Saturday, 17 March 2018

Field Notes (Week 1)

I thought I’d have lots of time to blog when we were on our road trip. Not so. I learned (again) that a road trip is a time to observe and take notes, but all that info needs time to percolate. Now, a week after we are back, I'm ready to blog again.

These notes are from week one, when we were driving long days to get to our destination. You can learn a lot about a culture through observation, even through the window of our car when you're driving thousands of km. on the Interstate.

●    Three billboards about a mile apart: “Getting tired of knitting, Granny?” “We’ve got you covered.” “Stop in at xxx Casino and we’ll show you what fun is.” Another Casino urges you to “Celebrate the Great Indoors.”
●    Another billboard in the middle of nowhere, painted with lurid flames: “Lust will drive you down to HELL.” Whoa!
●    Cannabis is a big thing: “Need Weed? We got it. Call Cana King.” “The desert’s finest weed – 1st gram free.”Makes you wonder how many tokers are sharing the road with you.
●    Duelling billboards highlight the very serious situation of California’s water shortage, which is pitting farmers against environmentalists. “The Salton Sea Crisis is real.” “Save the Delta, stop the Canal.” And this:

Cell phone towers have proliferated – they are everywhere. Some disguise themselves as artistic statements. One looked like a jigsaw puzzle cross outside a church. But the strangest were the fake pine trees we named pinus cellphonicus – tall poles with fake pine branches sticking out of them in every direction. At first glance, I couldn't believe it, but when I googled the concept, I found out it's not just pines, but cacti, palm trees, name it, they're cell phone towers in disguise. Here's an example I found on a website -- the car was going too fast to get a good one for myself.

photo by Robert Voit on Amusing Planet.
 You can see more at this site: "Can you hear me now?" Absolutely, with all of that help out there!

We saw this:

That coffee has to be as black as tar, don’t you think?

Then we saw a big industrial building, with these words painted on its side: Firearms. Buy. Sell. Trade. Rent.  Ummm, rent? “I’d like to rent a gun, please. I’ll only need it for an hour or so, it’s a very small job.” We saw a Safari Park next door to the gun shop; perhaps the renter might just go and bag himself a giraffe or a tiger?

But the best signs we saw were at Slide Rock State Park north of Sedona, Arizona. The park features a creek that cascades down slippery rocks for about ½ mile and is a very popular swimming hole when the temperatures reach 110 in the shade.

At the park, there’s a concession/restaurant with an outdoor patio. From the patio roof hang signs advertising such things as postcards, ice cream, soft drinks, french fries etc. But if you’re on the inside, looking out, the back sides of the signs are painted with delightful slogans and sayings – good words to live by.  Better than a billboard any day.

Sometimes, the best things are just not standing right out in the open advertising themselves. You need to poke around to find them.

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