Journal 1
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Day 35 Vernon to Springerville
today: 30 miles cumulative: 676

It is very cold in the morning. The wood stove is out and it is winter up here at 7,000 feet. Drinking my coffee I read a very detailed chart at the end of the bed, which is also the couch, A correlated History of Earth. Showing eons and eras and periods and plate tectonics and major impacts by meteors and the rise and fall of many species and who was alive when and ice ages and extinction level events and other oceans. And I am mostly interested in the other oceans. The Iapetus Ocean existed in the Cambrian and Ordovician periods, and Tethy’s Ocean between present day Africa and Asia, and in the Archeon Eon half a billion years when the only living things on earth were prokaryotes, there was a continent called Ur and its ocean had no name it was just the ocean. Before names, beyond names. And Gary is sure to point out to me that on the time line of large impacts by foreign objects, i.e. meteors, there is a big gap that extends into the 21st century. "We’re about due," he says. The last major impact was 65 million years ago, by a 170 mile wide meteor. That event ended the Cretaceous period. The next could end modern man, then all the oceans would be nameless again because they have always been beyond our words. Just oceans.

We are ready to do some exploring. So all four of us go out in search of treasures in Gary’s old stomping grounds, where he drug himself up hills and laid in the shade picking through anthills and sifting dirt. And at the top of the hill he has a spasm and he has to lay down for awhile and the pain is incredible and he is supposed to be staying in bed, not hunting for rocks, but this is why he lives so he keeps risking it. But it scares him every time because
the next time could be the one that keeps him from hunting for rocks for the rest of his life, but today is not that day and he shakes off the dirt and shows me how chippings are everywhere and so are pottery shards and crystals and even partial arrow heads, but no whole ones today. But he shows me ancient Kivas, and explains the different kinds of pottery and shows me Anastazi petroglyphs of dancers and sun clocks, and says I should take the day off to look some more and we will definitely find something. But how many miles do I have to walk today and how many hours in the dark and how many hours until I see Alissa? So these things make me say good-bye and I hope that the titanium implants don’t cut that nerve, that tectonic plates will wait to shift another day, that the oceans will keep their names so that Gary can see his daughter grow up.

Truckin. If I want to make it to Springerville it’s going to be a long night. Nothing to break up today, no small town cafe with a piece of cherry pie waiting for me at the counter and how do you like you coffee Hun? Cream and sugar? No ma’am I like it black. That is not today, today is me walking without any rest. But the sights are inspiring and they are an adequate replacement for cherry pie, especially the fire, and the full moon. Golden fields on top of the world, a forest fire in my mind. Side of the road, side of the road. And a long hill and more fire and amazing things happening with the grass as the sun sets or is it just my imagination trying to fill another 10 hour day making these field into fire.

Why am I so comfortable with the image of fire? Why do I see beautiful flames instead of blades of grass?

Before the sun is down the moon has risen and is nearly full. Rusty sees it too over his shoulder, he is on the other side of the road on rollerblades and he has come from Florida, on his way to a beach just down the street from where I started in California. Another ocean, and we have to meet up again, he will be back in Springerville to sleep tonight and I will carry on to meet him for breakfast. 6 hours of walking in the dark, at 11 PM I am still walking and it is like day light because the moon lights up clouds and the sky is almost blue until half way up and then it turns to black like I am on another planet and how is it possible to see both of these things? The blue and the black and the fields on fire and the road moving when I am not? Hallucinations from exhaustion from trying not to think about how much my feet hurt, from trying to stay warm, but I cant because every hour it gets colder and even with all my layers on my arms are cold and my face is cold and even with gloves my fingers are hurting from the cold. But these are good hallucinations, it is worth the hurting cold to see two worlds at once. I am carried through this thing by these hallucinations on nights like this, a silent river rushing up and not so silent anymore changing the shapes of things, pulling me through thirty mile days. Walking all nights. And if I try to stop I cant, even if my legs don’t move the road will and so I might as well get on the ride and see where it takes me. And I raise my hands as we descend the hill, I hope this roller coaster is not just a loop. I say that there is no destination, but I hope there is at least a place to rest for a bit.

I want to drink some water but the dromedary bags have frozen solid so I will have to wait. And YES! Just before town there is a bar and it is open! And I know exactly what I want. I want Coffee and Irish cream. But a drunk man inside wants me to have Tequila. I will not argue because he is buying, and it will, I have no doubt, warm me up, so here we go and my fingers still have not loosened up yet. A 25 year old cowboy sits next to me and hearing my story, offers to let me sleep in the cab of his pickup truck and draws me a map to where it will be parked. But I need to find the man on wheels to talk about other oceans and which roads are to be avoided so back into daylight stars and one mile down the road I see the Camper that he and his partner sleep in. There is no way I am going to set up a tent, I just want to be in a warm sleeping bag. I can still feel that tequila and I want to fall asleep while I am still warm and still riding this thing and still hearing stars answer all my questions. 30 mile days can make anything talk. Tonight it is a line of stars, not so big as Orion’s Belt, but close by. And it tells me everything that I need to know and the names of other oceans that were not on the Correlated History of Earth chart, and when the next great impact will be and the ocean with no name, the one that surrounded Ur, it tells me about that ocean and fires that I see, and water flows and nothing can stop it and there is flow even when you don’t acknowledge it, waiting for you to step on and take the ride. The road does not stop just because you do.