Day 4: Poet’s Road Trip: Borderlands and High Desert

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I’d been told earlier about how El Paso was a “unique” situation being such a border town. I didn’t realize just how much that was true until I drove through downtown in the morning light. It’s right there. There’s Mexico. You have El Paso’s high rise downtown district next to its sister city, staring at each other over the border, like two sisters one that married well and one that didn’t.

Just outside the city there’s miles and miles of intensive livestock farms. The kind where you have lots of cows in small areas. There’s huge giant shelters built to hold the massive amounts of hay needed for he operations. You also have a fairly lush green valley where they grow crops. If youve ever flown over this area of the country, you’ve probably seen some of these large green circle and patches even from high altitudes. You have to wonder though just how sustainable over time these water-intense farm industries are over time. In this part of the country water is king – and scarce.

livestock

I was soon reminded how close the border is again, when the entire interstate is channeled over to an inspection station. There border guards wave some into another line to ask questions and vehicles inspected, the drug dogs are there waiting. I get waved through. I would make an excellent drug mule (though I’m not applying for the job) I never get pulled over in those kind of situations.

borderguards

When you drive to El Paso, in that little pointy part of west Texas, then up towards Phoenix, when you get to Arizona, you’re pretty much over half-way through the state. That was a good thing, though the state is breath taxingly beautiful, it gets boring after a while. I was actually much more engaged after Tuscon, with it’s big expanses of monotonous suburbs. From Tuscon to Phoenix, that’s more what I’d come to see.

And yes, there were outlet malls over half empty. I made a couple of stops, one to get gas, one to check out an outlet mall parking lot to check vacancies and pretend to shop. The tone here was a little different – open concern.

In this area you also come across the famous jetliner graveyard. It’s way off in the distance, but you can’t miss it. Sort of an elephant graveyard where old jetliners come to die and have their bones bleach in the sun. Wish I’d time (and permission) to visit. Lots of visual metaphors for the airline industry to be found there I’m sure.

I have to admit, I sort of have a prejudice against Phoenix, I’d been here before on conferences and business. The question I always ask myself is “why is this city here?” It just doesn’t seem to make sense. It seems to be that example of a small city who’s civic pride and politics overrode any good sense of how and where a city should work.

Then finally, Arcosanti, my destination for the evening, I got here an interviewed their PR person, and got a tour. Walked around took pictures. Even hiked across the little canyon to take a video. (Separate Post).

arco1

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I’m up early, heading to LA with a brief stop in Palm Springs to visit an old Fraternity brother.

There’s a poety reading in Redondo Beach, perfect way to celebrate, hitting the West Coast.

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