Notes from the road — the P(x) digital diaries

<< Day 3 — New Mexico

Day 4: Tuesday, August 17th

by Cynthia

10 am we leap from our beds to a thunderous pounding on the door and an unintelligible male voice booming through the cracked open window. Chris peeped through the curtain to see what the deal was. It was the owner wanting to know if we were planning on checking out at 11 am. So much for southern hospitality. Chris told him yes and he barked back, well you might want to close this window. OK.

We quickly packed in a groggy state and began our search for breakfast. Easier said than done. We drove all over hot and sticky Amarillo looking for a restaurant or even a hole in the wall place and all we found were homes, offices and the highway. Our search took us through the historic residential area of Amarillo. The houses were beautifully designed, decorated and landscaped with many long porches. The streets were made of red brick which visually made for great film footage, but sucked for filming when we were actually driving on it. Bu du du Bu du du Bu du du Bu du du.

Every now and again we would pass a house with a diamond street sign in the lawn reading something like:

ART allows
God to move
your spirit

A weird, but interesting phenomena.

Now we are really hungry!!! After asking directions from a random college student walking to class at Amarillo College (you'd think they would have a café near a college) we found ourselves at a Black-eyed-Pea. That is the name of a restaurant, for real, I wouldn't lie. By the time we made it to the Black-eyed-Pea it was around 1pm and we were hungry for lunch and desperate for cold drinks. Life in the truck tomb is hell.

Lucky for us the waitress was quick with our order and even quicker with our iced teas — Texas Style Iced Teas. What that means is they were HUGE! Think Super Big Gulp. That is a Texas-Style-one-size-fits-all drink. And the waitress asks if you would like refills. "Yes please, and an IV pole and catheter."

We quickly inhaled our southern style meal of cornbread, peas, fried okra, corn and a chicken pot pie for the omnivore recording our lunchtime conversation strategizing the interviewing plan for the rest of the day. Before we packed up to leave we grabbed interviews with a young waitress and one of the cooks. And just so we know we were really in Texas we recorded footage of a mounted steer head on the wall. Isn't that what we all want to look at while were eating?

If we had any sense to us we would have hightailed it out of Amarillo right then and there. But the heat seems to do something to your mind and we decided to continue our search for interviewees. Our search took us to a Sonic Burger, the In-and-Out of the south. In terms of number of interviews it wasn't all that successful, but the one interview we did get was amazing. A young truck driver said he figured the population should have dropped over the past few years because more people had Cable TV. He was also interested in finding out how people without jobs managed to shop at Wal-Mart 24 hours a day, and where he could get an application to do it himself.

From there we went to the Public Library where we were told we could find some interesting homeless people. Instead we found two librarians. Surprise! Surprise! One was a grandmother and the other was twenty-something. Both had different perspectives on the environment and societies role. The truck traffic around the library make it very difficult to capture good audio so we decided to get out of Dodge, oOK Amarillo.

Exiting the biggest town I've ever seen with nothing going on, we pass another intriguing lawn ART sign:

"I've done
a good deal of
traveling in

We feel the same having driven around all morning looking for folks to interview.

This quick shot gives us an otherwise unseen glimpse of an elementary school with a few teachers sitting beneath a large shade tree talking. Quickly we jump out of the truck realizing that we've arrived during a perfect window of opportunity — Recess! Gaining the OK from the principal we begin our quest. Two first grade teachers agree to talk with us. They start off shy, but quickly forgetting the cameras are there and launch into their responses to "Where Are We Going?" (gratuitious plug).

OK fine, I will give you a snippet on a really cool sixty-seven year old cross walk guard we interviewed. This gentleman use to work for the post-office in Amarillo before he retired. He had watched the population and its mail multiply for forty years. He noticed in detail the way the town changed. It was once a place where everyone knew each other and said hello when they walked down the street. Now it's so big that you couldn't possibly know even half the people. Our elders have an amazing perspective on our past giving them an equally amazing perspective on our future.

The next stop was a much needed but unexpected escapade at Lake McClellan, still in Texas. The heat was getting worse and we were driving east right into all of the humidity. Us California girls can handle and even tolerate the dry heat of the desert, but the humid heat of the south is just too gross to deal with in the tomb. Chris was driving and motivator for the day (that means she has to kick everyone's butt in the morning, keep us on the road and on schedule and make all important decision like where we stop and eat, sleep and you know, interview people).

She decided it would be very motivational for us to go swimming. Kelli and Cynthia we tucked nicely into the tomb and were dozing off into a land where they hadn't decided to spend their vacation sweating in a 3 x 4 x 7 space in the back of a truck with a person they only knew for four days. In this situation sleep beats reality any day, even when it involves water and beautiful scenery. Kelli and Cynthia's indifference saddened Chris and as she starts to drive away from the lake, April insists she get out and go jump in. It is important for us each to indulge ourselves every now and then. It didn't take much coaxing before the car was parked and Chris with her shorts hiked up was up to her thighs in the water.

The rest of us figured since we were stopped we might as well join her. Next thing you know all for of us are wading in a lake the temperature of bath water trying not to slip on the slimy algae on the mud floor. April was the daring one who decided to get Oscar in on the action too. What a sight it must have been, four girls skirts and shorts hiked to hilt and a video camera capturing the whole thing.

Chris was enjoying the break, but wanted more out of the experience. The next thing we know she was on shore stripping down to her goddess-given apparel with Oscar's virgin eye peering on. Diving into the water she satiated her desire to become one with nature. The rest of us might have followed, but we got to talking about the aquatic and bacterial life with the ability to survive in warm water. Leeches were the first to come to mind and that was enough to put us all on shore. Chris dressed quickly and we sat on the shore enjoying the cool breeze coming across the lake and talked about nakedness — how freeing it can be and the hang-ups around it.

Refreshed we refocused and scouted the area for interviews finding a group of campers having a good time. Chris approached them and found they weren't interested, damn. Cynthia had already slid herself into the tomb when one of the guys walked up from the lake and said he'd changed his mind. Reluctantly Cynthia slithered out of the truck disbelieving this guy would actually follow through. Fortunately for everyone he was a great interview. April and Kelli captured great shots of the interview with the lake in the background and close-ups of his many tattoos including a unicorn and "Born to raise Hell!" We are continually impressed by the thoughtful responses we receive from people of all walks of life.

That evening we stay the night in Yukon, Oklahoma the Czechoslovakian capital of Oklahoma and sister city to Prague. Who knew? At the time we didn't know it, but later found out that it is also the home town of Garth Brooks. Any Garth fans in the audience??

We stop in at a couple motels looking for a vacancy and found an interesting trend — all of the motel owners were from India. This spurs an interesting conversation on immigration and business opportunities. Please take a moment to talk with someone near you about this phenomena.

OK time's up!

Mmmmmm BEER

After unpacking the truck Kelli scopes out the rooms. We're having a difficult time accepting that we will have to stay in two separate rooms. Kelli wanders out of the bathroom of room 12b (there is no room 13) offering up an unexpected suggestion, "I think we should invest in some double-ply Charmin." Once the laughter subsided we decide that that had set the tone for evening and we needed to have a beer-logging-party!

As many things on this trip, that was easier said than done. Chris and Kelli headed out in search of REAL beer, not the piss water we had been drinking up to this point. We thought, there must be at least one local microbrewery or major brewery that bottles a stout beer in this area. Wrong! Michelob bottled a special brew that was slightly different from the standard light stuff, but not much. We made due and began logging, filming ourselves acting silly, telling jokes, drinking beer, and munching on chips. By this point all of us have given up aspirations for a political career. However, in this day and age is there really such a thing as dirt?

>> Day 5 — Oklahoma

Cynthia in the morning

Days of the Diaries