I crossed another state line on Tuesday morning. It's always an exciting experience, but this was especially so, since Arizona is the last but one state I have to cross. Assuming I continue to follow I-10 all the way, it's about 650 miles to Venice Beach.
The desert remains full of surprises. As I walked out of Lordsburg on Monday, I saw a blue shimmer of water at the foot of the distant hills to the west; of course it couldn't be a lake, so it must be yet another mirage.
But as the sultry afternoon wore on, I realised that a lake was precisely what it was: Lordsburg Playa, several square miles of brown soupy water stretching almost to the horizon and gradually evaporating away to nothing as summer approaches. So I went for my first swim of the year, though swim is hardly the right word because the water was nowhere more than a couple of feet deep.
It's now Tuesday night, and I'm staying with Kat Ehrhorn and her sons Grail and Zeleigh at Diamond Mountain, a thousand-acre Buddhist retreat site twelve miles south of Bowie.
The setting is stunning: high in the silent hills, prayer flags fluttering in the breeze, looking out across a flat, empty plain. The interstate is clearly visible in the far distance, a line of tiny white trucks plodding back and forth like termites.
I'm very grateful for a wonderful evening of warm hospitality, and also for the invaluable hints on something that every American kid does, but which I've so far failed to achieve: flattening pennies on railroad tracks.
Sometimes I leave the coin there and wait for ages, but no train comes. Or I put it on one track, and the train speeds by on the other. Once I got it right, but the train sent the penny flying and I never found it.
I have this vision of 25th-century archeologists penning lengthy theses on the high prevalence of coins found near railroad tracks, and concluding that they were some kind of votive offering.