Monday, June 15, 2009

Sleeping in a Wigwam

In a Best Western in Kingman, Arizona, and the recurring sound of the truckers airing out their brakes woke me. In a daze, I surveyed the room, unsure of where I was. I thought I'd been sleeping in a wigwam. That's what I'd been dreaming. Back in Holbrook, Arizona yesterday, I'd seen a motel with wigwams out front and a colorful sign encouraging me to stop and "Sleep in a Wigwam." Technically speaking, the structures at the motel were teepees and not wigwams. Both have only one room, but the wigwams have a domed roof. In my dream, living in the wigwam, I had all I needed. There was plenty of space for both me and Shug and Phoebe; however, once I had my first cup of coffee, I realized that I'd spent my whole life sleeping in a wigwam. I'd gotten quite familiar with my home, and now it was time to sleep around, become a dwelling place whore. Try out different resting quarters, and maybe discover the perfect one. Of course, the perfect one may be the wigwam, but how will I know that for certain, unless I explore some other options.

Along I-40, not long after I crossed the Arizona state line, I counted six billboards telling me to "Smile and Say Chee's." Chee's was "Home of the Largest Selection of Native American Gifts." I found myself smiling at the notion that the Native Americans would want to give us gifts, after all that we've done to them. What a better world it would be, if we all could practice a bit of radical forgiveness, forgiveness with compassion and tolerance. I think we all should "Smile and Say Chee's."

"Want to see the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest," I asked Shug. The ambiguous look meant that it was left up to me to decide. Phoebe weighed in with one of her talking spells. My interpretive skills were now off, because she's using meows that I've never heard before. "28 miles through, and a self driving tour," the cordial female ranger said. The panoramic views of the Painted Desert were spectacular. If I hadn't spent time in Death Valley, California last year, bearing witness to miles and miles of "painted desert," I would have been more impressed. Shug stared out the window for a few minutes, and then she dropped back down in the seat and sighed. About mile 18, and finally I got to see Jasper Forest. I was quite impressed by the petrified trees and such, although, the petrified stumps reminded me of the base of a coffee table that I'd seen once in a craft show in South Georgia. The coffee table was placed right next to the Welcome Home Goose. The speed limit was 45, but I was traveling about 25 miles per hour, until the 20 mile marker. Almost simultaneously, the five cars in front of me seemed to have had enough. Suddenly, we were going 45 again, and I thought how easily we get bored, taking nature for granted.

And speaking of nature, it called on Phoebe around the 24 mile mark. She leaped from the back floorboard into my lap and then across Shug and into the litterbox in the front floorboard. She did have to poop, and yes, she did have to leave it uncovered. All the signs said to not take anything from the Petrified Forest or deposit anything there. Yes, I was praying that by osmosis, Phoebe's turd would hurry and petrify. I seriously considered stopping the car and leaving the offensive excrement on the side of the road, but I was afraid there were cameras or satellites spying on me. That's all I would have needed was to be thrown in jail for leaving cat shit in the Petrified Forest. At the end of the 28 miles, we had to stop at the ranger station for a car inspection. Not wanting the pleasant and eager ranger to think it was me, I quickly grabbed Phoebe from the back floorboard and put her in my lap. "Oh, what a pretty cat," she remarked, unsuccessfully avoiding a scowl.

Arizona is a beautiful state, and while it is the desert, I was surprised to find that Flagstaff was identical in topography to the North Georgia mountains. Tall pine trees grew on the mountain ranges, and I had to wonder if the pines were indigenous to the area. Just outside of Flagstaff, I stopped for gas at Love's convenience store, and I asked the cashier if she was from Flagstaff originally, and she coyly replied, "Nothing in Flagstaff is original, except for me." I guess that went for the pine trees, too.

In another 350 miles, I'll be in Los Angeles. Though I don't know for sure, as I have only seen the apartment I am subletting in photos, I don't believe I'll be sleeping in a wigwam. However, if it turns out that it is a wigwam, I'll be fine with that, too, for now I know that there are other options and nothing is permanent.


  1. Wonderful!!

    I am loving your stories. I feel like I am with you on your journey.
    Love, Jay

  2. Exciting to hear that you are finally across the state line! Welcome to California. I am in India, sort of - except it looks very much like 3 Ravinia Drive. Things are less tense today. Running out of time seems to help. When the "what's the use" period starts the stress becomes less!!!
    Let me know when you get to your LA Wigwam and kiss the critters for me.
    Love, Jay