Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Joshua Tree

I drove through Joshua Tree National Park on the way to Los Angeles on Tuesday. I can confidently say that thus far in my life I think that this place is my favorite National Park. Don't get me wrong the Grand Canyon was monumental, but I was also a sixteen year old brat stuck in dirty clothes hiking it. Long story, I will tell another time.

I drove in through the south entrance at Cottonwood Springs. I highly suggest if you plan to drive through the park with limited time, do it through the southern entrance. The views and landscape only get better as you progress through the north. I also suggest listening to Bela Fleck and the Flecktones "Live at the Quick" Album at full volume. If you don't necessarily like this type of music that is ok, but if you can handle about 5 minutes of it, listen to the song "Big Country." I turned this on and as I was driving through the areas with the largest rock formations I got goose bumps, and not because it was cold. This is going to sound very strange, but I really felt like my dad was giving me a huge high five.

Legacy of Gram Parsons
Gram Parsons was a singer/songwriter who once became obsessed with Joshua Tree. He would disappear to the desert to get high on morphine or trip out on LSD for days searching for UFOs. On September 19,1973, before an upcoming tour, Parsons died of a lethal combination of alcohol and morphine. Though it was planned for his body to be sent back to his family in Louisiana, while en route, friends commandeered the corpse and took it back to the desert where they cremated it and scattered his ashes.


When I decided to drive south on my journey first, Luis suggested I stop in Marfa and stay with his family and see the town. My great friend Manuel has had the best things to say about it, and I have been pretty curious, so I agreed. Leaving Fort Worth, I was a little nervous about staying with a family I haven't met, especially from the disclaimer I was given by Luis about a half hour before arriving. He just told me to be myself, which; lets' face it, when not diluted at all, can be frightening to people who don't already know me.

I vowed I would never want to go to Texas, but since I was already once slightly impressed with Fort Worth, I only had greater hopes for the place that Luis is proud to call home. The landscape of western Texas is underestimated. I was expecting to see flat land for as far as the eye could see, but I was grossly mistaken. There are mesas and hills and buttes that jut up from the harsh desert land. I drove through Alpine and past Paisano Peak as the sun was beginning to set, still with no view of a city beyond.

When I got there, I instantly felt like I would be fine fitting in. I went to Maiya's restaurant with the middle of the three Madrid brothers, Ruben, and met other local friends. The young community of Marfa reminds me of a similar young bond of people in Walpole, NH, another oddity in small town variety.

but don't expect to find Raspberry Danger Water in Marfa...
On Saturday I borrowed a bike and rode around town. If you find yourself in Marfa, I believe that riding a bike is the only form of transportation, car not necessary. The town is too small to need to drive.

Galleri Urbane

CHINATI Foundation
The Chinati Foundation sits on 340 acres of land that was once the Fort D.A. Russell. It was purchased by Donald Judd, an arttist/architect known for his work with the minimalism genre, and turned into an Artist in Residence institution and opened to the public in 1986.

Ballroom Marfa

At night I got the ten cent tour of some of the latest residential minimalist architecture and a visit to the Mystery Marfa Lights viewing center. The Mystery Marfa Lights are an unexplained phenomena not similar to others such as the Northern Lights.

According to Wikipedia
reports often describe brightly glowing basketball size spheres floating above the ground, or sometimes high in the air. Colors are usually described as white, yellow, orange or red, but green and blue are sometimes reported. The balls are said to hover at about shoulder height, or to move laterally at low speeds, or sometimes to shoot around rapidly in any direction. They often appear in pairs or groups, according to reports, to divide into pairs or merge together, to disappear and reappear, and sometimes to move in seemingly regular patterns. Their sizes are typically said to resemble soccer balls or basketballs.

Christy, Luis' mother, insisted I go out for drinks with one of the local gentlemen who works with her at the Marfa National Bank. Although I was knackered I agreed. We went to Adobe Moon for some local live music. I had already decided that an extra day in Marfa was necessary. That I had only made a feeble effort during the day's activities.

That night as I lay down I wondered if I was going to wake up next to Luis's senile grandmother who had asked me several times in Spanish if she would be sleeping with me that night. I thought it would be ironic if it was something that ran in the family.

For those of you who don't know how I "met" Luis, you are in for a comical story. I was in Boston for the weekend of my mutual birthday with Geoff and other friends before I actually moved there. A few friends of Amy, Kristine, Geoff and mine were in town visiting and we spent an afternoon exploring Salem, MA and having a few spiked beverages. Amy's roommate Beth was out of town on a camping trip, and I was neglected to be informed that someone may be staying in her room. After returning to Somerville, and a run in with a fantastic beard, we made it back to Banks St. Amy's bed was a little crowded with 3 people and I stumbled upstairs to sleep in Beth's empty room.

I woke in the morning to Oscar the cat kneading my tummy and I went downstairs to see what the day had in store for us. What I found in the living room was Geoff sleeping in a sitting position drooling on the armrest and a random person I didn't recollect fast asleep on the couch. I knew I hadn't been intoxicated enough to blank an entire person, so I figured maybe someone had wandered into the house in the night.

When he didn't rouse, I inquired Amy as to his identity. After a long night of partaking, Amy has trouble making cohesive answers, especially at 8 in the morning. So the rest of us headed out to show Flan, Llyndsey and Nick the rest of Boston and celebrate birthdays. When I returned to Banks St. I was told this Luis character was slightly homeless (a feeling I was about to be very familiar with) had been staying at the house. He had come home late in the night, went up to Beth's room to fall asleep, and thought that maybe I was in fact Beth sleeping dead center in the bed. When he tried to wake me so I would move over, I didn't budge. After an hour of sleeping on about 6" of bed snuggled up next to me, he decided to go downstairs and sleep on the couch.

When I returned to Banks St. on Monday evening, we recapped what had happened and filled in the blanks. I was completely unaware of him, as he wasn't at the house to meet at the time. We joked about how funny it would have been if he had carried out sleeping on the 6" of bedspace and I had woken up next to a complete stranger, and likewise.

So when, the next weekend, I found myself back in Boston, unemployed and homeless, I acutally met the person I had unknowingly engaged in the act of snuggling with. We talked about how we were both seeking shelter in Boston, and thus is the beginning of our adventure of being roommates.

So. Anyway. Marfa kind of rocks. I'm hoping that with my brew-ha-ha know how and John's intellectual property rights I can start up the Marfa Light Brewing Company. YEAH!


I stopped here for the night to visit my friends Mike and Stephanie from College. I really don't care too much for Phoenix, and its' urban sprawl, major roads, red lights at every quarter mile... But I hadn't seen Mike and Stephanie since the Fort Collins days when Conor O'neills was still an establishment in Old Town. I figured that while I was driving through the vicinity it would be nice to stop and sleep on their couch for a night and let Athena (their boxer) get a whiff of me... literally.

I met Mike through a class I took on Sustainability in the Caribbean in the summer of 2005. He was, at the time, a Recreation and Tourism major I believe, but heard of the class while wandering the halls of the gym during his scuba diving class. The events to how he ended up there are a bit bizarre, but we all had a lot of fun memories from the trip.

We went to Sushi Eye in Chandler, which is one of the many Phoenix suburbs that Mike and Stephanie so happen to live. I am not going to lie, it might have been some of the best sushi I have eaten.

My parents lived in Tempe, about a stone's throw from Chandler, before I was born. My dad was teaching at Arizona State University while my mom was pregnant with my brother (mind you it was the middle of the summer, suckfest?). I wonder what it would have been like if I had grown up in the greater Phoenix area. I am kind of glad that my parents decided to leave, New Hampshire was a good choice.

Tucsan, AZ
I was trying to kill some time before getting to Phoenix because both Mike and Stephanie work until after 5, so I checked out a little bit of Tucsan. By a little bit, I basically mean I drove downtown and parked by the first colorful building that caught my attention and then wandered around even more aimlessly.