Friday, September 17, 2010

Desert sojourn: day 8

A road runner came to visit

Realizing how the rear of the house remains cool all morning long, I've been working at the kitchen table with the back door open. This morning a road runner came by and nearly poked his head in the house. I said "Szzzt!" which I am used to doing with the cats at home to keep them from coming into the bedroom, but the road runner never met a cat and didn't know what I meant; he didn't budge until I picked up the camera. Then he hopped up on the bench where I sit and have coffee after my morning walk, and I got this picture before he hopped off and trotted away.

In the early evening, I drove to downtown Joshua Tree to the studios of the local radio station. It's part pop music station and part small-town local station, with local news stories. My ideal of desert radio is "The Hot One for the High Desert" as heard on The Firesign Theatre's "Everything You Know is Wrong." This station isn't as fusty and weird, unfortunately, but it does have a few distinctly strangely voiced announcers. Tonight I got a chance to sit for over an hour and interview one of the DJs in between announcements. I asked him about a general picture here, and I've tried to be careful not to make it seem like I'm just looking for dirt, but people keep serving it up. According to the guy I interviewed, drugs and crime are fairly rampant. But I also have a contact in the local sheriff's department and want to get his side of it too, as well as the side of as many other people as I can.

It was a little before 8 pm then, and I didn't feel like going home, so I drove 35 or 40 miles to The Palms in Wonder Valley and had a beer. The bartender, an attractive brunette, had one arm in a sling and did everything with the other arm. She kept telling people that she had broken her elbow a day or two before, though I didn't hear how it happened. This place is way out there. After I finished my beer, I went out to the parking lot and looked up at the stars. Even though there was a bright enough moon to cast a distinct shadow, the stars were shining brightly, because there are no other lights out there.

The other good thing about The Palms, aside from its extreme funkyness, is that there are no Marines. Not that I have anything against them, but I don't want to be in a bar when they're drinking. I'd rather stay far out of the way, and if I have to drive 30 miles, fine.

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