In 2006 I took a Road Trip from San Francisco to New Mexico and back over the course of a month, writing and taking photos all the way. Two years later I had a show of paintings based on those photographs. This is one of a series of twenty-nine posts of those paintings accompanied by the relevant diary entries.

019 hostel, flagstaff, AZ

Hostel, Flagstaff, oil on board, 9 x 6 inches (approx.)

12.May 6th 2006

Left smelly motel at 7:30 am. Got to Flagstaff by 9am but spent a while trying to find the way here (to this hostel) because of the one way system.

The one way systems in the States in the parks and towns confused me, maybe because I was driving on the opposite side from what I was used to. I was fine when I was going in a straight line but add a couple of arrows and filter lanes and I was shooting off all over…

Apart from a very friendly English lady called Maria, the hostel in Flagstaff was nearly as unfriendly as the Green Tortoise in San Francisco. I think that must just be the nature of American hostels compared to European ones. There were exceptions…

Chatted with a guy while we watched the Shipping News, until another guy came a long and started talking and it soon became apparent he’d be more at home in an Amsterdam hostel-a piece of flotsam or jetsam…

Not to be rude. When I was in Amsterdam I was one too. It’s that kind of place. Though I suppose there is human flotsam and jetsam everywhere, people who don’t fit the ‘norm’, washing up here and there, a bit battered, a bit damaged, and in truth I am at home with them. This particular guy was obviously struggling…

He up and left LA a month ago, looking around for work-rambling on about growing up in LA, escaping, living with hippies in the desert, eating leaves etc. I soon left. His name is Jacob, I hope he’ll be OK.

Two people I said hi to yesterday-who did not return my greeting- have turned out to be staff. When I was in the laundry, I told a girl there was still money in the dryer after my cycle and she grunted at me.

Despite my attempts at connection…

I am starting to see how I turn from people. Slowly maybe things will change…

As I read through my diary I realise how little I understood how my hearing was impacting my life. As I was shy when I was young, I thought shyness was stopping me approaching me people, yet I was making overtures. A lot of overtures. But I was reluctant to go further.

Finding the hostel noisy. Near too many bars.

Noisiness aggravates people with hearing problems too. When you are trying so hard to listen, every little noise becomes a clue and you get worn out quickly. When I worked in a hotel in Amsterdam we had a group of three deaf friends check in for ten days. They checked out after one night as it was ‘too noisy’. They could feel everything and I suppose whatever vestiges of hearing they had was made to strain too hard after every little thing.

I got my own room in the hostel as a dorm means I could be subjected to conversation at any time so I would always be on alert which is exhausting. But it would take me years to understand how my hearing was affecting me and how things would not change, not the way I wanted them too. Being alone, while not desirable (like most people I need company) will always be easier in that it’s less stressful. Hanging with a whole gang of friends is no longer an option. All we can do is make the most of what we have. I think I try to do that.

Decided to stay here until Monday. Volunteered-over the internet-to grind soil samples in Flagstaff on Monday-but who knows if they’ll contact me. Legs are sore. Why?Always wonder if everyone gets sore legs, even fit people. Or should I take it as a warning to exercise less?!

Impressions?The line of the San Francisco Mountains rising up behind Flagstaff. Clapboard, ramshackle, low-rise houses. The railway. Pick-up trucks and bikers. Mail boxes. Trees. Americana. Motel signs, gas stations and malls that litter the outskirts of these towns. The brashness of civilisation against the brooding gravity of the surrounding landscape, the impermanence against the eternal. 


16 responses to “ROAD TRIP : FLAGSTAFF

  1. Trying to have a conversation in a noisy place is hard for ‘normal’ hearing people let alone if you have a hearing blip in your ears, and aids don’t always work how you’d like them to, they’re trying hard to crack it though so one day the tech will be there. Great painting 🙂

  2. Ta Fraggle R….I will be due to get new ones in the next couple of years and I know the technology is coming on all the time so I have hopes…I do seem to have CAPD as well as ear damage so it’ll always be a little bit of an effort but I am hopeful for improvements…and I try to keep pushing myself out there…and social media is a godsend!…and I must pick your brains some time 🙂 🙂

  3. Apparently a relative to the primulas here’s a wiki thing Polyanthus is a common name for flowers part of the primula genus. They are known for being similar to Primroses, but unlike Primroses the flowers stand proud of the leaves of the plant. They are named Primula from the Latin primus meaning first, because they are the first flowers to appear in Spring. Polyanthus plants are known to be a natural hybrid between the cowslip (Primula veris) and the common primrose (Primula vulgaris). We are enlightened 😂.

  4. I’ve heard of Flagstaff, or at least a Flagstaff, but I can’t think what the context was. I’m quite glad it’s never occurred to me to cross America on my own.

  5. Oh dear April..does it sound that awful?!I didn’t mean to put anyone off!It was the trip of a life time for still makes me smile…so glad I did it…you might be better off tuning out for the next 20 posts so 🙂 🙂

  6. That’s just the way I am I think…my head always needs something to chew on. I often find that the happiest experiences leave no trace and are dull if not impossible to write about and just as dull to read (unless they are adding to my knowledge I suppose). The experiences that are richest for me are the ones I that I have struggled a little with or where I have been most on the alert or aware. New experiences, even good ones, sometimes especially good ones, will always bring a level of stress, to me anyway, but I look back on them with the most sense of achievement and pride…it never even occurred to me I was putting anyone off…I am just trying to be as honest as possible and hopefully funny too…I know I have been cracking up laughing quite a bit while writing 🙂 🙂

  7. …and I’ll take out the more negative bits that are serving no purpose except to be negative…always good to get feedback and a different point of view..thanks April..

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