Chewing a dark loaf multi-seed grain filled crunchy McAdams Peanut Butter and Raspberry Jam sandwich I am tearing the sandwich into shreds that look like wayward states. The Desert is on Desert time. Windy, sales sandy, pools of water alongside the road amuse me. This aqua will not be absorbed, the Desert says No. Floods have washed out the road of our first day bike ride from the castle. I pick at my hand scabs, healing from the tears caused in them constant loading and unloading of bikes.
Phyllis tells me she has lived here ten years.
We came here, she tells me, from LA as our constant reprieve. Then my MBA and experience laden husband took a job as a bus boy so we could live here in the Valley full time. We came here to peel back our layers and be. So we are. Still here, Phyllis smiles and I look out the window to the snow dusted Panamints.
Liz shakes my hand and I sit down on the yoga mat. The gazebo that has been there for thirty years sits and watches the women thoughtfully. We reach and twist and breathe and breathe and breathe. I think of going to an Incubus concert. Liz is radiating that inside outside scrubbing of beautiful guts. In the afternoon sun I lay on Gods Green Earth behind Furnace Creek but God’s Green Earth got some help from Spray Paint to keep the Desert esthetically Green. Doesn’t bother me as I look up to the sky and flex my feet, pretending to hold up the ceiling of blue range above.
I sing the line stuck in my head to the dead end waterfall. She asks me if our love will grow. I don’t know, I don’t know. Pause to listen to the Desert. She asks me if our love will grow. I don’t know, I don’t know. Echo faintly the words to the marble walls above. You Don’t Know. I Know, the Desert Responds, I know.
Las Vegas. Caesar’s Palace Van Shuttle Drop Off Change exit directions. Sunrise, Zabriskie. Sunset, Sand dunes. Sunrise, Sand Dunes. Sun Set, Beatty. Sun Rise, Furnace Creek Inn, Sun Set, Badwater Highway. Take Photo. Make Notes. Adjust Days. Change Times. Draft email to Boss. Rewrite. Fall asleep to couple fighting next door. Wake up before alarm. Buy Poor Quality Coffee. Fall asleep at Eight. Wake up at Eleven. What Train was that? In my dream I was swimming. There is no cell phone. There is no internet. Bring bike in from Van. Bike back out to Van. Drive more. More roads closed. Make more notes. Start expense report. Doze. Beer. More dozing. Bike ride. Feet swell from heat, blister, feet against wall. Fill water bottle. Exhale.
The man taking my picture can’t understand the joke. Why, he asks, are you mocking the ghosts? Standing drooped in Ghost-like fashion among the plaster ghosts I am irritated I asked him for a photo. Standing in the 1984 statue art of Ghosts in Rhyolite, a mine boom and bust town. Abandoned 104 years ago. My humor, his defense. The empty streets are full of decaying buildings and heavy set tourists toting cameras that cost more than my Jeep. I like it here. I’d spent a night for a thousand dollars. And a friend. A thousand dollars and a friend.
Paulo Coelho’s wife found her magic in The Desert. I can’t commune with the Divine, but I did ask many Questions. Wind blowing through the cracked window on my last day of solo working, preparing, driving, hiking, biking the words I sing. Still in my head, the Beatles on my orange Ipod, taking me all the way back to Vegas.
She asks me if our Love Will Grow. I don’t know. I don’t know. I laugh. I say these words out loud. I don’t know.
I live in Calgary where I own a small business, instruct fitness classes and call myself an endurance athlete. I am the proud owner of four bikes, an expensive wine education, and a strange fascination with the colour orange. I have a long-time love of football, baking, and coffee. I put my minor in creative writing to use occasionally both here and in other publications. I live with my tall, handsome and often-hungry professional triathlete husband.