Note: First published on Blogger on September 25, 2007
Unfolding the Map
We're now zooming on through the night and into the dawn with Sal as he leaves California on his cross country trip back home. Click on the map and you'll see where we are.
"At dawn, my bus was zooming across the Arizona desert -- Indio..."
On the Road, Chapter 14
Obviously, this is just a little place that Sal zooms through as he heads back home. He most likely didn't stop. But one thing that I understand from this book now is that Sal really finds place names fascinating. He mentions this before as he is hitchiking through the towns of California's Central Valley - Manteca, Madera etc - drawn by their exotic Spanish monikers. And now, he mentions Indio, another Spanish word, and he will mention at least a couple other places that stick in his imagination. Kerouac, being a poet, would gravitate to these words -- words that stick out there almost as if you can hang your coat or hat on them.
I know nothing about Indio, but I do know about cross-country bus rides. I may have mentioned it before. I traveled from Milwaukee to Billings, Montana and back via bus in the late 1980s to attend a friend's wedding in Wyoming. The trip was long, with many stops. I was solicited by a guy in a bathroom in Fargo, North Dakota. All of North Dakota and eastern Montana were about the flattest things I had ever seen in my life. Periodically, the smell of weed came from the bathroom at the back of the bus. At one point, a woman got on with her two children...whatever drove them onto the bus had not been good because she was angry and the children were crying and it was something besides the normal mom angry at cranky kids. It was night, and someone shushed the kids, and the mother yelled "Don't you EVER shush my f&^%king kids again!"
The funny thing is, I remember all of the things that happened on the way out to Montana. It was new territory that I had never seen, and I was excited. I remember very little about what happened on the way back. It was long, but suddenly I was old hat to this traveling stuff.
I think maybe this is just in the way of warning. Sal will not describe much about what happens to him on this bus ride. Unlike the trip out to California, his mission here is to get home as soon as possible. The mileage that took chapters to get through on the way out to San Francisco is done in one chapter on the way back. So, we'll try to fill in some blanks, or at least ruminate a bit.
If you want to know more about Indio
City of Indio
Coachella (Huge music festival near Indio)
Desert USA: Indio
Village Profile: Indio
Next up: Blythe, California