Pattison on Wheels

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Comments Please

I have opened this blog to comments from anyone. No need to sign up anymore.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Friday, February 8, 2008

ID Please

Anyone recognize this bird of prey? TIA.

Thanks to those who helped. It evidently is a Cooper's Hawk. I was not aware that they were successful residents in treeless areas. 

Warm Now

Camped at Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park. I finally got down to a tee shirt though it was cold at night at 4000 feet altitude.

Palm Desert today actually made me turn on the air conditioner. I'm going to be alright.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I stopped at The Mojave National Preserve and did a nice little hike. Then I programmed the GPS to take me to Lake Havasu City and not use freeways. The old road was empty. The towns Essex and Goff were almost empty. Final stages of Ghost Town syndrome. The road was so straight and long and featureless that I experimented with driving on the left for a while. Once I got the GPS to admit that I was going 100MPH. I’m a generally law abiding person but had there been a sign setting a speed limit it was impossible to drive less than 70. The vistas were so big in every direction that you couldn’t judge them at all. I have a sense of distance but the GPS assured me that the upcoming intersection I estimated at half a mile was in fact 2.5 miles away.

Lake Havasu city is very friendly. I talked to a sheriff’s deputy and a park host and they were friendly and free with advice. Both told me about miles of free camping on BLM land. Things are prettiy loose around here. I imagine the people are humble because at a deep intuitive level they know that the whole idea of this profoundly artificial lake in the desert is not a solid basis for a city. I am stunned by the contradiction in the way Zorba was stunned by the idea of a mule.

The city is a mixture of trash-strewn gravel and new malls surrounded by new homes. There is a sense of money in the air. The Rotary Park is a gorgeous study in lawn care—playgrounds, beaches, cabanas, playing fields, et al. Lots of cute little cotton-tail bunnies come out at night and gambol on the grass. There is a giant Home Depot and a giant Lowes in town. Ghost Town Syndrome early stage. London Bridge famously imported to provide much needed culture but it didn’t really do the job.

I am trying hard to give up thinking but it isn’t going well. Perfect honesty, I can see, is very empty of thought. The thoughts start without my being aware of them. It is like going to sleep. I never really remember going to sleep very well. I remember only waking up. I remind myself to celebrate when I become aware that, oops, I have been thinking again. After all, it is the awareness that is the goal of this exercise. Nevertheless, I usually give myself a few black marks for drifting off again.

From Zen Flesh, Zen Bones compiled by Paul Reps, Kakuan’s comment to the fourth bull:
He dwelt in the forest for a long time, but I caught him today! Infatuation with scenery interferes with his direction. Longing for sweeter grass, he wanders away. His mind still is stubborn and unbridled. If I wish him to submit I must raise my whip.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sublime To Ridiculous

From the beauty and middle-class charm of Santa Barbara I moved through several distinct worlds to a cheap motel in Victorville. The photo I really wanted to get was of this martian landscape of bare rocks with a freeway running right through the middle of it. The freeway was a parking lot because there were three accidents in a half mile distance. I would have pulled over and taken the photo for you but there was no such option.

Five pound bags of oranges for $1. Strange landscapes with odd habitations dotting the surface. Climbing inland so it was not getting warmer. I think I'm heading for Lake Havasu City but who knows? Sometimes I just punch in a town to the GPS and tell it to avoid freeways.

Photo near Palmdale CA.

Getting There

Last night in the hostel was pretty good. Nice people having a Super Bowl party. I slept well with the ear plugs. The cooking feature is real nice. I don’t think I love the dorm idea but that’s why it’s cheap.

Out of there around 10:30 and rolling south on hwy one with a lot of stops to look around and try to take pictures of hovering ospreys but they always soared away. Good for me to get out of the car anyway.

The coast was gorgeous with a sparkling clear day. I’m so glad I chose the coast route.

I had one juicy insight which I recorded on my little voice recorder to wit: “I was driving today and I felt like I wanted to pass this car but I didn’t really know the road well enough to figure out whether is was safe to pass or not and I could feel the feeling of what it is like to take a gamble that I can’t afford to lose. The feeling was familiar telling me that I sometimes perform desperate acts. “

Some time in the afternoon it became warm enough to take off my coat. I got a fish taco in Morro Bay and the guy told me about a State Beach that has hot showers near Santa Barbara.

I must say that it was great moment when I had the Roadmate GPS telling me where to go and the laptop telling me where the wifi was.

I was getting tired by 5 and had no arrangements for a place to sleep
and no clue whether El Refugio State Beach would be crowded but I kept telling myself to trust. Sure enough I made it with only mild sciatica and there were lots of camp spots right on the beautiful sunset lit beach (see photo).

In the morning I cruised the street in Santa Barbara where my career an an addict really took hold. I remembered quite a lot considering my condition 47 years ago.

Stabbed the map and I'm heading east now for a while. Looking for warm nights too.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Rolling . . .

Goodbyes and then down the coast on Highway 1 watching beautiful stormy weather, watching my own pride, hawks, narcissism, breakers, sadness, and windsurfers.

Any day I can look at my own defects and feelings and accept them—that is a good day.

Close to 200 miles but I'm not warm yet. Chilled to the bone getting this shot at Pebble Beach.