4360 Miles in 126 Hours

Troy Paiva

9) Most of Arizona is under a heavy layer of clouds as I hum west throughout the day. Once the sun slips below the clouds it occurs to me that there will be a beautiful sunset, the first of the trip. I immediately cut short my elegant in-car-dinner at In-N-Out Burger and haul ass 30 miles for Salome, where I remember seeing the perfect abandoned motel. I get there with minutes to spare and set up the tripod. Pretty good sunset, but the stop is what I really need. I'm buzzing by this time, having a hard time getting my land-legs. Exhausted and twitchy, eyes on fire, I shoot the sunset as the car fills up with moths.

Once I drop towards the Colorado River, the winds really pick up. It's like turning on a switch. Suddenly, thick waves of dust stream over the road and the car dances and twitches in the gusty headwinds. I get off at an exit near the Providence Mountains to take a leak. I have to stand in the windshadow of the “Wrong Way” sign so as not to get pee all over myself in the swirling wind. Even the moths that have been riding along with me since Salome don't want to get out of the car. One moth clung to the window just over my shoulder, basking in the full moon glow for 3 hours as I steamed west into the teeth of the storm. By midnight, even most of the truckers have called it a night. Every exit ramp is lined with idling semis, running lights aglow, waiting out the storm.