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Getting Out There:
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Across Arizona on Interstate 8
The Most Boring Highway in America

by Robert Schaller

Spot Road
Robert Schaller
An exit with a story? Spot Road

Desert cow
Robert Schaller
"Free range" cow

Stout's Hotel
Robert Schaller
Stout's Hotel in Gila Bend

Mohawk Mountains
Robert Schaller
View of the Mohawk Mountains

(Continued from Page 1)

I passed Spot Road. There has to be a story behind that name. I saw a lineup of about a thousand birds, all sitting on a highline in a row. They seemed to be perfectly spaced, each with its own bird version of elbow room. There were cattle grazing in the desert -- cattle are a big thing with me. You sometimes see military aircraft practicing their maneuvers in the skies to the south, on the Goldwater Gunnery Range.

Another interesting thing -- fields or outcrops of black rocks scattered about the desert, perhaps of volcanic origin. Where's geologist Arizona Buck when you need him? He'd know. I've seen these black rocks in other desert places too -- never thought much about them. I wonder how they got there.

In Gila Bend, a gas station has photos of the town as it was in pre-interstate days. It was a busy little town, with many more buildings than today and lots of shade trees. It doesn't look like the same place now. The crowded downtown is gone, there's lots of space where buildings used to be, and there are very few trees. In the summer, that makes things hotter. They should plant more trees.

Elsewhere, there are falling-down buildings, abandoned adobes and mobile homes, vehicle junkyards and occasional white crosses. Years ago, Arizonans placed white crosses along the highway where loved ones died in traffic crashes. In recent years, we've started doing this again. Too often, you pass these memorials to fellow travelers who never made it home. Please drive carefully.

As I left Yuma, my thoughts strayed to the frequently-voiced opinion that this road is boring. I understand the sentiment. I've felt that way myself at times in certain places. But beauty and appeal exist where you find them. Your attitude can shape your point of view. I set out to really see Interstate 8, to discover if anything was unique about it. It's a road many would consider monotonous, even ugly. But once I started looking, it was more than I could do to note everything of interest along the way. Of course, this is my home, and I have an advantage in that respect since I know its history. But open eyes and minds can find the things along any road that make it unique, interesting or beautiful. Take the time to look, and you'll see.

Bob Schaller
January 29, 2007


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