When I left Rancho Mirage yesterday morning, it was such a beautiful day - a good day for those self doubts to come creeping in - I mean, why was I leaving again?
Beautiful Morning in Rancho Mirage:
I was starting to freak out a little bit - nervous about driving alone for such a long distance. Ask my friend Michael - when he invited me up to San Francisco for Thanksgiving last year, he told me to take the 5 freeway all the way up. I think it must have been 2 hours into the trip, and I called him, and said: Are you fucking kidding me? I am in the middle of NOWHERE, I'm starting to freak out - where's the nearest town? Did you know radio stations barely exist anymore? I cursed myself for not learning Spanish in the over 10 years I've been living in LA. I had my choice - Christian Radio or Spanish speaking. OF course I chose Spanish. Hello. I pretended it was my version of Rosetta Stone.
Here is the view as I got on the 10E heading towards Arizona - which btw, there is a road advisory per Triple AAA: Police enforcements are in full effect and strict. Or something to that effect. A friend suggested I hang a poncho out of the back of my trunk.
Heading on the 10 E:
Once I was nearing Phoenix I spoke to a friend in NY - I told her my goal was to hit Holbrook, AZ. Holbrook was home to The National Petrified Forest. I thought, I am going to the Petrified Forest, damn it. I didn't have time to do the Grand Canyon. Yelpers were split on the forest - 70% hated it, the other 30% said it was beautiful. I found a cheap inn called The Holbrook Inn - 35.00 including tax and pet fee. I spoke to the manager Vicki the night before - the place sounded a little like I was going to check in but not check out. I was okay with that, I mean, it was for one night. I brought a pillow, some sheets and towels, for situations just like this.
As I was heading towards Phoenix (or Flagstaff) I was on the phone with a friend from NY and told her about the Wig-Wam Motel in Holbrooke - I thought this was the same place that Oprah and Gayle went to on their famous road trip 5 years ago, and Oprah freaked and said she wouldn't stay in it because it didn't have windows.
Lemme tell you something about our girl Oprah - she was being POLITE.
My friend said you need to stay there - I am going to sponsor the stay. I am wiring you some cash to your account.
SO, this motivated me to keep going - I got excited. I was going to be staying in a wig wam! The reviews were great, I couldn't wait to get there, get in my pajama's be in this little cocoon, turn on the TV, I mean I had to watch Dale on "What's Eating You" on E! and flip open my laptop and get to work on catching up on my blog.
I even stopped at the Sunset Pointe OverView near Flagstaff to take in the views with my dog:
As I got closer to Holbrook, I called my father to ask him to e mail me exact directions to his place in Santa Fe. My father's tone still had not changed. He seemed distant, and cold. Oh, self doubts you are becoming a good friend. This is exactly why I chose not to tell people.
As I got off the exit for Holbrook, I actually pulled over and backed up the car so I could take the damn picture of the Holbrook Sign - Because, I was excited!!!
A little ways down, I saw the sign! I was here, 7 hours of driving I was at the Wig Wam!
As I pull into the driveway, I realize the Wig Wams are on top of each other, and in a parking lot, Not at all what I had expected which was: Wig Wams 15 feet apart in the sprawling desert.
My dreams of being out on this huge stretch of desert land in a wig wam have seriously dashed.
The area looks, well, to put it nicely, sketchy. But I'm still game, I mean, it's the Wig Wam Motel.
The office/lobby is total kitsch with a little fire going - it's going to be fine. I notice, the wig wams do not have windows, just like Oprah said. As I am paying, I am asking the woman some basic questions - how far is the petrified forest, where can I get some food? Oh, and you do have wifi, don't you? She tells me, "oh, no I'm sorry we don't have wifi. WHAT?. No wifi? Really?! I mull this over for about 15 seconds realizing I need directions for - well, just about everything, I need to do my blog, e mails, etc... The woman was nice about it, obviously she had heard this before. She flipped open the yellow pages (!) and found the number for the Best Western - right next door.
Wig Wam dreams deflated, I was too tired to care. After checking out the Best Western room, I drove across the street to the local Safeway. I was not in Kansas anymore. This place reminded me of Desert Hot Springs- a town that time and America forgot. This IS America. Holbrook appeared to be a town with no hope. Broken and busted up people.
As I walked into the Safeway, as soon as you walked in this is what met you:
Some old and mealy looking grapes at $4.99 per bag, but more importantly right in front were packaged individual slices of cakes for $1.89 each.
I looked to my left and saw a SPRAWLING display of this:
Nothing but cakes, donuts, pies, and cookies. This is what meets you when walking in. I looked to my right and nothing. No Produce. Just chips, sodas, frozen foods. And we wonder about the obesity problem. Why is it in the poorer neighborhoods, the more crap is being shoved down their throats? The lack of education in the lower socio-economic societies, and the corporations take advantage of this. I never found the produce - I think it was in the back far right of the store. Like, in the corner, not seen from anywhere at the front. Think of the last time you went into a supermarket in LA - usually the produce section is pretty prominent.
For the first time I bought a Lean Cuisine - not for the calorie count - but for the sodium - if I was going to buy frozen, I could at least try to buy something that's not going to make me look like a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Balloon.
As I walked out of the Safeway, I heard the blaring sounds of a train - and realized a train runs right behind the Best Western and The damn Wig Wam Motel. Separated only by a chain link fence. I started laughing. Genius.
This morning as I walked my dog through the parking lot (and btw, I looked like frickin Grace Kelly comparatively - and felt suspect wearing my Belgian loafers and cream colored swing coat - mind you - both items purchased in Palms Springs for a grand total of $11.00) - I saw the Wig Wam during the day - and just like the party girl that you wake up to in bed the day after, the reality was just as shocking of what the WigWam and Holbrook REALLY looked like: (and, really, click on the pic. Trust me. Take in the beauty.)
Before I go: a MAJOR shout out to Sieve for answering the phone and guiding me in Flagstaff. As always, you're the best!
Next Stop: Santa Fe.