• Southwest Tour 2009 Second Installment

November 7th, 2009 (from Austin, still looking back)

...We got into the town of Desert Hot springs in the late afternoon and after unloading our things into the hotel room we drove 40 minutes up the hill through Yucca Valley and into Joshua Tree National Monument to watch the sunset. A few miles in we found a place to pull over and walk out into the trees and boulders. The sun was sinking into the hills as we scrambled up the piles of rocks, amazed at the trees around us that looked straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. The quiet and coolness of the high desert air at dusk was stunning, especially after having spent the last several days surrounded by the hum and glare or L.A.

We capped the night off with a swim and soak back at Desert Hot Springs, leaving my skin tingling. A few hours of sleep and then up before the sun to get back up to the park as early as possible. The eastern sky was on fire as we loaded the car. Packed and ready to go we set off, saying our goodbyes to sea level lands for the next few weeks.

The independent coffee house we'd heard so much about from a friend had recently closed it's doors in Yucca Valley due to corporate competition, and we were forced to get our cup filled by Starbuck's....As John Prine wrote in an unrelated reference: "...and they wrote it all down as the progress of man..."

But the Joshua Trees were calling to us as the sun inched up above the horizon and we rolled back into the park with 30-50mph winds whipping across the landscape. Up we went to the highest point in the park to peer down across the valley and the clear line of the San Andreas fault running across the floor. Palm Springs to the west and the Salton Sea shimmering further east. Back down we went through hundreds of acres of those strange crooked statuesque Joshua Trees hovering over us like aliens. Jumping out of the car for a picture or two in the parking lot under the shadow of Cap Rock. I hummed a few lines of "Wheels" as I thought of Gram Parson's buddy setting the man's body ablaze (according Gram's own wishes) on this spot some thirty years earlier....

Onward, twisting through the desert roads barely encountering a soul as we walked out to the ruins of Ryan Ranch and got a glimpse of a life mining these hills for ore and living in an adobe brick house. Scraps of discarded iron ties and pipe lay around the remaining walls of the ranch house.

As we made the slow descent out of the park back to the wide river of asphalt of Interstate 10 we watched as the Joshua Trees dissipated and were suddenly gone like ghosts. With a left hand turn and a step on the gas we sped off east toward Tempe and the great Southwest.

November 8th, 2009 (a-lookin' back still)

We pulled into the Phoenix area on October 27th around 4:30 in the afternoon in the middle of a dust storm. The was a swirling beige and the air was warm. There wasn't much to see, and even less to describe but it was interesting to be in the midst of the storms that Woody Guthrie sang about all those years ago. A couple hours of down time and then we made our way over to Three Roots Coffee to set up. It was a comfortable little cafe right across from Arizona State University; good coffee, friendly people and a very nice room to play in. We set up the Bose P.A. (which has been an AMAZING addition on this tour!) as students sat studying and chatting. I immediately recognized the sister of my great friend Paul House as she walked in with their mother and various nieces and nephews. It was so nice to have them in the audience, truly supportive even though none of us had ever met. Suddenly the room felt familiar, as if we were playing in a place we'd been to before. To top it all off, in walked Daryl Scariot with his wife, daughter, and son. We had done a show years ago in the Bay Area before he'd moved out to Phoenix. They stayed for the entire show and made us feel even more at home.

The entire night was lovely. The audience was very supportive, we had a great time playing and we were treated with such generosity by the folks working and by Ryan, the owner. And as we left town the next morning, after a couple coffees on the house (tea for Megan), we set up another show there for our return trip in a couple weeks. That makes two added shows on this Southwest Tour since we've been out. Not too shabby....

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