JEEP!

The whole of Ecuador lent me one simple idea (perhaps more, but humor me). Explore more. Knowing there is all sorts that I haven’t seen in the United States, there is certainly more to experience in Tucson. Saturday night I took care of business.

To Megan’s to rendezvous with the Jeep driver, we spent some time waiting for our last passenger and were finally on our way.

East. We went East and then North. We passed the road for Mt. Lemon. Where were we going? East. Stopping for gas we met another fellow who drove qute the outfit, a Jeep raised higher than ours, with cargo netting protecting the back seat from detachment I suppose, shovels and gas cans. The fellow wished us luck for the night. The road turned north and the temperature dropped 5 degrees. Then dirt, then wash board, then a small turn off that was noted by a U.S. Forestry Service Sign.

Having been “off roading” in the past I was looking forward to some bumps and jumps and some dust in the eyes, I was .. how do you say… arrogant? Girls were giggly and I simply smiled – ready to watch, perhaps as a veteran thrill seeker finds joy in watching eager 12 year old girls climb aboard a carousel horse. …

… only this veteran thrill seeker didn’t see the carousel horse was actually attached to the space shuttle. Even the veteran was thrilled.

The Jeep bumped and jumped all over and our driver put his foot down. We went faster! Over berms and when there was a choice, the road less traveled. There was no pavement, so we indeed were off roading, but there was also no actual road. The only thing was there were less plants where we were driving. Boulders the size of truck tires, drops the height of my chest, you could have hidden a Saturn behind some of the gaps we ventured over. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a vehicle that had such gal, let alone going 35 miles per hour. The car was sideways and vertical.. each joint in my body was confidently exercised and every vertebra extended and realigned. After a while, because of my position behind the driver, I stopped trying to see what was next and turned my attention to the volatile horizon.

One could see a bucket full of city lights through the saddle of one small hill, and a light haze over the crest of near by peaks. Mt. Bigalow’s radio towers kept one’s sense of direction on track and the Moon illuminated the land. Everything was a light blue, rocks didn’t appear as fast, shadows didn’t creep as fast, and we could go extra fast. Matt, our driver, was even able to halt the jeep and reach down to pick up a pen he had spotted in the fold of one particular rock. Perhaps it was a plant, some previously meditated trick to impress us, either way it was quite remarkable, though not as remarkable as the orchestration of music to driving.

With an array of different tunes playing, the scenery and pace of the trip was wholly matched to the soundtrack. One particular instance involved a remix of Nentendo’s original Maro soundtrack. The Jeep jumped and bumped seemingly at the whim of the frequency and not with the road. The song moved onto the underground and so too did the lighting, we drove through taller desert trees and the road was obscured, exiting we ventured to the calm cloud level. The Jeep found a gully and moved up gentle slopes and then back down again, dancing with dust billowing about. The last exit of the Jeep from the gully and we now had a star, invincible the Jeep flew over ditches and boulders, like a skipping stone across water. Finally the song ended, but still the thrill of my ride set so closely to the energy and pulse of the music. It was amazing.

The Jeep was now away from the city. It was simply desert and we drove like we were being chased, simply because we were remote didn’t mean the pace slowed, in fact at times I believe it was actually hastened as if banchees or Alqida were hot on our track. Again I examined the horizon.

Trees, now with the moon over head, were thin and bright and they seemed to reach up at the sky, yearning to be closer. The rough terrain was visually smoothed and appeared as though a blanket covered the scape, the texture due to the sleeping earth beneath, a toe sticking out here and there to prove existence. And here we were, Man, Machine, Dominant. Or was it simply that we were granted passage on this particular night, allowed to trespass, conjuring in our minds that we were dominant, but in truth something larger had given permission. Does a pet perceive freedom if it’s allowed off it’s chain to roam into a yard? Remarkably, these thoughts met me while traveling quickly, noisley, and by no means smoothly, through the eastern desert of Tucson in a 4-wheelin’, 4-seatin’ Jeep. My brain was tired, my body more so, my eyes the most. I fell asleep.

Soon we were back on Speedway and at my house again. After I extended thanks, my new friend left with it’s driver and the three other passengers. I slept solid. Then woke up and made my pancakes, fried eggs, and coffee.