Il Parabrezza (The Windshield) Post 3
By David Danforth at Sep 24, 2008
The run to the Southwest leaves Lochbuie on Saturday afternoon; the first drops are in the Salt Lake City area on Sunday. Salt Lake is about 500 miles to the west. Then on to Phoenix, 650 miles south. It's hard to make the Phoenix appointments on time. Sometimes I can't make them and run legal, both.
To get from Salt Lake to Phoenix you take I-15 to south of Beaver, UT, then you jump east to US-89 on UT-20. You run US-89, a two lane road, south to Flagstaff, where you pick up I-17 and take it into Phoenix.
I will tell you something you can take to the bank. Utah is the most beautiful state in the union (and I've been to all of them.)
US-89 runs nearly straight south until you come to the town of Kanab, UT which is three miles north of the Arizona border. There it turns sharply east to divert around the Grand Canyon. 65 miles on and US-89 again turns south and crosses into Arizona. Another 10 miles brings you to the Colorado River crossing at the Glen Canyon Dam. A mile more and you come to the town of Page.
The drive south out of Page is hard in a big truck. The road is narrow, and traverses a cliff face. The curves are so tight that I must take care not to drag my trailer into oncoming traffic; the grades, mostly descents when headed southbound, are steep.
This is the entrance to the Navajo Nation.
The land is desolate and cratered; nothing grows. As the road continues south, there are souvenir stands along the way (architecturally, they are lean-to's). Sometimes they are attended. A wind storm came up on my last trip: imagine a dust storm on the moon.
At this point, I'll have been driving for the entire day, and the light will be fading. I'll not make it to Flagstaff, much less Phoenix, before I run out of legal driving time.
A few weeks ago, I stopped for the night at Speedy's, a small truck stop in the Navajo hamlet of Cameron.
The Navajo reservation is about the size of West Virginia. It overlays parts of three states: Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. I read that there is oil there, that there are between 150-250,000 residents, and that the average income is $750 a year. A community organizer I once met who lived in Farmington, New Mexico (on the border of the reservation) said that Farmington was the black tar heroin capital of the United States.
Cameron is a commercial center of about 1000 people. There is a trading post for tourists, a grocery store, laundromat, and a few other businesses, Speedy's among them.
I pulled into Speedy's, parked and turned off my engine. I went inside, bought a beef and bean burrito, brushed my teeth, returned to my truck, ate the burrito and went to sleep in my bunk.
US-89 is well traveled, but early in the morning there is a time when it is empty. The wind had stopped blowing. I was surprised by the silence.
Across 89 from Speedy's there is a cluster of homes, western style, not hogans. They are uniform; I'd guess the government was involved in their construction.
Before 7:00am, 30 or so kids, high school students, emerged from the homes and crossed the street to Speedy's. One kid had forgone his books for an electric guitar. He carried it across his back like a quiver. It was neck down; I wanted to say, "Watch it or you'll catch your scroll on something," but I didn't. A school bus came. It had 'Flagstaff Public Schools' written on the side. The kids boarded. Flagstaff is 51 miles south of Cameron, but I don't know where the bus went.
A couple of dogs ran loose.
A man came towards me from the houses. He introduced himself as Norman, and shook my hand. His nose was misshapen: squashed and bent. His smile was silly. I could not tell how old he was. He said he missed the bus and needed a couple of dollars to get to Flagstaff so that he could report for a UA. As he spoke he held up a baby food bottle full of what was presumably piss. I was sure that everything he had said and was about to say was a crock. I gave him the $2.
I began to think about leaving. I went back into Speedy's, bought another beef and bean, returned to my truck, and did my pre-trip. (Daily vehicle inspection is required by law.) Norman was still hanging around. A friend had joined him, as had the dogs. One of the dogs, a young one, looked like he'd run nose first into a cactus. The end of his muzzle was full of 2" pins, like acupuncture. I asked Norman what was up with the dog. Norman said, "Porcupine."
I wonder if Norman helped the dog out.
I mounted up: Phoenix in 200 miles.
A trucker's life is made of of sojourns like this. We have glimpses of lives, but then we move on.
Parecon is a response to lives lived in history, and history's principal service is to record the movement or conveyence of property.
Parecon places hope in "letting go" of property. Common notions of ownership, and its siblings, accumulation and entitlement, are objects of Parecon's reforms. The impact of these "common notions" on the Navajo, and other groups, has been genocidal.
And I am finding these notions a bit of a drain, myself.