Driving Into The Desert – Food



“If’n you’re starving there is a place I like…

food’s what you’d expect and generally served by tweakers –”




At some point, Mister and I had hit the straight-road-dippity-do traveling wall and decided we needed to get back to the main highway. That, and we were hungry. So we took Brian’s advice and stopped.


He didn’t lie. The food was indeed served by tweakers. The food wasn’t extraordinary either. But I did get in some primo people watching.


There was one dude who kept going outside. I assume he was a smoker. Each time he came back in and headed to the table where his 2 lady friends were waiting, I imagined a bit of his personality. I ended up picturing him going into a clothing store and saying, “I’ll take this shirt. You can keep the sleeves. Don’t need ‘em.” He certainly wasn’t wearing them.


Once the tweaker brought the check, Mister and I zipped back to the 10 and headed into Scottsdale. By the time we were near our friends’ place, the sun was setting.


It was a long day of driving. We’d seen more than we’d expected and had laughed a lot along the way. Mister’s good company. Roadtripping with him is fun. We don’t do it very often, so these rare trips count for a lot.


Remember being a kid? Didn’t all our family trips involve the car? What happened to that mode of travel? I don’t know. But this particular trip was lovely. I super-enjoyed the desert contemplation and the open space. I even enjoyed the straight, dippy road.



I wouldn’t want to drive it all the time though. A gal needs curves every now and then…

Driving Into The Desert – Continued



“On 62 is the MESSAGE FENCE we were telling you about –

it’s on the south side of road with the railroad tracks to the north –

it’s easy to see and worth stopping because it’s total Americana –”




The road was crazy-straight. The day was clear so we could see as far as our eyes would allow. There were no bends, no turns. Just straight, desert, 2-lane road.


There were dips, however. Big dips. Roller-coaster dips. Mister and I were cruising along, losing our stomachs to our throats, only to settle down for a mile or so before the dips started up again. And here was the funny thing: about every 10 miles there was a sign reading “Dip.” And that particular dip would be so minuscule as to make us wonder why a sign was posted at all. The other dips, however, were mondo. And around those puppies? Nope, nary a sign in sight.



Anyhoo, as we drove along in search of the Message Fence, we spotted something else: a desert totem pole with Iron Mountain in the background. Filled with notes and mementos, it is a cool piece of art. My favorite bit of eye candy on this one is the mailbox at the top of the pole. The flag is up, waiting for attention.




After a short couple of minutes admiring the totem pole, Mister and I continued our drive. At some point we realized we were paralleling the train tracks to the north of us, and started looking for the Message Fence on the other side of the road. When we caught sight of – something, we pulled over to get a closer look.



I don’t know what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. The “messages” are mostly comprised of shoes. Yes, there are a lot of single shoes, but there are also a ton of fully mated pairs. Some of the shoes appear old or torn. Others look to be almost new. The collection is beyond odd, with the only uniformity being footwear.



There are a few other odd items thrown in for good measure, and those were just as interesting (or not) as the shoes. Some folks wrote on the items. Others didn’t. Erosion isn’t taking too quick a toll on the shoes, so I suppose this “art” will last a long while.



What I wondered was this: how the heck did that first person decide to attach shoes to a barbed wire fence? Was there a message? Is there a message now? I mean, I tried to glean some meaning from the spectacle. I tried to understand how so many soles might relate to our souls.



I was still trying to understand as Mister and I steered our way back onto the straight desert highway. And much like I’d felt after leaving that homeless kid outside our first desert stop, cluelessness abounded. It seemed the desert wasn’t giving anything away.



But I didn’t dwell on it too long, for I was getting hungry. And if I recalled correctly, Brian had some recommendations on that front…

Driving Into The Desert



“Following is a way to go to Scottsdale — it’ll probably add 45 minutes to an hour to the journey…”





So Mister and I headed off to the desert, to spend the New Year with our buddies. About a week before our trip, we’d run into a dude we know, Brian, and he’d told us about some of his favorite spots along the way. It seems Brian’s traveled off the beaten desert path quite a bit, and his suggestions were much appreciated.


When road-tripping, tips and ideas are godsends. To have the counsel of others who’ve gone before can be more valuable than a map. Or certainly more gratifying than a run-of-the-mill GPS. So we took Brian’s notes and drove into the desert.


But here’s the thing about travel: no one can tell you what your experience will be. They can only share their own experience. Your perception is up to you. And that’s a beautiful thing.



When Mister and I pulled over for a biology break, there was a homeless guy sitting on the ground outside the fast-food joint we exploited. He looked to be a kid, no more than 30. His red hair was matted and bushy. His red, sun-burned skin should have been pale. His dirty cheeks should have been clean. His darkened eyes should have been gleaming. I, like so many others, passed by him as I entered the building. When I exited, I gave him a sandwich and some bottled water. He thanked me then heartily tore into the food. It was Mister’s turn to drive, so I got into the passenger seat of the car and we aimed ourselves toward the desert, away from the main highway (per Brian’s suggestion).


As we drove away from the urban experience, I wondered about that homeless kid. How did he get there? He was wearing a gold wedding band, so where was his spouse? Would he survive the cold desert night?


I couldn’t answer any of those questions. Still can’t. All I could do was send him prayers and brace myself for the impossibly straight road ahead. Surely a turn was coming…