Writing Across the Desert

Yesterday, I crossed the desert from Phoenix to Los Angeles to visit an old friend. This is a friend, who, if we haven’t seen each other in years, will sit down and begin to yak as if we had been on the phone yesterday. That’s a rare friendship, a gem of value.

The trip was amazing, in a visual sense. I-10 is the direct route, but it is not the freeway of the East Coast. There are not gas stations at every stop, and you have to plan. I started with a full tank of gas, and kept it at around half full. As the journey was new to me (aren’t they all?) the sights were incredible, and the trip an awakening to the isolation (at least for people who drive) to the cities on the West Coast. At some point, people walked this distance, and settled in a place isolated and alone. And free of the conventions they walked away from.

I left the bowl of mountains that creates The Valley of the Sun, in which Phoenix sits. It was a clear day, cool, with that big bowl of blue sky. Culturally, the color blue and blue stones, like turquoise and lapis, represent the eye of the divine. Those who grunge against the idea because it seems Western European need to stand in the desert and let the understanding seep into them–the big blue roof above you isn’t about Western European culture, it’s about nature.

[Pictures will be here shortly. I’m on someone else’s computer and can’t transfer pictures from my camera.]

I cross the mountains and drive through mountain ranges. Once I have gone through Quartzite and Blythe, the desert changes. The sand is dust fine. I see a line of smudge in the distance and as I get closer, it is sand blowing across the road. For about 50 feet, there is no road, just blowing sand. I follow the tracks of the car in front of me, realizing that I am suddenly grateful for the view-blocking truck that provides a track for me to follow.

Then I’m through it, and notice the different look of mountains. They are sharper here, more deeply etched, sharply defined. The mountains in Phoenix were caused by volcanoes, and the Sonoran desert was once the bottom of a deep, warm sea. These mountains were caused by shelves of earth pushing past each other, mountains pushed up out of the ground to be weathered by the wind.

images.jpgThe first mountains appear with snow on the top. I cross the San Bernadino range and drive through a giant wind farm. Huge, whirling turbines catch the wind through the pass and make electricity. It’s a scene from science fiction.

About an hour out of Los Angeles the traffic starts. I’m back to real life. And for today, life is good.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, certified creativity coach, and a trainer in the communication field, which has nothing to do with phone companies and a lot to do with words and getting clarity. (c) 2007 All rights reserved.