7.14.2014

2014: Rolling thru Amerika on 18 Wheels. Volume III El Paso, Texas to Oklahoma




2014: Rolling thru Amerika on 18 Wheels. Volume III El Paso, Texas to Oklahoma

Woke up with a slight cold. Don't feel too bad actually, so Mr. J.S. got some coffee, I got some tomatoe juice and we hit the road. We are following I-10 East, alongside the Rio Grande River valley. It is a green oasis in a sea of scrubland desert. Some towering mountain ranges to the southeast, Mexico, rise up out of the earth looking rather majestic.

This mountain range we are following (I can't find on the map as they don't go into detail for Mexico) is located in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, and started, I think, just outside of Ciudad Juarez (opposite El Paso, across the border). It seems so familiar as I have memories of driving through Mexico at various times in my life.

There was always something about Mexico that intrigued me. Spending my 'wonder years' in Southern California, I had Mexican friends and, of course, there were many Mexican kids in elementary and middle school with me- as with many other ethnicities. California is, after all, a melting pot- as is America. You know, I always say, when asked, that I'm from Hawaii because I don't have a lot of memories of my time in California. Additionally, I haven't been back in Southern California, in my old neighborhoods, since that time. I am only in contact with one friend from back then as there wasn't any internet access, etc. back then. So I really have no connection to California, and it feels foreign to say that I do honestly. I have spent half of my life in Hawaii and so it feels like home. In short, it is home...

But these mountains, they bring back something from my past that I revisit. It's nice, and interesting to feel some sort of connection just by seeing a mountain range in Mexico while driving through West Texas. Life can be surprising, and these are the gold nuggets that we search for.

We're heading for a pass at Sierra Blanco Mountain now. This is our first climb in Texas as El Paso seemed pretty flat.

9pm
We just finished driving, and we are still in Texas! Texas is a long-ass state to be sure. I guess it's as they say, "Everything's bigger in Texas." As well, there are so many rolling hills and grasslands and scrub brush and then pine trees, etc. It's like we went through so many different climates. One thing there isn't is any mountains- as far as I know anyway.

Today I was also pretty much sick all day too. As I type, after a hot shower here at the TA Truck Stop in Tyrell, Texas, I feel a bit better, but being sick is never a good thing- especially when in a semi-truck... Hopefully a long night's sleep will put me back in working order for the morning run. We are dumping a load (the baby kale) early in the morning (4am) and then heading to somewhere in Kansas to drop off an empty trailer, and then back down to Laredo, Texas to drop off another empty container. After that, I believe we are heading east through Louisiana, Georgia, etc!

In essence, it will be a good day tomorrow to be sick as it's heading up to Kansas... I think we go through Oklahoma to get to Kansas, and I do remember really liking Oklahoma last year (all the Indian Reservations and casinos!)

I'm listening to 2 different conversations, and it can't understand either one of them. One is in Spanish, but the dialect I can't follow, and he is talking really fast. The other is English, but definitely southern. Heh heh.

People here in the here parts of the States still say, "maam"- like in the Middle East. It still seems weird to me- even here in America. People are really friendly in Texas I have noticed. Everybody makes conversation with you- cashiers, waitpersons, etc.

Every time I ride passenger in the cab, I think how cool it would be to do my PhD on ethnographies of truckers.  I would want to focus on oral histories and storytelling. These guys, and gals, young and old, have stories to tell. They see so much on the road. Even their individual stories of where they come from, their routes, weirdest things experienced on the road, etc, would be of interest to many I'm sure. It can't just be me that thinks this is so interesting. There are also so many of ethnicities of truck drivers. This further entails more stories- culturally relevant. The area of err search seems so rich and... wide open.  I guess I need to do some research to see if this has been done before. To me it sounds unique, but perhaps someone already 'beat me to the punchline' as we say :)

Here's a story from the road yesterday. We were somewhere in Arizona. We were eating at a truck stop. A young Native American lady (I assume a Hopi as she mentioned she was born and raised in the immediate area) had a jewelry stand set up inside near the entrance toe truck stop restaurant. I was looking at her things (all silver, copper and turquoise, and all beautiful) and saw some dolls.  I asked about them as I have a girlfriend that is pregnant and I thought the handmade Indian dolls were really cool and would be a neat gift for her unborn daughter. She said they were "Kachina Dolls." It is a tradition of the Hopi Indians to make these dolls. She mentioned that the Navajo also started making them, but it is tar additional for only the Hopi. Also, she mentioned that it was a dying tradition to make these dolls. Because we were hungry I set one aside to purchase later, after eating, and left to eat. Besides, I wanted to take some more time to look at the jewelry!

Back at the table I learned from Mr. J.S. that the Hopi traditionally made these for their own and that they were very sacred and that we foreigners were not supposed to handle them, etc. I sat and thought about it, not necessarily agreeing, but listing to the argument presented. Him being part Native American himself, I had to take this into consideration. To sum up, I didn't agree that an outsider shouldn't have one, but I respected his opinion and decided that I wouldn't buy one and lug it around in truck for the rest of our journey.

After eating, I found the girl again and told her a short summary of why I wasn't going to be able to purchase the doll. She was okay with this decision, but said she hadn't hard this before (again, it is likely an old tradition, and the younger generations are breaking away from tradition generally - due to just the modern world pushing forward as well as other issues I'm sure). Her daughter came up to her at this point, as well as Mr. J.S. so we all started talking. The woman had 5 children (she looked so young herself, as well as very small and fit)! It just turned into a really cool situation and ex stayed a while and bought some jewels:)  that is it- the story. Nothing monumental, but just talk story. I really dig that shit.  That is what is so appealing of driving across America in a semi-truck!

Not sure what time it's, or even what day or date... Must be on vacation. We are in Denton, Texas en route to Dodge City, Kansas to drop off an empty trailer. Yesterday was pretty much a blur. Definitely shitty to be sick while riding in a semi-truck. Speaking of which, I could never do this for a living as I need to go pee way too much...

Here's a little tidbit that explains Texas, perhaps. Late last night I went inside the truck stop to go pee (we were parked a wee bit too far from the truck stop last night I might add). Anyway, as I was coming out I noticed a sign saying, "hair color and perms available." Truck stops here in America can be petty luxurious now- I'm being totally serious.  There are tv rooms, laundromats, game rooms, different restaurants, etc. There are also hair salons sometimes. I haven't seen a hair salon advertising for perms in many, many years!  This cracked me up at 2 am for sure.

Just saw a sign for the Chickasaw a Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Another sign for Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies. Damn this IS the land of open grasslands, trees and billboard signs.