[guest entry by Micah, once again]
"Fantastic!" said Erica, for no apparent reason. "Wow, Micah! Look at this! Stop doing the thing I told you to do and do this new thing!
"Fantastic," she said again, and she was right. The scenery was amazing. My dictation skills, exhibited here, were poor as promised; it's hard to write down all of the words being said when you're constantly adding narration. Dictation, incidentally, was the first thing, as referenced in the preceding paragraph, which Erica had told me to do.
"Foray into the desert!" 'This is the place where all the junkies go, to something something and come see our show!'" sings Erica, who is appearing very exclamatory due to my extreme use of exclamation points. This is because she hasn't said a single thing all day, only exclaimed. We drove into hill country of Texas at night, and aside from smelling when we were driving through oil fields, we had no real idea of what was around us. I expect Erica should be numb to the novelty in approximately a quintillion hours. Assuming a quintillion is an actual number and not some sort of a dance, anyway.
You may note a startling lack of input from Erica here, even for my admittedly sparse dictation style. This is because she's settled into singing snippets of Red Hot Chili Peppers songs and staring open-mouthed at the landscape. The latter is untranscribable, and you can look the former up on the Web yourself, if you care. It's possible that she's waiting for me to reach the end of my narration, in which case more fool her; I'm exceptionally verbose.
Erica's talking about assigning music to each of the days, which is all very interesting, but still does not tie into my assigned task of dictation. Therefore, I'll just write things that will annoy her later when she reads them. I find birds uninteresting. All trees look basically the same to me, and serve identical purposes. I enjoy being able to go to any major city and eat in the same restaurant.
Erica has chimed in: "I don't know what you're writing, and it's making me nervous." Let no one question her perspicacity!
Some food-related things I have learned from this trip: dried fruit has the amazing ability, even through a sealed plastic bag, to make everything near it sticky. Despite this small failing, it becomes tastier as the days progress. The same cannot be said – past a certain point – for collard greens. Carrots can be lost under great piles of stuff and emerge days later unscathed. I assume that they receive special training in patience and burial while growing up underground.
"Can you write this sign down? 'Prison Area: Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers.'" A note worth interrupting my food litany for, to be sure. It's not much of a worry on this trip, anyway, as the back is full of stuff. Any hitchhikers we picked up would have to be very flat and not mind extreme discomfort. Of course, this also describes someone who's just squeezed through an escape tunnel from prison, so maybe it's a good warning after all.
"Las Cruces! Wow, we made some interesting time across this country. Not 'good,' necessarily – I think 'interesting' is the best way to look at it." It's true. Although we were making good time up until Sheffield last night, the time spent waiting for policemen to come bail us out was definitely more in the "interesting" category. I've never before had to decide if waking up a small-town sheriff with a K-9 vehicle in his front yard would be a good idea. We are happily unmauled and unshot, so it was at the least not an actively bad idea.
"This is the sort of country that makes you want to leap to your feet and applaud," Erica says, paraphrasing Douglas Adams. I agree, but mainly because the numerous small hills and mesas remind me of the fire ant mounds we saw all along the side of the road down the East Coast. I approve of ants on a Them scale on general principles.
"Holy hell. This is awesome. I'm not getting bored of this!" I told you so. Days of this, I have yet to face. In fairness, I've been telling the same joke for five days now, so it's not like I'm the only one suffering here. Besides which, she's absolutely right. The scenery is beautiful. It's sparse and earthen and fantastically different. Somewhere in the night, we lost the trees; everything here is short and ruggedly tenacious.
That said, we have just taken a detour off of the highway and come across someone's attempt at beautification: a dozen sickly pines strapped up in cages. "Trees? Yeah, right!" says Erica, and she is right. They don't belong here.
I wonder sometimes if my travelogues miss the point, as they tend to be only tangentially connected to where I've been, and far more concerned with the conversations and thoughts I've had along the way. There's a case to be made that those mono- and dialogues could not have occurred under any other circumstances, of course, but perhaps I should try existing outside of my own head once in a while. As I'm currently examining the idea that I overanalyze things instead of watching the scenery, now seems like a good time to start. I'll return later, possibly with more input from Erica.
[Author's note: apparently I won't return later, unless you count this addendum. Also, I still don't know what the heck Erica was planning to dictate to me. I think that means I won this dictation.]
Music: This is the Place, Red Hot Chili Peppers (hey RHCPs, why not put your official videos on YouTube like everyone else does?)