Flagstaff March 20th

It's Monday morning and I feel like I've already lost half the day. I have such grand plans for the next three weeks, I feel like I can't possibly work fast enough or hard enough or get enough done to feel satisfied. And these are supposed to be three weeks off.

I dropped Sarah off at the Phoenix Greyhound station yesterday morning so she could go to LA for her mother's birthday, and I meandered off to the north, stopping to get the oil changed on the van at some sort of "car spa" that included a car wash with the oil change and I swear, it has to be the best car wash I have ever seen. They scrubbed Rosalita right down to her chipped paint and rust spots. They even rubbed the bugs meticulously off the front license plate. But I had this vague sense as I waited that it was taking too long, that I should be moving, that I had to push north. Still, I seemed to keep finding distractions to focus on instead. I found myself tooling through the northern suburbs of Phoenix, looking for orange trees, for the bags of oranges people would leave out on their curb. As I got up near Flagstaff I drove back and forth between the Fox Ranch Rd exit and the Schnebly Hill Rd exit looking for the hubcap we had lost last week, I even parked and took like a 3 mile hike from the Schnebly Hill exit through the woods and rocks back to mile marker 319 where I jumped the fence and crossed into the media to look for the hubcap. I found two other truck hubcaps, but not our old one. Two cars honked at me. Yeah, walking in the median on the interstate is not super legal. It was a very pretty walk through the mountain woods though.

This tree was one of several big dead trees that caught my eyes. The rocky terrain was pretty easy walking really, but I was plenty tired when I got back to the van after about two hours of walking.


A post shared by Charlie Cheney (@charliecheney) on




Last night I took a nap in a Safeway parking lot in Flagstaff for like an hour and then drove east to the Meteor Crater rest area out on I-40 and slept like a rock. This morning I drove out to see what Meteor Crater was all about and it is clearly the future of National Landmarks. It has a big brown National Parks like sign on the interstate, but it's not green on the map, so it's not really a park per se, it's a wholly owned private roadside attraction, fenced in with barbed wire, a huge building built right on the outer crater wall, $18 per person admission, $75 annual pass. A giant sign outside lists the ranch name, and the words "a legacy in stewardship" beside the dewy eyed cattle gathered by the road. And the thing is not small either, it's as big as a football stadium, probably larger, it's visible from space I'm sure. Completely fenced in. Is it part of the surrounding Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, or Apache indian nations? Apparently not. It's completely owned and operated by descendants of a mining engineer and businessman named Daniel Barringer, who obtained rights to it from Theodore Roosevelt, or some such nonsense. The future of national park land.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor_Crater

Yesterday morning after I dropped off Sarah at the Greyhound station I drove pretty much directly back to Helio Basin Brewing for their fabled Sunday Brunch and was not disappointed by the bloody mary with meat skewer adornments and a tortilla plate. The food there is so wonderful. Our gig the nigh before was as warm and wonderful as the food, and we finished it off by playing at the bar for Tammy the chef and the rest of the kitchen crew. Truly the finest brewery we have ever visited, head and shoulders above all others, you simply must go there if you're ever in Phoenix, and if you live in Phoenix I beseech you to go at least twice a month. Go just to see their attention to detail alone, every element is so beautifully crafted, right down to the colors of paint on the walls and the wrought-iron stools with their logo. http://www.heliobasinbrewing.com

On Friday and Saturday we drove through Sedona AZ and up over the pass through Jerome. So glad we got off the interstate to see the canyons. Stopped for some roadside sex and scenic views outside Jerome in the Prescott National Forest because, you know, it's the Sugar Still way. No matter how much I try to fight it, to make Sugar Still some other thing, some cultural event, some sort of higher calling of self-awareness, some mission to create art that will grow and flourish and impact others in a positive way, I eventually just give in and admit to myself that the sex is great and man I better enjoy it while it's here. Fighting it never seems to help in any positive way at all, I can say this from experience. Every time I try to repress it for whatever stupid reason it blows up. Man, one day I'll learn to let the universe do what the universe does.

We also stopped in at Lake Pleasant Regional Park north of Phoenix, took a swim. The place was packed with weekend revelers escaping the 90 degree heat. We managed a swim in the dammed waters of the Agua Fria River and somehow got in and out without wrecking the van on the roads only truly suitable for a four-wheel drive vehicle. The discussion got a little loud between Sarah and myself as I attempted to back out of the dirt path I'd driven down to get closer to the water. Gah.

On Thursday we drove up to Flagstaff from Tucson to play at the State Bar from 6-9pm for $100. Ah the road life. We go from town to town playing wherever we can for whatever we can and some nights we play for $600, some nights we play for $40. What a crazy fucking business model. On the high side we drive through the most beautiful scenery n the world, we hike trails that we woud've never even known existed, but then we drive 300 miles to play for 20 people... it's pretty easy to feel like nothing really makes sense, it's pretty easy to fall into a spiral of negative comparative lists of the pros and cons of touring like this. Sleeping in the van in rest areas night after night. Spending most of our days in Starbucks researching venues and sending booking emails. Trying desperately to take the time to stop and cook good meals on the Coleman stove rather than eating trail mix and hummus in the van as we drive. That all sounds pretty negative, right?

But last Monday and Tuesday we spent two nights in the campground in Organ Pipe National Monument, took a guided full moon tour through the desert mountains, waited until everyone else walked back down the mountain and had sex under the star filled Sonoran Desert sky. Drove 60 miles through the most perfectly manicured desert garden across the Mexican border to Cholla Bay to lay in the sun on a gorgeous beach on the Gulf of California. Found a completely deserted beach 15 miles outside of town and watched the sun sink into the water as we had more naked time and more sex in the sand. How can you not love that life? The sheer amazing beauty of the planet? The opportunity to travel from place to place for almost no money, but feeling rich from pockets stuffed with dollar bills from the tip jar the night before. It's a crazy teetering balance. The choices we make in life continually rearing their head and demanding you to be conscious, demanding that evaluate (if not necessarily understand, or comprehend, or be able to justify) what you're doing. How can you possibly do this? How can you possibly consider not doing this? Neither question is easily answered.

Man, I feel like I need to write all day. But it's time to drive again. Back soon.