As of March 26, 2010, Jade and I have been married for five years. Had I told you this in an actual conversation, face to face, you would be inclined to say, “Oh, wow. Congratulations”.
I don’t know why but that makes me really uncomfortable. I don’t like it when people tell me “Congratulations”. It’s not that I have a problem with face to face approval. I actually love and thrive on attention and compliments. It’s the ACTUAL word. Con-gra–choo-lay-shunzzzzzz.
SO! Five years…..we need to go on a VACATION!!!
I head into work at 7am in order to get off at 3pm so we can get a few extra hours on the road. By the time I get home, pack the car, buy coffee, buy some extra bedding, purchase dog leashes and get gas, it is 6pm and we are stuck in rush hour traffic.
Below you’ll see a picture of me and behind me you’ll take note of the freeway. You should also know that we’re in the United States and the steering wheel is on the left side of the car. Also notice that I am on the right side of the car. Deductive reasoning leaves us to believe that Jade is driving down the freeway, taking pictures of me.
Hey, there’s only laws about not using your cell phone while you drive. It doesn’t say anything about using a camera, razor or newspaper.
We discussed a few different destinations over the course of the previous months. We talked about Canada and we talked about Tijuana, Mexico. We talked about Denver and we talked about Catalina Island. We talked about Yosemite and we talked about Yellowstone but finally, finally, finally, a week before going, we decided that since we only had two and a half days that we’d just head South towards Joshua Tree National Park and The Salton Sea.
Joshua Tree is where U2 stayed while writing their eponymous album. It is a desert wonderland filled with rocks, cactus and……Joshua Trees. Joshua Trees basically resemble mutant cacti crossbred with something Tim Burton came up with.
The Salton Sea is where meth is made.
The first night we pull into a Pilot’s truck stop and snuggle in between two gorillas. Talk about little man complex. I felt like a third grader in the locker room of a YMCA.
In the morning my wife gets up and begins obsessively snapping photos of everything that moves……or doesn’t move….
Clementine and I are groggy after a wonderful nights sleep. Kaidance, on the other hand, seems to be a little on edge. There’s something in her unblinking, nervous stare and twitching ear that seems to be saying, “If I sleep, the man with the knives for fingers will get me”.
I’d tell Clementine to relax but I’m afraid that if she chills out anymore she’d be dead.
Snap, snap, snap. “Dang it”. Twist-twist, click. Snap, snap….”Dang it”. Click-click. Twist. Whir. Snap.
Jade is holding a camera in front of my face. I can’t tell if she’s trying to actually take photos or if this is her way of playing “alarm clock”.
I hit snooze by ignoring her.
Click. Click. Click. Whir. Snap. “Hehehe“… snap, snap, click…
I whisper into small dog’s ear, “Don’t move, Clementine. Don’t open your eyes….don’t even breathe. Trust me. She’ll go away. We can milk this for at least another 15.”
Click, click, click. “Stupid settings….” beep-boop-beep…. click, click, whir, “hah….oh yes…mymymy“
Clementine whispers, “Do you……do you think Kaidance is…..okay?”
I simply nod and say, “Who do you think taught me to be so lazy?”
Finally, Jade pops open the back hatch, lifts up the front seats and begins rearranging my bedroom, turning it back into a car. She says, “Hey you!” I try my hardest to ignore it. “Hey you! Hey! Hey you three!! Look out here! Lookie–lookie!!”
Kaidance is less than thrilled.
Once we were both up and ready to roll, we went inside and brushed our teeth where I met a hitchhiker.
He said his name was Allan Tinkleman. I fancied his well groomed ‘stache….
We travel through the wind turbine fields of Southern California. They are creepy and alien. I believe the fields are filled with spirits and ghosts.
Because if I were a ghost, that’s the place I would haunt and I can’t imagine that I’m the first pre-deceased to think of it.
Later on in the day we meet a woman who will talk to us about the “wind turbans” and tell us how they bottle the energy and truck it to Arizona. I assume parts of this story are true.
We enter into Joshua Tree National Park, which we are assuming is going to be pretty hot. We pack light because we’re vacationing in the desert.
At 10:30 in the morning it was just above fifty degrees and all we had were light flannels. We skip out on the hike where Kaidance would undoubtedly be bit by a scorpion and Clementine would surely be carried off by some sort of bird of prey.
Instead Jade makes me lay down in the dirt, in the rocks and pointy things of the desert. I shut my eyes and say a quick prayer. It goes like this, “God, thank you for blessing me with such a wonderful, beautiful and creative wife. Thank you for the safe journey we’ve had so far. I just wanted to touch base with you real quick regarding You keeping an eye out for any sort of poisonous insects, plants, etc that I may be about to lay on. Amen.”
When we come out of Joshua Tree National Park / Forest / Desert, we find ourselves in Joshua Tree proper – the town. We stop at a place called Joshua Tree Saloon which was next to Joshua Tree gas station, Joshua Tree post office and Joshua Tree market.
We enter into the saloon and I ask Jade why she’s getting her nails done today, right now and then I see the bar stools and the tables and I realize that the name must be some sort of joke that I don’t understand.
We get a booth. We are the only ones inside save for the waitress.
I order the More-Meat-Than-You-Can-Eat special. It comes with beans and a piece of pineapple. Jade orders fish.
We play pool while we wait for our food. Jade notices a picture on the wall of Johnny Cash in front of the building with a short man. Jade asks the waitress / cook / owner / dishwasher when Johnny Cash was here and she says, “That little midget right there?” She points to the short man next to a younger version of Johnny. “He’s a little weirdo. He’s a pervert.”
Jade and I both say, “Ah…”
The waitress is the one that tells us about the “wind turbans”. Her eyes are bloodshot and her cleavage hangs loosely out of her shirt. She wears a beaded necklace and tells me about music festivals she’s been to and ones she plans to go to. She tells us about people at the festivals who smoke pot and eat pot brownies and wear shirts made of hemp and “just chill”.
She is in her mid 50s. I imagine she’s probably been enjoying the revelatory side effects of acid since before I was born.
Before we leave we ask her what the one must-do thing is in Joshua Tree. She says, “Have you seen Joshua Tree?” (referring to the national forest) and we say, “Yep” and she says, “Okay then, you should check out Noah’s Art. Leave here, go straight to the light, take a left, follow that to the little checkered house – it’s half brick and half ceramic – I call it the checkered house – turn right in front of that. Go until you can’t go no more. Take a left. Then take a right.”
We say, “Who is Noah?” and she says, “He’s this guy. He makes art – he MADE art – weird stuff”.
We say, “Is he dead?” and she says, “Oh yes. He was in a wheelchair and died in a house fire. Couldn’t get out. But his stuff still sits in the desert – all of his art. It just sits there and it’s free. You just go walk around and look at it.”
So we go.
………and it IS weird stuff…
…sculptures made from old TV sets and bowling balls and mannequin legs and toilets and vacuum cleaners and bicycles and broken glass and tires…..
We are the only ones there, wondering through this alternate world; massive structures built from trash. Acres and acres of it. These photos don’t quite grasp the extent of the bizarritude…
…well, maybe the next one does….
If Dahli had a love child with a garbage man – Noah was it.