My twenty-five favorite rest stop walks

Palm_Springs_rest_stop_3918B[1]I spend a lot of time at rest stops. Those blue road signs promise relief and a break from driving. It’s really nice when they add “Next rest xx miles” so I can plan ahead. Can I hold it? Yes. No. Maybe. Can I stay awake that long? I hope so. But will the rest stop be open? On my recent trip to Tucson, half the rest stops in Arizona and California were closed. Come on road guys. Don’t promise relief and not deliver, especially when there’s no visible reason why it’s closed. I can’t tell you how many times I have scanned the roadside thinking maybe I’ll have to find a secluded tree or bush.

Most of the rest stops I have seen look pretty much alike: parking lots, buildings with Men and Women signs on the sides, picnic tables, dog walk area, maybe maps and soft drink machines, maybe a coffee concession. Sometimes people camp out front with backpacks, bedrolls, dogs, guitars and signs begging for money.

People walking around rest stops often have that disoriented look we all have coming out of movie theaters, a kind of wow-where-are-we-everything’s-so-bright-what-just-happened look. I have come up with a list of walking styles I have seen—and done—at rest stops throughout the American west. Perhaps you have seen them too. I welcome your additions in the comments.

(I know where the hyphens go, but I’m too lazy to add them. Consider them implied.)

  1. The oh my god I forgot how to walk walk
  2. The hunched over it’s freezing here walk
  3. The oh shit it’s raining walk
  4. The ah, sunshine leisure walk
  5. The I really don’t know where I am walk
  6. The hey, wait wait wait dog walk
  7. The don’t judge just let me smoke walk
  8. The I’m on the phone don’t anybody talk to me walk
  9. The oh my god I have to go so bad walk
  10. The I don’t want anybody to see me in my pajama bottoms walk
  11. The shuffling in my flip-flops walk
  12. The toilet paper stuck to my shoe walk
  13. The I see you with your need-money-for-gas sign but I’m not going to look at you walk
  14. The you scare me so I’m going to walk really fast walk
  15. The I’m so late hurry hurry hurry walk
  16. The shaking my hands because the blow dryer doesn’t work walk
  17. The slow can’t I just live here walk
  18. The I’m looking at the river because I don’t want to get back in the car with you walk
  19. The watching the ground for snakes in the desert walk
  20. The coffee coffee coffee walk
  21. The I can still feel the car moving walk
  22. The I meant to trip like that walk
  23. The swatting mosquitoes dance walk
  24. The where did I put my car walk
  25. The it’s my turn to drive get out of the way walk

BTW, the rest stop above is on I-5 near Palm Springs, California. Bet you couldn’t tell by looking. Happy travels.

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Dear Hitchhikers, I am Not Heartless

I-5 112116CToday I am sharing with you a poem I wrote on my recent trip to California. I see hitchhikers often. I never pick them up, but I wish they could hear what I’m saying and thinking as I whiz by. Do you stop for hitchhikers? Why or why not? Please share in the comments.

DEAR HITCHHIKER

Sitting, standing, squatting
with your backpack, guitar, dog,
I see you. I want to stop.
I’m not a heartless woman.
You can’t hear what I say
as you breathe in my exhaust:

I’m on the freeway, fool,
going 70 miles per hour!
Are you nuts? I can’t stop here
with cars on every side. I’m just
trying to stay alive.
Go stand somewhere else.

Are you too lazy to stand up?
Or too worn out to even try?
I’m only going down the road.
That’s not much help to you.
Besides, my car is full of stuff,
Groceries and clothes and such.

Oh gosh, you look so tired.
And what a darling dog.
You might be fine, you play guitar.
But what if you have a knife?
Or a gun? Or drugs?
I don’t want to die today.

I know you see my big old car,
and then you see old gray-haired me.
You look on down the road.
Old ladies never stop, and yet
you’re someone’s little boy.
Perhaps someday I will.

Copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2017

From Jesus to Weed: signs point the way

img_20161121_1608453881I’ve been driving back and forth from the Oregon Coast to San Jose, California for 20 years. My late husband and I left “Silicon Valley” in 1996 for a better life in a small town by the beach. It is a better life. But the family is still back in California, so several times a year I hit the road. Unless it’s snowing in the mountains, I take I-5.

When you drive the same route so many times, you notice the little changes. Also, your mind wanders, especially when you’re sick of the CDs you brought and the radio offers nothing but talk shows and evangelical preachers.

Today I’d like to share some of the signs I saw along the road during my September and November trips:

Politics: There used to be a lot of anti-Obama signs. They’re all gone, no point now that his term is about to end. As I traveled through San Joaquin Valley farm country for Thanksgiving, the signs said, “Make America Great Again” or simply “Trump.” Post-election, one sign had an addendum: “Thank you.”

Also in farm country: “Pray for water.” California has gotten some rain lately but not nearly enough.

“Guided goose hunt. Call now.”

Near Delevan: “The gift of God is Jesus Christ our Lord”

Mt. Shasta: More than a peak experience.”

For Rolling Hills Casino, located in Corning, The Olive City: “Eat! 3 restaurants.” “Tip Top Pit Stop”

Approaching the town of Weed: “Weed like to welcome you.” Not a typo.

Five miles south of Yreka, there’s a metal-sculpture cow, now with a calf. For Christmas, someone usually drapes a garland around the cow’s neck.

The State of Jefferson sign. At one time, folks in southern Oregon and northern California were planning to create their own state. Considering how things have been going lately, they’re considering it again.

In a pasture just south of the Oregon-California border, black-faced sheep gather around a big white cross and a hand-painted sign that says, “Forgive them.” I wonder who and for what?

The road goes up and up, signs marking the altitude in 500-foot increments to the peak of 4,310 at Siskyou Pass. Other signs tell drivers where to chain up or take off snow chains. Hope I never have to. I have chains, but I have no clue how to put them on.

Northbound just before the Oregon border: “Puzzled? God has answers.” And just past it, a giant liquor store sign.

Also approaching the border, a green and yellow billboard: Need Weed? Take Canyonville exit. Ah, we’re back in Oregon.

Honk the horn at the Welcome to Oregon sign and watch the milepost numbers start fresh with Number 1.

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