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  • Writer's pictureHannah Grabenstein

Days 14 and 15 for real, Marathon, Texas and Silver City, New Mexico

I know everyone is coming here for an update to the hive saga so here it is: they didn't get better, and I was really uncomfortable, and then they got better. Whatever. My skin has always been too sensitive and clearly overreacted and I have been downing Benadryl and have moved to Zyrtec plus both calamine and cortisone BUT after a quick scare last night I think I can safely say they're at least on the mend. I haven't been itchy at all. It's been a bitch to deal with but it's not life threatening or anything so I persevere!

In the morning in Marathon yesterday, Klemie and Tom had me over for breakfast after I slept in a little. Breakfast was delicious steel cut oats, cranberries and flax seed, plus orange juice and coffee. Klemie also made me a road lunch of veggie patties and mustard on a tortilla which, when I eventually did eat them on the road later, were perfect.

Then they showed me the spring five miles away where the original town was founded by Buffalo Soldiers and brought me to the small grocer in town which thankfully sold the ointments my dumb body needed. And they sent me on my way with Oreos, three types of chips, lunch and small town newspapers for my perusal.

On the road I encountered my second border patrol stop of the trip - the first was coming out of Big Bend. At the park I was so uncomfortable and itchy and was afraid it would take awhile. I drove up and rolled down my window, and two agents came to either side of my car. The one at the driver's side said, "Hi, how are you?" and I said "Fine thanks, you?" and he said, "Fine. American citizen?" and I said, "Yup." and he said "Have a nice day." and that was that!

At the second stop, there was a little speed bump at a station and an automatic camera took a picture of each car through the windshield. Then I pulled up to the agent and he said, "Hi, how are you?" and I said, "Fine thanks, you?" and he said, "Have a nice day." How enigmatic.

I also caved as I drove to and through El Paso and listened to the Grateful Dead's version of the song by Marty Robbins which I HATE because it's just one big giant eye roll of a story to me and then the narrator ends up dead in the end. But there I was in the west Texas town of El Paso and Marty himself kept barging into my thoughts so I appeased him, somewhat. And it really is fun to belt along to alone in the car.

It's kind of nuts to drive through El Paso and see Ciudad Juarez to the south. It's much, much more colorful but also noticeably less wealthy. It's the closest I've ever been to the U.S. border to the north or the south. It's also strange to drive along in these massive empty spaces of west Texas and New Mexico (and Arizona and Utah and Nevada, which I've driven through before) and there's NOTHING for miles and then suddenly! There's a town or a city! It feels so disconnected, so totally random for there to suddenly be civilization in the mountains or the desert. Somehow it kind of scares me, but I also love it.

Also it's extraordinarily beautiful. It rained in the desert, just for me, for quite a bit of my drive to Silver City, but as I started on the smaller route north off of I-10, it started to clear up and then suddenly oh, the clouds parted and the setting sun was so golden on the mountains and the sky was still so blue and the cliffs and peaks were swirled in the low clouds. It was stunning and I felt so lucky to be able to drive through it.

Now I'm at my great Aunt Starr and Uncle Mitch's house in Silver City. It's an old mining town (of course. Isn't everything out here just a movie set for an Eastwood film?) and it's now quirky and artsy, with tons of galleries and massive curbs and a Main Street that's no longer a street after it sank 50 feet in some parts when a flood destroyed it decades ago. We've been sort of meandering through the historic downtown, though it's pretty brisk here at nearly 6000 feet up. It's really such a stunning area.

I'm running out of adjectives to describe the beauty of this part of the country, but it's just unreal. It's so majestic and awesome (awe-some awesome, not rad awesome though I guess that too), and I absolutely love it. I could drive forever through these straightaways. You crest a peak and then you look ahead and the road disappears miles in the distance at a tiny point in the horizon, and you crank up the music and roll down the window and just go. It's great.

Playlist yesterday:

1. My downloaded music shuffled for lack of service

2. Silence for lack of service

3. Graceland, Paul Simon. It's my favorite album and this listen was inspired by my father who just got a remastered vinyl of it and said it sounds incredible so I did it an injustice by listening through my shit car speakers.

4. With the Beatles The Beatles

5. A Google Instant Mix staring with "El Paso," performed by the Dead

6. A Google Instant Mix staring with "Mexicali Blues," by the Dead, but then that got repetitive so -

8. A Google Instant Mix starting with "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" by John Mayer, and in which Google tried to play "When I Paint My Masterpiece" by The Band for the third time so I called home.


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