Sunday, July 20, 2003

July 19, 2003
Marathon drive over to Lincoln yesterday. Left at six AM, traffic was pretty light all the way up the hill to Payson. Took the Fort McDowell cutoff. Saved about five minutes and I always wanted to see Old Fort McDowell where Martha Summerhays spent part of her US Army life. Of course there appears to be no original fort there, only 1960s era government buildings

Got to Payson at about 7:40 and decided to try a new cafe. Chose the 260 Cafe, on Highway 260, natch. Sparse interior, no booths, just tables scattered around a small dining room. Brought in the Arizona Republic to read and as the waitress poured me coffee she said, “Any good news, hon?” And I said, “Nothing but bad news and destruction.” She sniffed right back, “That’s why I don’t read any papers or watch TV.” I didn’t really believe her, but I snorted some silly sound, equivalent to total approval.

It was about this time I realized there was a Native American woman in the room with Tourette’s Syndrome. The first time I heard it I thought someone in the kitchen had been scalded, but by the third outburst, I looked up and saw her pained husband (or was he her son, I couldn’t tell) talking to her in low tones. Fortunately she was swearing in Navajo or Apache, but it seemed like she was unhappy with Blockbuster because her outbursts kind of sounded like this: “Wah, na-ha, Cheltsma, DVD!” She used the DVD word quite a bit. Granted, it could have been a Navajo word that sounds like DVD but isn’t. Sometimes it sounded like she was yelling about WMDs and I thought for awhile it might be a political discussion. Of course me and everyone else in the dining room pretended we couldn’t hear a thing. I started counting her outbursts and she seemed to get about two-and-a-half bites of ham and eggs in before another attack.

The food was real mediocre ($7.13 cash, left a $10) but with entertainment like that who can complain? They don’t have that kind of a deal going on the last time I was at Denny’s.

Got some peaches and apples at Overgaard ($11 cash) and gas and a water jug in Springerville ($17 cash), and launched my Ranger out into the wilds of New Mexico. Forgot how pretty it is out there on the way to Magdalena. Stopped in Quemado at a roadside picnic table on the far end of town and drank water and watched the locals. It’s really great to travel alone because I don’t have to negotiate with anyone. If I want to cruise the back streets, here we go. If I want to stop, I stop. Pretty cool, really. Had a run-in with a woman from Datil (rhymes with saddle) though and I’ll tell that story manana.

“What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.”
—Ellen Burstyn

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