Psuedo Kerouac Day 2, Green: Eco to Soylent


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My second day in the trek across America really opened my eyes to a few things. Sure I have heard the smog jokes, and even seen a bit of smoky haze associated with daytime “live” shot out of Los Angeles, but today I got a full video shot of what it is like and how it ruins the scenery that is the painted desert between L A and Palm Springs.

If you are joining this journey late, I got a job offer of a lifetime to transport a vehicle across the country from bay-2-bay (San Fran to Tampa) with all expenses paid and I jumped at it like a sugar craved kid towards those intoxicating candy canes at Christmas time. But let’s get back to the trek…Alright?

Trip2011 007.JPGI was streaming down I-15 towards I-10 this past morning and was truly amazed at the nice ebb and flow of traffic coming into the “city of Angels”.

I had heard the constant bickering and foul-mouthed comments on the freeway system, but possibly I just hit it on a good day ( a Wednesday). But as soon as I got to the Pasadena exit, a thick and gray haze began to en gulp the entire roadway. I have seen the smog residue in Florida on a breeze less day, but our crossing sea breezes tend to clean the area of this environmental hazard pretty much by lunch time in the Summer.

Trip2011 030.JPGMaybe it is just my Florida lungs, but I decided I needed the whole enchilada and convinced myself for the art form I had to take in a multitude of deep lung exercises to see just how it would effect me if I decided to job in the gray matter. I had a bit of difficulty taking in deep breathes, and somehow my throat stayed a bit raspy until I popped open another Diet Dr Pepper and coated my tonsils with the elixir.

I guess it is true that sometimes you could physically take a knife and carve out of piece of this gray pea soup. Another of life’s urban legends kicks me in the respiratory system.

The next sight to hit my eyes after exiting Los Angeles  on the I-10 corridor which would become my constant traveling companion was the sight that reminded me more of a modern Netherlands than Tinsel-town. Rising above the haze and traffic were these towering electric producing wind turbines, basically configured into a wind farm to harvest any wind power from a multitude of directions.

Trip2011 033.JPG Trip2011 054.JPGNot just large towering skyscraper windmills, but also small units getting that level of breeze just kissing the surface of the Cali landscape. I really wish somewhere in Florida could invest money and constructive resources to produce such a harvest of our nightly sea breeze crop, and think of the extra power a hurricane would produce on the short term. But it is great to see green technology in a region that also has some environmental woes.

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Trip2011 109.JPGThen I begin the trek into what some called the painted desert portion of my trip. I had previously been warned that the L A to Tucson road trip could be a boring trip of countless hills and valleys with only sagebrush and sand for miles. So maybe I was predestined for the worse, and got the thrill of seeing the sediment rock formations and the compressed materials etching out intricate patterns in the rocks.

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Trip2011 144.JPGOf swirling miniature dust storms picking up trash, sand and even the lone tumbleweed and whirling it round and round within its wind-aided tentacles. But then again, I am an optimist. I actually loved this portion of the trip. Seeing the land that so many fought for day and night, that millions of settlers hoping for a new life, financial rewards or even a change of scenery.

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Trip2011 163.JPGI even tried to catch up with one of those souls seeking a change of Scenery, but Ex-Rays LHP Scott Kazmir had left  the Anaheim Angels Phoenix Spring Training site before I got there. Going through Phoenix, I got the feeling why people lived there. But then again, it was Spring time, not the pounding heat of late July or August.

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Trip2011 178.JPGBut the real fun hit me in Tuscon. First off, I got to the hotel and got a rare chance to sit by the pool and catch up on a few missed shows on my laptop loving the luxury of the moment. I had made reservations for later that night at the oldest Mexican restaurant in town, El Charro, and was excited by the reviews and accolades given to this authentic established local fare.

El_Charo_Tucson_007.JPGTo say the food was amazing would under cut the value, the portions and the pure fun of being in this food fiesta. Salsas…homemade, Mole’s…homemade, Tortilla’s….homemade..You seeing a pattern here.

7146_image1_large.jpgI got the “Carne  Seca Plate” which  gave me 1/4 pound of awesome Sonoran Sun dried Angus beef shredded and flash grilled with green chiles, onions and special spices. It was served with guacamole, homemade Pico de Charro salsa, arroz and frijoles refritos  or Charoos and a choice of flour or corn tortillas.

I picked both types of tortillas and also asked for a side of green and red chile ( did not  want to offend the cook).  Washed down all this authentic goodness with an intoxicating in-house sangria that took my socks, shoes and maybe even my little toe away. Oh, did I mention this is the oldest Mexican restaurant operating in the United States?

I was in Tuscon heaven. The bar at the hotel also had Karaoke tonight, and a coupon for 2 free drinks for moi. I went into the lounge and ordered an adult beverage, met some University of Arizona grad students, sang a few cover songs then my stomach began to do back flips on me. I was starting to sweat in the 47 degree temperatures and was told I looked a little flushed.

30111904.jpgI could tell from the pain it was not the food I had just joyfully ingested, but something had crept up on me, possibly the bold Florida bravado of not wearing a coat during the 40-odd degree days in San Francisco and Victorville,California.  I went into the room and even as it was 55 degrees in there, I was sweating like I had just run a marathon. But this couldn’t happen, I am on a schedule, and sickness was not on the agenda.

1e205fcdfa6e4e1d255ae6af9b42f15e.jpgBelieve me, I did not take any pictures of the next 8 hours….It was not good. I found out later that morning that the whole hotel staff and some guests had also fallen to an unknown virus that seemed to hang on for about 2 days, then finally disappear. This was not good, I had to be in Fort Stockton, Texas by nightfall on the next day.

For some reason during a feverish haze  I had visions of the movie “Soylent Green” running through my mind…..What was in that green mole’ again?

To say this mystery ailment was about to put cramps into my schedule,stomach and wallet were understatements. Guess you’ll have to check back later for the latest to see what transpired next……(story cliffhanger moved used by so many of the serial Westerns I watched in black and white as a kid).



What a bummer that you got sick during your road trip. Hopefully the rest of the story has a happy ending. So you hit the freeway on a good traffic day? I’ll bet it wasn’t during rush hour! Love the shots of the mountains.

I actually hit LA about 7-ish, but the I-15 and I-10 Gods must have been watching over me.
Part of the thrill of the travel is the tragedy and triumphs that go hand-in-hand.
El Charro was a true food trip, the next 2 days…not so much…But it was the food.
I loved the texture of the rock formations, maybe I was a budding geologist in a past life…..or Gold miner?

Rays Renegade

Mole green is peeeo-pleeeeee! Sorry, had to be done. I’m sorry to hear you fell sick in the middle of your fun trip, and that our fair Los Angeles city failed to impress. That drive through the “painted dessert” on the way to Arizona is gorgeous. And it sounds Tucson is a lot of fun. The Surly Wench – I love the name! I’ll definitely tune back in for the next exciting episode, same Rays station, same Renegade time.

There was nothing like hoisting a frothy pint and singing a clever dirge in the Surly Wench, complete with a Betty Page inspired bartender with red hair a flame from the desert Sun.
L A was great, but I only got to see the outskirts, but I did get to see the Regional Baseball fields, but could not mainifest the camera in time to get a photo of the Baseball Blvd. sign…maybe in the next lifetime.

Rays Renegade

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