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Archive for June 18th, 2010

My awesome, and intimidating, one-sided tan

One side benefit of my new gypsy lifestyle — in which the dog and I have given up our housing to spend some time exploring America — is that I am now a bronzed God.

Not all of me, mind you, just my left arm, which has been resting out the open car window as we make our way west.

I like driving with the window down. Ace, being wiser, prefers the air conditioning. So we compromise: window down, AC on, and the vents aimed in his direction — until, at least, it gets so hot that I come around to his point of view.

As a result of all that arm resting out the window, though, my left arm has a tan to die for — not a farmer tan, more of a truck driver tan.

With my pasty stay at home days behind me, the open road ahead, I’m digging my left arm, which may be making the rest of my body jealous. I think my left arm is almost ready to go out in public, perhaps check out the dating scene, maybe start hitting the gym, so it can be as toned as it is tanned.

The rest of me will probably stay home — oh yeah, we don’t have one, make that inside — but my left arm, I think, wants to go out and hoist a few.

Of course, all this leaves me uneven, a split personality, dermatologically speaking — and it will continue to get more pronounced unless I spend some time on the passenger side, which, as I’m traveling only with my dog, is probably not advisable.

I’ll just have to cope with being a two-toned human being, and let the two sides fight it out.

John’s left arm: Dude, c’mon, let’s go out.

Pasty John: No, I want to watch this Law & Order I’ve previously viewed five times.

John’s left arm: C’mon, let’s go climb a mountain or do some river rafting. How about we at least check out the motel pool?

Pasty John: No! Might I remind you that, despite your extremely awesome tan, you are the weaker of the two arms. You’re not in charge here. Now quit flexing.

John’s left arm: Can I at least work the remote?

Pasty John: No, I don’t trust you.

The contrast between my arms is only likely to get worse in the days ahead. We still have to cross the rest of New Mexico and half of Arizona, where I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if my left arm is required to show proof of citizenship.

“Are you two together?” the Border Patrol agent will ask.

“Never seen him before in my life,” my pasty side will answer.

(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” click here.)

Roadside Encounters: Bear

Name: Bear

Breed: Lab-shepherd mix

Age: Unknown

Encountered: An exit ramp off eastbound I-40 near Clines Corners, N.M.

Headed: Home to Bristol, Virginia

From: Unknown

Travel habits: Easygoing, but his owners — a husband, wife and son — ran into car trouble and spent all $400 they had on fixing the radiator. So they hand-wrote a sign about their misfortune and sat on the exit ramp with Bear, seeking donations. Seeing them stranded, I stopped, met Bear, and asked if they needed help. “We’re flat broke,” the husband said. I gave them $20, but — that only being half a tank these days — they didn’t seem too happy about it. Then I asked if I could take a picture of their dog. “You’ll have to ask my wife,” the husband said. The wife, sitting on the ground behind the trunk of the car, said, “I don’t allow pictures of anything.” She said it quite gruffly. I got back in my car and moved on, stopping to take this photo from far away.

(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” click here.)

The road to Albuquerque

The road from Roswell to Albuquerque — not too long, not too winding — seems paved with misfortune.

Highway 285 has long stretches of emptiness, and is dotted with small dusty towns, like Vaughn and Encino, where even “New Menagement” apparently couldn’t save this place.

That means there are some real estate bargains (see left), but it also means hard times behind and likely ahead.

And, of course, no Starbucks, unlike Albuquerque, where I passed two as soon as I exited, and where I’m now enjoying an iced coffee.

The oppressive humidity of the past week is, I think, behind me. Ace too, as he munches on my left over ice cubes, seems more comfortable.

Tonight, we spend the first of two nights with a complete stranger, who has offered me her couch. Details Saturday.

(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” click here.)