When I left home, it was under 30 degrees Fahrenheit…we had a white Christmas. It had snowed all day long and well into the evening. By the time I reached the deserts, the temperature was nearer to 90 and ice chunks were falling off of all of the semi trucks, spraying the roads and the cars surrounding them. A man at the border crossing was wearing a coat. He told me it was a chilly day. I just laughed and shook my head. At that point, I had stripped off my flannel shirt and was down to a tank top, sans a bra. It was just too hot.

The desert is an amazing place. I never tire of it. I’ve lived in several parts of it, from the Phoenix area to the Colorado River area. Everytime I cross over the river, I am once again astounded by it’s beauty. There, at the crossing, it is a beautiful blue-green…not the rusty red it was up-river where it went through the red cliffs of the Canyon. Here, it flows smooth and quiet, like a gentle giant. I am always moved by it’s power…the gift it gives to the people of the west. We use it until it has nothing left to give and drains into the mudflats of Baja. That is one of the most disturbing sites I’ve ever seen in my life. Crabs, jellyfish, and sea cucumbers drying in the hot desert sun because the water drains so quickly now.

Birds were out in force today. I saw a roadrunner. If you’ve never seen one, they don’t look like the cartoon character. They are, actually, very small, but pretty dang fast. They are neat little birds to watch. I saw a red-tail hawk. It was flying into the wind gusts (up to 50 mph) and it was amazing. Those things are so powerful. It alighted on a bush just as my car passed by so I got to see it up close. And the ravens, there were so many ravens out today.

I once passed an entire afternoon sharing folklore about ravens with the RavenMaster at the Tower of London. He had been to the southwest U.S. and had spoken to many of the tribes about their folklore involving the ravens. It was, perhaps, one of my most enjoyable events in London.

I live in an area that is abundant with wildlife. It’s a rare trip that I don’t see some type of animal. I’ve been fortunate enough to see javalina, coyotes, deer, elk, rabbits, all kinds of lizards and snakes, lot’s of gophers, and, when going north, I tend to see sheep, cattle, horses, goats, and other domesticated animals wandering along the roads or even in the roads.

Some things from here stay with me for a long time. Everytime I listen to music, especially while outside, I think of Infidel. His story touched me very deeply. I can’t help but think of how the loss of hearing would impact me. My mother has nearly lost all of her hearing and she’s not even 55 yet. It’s hereditary, she inherited it from her father. Things don’t bode well so I’m going to listen to everything I can while I can.

I watch people as I drive. I will turn and look at them while they pass or while I pass them. I smile usually. I want to make some kind of human contact. On my last trip, I got caught in a 70 mile long traffic jam. There had been 3 rollovers spaced 20 miles apart. I was next to the same cars for most of those 70 miles. It was nearly impossible to get ahead so we all just stayed where we were within the rows. I had my music on. I make CDs for these trips, and play them in my 6-CD changer. I wasn’t playing it loud, don’t want to annoy others in their cars. But I saw a guy out of the corner of my eye straining to hear what was playing. I turned it up and then smiled at him. He looked away so fast. He drove ahead, about one car length, and then did a double-take. I was laughing. I couldn’t help it. Then when I pulled up to him again, I just turned my music up and didn’t look at him. It made me laugh, though. They want you to notice them and when you do, it’s a shock.

Traffic was going my way this time. Everyone was fleeing the city, or perhaps just going back home. From Barstow to Los Angeles the northbound lane was one long traffic jam. The southbound, which I was in, rarely slowed down. I was surprised to beat rush hour, too.

My family laughs. I tell them that I’m not bi-coastal, but bi-statal. I’ve gone back and forth so many times that I could practically do the trip with my eyes closed.

But I’ll spare the others on the road and drive eyes wide open.

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