morning I had avocado toast and apple cider vinegar tea. “Oh cool, is that like a quarter horse or a thoroughbred?” He laughed and stumbled away with his Bud Light can.
It later dawned on me that he was making a Bon Joni reference and there was no such thing as a steel horse and I fucking hate everyone and that’s why I don’t talk to people.
Everything is so quiet. Quiet is a sound here.