Texan Odyssey Part II
Both Bean and I woke up at about 5:30, and rather than try to fight the sleep monster, I put my glasses on and stared out the window at the desert for a good 45 minutes. There is something utterly compelling about moonlit sagebrush, saguaros, and sand...but something fairly spooky as well. I found myself not looking too closely at the shadows, not wanting to see ghosts of Jesse James or Bat Masterston skulking alongside the tracks.
Other people were up too, evidenced by the multiple porch lights and the tractor chugging along an access road...this is going to sound like such an urban kid thing to say, but I just couldn't figure out why people were up so early until it finally dawned on me...farming. Okay, fine. But in southeastern Arizona? Apparently, yes. Cotton, at least. I think it was cotton; white blobs on spindly sticks, at any rate. It struck me that agriculture in the southwest is just such a dichotomy, between the dry, hot, dusty flats, the hills and even mountains surrounding them, the patches of brilliant verdancy, and the palm trees. It seems a little like the Sahara with junkyards and trailer parks.
Arizona is interesting. The part you see from the train is visibly poorer and rougher than California, and yet, the light is somehow diffused differently, and while it doesn't make the shabbiness exactly picturesque, it's at least not completely depressing. That being said, I know we travelled through a number of Indian reservations during the night, and I can't help but think those might have been even more raggedy.
Had my first "communal seating" experience at breakfast, with a man from Corpus Christi, Texas, and his young daughter. I realized that Southern men seem to really come in two varieties: the charming flirts and the tongue-tied country boy. I was definitely sitting with the latter. In the interest of keeping any of my Southern male friends reading this, you're all the former.
The morning passed quietly and somewhat boringly...Bean napped, I read trashy magazines and drank relatively decent coffee. Still not out of Arizona, and I discovered an unpleasant surprise in my lunchtime chicken sandwich...an used twist tie, perhaps from a bag of bread. I recognize that it is not on the same level of disgusting as, say, an used hypodermic needle, but it was still faintly revolting. I opted not to say anything to the waiter; I don't think he would have given a toss, and I had already eaten most of my lunch by that point. Plus, it was pretty hard to even find a waiter when you needed one. Amtrak has a rather long way to go in terms of customer service, but at least you get your food eventually. And it comes with a free gift.
by at November 24, 2003 10:27 AM