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Epic Road Trip #15 (The Final Leg)

Had an expensive fastfood type breakfast at a diner in Granby. Did some laundry and found dispersed camping in the National Forest. I took a not so great site lower on the mountain since I had the donut on. I walked up the road to the High Lonesome Trailhead and hiked that to the cabin at the end.

The next morning I drove into Winter Park, I think and got my tire fixed. Had another expensive fastfood type breakfast and checked out the local thrift store. It was $44 for the flat fix, which was steep but since the other was free I made out ok.

I backtracked to head north and picked up a hitchhiker and took her to Sulphur Springs before her Food bank milk spoiled. It was my third hitchhiker of the trip which made up for my two rides and one for the hundreds of times I’d hitchhiked in my youth.

I drove up north through a large burned area of the Rout National Forest. It was surreal seeing the total devastation which read like an indictment of our poor forest management practices.

I stopped at the big wildlife management area and saw it was moose country. There was no free or cheap camping or hotels in the Walden area and all the restaurants looked like the same pricey fastfood like stuff I was coming to hate about Colorado so I pushed on to Wyoming.

I found a hike in the Medicinebow National Forest on a rails to trails trail. There were a lot of ponds from the borrow pits making the railway and I saw a lot of Willow and some moose droppings so I camped in a burned out area and got up in the cold predawn for a morning hike to see Moose, but no luck.

I drove into Laramie and filled up on cheap Wyoming gas. I drove to the Lincoln statue which is at an elaborate rest area celebrating the Lincoln Autoway which was the first cross country auto route. There were allegedly trailheads there but I couldn’t find them. All the trails had a $5.00 day use fee so I drove on up to Cheyenne.

Cheyenne has a great municipal park with a botanical gardens and a swimming lake. Had a nice lunch at a Filipino restaurant and looked at my options. When I went to Cheyenne I’d decided to turn towards home. I did Yellowstone and Grand Tetons a few years ago and Devil’s Tower at 250 miles away didn’t seem worth it.

With nearly a full tank of gas I figured I could head back to Colorado. Drove down to Fort Morgan where I found a reasonably priced hotel in the High Plains. I hiked a riverside trail along the Platte which wasn’t great.

I headed west and had lunch in Nebraska before turning south into Kansas. I had talked to my friend Trevor that morning about our bi-annual trip to the Detroit Jazz Festival and he reminded me of Nicodemus so I decided to head there. Passed a memorial to the Sand Creek Massacre and related tragedies some of which had happened nearby. I found some free camping east of their in Hill City at a municipal park. It’s hot in the flatlands and I slept poorly.

The towns along 24 each had little historical parks and signs about their settlement. Nicodemus is a National Park site being settled by former slaves. I took a solo guided tour with a ranger and we had a great dialogue on racism and city development.

Nicodemus had a strong start but got screwed out of their railroad stop by the white developer who had helped found the town but pulled some shenanigans to get the stop in one of his white towns. In addition to a good breakfast place the ranger told me about a dugout Nicodemus residents had made outside of Stockton which was a sundown town. It was in good shape and I don’t recall having seen one for as many as I’d read about in westerns growing up.

I drove to Grand Junction and got another hotel as it was hot again. Had some so so barbecue and another crappy hike on a riverwalk this one the Republican River. Then I drove home. It was nice to be back. Nine weeks on the road, ten states, 5,000 miles, 5 nights at friend’s places, 4 nights at hotels and never paid for camping. It was a sweet trip and a great adventure.

Epic Road Trip #13: Across Colorado

June 18, 2021 1 comment

Boy a lot has happened in the last 6 days. As I mentioned in the last post I stopped at The Ancestral Pueblo Cultural Center which apparently is rebranding but the maps haven’t kept up. There were a couple of ruined pueblos on site and the museum had tons of current artifacts. When they built the nearby reservoir they harvested all the artifacts they could find before submerging them.

The ranger recommended Sand Canyon and to start early but it was already too late for that and I hit the trail at noon. I took it slow and with a gallon of water I hiked to all the sites on the first 3.7 miles before I decided to turnaround. It was really cool being in the wilderness and finding all of these cool cave dwellings you could get fairly close too.

I was surprised I was up to 14 miles with the hiking I had done earlier and the spur trails to get to the sites. I had also missed Castle Rock Pueblo by entering on an alternate trailhead but I stopped in a winery and picked up a half bottle of a white blend to taste the local terroir. I considered a tasting but even 4 oz of wine didn’t seem wise when I was going to be doing more desert hiking.

Took me a walk to find the site which turned out to be the big rock that looked like a castle. It was sad to see it pockmarked with gunshots and you couldn’t see the ruins from outside the prohibited area.

I drove on to Hovenweep and saw in the brochure my dispersed camping was really a campsite. It was $15 which I would have paid if it had included a shower. I decided to hike the 2 mile main trail even though I was 15 miles into the day and dark was approaching. It was an amazing hike and Hovenweep is the unknown gem of the trip for sure.

After the cliff dwelling period the ancient pueblans built free standing towers right before abandoning the area and moving south into the Rio Grande basin. There is another ruin on a 4 mile trail but I left that one for next time. I took the hour plus drive back to the BLM land by Mesa Verde I’d been staying at. It was a bit of a harrowing journey with 3 episodes of mule deer in the road one where I slammed on the breaks and stopped within inches of it as it looked at me sort of dumbfounded. Even more nerve-wracking there were these birds flying in front of the van scooping insects out of the headlight glow I assume. I made it back late and slept the sleep of the just. 17 miles hiked through the desert, I’m definitely getting stronger.

I drove the Canyon of the Ancients loop the counterclockwise this time and went to Sand Canyon Pueblo. It’s excavated ruins reburied to protect it. It had a subtle beauty and good interpretive signs but the young family who hiked it after me were unimpressed.

Then I challenged some dirt roads and visited a couple more ruins. You never know what you’re going to get but Painted Hand Pueblo was especially cool with a nice freestanding tower.

I then did some driving and got a burger and green chili beer at a brewpub in Durango. Drove seven miles up a mountain and was in some beautiful Aspen/Ponderosa Pine forest and a nice cool night. I noticed I had a rapidly developing flat tire but decided to wait until morning to deal with it.

I swapped on my donut and drove back to Durango. Got a great breakfast at a diner, picked up a pair of pants at a resale shop and they fixed my tire for free. I’d hiked a piece of the Colorado Trail on my way down the mountain which was amazing and hiked the interpretive trail by the overlook on my way backup the mountain. Had a nice campfire that night which was a nice surprise being in a worse drought then what drove the Ancestral Pueblans out of the area in the 13th century.

I hiked the Log Chute Trail coming down the mountain and should have known better by the name. It was a 5 mile loop with the last bit being super steep downhill and was obviously designed with mountain biking in mind. It was a lot of loose sand and I had one bad moment but I got my feet back under me before I had a fall.

I started up 550 North and pulled into an overlook at Coal Bank Peak, steam erupted from under the hood. I popped the hood and saw a hole in my radiator hose, about the only mechanical problem I was capable of fixing. I saw an auto parts store and looked at the map and thought it was in Silverton so I hit hitchhiked there. Got a ride right of way and quicky learned Google was messing with me sending me to Silverton to turnaround and drive back to Durango.

Rather then doing that I went to an auto repair place and the old boy running the place sold me a random one for $22.00. I had a choice of 2 so I picked the longer of them. I walked about an hour before I got a ride back to my van with a dude who knew his way around cars and gave me some sage advice.

It was difficult getting at the clips and then getting the hose on. Twice I felt my composure slip a little bit and I took a few breaths and centered myself and treated it like a meditative exercise. I got it done and it heat sealed and I drove my hot and filthy self to Silverton. I searched hotels and they were all pricey so I settled for some ok pulled pork and fries and got some cool dispersed camping by the river right outside of town.

I took this as a sign that mountains were not for the Cookie Monster and considered heading for home. My ride had said only a couple of passes and 550 flattened out. My last picture wouldn’t upload so I’ll wrap up and publish. I stayed at Steamboat Springs last night and am going to camp and hike in the Medicine Bow-Rout National Forest for a couple of days and figure out my next moves. The heatwave broke here and it’s pretty nice being at some elevation. Looks hotter then he’ll everywhere else so I’ll try and stay put. Stay cool.

Epic Road Trip #12

June 12, 2021 1 comment

So after buying shoes I drove back up into the Jemez and went west on 4. I stopped at a hot springs which was more of a warm springs but was beautiful and after a hot and sweaty day, much appreciated.

I found another dispersed camping site and was able to get back more into the woods, just in time for the sunset. I cooked dinner in the dark which turned out to be a critical error. I use zip stove and left it out to cool and broke it putting it away when I packed up in the morning.

I drove down to Battleship Rock, which is an impressive formation. It’s really a pinnacle as the Jemez Creek horseshoes around it. I hiked 6 miles over tough terrain trying to follow a path to a hot springs. There were so many informal paths I ultimately realized my knees were shot and I needed to head back while I still could. I met some hikers who said most who tried couldn’t find it and one was making her third attempt and wasn’t optimistic.

I caught a burger in Jemez Springs and drove out of the mountains. I stopped at the Pueblo Cultural Center and checked out their museum and picked up some trifles for the folks at home taking care of my house and dog. I also got a Zia ginger ale, it’s nice to see regional sodas making a comeback and it’s spicy and delicious.

There was no closer free camping to Chaco then where I’d stayed last night so I drove out there and steeled myself to pay to camp if they had any sites left. They didn’t, so I did some sunset hikes and boondocked off the first turnoff from the rough gravel road you take to get there. My first time this trip and it was nice. Peaceful with lots of stars. I did realize I’d made 2 critical mistakes in the morning and had left my hygiene/med bag on the roof of the van when I stopped for my morning constitutional.

I went to the visitors center and met a local Navaho getting water. We talked about living without running water which I had done for a few months squatting a cabin outside of Columbia. He was sanguine about it and filled enough barrels to water his plants.

I hiked some of the main sites when they opened and took a long hike in the back country to see isolated ruins, petroglyphs and some rare pictographs. It was all told about 15 miles mostly over loose sand and I was whooped. Killing time in the shade until I could boondock again didn’t seem appealing so I drove to Fairfield and got a Subway salad and a hotel room.

I went to Aztec which is a cool ruin, right in town with a reconstructed kiva. It was a great spot to grab some meditation time. I’d planned to head west into Arizona but threading the needle between fires didn’t seem appealing and I was so close to Mesa Verde I decided to head north into Colorado.

I stopped in Cortez and got some sage advice at the Colorado Welcome Center as well as maps and guides. I did a nice hike at a nature preserve and saw some pueblo ruins and got my steps in. There is nice dispersed camping on BLM land right outside of the entrance to Mesa Verde where I’ve spent the last 2 nights.

Mesa Verde is very cool but the one large cave dwelling you can go in without a reserved ranger led hike was closed because of a landslide. I did have a great 5 mile hike with Shannon, another epic Road tripper on her way back to the Northeast. We both talked up a blue streak and it was nice to connect with a kindred spirit.

I did the petroglyph hike which was a tough hike in the heat and coming after a lot of miles and had close to 15 miles in again. It was only one panel but it was a nice one.

This morning I drove into Dolores for breakfast. I’m going to the Anasazi (note that word is a slur and ancestral Pueblo is the preferred term) Museum and then tour the Valley of the Ancients sites. There is BLM dispersed camping on the far side of the circle and I may take 2 days.

After that I have decided to explore Colorado and stay out of the southeast heat wave. I’m going to go to Durango and then north up the valley and spend a couple of days at my friend’s hotel. Then I am going to go West on 70 more or less and work my way to Bay Area and then south down the coast to San Diego before turning towards home. I’m 7 or so weeks in and am a little past the halfway point time wise. It’s been truly epic and I feel blessed to have made it this far and seen so incredibly much.

Epic Road Trip #11: Jimez Mountains

For full disclosure I have left the Jimez and moved on to Chaco Canyon, one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. I’m on a back country hike and I’ve settled in some shade under an overhang/shallow cave and I am going to wait out some of the heat.

At the end of my last post I was camping in the Santa Fe National Forest trying to hike this elusive Civil War Trail. I ultimately found it and it was closed on a Saturday. I have never known a trail to keep banker’s hours or worked so hard to do something I wasn’t that excited about. Google maps took me to another trail which was not open for the public and I drove to the Jimez a day easier then I’d planned.

You have to pass through Los Alamos which was weird having a military checkpoint but I ended up spending enough time in the area it just became life. They have great dispersed camping in the greater Bandelier National Monument.

I spent a day at Bandelier proper which is very cool. Long house ruins and cliff dwellings. Lots of tourists but I’ve been isolated enough to find them all charming.

I took a long drive to the second site. It had a nice unimproved trail and there were cliff dwellings and some petroglyphs. It was an interesting climb up the Mesa and didn’t see too many people.

I did enjoy the prairie dogs and saw some elk. There is a stand of old growth Ponderosa pine but it’s a manicured stand and didn’t feel like a forest. I climbed one of the hills and there were a lot of wildflowers especially wild irises which I’ve seen a lot of on this trip.

I went back to camp and the next morning I went to Valles Caldera at my friend Rodger’s suggestion. It’s a beautiful valley surrounded by the hills of the long extinct volcano that formed it. It’s a fairly new National Park (2015) and feels more like a cattle ranch (which it still is by statute, when there’s not a drought) then a National Park.

I hiked a short nature trail and drove down to Los Alamos for a vegetable rice bowl which was cheap and excellent (Tiger Bowl). I did the Los Alamos walking tour and learned about life during the making of the first Atomic bomb. There are a few original buildings, some settler stuff and some ancestral Pueblo ruins; all right downtown.

I meditated at the Unitarian church and grabbed a Gatorade out of their Gaia Box. It was raining so I went to Starbucks and enjoyed a coffee and some WiFi and it was well worth three dollars and a poor nights sleep.

It was still raining a bit and their was a nice rainbow which I took as God’s promise he wouldn’t destroy us with atomic bombs. I picked up a quart of oil and made the clerk go look at the rainbow. She was glad she did.

After another night at my usual spot I drove down through Santa Fe and south to La Cinguella Petroglyphs. It’s on BLM land and it’s pre-columbian and a huge collection. I scrambled over the rocks awestruck for 5 hours before I was done in and didn’t see them all.

I got some great Guatemalan food down the road. A steak with a chili sauce and all the fixings. Then I went to REI and got a new pair of Chacos. My old pair were hanging together by a thread as I’d had them for more then a decade of hard wear. Coincidentally I broke the new pair in at Chaco Canyon. Having some tread is amazing.

Speaking of those Chacos. I’ve forgotten how unpleasant the afternoon heat is and I’m getting stuff setting here so I will get back to the adventure and catch you up later. I’ll have to climb a bluff to get a signal tomorrow so maybe I’ll have time to catch the narrative up to the present before then.

I got hot and tired at Chaco and got a hotel room. Going to Aztek today and camping in Bizi badlands tonight.

Epic Road Trip #10: Petroglyphs and ruins

Petroglyph Rock was impressive. I hiked 2 1/2 miles down a jeep trail to get to the trailhead. I got on the wrong trail and spent a couple more miles following false paths. I did a thorough search of the parking area and found the trailhead clearly marked and a short hike to Petroglyph Rock.

It’s a paleolithic artifact 8-10,000 years old. Very nice piece. I found one other petroglyph on another rock after a pretty exhaustive search. I hiked most of the trail twice but it’s really just a connector to a nearby campground and some exposure to the ecosystem which I’d already done on my misadventures on the Rio Bonito.

I did see what I assume is a horny toad. If anyone knows more, please chime in. I then drove over to Fort Stanton and checked that out. It was a fort built for the Indian wars and had some parts of it burned by Confederate sympathizers. It then was used to ensure the Mescalero Apache stayed on the reservation.

It was the best built of the western forts and in spite of being a tool of genocide was quite beautiful. There were lots of intact buildings from the late 19th century. It got a new lease on life as a CCC project and German sailors were interned there as well as some Japanese Americans during WW II.

It got its final makeover as a hospital for turbuculosis patients. The climate is really sweet and they added some buildings and upgraded almost everything. When we got better treatments then hanging out in the desert it was closed and is a historic site. It seems really underutilized and would make an awesome resort.

I camped in the next canyon over on some BLM land. It’d been a pretty full day. The next morning I started driving north towards my next historical site. A tip from Ray who I had met at Bridal Veil Falls and a historic sign map gave me my next 3 stops.

After breakfast, at the Smoky Bear Cafe where I finally got one of those Mexican breakfasts with beans and tortillas (It was in the area where he was rescued from a fire, I skipped his park because they wanted $2.00), I went to White Oaks a former ghost town which is now about half occupied.

I stopped by the graveyard it being Memorial Day and paid my respects to a deputy gunned down by Billy the Kid. They also have a little historical museum you let yourself in with little dioramas of settler life.

I then drove down to Valley of Fires, which was really cool. It’s a 4-5,000 year old lava flow and had a cool interpretive trail. A thunderstorm blew in with some serious hail and I got soaked in the second wave.

I then drove out to Three Rivers Petroglyph National Conservation Area. I was going to camp in the nearby National Forest and explore it the next day but the road was closed because of flooding from the storm. Even a quarter inch of rain can flood some arryos I learned and we got much more than that. I did some serious backtracking to find camping in the National Forest but the site was beautiful.

I drove out to Three Rivers the next morning and wow, just wow. It’s the largest collection of petroglyphs that is publicly accessible. There were so many I spent the day there hiking and taking pictures and meditating.

I then made a serious drive and got my second hotel room in Santa Fe. Again out the door for $43 and wifi problems on one of my devices. Today I got up and poked around downtown some but was scared off by the price of parking. I went to the National Cemetery and then further up north to the Pecos Pueblo ruins.

It was pretty cool. It’s an archeological site where this dude figured out layering and dating sites by pottery. The Pueblo folks sent Coronado on a wild goose chase to Kansas figuring he’d get weakened or killed on the plains looking for cities of gold. It worked but they got conquered by the Spanish anyway.

They had a revolt and destroyed the church and had 12 years of freedom but the Spanish won out who became the Mexicans who got pushed out by the Americans. The Pecos Pueblo traders dwindled until the remnant joined a nearby pueblo.

There were some reconstructions and foundations. The second church ruins were built in a smaller footprint then the first one. There is a kiva in the church which there’s only a couple of those. I did my meditation down in it which was cool.

The park closes at 5:30 so I didn’t get to do the Civil War hike. Texan militia tried to conquer the area to open up Colorado gold fields and Californian access to the Pacific but got their asses handed to them by Colorado and New Mexican militia.

That’ll be tomorrow’s hike. Now I’m at a great dispersed site in Dalton’s Canyon in the Santa Fe National Forest. I’ve got some split peas cooking on a fire for a late dinner. Didn’t expect to get to make a fire out here but all this rain has been a Godsend for droughtland. My peas are old and are taking forever which has allowed me to get this written.

Rest well faithful reader. I’ll get this posted tomorrow and hopefully have enough signal for petroglyph pictures.

I forgot to post this yesterday when I went into Pecos for coffee and was looking for the Civil War trail. I couldn’t find the trail and drove up into the mountains and hiked a trail. They wanted $8.00 for a day use pass so I just hiked the one and relaxed at camp (in the evening drizzle again).

I decided to take a slow day today and push on to Bandelier tomorrow. I found the trail in Google maps I couldn’t find yesterday so I’m going to hike that. Been reading Leaves of Grass, the deathbed edition; a book on the Apostles and studying Book 4. Good stuff for a deep dive both into America and myself.

Decoration Day Weekend

Hello Faithful Reader,

I was just looking around for how to make the blog public again. With a few tweaks I think I can live with it being public. I was just looking and haven’t posted in almost a month. Maybe with knowing I have more readers again I will feel like posting. I feel like, and someone reaffirmed this is a time in my life worth documenting. Its Saturday night a little passed bedtime but I napped hard so I expect I will be staying up later then usual. It was good to sleep, certainly the most solid one in 2012. My thoughts have been rushing since January with the frenetic activity and deep thought of newly minted political life. Overall I am pleased.

I haven’t had a good nights sleep this week. Monday Council ran late with two hours of public comment on this controversial tax incentive/job creation thing we are doing. I didn’t get home until 11:30 and I was pretty wired. Probably should just start taking people on offers of beers afterwards as its pretty stimulating. I work the next morning though and don’t want to give up an evening to get a late night on Tuesday as I had thought I would do during the campaign.

Its hot on the first weekend of Summer. Mid 90s. Still mowed the front yard. We put in a scoop of cedar mulch, mostly Flow. Got the roses and mailbox beds and the beds along the privacy fence in back and a path to the compost and the dirt outside the back porch. Flow mulched the strawberries  and garden beds with straw. I cultivated a little but have been hard pressed to do more then mow. I weed whipped the back and skipped mowing its been hot and dry. I mowed the front lawn, mostly because it was longer then the neighbors.

The girls in the basement apartment moved out and the owners have been scurrying around on projects. New neighbors. I thought I was going to start a community organizing project but there is a hitch with my intern starting and I want to involve someone else. I told a neighbor I would start in May but I’m not quite there.

Had about 800 pages of reading for the last Council meeting. All the usual stuff plus trend statements and data for Strategic Planning. We did small groups with Council and department heads and the like. Rotated groups and topics, it was interesting. Got to know a lot of folks. Been on a name learning tear.

Everything has a steep learning curve with all the background information and the level of detail to make informed decisions. I have been sideways with my base early on which makes for a bit of consternation. I also get a lot of positive feedback and bounce ideas off whoever which is fun. I’m going to start doing my prep reading in the dog park and getting feedback from the folks out there.

Didn’t do much with the nap and all. I went to the market and got a lot of stuff since I am helping Harry move next week and won’t be able to go. Got a nice deal on big fresh white onions, a giant purple cauliflower, asparagus (I was surprised at that), a couple of nice looking lettuces (everyone agreed this is pretty much the last week for that with the high temps), kohlrabi, some yellow turnips, kale, carrots, sweet cherries, a couple of big beautiful hybrid tomatoes (seconds even), and some trout for my luncheon tomorrow.

Made some fried cabbage for supper. Cabbage I got at the market last week, an onion with some of the green tops, some of the turnip greens, garlic scapes (I cut those earlier in the week), lightly toasted sesame seeds, fried in olive oil with a lot of crushed red pepper and a splash of Worcestershire. It was good and Flow made crab cakes and naan. We were pretty grateful because we have been living large.

I called in sick yesterday. Hadn’t slept right all week, a little free floating anxiety when I am supposed to be slumbering and stayed in bed late and felt sluggish and dumb. Couldn’t nap and slept poorly last night as well but I feel like my 2+ hour nap today was a break through. There’s been so much change with City Council, the new position at work which is learning a bunch of new programs and trying to wrap my head around a few defuse projects, plus adjusting to being an everyday bicycle commuter.

I have advanced the probate situation and have a meeting on Thursday to sign affidavits and go forward so it will be nice to get the truck on the road again. Going on a float trip on Monday. Trevor, a friend of his, Jesse and myself going South out of Coopers Landing to Millersburg I think. I’ve never done passed Coopers and am looking forward to seeing something new.

Jeff and Vicki, Trevor and Lisa and Harry are coming over for trout. Reminds me I need to look up how to roast garlic. I am going to baste the trout in a yogurt sauce with roasted garlic, lemon, parsley, and chervil, maybe a little mace. I am also going to do the cauliflower in a foil pack with olive oil, turmeric and nutritional yeast. Might grill the asparagus as well. I think I will put one of the trout packs in the freezer. I got 3 packs (6 fish) and Brian isn’t coming and Lisa is a vegetarian so probably can get by with 2 like the trout lady suggested.

 

Ogalala

Vacation is nice, only a few calls and emails and reading about myself in the local press. I’m in a Days Inn in Ogalala Nebraska. Touristy enough to drive up the price. I was on a schedule though and this was the exit I wanted to stop in. I’ve made good time and just drove yesterday through increasingly nice weather. I am going to have some continental breakfast and then amble over to the local Boot Hill and visit some cowboy graves. I have a pocket of change and it seems appropriate on the one year anniversary of the Popster’s passing to pay my respects somewhere. He was not buried with his boots on though he probably wanted to be. His only stated wish was to be drove back to the homeland in his pick up and we pulled that off. My TV doesn’t work but there’s a coffee pot in the room so I won’t complain. Even crappy coffee is a blessing though I won’t complain when I get to John’s and go back to drinking home roast. He squirreled away some Kenyan for us when he got his 2 free pounds with the roaster I got him for Christmas. Its good Friday a good day to think about death or in my case death and coffee, or really death and coffee and breakfast. I’ve got a touch of poison ivy, it must be in the yard. I’ll have to go back through with better eyes. Been singing some snatches of verse, maybe i’ll get something done enough to post.

Categories: travel

sublime day

December 28, 2011 1 comment

Well we made it back safely from our holiday travels and I have successfully transitioned back to going to work everyday. Starting the week on a Tuesday certainly helps, after all tomorrow is Thursday already. Its kind of compensated for getting home late in the rain and not really having an easy time getting the car unloaded and things put away. An empty house needs attention, a dog with a day in a car needs some exercise. I tried to stop at an Indiana state rec area west of Circle City as Dad liked to call it, astute readers may recall, but I couldn’t find the entrance and spent our hiking time driving around some fake lakes.

We stopped at a hunters check in and walked down to a dock but I kept hearing all these guns going off and then it dawned on my road addled mind that I couldn’t really be walking Fido through woods full of armed strangers hoping to shoot who knows what. Fido didn’t understand why we would drive all day get to the woods and then get back in the car and drive all evening. If that dog would learn English I would explain shit to him. Easier I guess just to do things that make sense. All in all he’s a pretty reasonable critter with a healthy philosophy of life. A little more but sniffing and shit eating then I care for but he seems pretty well adjusted and less estranged perhaps then I usually am.

Fido is being pretty chill for it being my late night because Olive has been over all day. She is Amy and Michael’s dog and Fido’s best friend. They’re the same age and have been playing regularly since Fido was 4 months. He is thrilled to death and doesn’t need much from me at all. A little dog butlering please and he wouldn’t say no to a treat but he’s content. Olive is a character, closer to a default dog her mongrelism is hard to classify. Probably some pit because she’s brindle and has some muscles in her forehead, but she’s got a boxer’s chest and stance, some floppy hound ears with a bit of a bay to her bark as well. She’s a good dog. Energetic and pretty good with Fido. She does hump him some, but he puts up with it and sits down or lays down if he gets tired of it. Plus he was doing it to this puppy at the dog park yesterday. I try to stay out of dog politics, they generally work it out better if left alone.

Being my late day they had several hours to work out their biggest exuberance outside. I have a nice sized yard and first thing we did was put a fence up [white picket even, I am so conventional these days] so they have a good space to play. Got to have coffee with Amy before work. I had slept in a bit having Malavika and Isaiah over last night to play some games and get caught up. It was fun wish I could remember the name. Amy got to see my before coffee demeanor which you usually have to live with me to experience.

I roasted more coffee this morning after Amy left. I did an Ethiopian medium/dark and am looking forward to it. Been drinking dark roast Honduran and gave the rest of them away. They were popular presents and got to teach some people about coffee. The herbal skin cream from Erica was a big hit as well. We all remembered my Grandma’s having New Skin by her herb doctor Doctor Kaylor and it generated some reminiscing. Betty has a bit tucked away I wonder if you could analyze it to see what was in it, we all remember it as miraculous. Uncle Mike remembered it was brown and it definitely wasn’t as scenty as Erica’s. I’m thinking it was comfrey.

Busy day to day. Did a suicide awareness/prevention training. I’d done it before with this group so I was challenged to dig deeper into the phenomenon. Normally talk about attempters versus completers and did again but challenged the group to try to address the potential completers who may be passing through our orbits at any time. I read from David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” with one of his characters being on a psych unit for a hardcore overdose and really eloquently talks about her motivations. Since he later committed suicide I theorize it gives some insight into the mind of a completer, something usually isn’t possible.

He talks about wanting to end how he is feeling versus wanting to hurt himself, the euphemism we all want to use. He talked about horror being the dominant feeling, life turning lurid. I used those points to talk about the sublime. How to connect, provide hope, open the door to talk, provide meaning, normalize. I put my money where my mouth is and tackled the subject head on and tried to do that in my process group. Everything but the sublime part. Everyone is not ready for sublimity. Its an important word that we overuse/misuse. This lamp is sublime. No its not. Sublimity is overcoming the horror to something transcendent. Mostly though I just didn’t have the time, I get very few words in a process group which is intrinsically peer to peer. But I’ll work it in. Maybe do an education group on the topic.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for reading this far and thank you for your comments and your likes and for subscribing to my rambles if you do and for your own blogs and sharing your stories and your wisdom. It makes me a better person and inspires me to keep doing this.

 

Categories: books, dogs, feelings, travel, work

we don’t make flags here anymore

December 24, 2011 1 comment

Merry Christmas faithful reader and I am glad I got a chance to post before the big holiday celebration. It feels good to be up in Michigan. I have been ill all week but am feeling much better, mostly recuperated except for a bit of a cough. Fido held up OK on the trip. We enjoyed stopping in St Louis Thursday night and seeing Mark and Sarah and having some Thai food at King & I. Yummy.

Fido enjoyed eating all the chicken bones he found on our walks in St Louis. He’s not used to walks in the big city where the streets are paved in chicken bones. He also enjoyed when we stopped for a hike at a metro-park in suburban Dayton. We hiked a 1.2 mile loop which was about all I could handle yesterday. Today we walked up town and did the river walk, Monroe is a cute town and there a few nice views of downtown we found. The economic downturn is at least a boon for preservation as things are less changed then in past visits.

Have a family gathering tonight, breakfast tomorrow and another dinner tomorrow as well. Doing this Christmas thing up right. We went to the farmers market today and I was impressed with the winter offerings. Got apples, red onions, shallots, black strap molasses, honey, yukon golds [do you capitalize when a place is the name of a thing, like Yukon golds? doesn’t look right, I think not.], plus some christmas cookies to buff out the ones I got from Sarah, so I can serve them at tomorrow’s dinner. I got this German kind I’ve never had before. I also got these green eggs. I’ve never seen such a thing, but its an heirloom chicken variety. Quite impressive and a distinct taste the farmer said. I also got a kohlrabi as big as your head, I’ve never seen one so big.

The big reason I wanted to post though is I have a poem I wrote on the way up passing through a small town in Ohio:

Welcome to Findlay

Home of Flag City

But we don’t make flags here anymore

They’re all made in Red China

Which shouldn’t surprise ya

It’s like everything else in the whole damn store.

So there ain’t no good jobs

Cuz some soulless corporation

Didn’t think their workers had a right to a living wage

So they took all our good jobs

And sent them to the Third World

Just to make a few more dollars, its a brazen age.

So welcome to Findlay

Home of Flag City

But we don’t make flags here anymore

They’re all made in Red China

Which shouldn’t surprise ya

It’s like everything else in the big box store.

If you’re lucky enough to have a job

It’s probably part time

Its a tough old world in the service line

And I will serve you and you will serve me

But ain’t none us making no money

Cuz we ain’t making nothing, nothing but time.

So welcome to Findlay

Home of Flag City

But we don’t make flags here anymore…

Categories: dogs, family, poetry, politics, travel

Holiday Letter 2011

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Well its been a tough year on Leslie Lane but Fido and I are resilient if nothing else and still found some joy worth sharing this holiday season as we recount the events of the year for our family and friends. I use the “we” pretty loosely as Fido is sacked out on the love seat with his head on a pillow as his cousin Shadow, “a little human in a dog suit” taught him to do. He rarely much to these narratives so I will plunge ahead without his active input.

Currently I am sick; scratchy throat, sore, chills and tired. Came on last evening, I couldn’t sleep for the congestion, got up and took some Nyquil and almost slept through the time to call in. As I alluded to in my last post and if your a new reader you may not know but we had our share of tragedy this year, Fido’s man died in April and if being sick brings a little solemnity to the narrative, its entirely appropriate; snot riddled and a little tearful looking back on the year that was.

Dad and I celebrated the holidays at home last year. Usually we travel and the year before in a hotel in Monroe Michigan it struck me that I have a perfectly good house with a lovely Christmas tree at home why am I spending Christmas in hotels and campgrounds year after year. I worked Christmas Day and came home to celebrate with Fido and the Popster with the exchange of gifts and holiday cheer. We celebrated the New Year with Dad making a pork roast in the slow cooker, you have to eat pork on New Years to” root ahead” as Grandma Trapp would say. If you eat chicken you’ll scratch all year and beef leaves you standing still chewing your cud.

We had a bad Winter with lots of snow and cold. Since I live only a block from work I was one of only three that made it in and one of two that stayed. We had fun doing all the groups and accommodating ourselves to the weather. I walked Fido a lot. He would have a good time even when the snow was deeper then he was tall. He kind of jumps and swims like his moves to get through tall grass. We owned the Bear Creek Trail that winter.

I made my first road trip of the year in early Spring when Dave Smith won some free tickets to see The Pogues at the Royal Oak Music Theater. It was nice to reconnect with Dave and see his new place and visit family and friends who I’d missed on the holidays. The green  truck did not survive the trip however with the timing chain rubbing its way through the engine case. I landed on my feet and Betty and Bill were kind enough to loan me there car for my stay and rented one for the drive back.

I brought back Johnny Watson for a working vacation here in CoMo. He put in a new floor and tile in my kitchen to replace the crappy linoleum that was cracking even though it was new when I bought the house. The disruption and dust was hard on Dad and it was only a little before that that I saw Dad was struggling to get through his routine and that I was going to have to step up my game and start helping him with laundry and making his bed and real basic shit like that. I cried when Sarah asked me how I was doing the morning I realized Dad couldn’t make his bed anymore. I wondered how I would manage the house on my own and caregive for Dad and work all on my own.

In early April Dad couldn’t catch his breath and I took him to the ER. They gave him a breathing treatment, which eased him up and they almost sent him home, but decided to admit him. I went to work and came back after and he was struggling to breathe. I got on the nursing staff to get him some breathing treatments ordered and went home since he couldn’t visit. I missed a call in the middle of the night and awoke to a voice mail they had Dad on a ventilator.

I called family and pretty much moved to the hospital. Bob was on the road within hours and bedside that night. What a blessing family is. They took Dad off the ventilator to see if he could breathe on his own and we were instructed to get his final wishes. As he was coming out of anesthesia I said “Dad, Dad its Mickey [my childhood nickname]”. Dad licked his lips and said “Mickeys in the wide mouth green bottle, Rolling Rock…” and I could tell he was thinking of beers in green bottles and after a pause he said “I’m not an alcoholic”.

Well he couldn’t breathe without mechanical assistance and that’s a shitty life my friends so we stopped the machines and started the best friend of the dying, good old Morphine. Morphine relaxed him and got him some lung action so he could push out carbon dioxide again and gave him a few good days, to visit and say goodbye and give more family time to come and make peace.

My friends went into action, hosting my family, cleaning my house, walking my dog so that I could be at the hospital full time. They visited and offered support and got us the things we needed. Boone Hospital Palliative Care were beautiful. We drank rum and cokes, Dad had lost the taste for beer with his gluten free diet, but enjoyed a good drink with family and friends and was his charming and engaging self. We snuck Fido in one night and he lay at Dad’s feet while he slept. Dad woke and said “I’ll be damned”.

It was good for Fido who had never been apart from Dad for more then a few hours in his whole life and he seemed to figure out what was going on. Dad hung on for a few days, the price of doing business when your tough as nails. One of the last things he enjoyed was listening to the first two chapters of “Last Stand at Papagos Well” by his favorite author, Mr. Louis L’amour, read by yours truly.

Dad passed and family returned home and Fido and I were alone in our grief. I decided to do the funeral service myself out of respect I didn’t want to hand the chore over to a stranger. I had a small memorial service in the backyard that weekend and sprinkled a little of his ashes on Fido’s predecessor Myrtle’s grave. I wanted to make sure I could get through the thing without breaking down before I did it for the full funeral the following weekend. It went well though my progressive friends wondered how it would go over in the heartland.

It went over really well, people liked hearing his story and having a theologically unique approach was validating to many and offended few (at least they were quiet about it). It gave me a chance to connect with a lot of family as I am normally quiet at such affairs and no one knew I could write and deliver a speech. I submitted the service to the New Yorker but ultimately just posted it on my blog.

I thought I would be alone in the house but this guy Kevin who used to live in Columbia contacted me about renting a room and John came back to stay with me for close to six months which was great having him around. John got some projects done putting in a dog waste compost system in the back corner and building a raised bed frame and a cold frame out of some of the old windows.

The garden was largely a bust this year, tough weather with lots of rain early and then a month long hot and dry spell. Ultimately it got nice but green tomatoes were about the only thing I had in abundance. I fried some, made and canned chutney, and ripened a bunch for homemade tomato sauce several times. Put the last of them in my turkey soup yesterday.

It was a good year for floating, though not on The Big Muddy which was closed for much of the year because of flooding. Michael, Trevor and I floated both the Lemine and Locust Creek. The Lamine was slow and Locust Creek involved a lot of portages due to debris which was new to me. I floated the flooded Overton Bottoms twice. Nothing like canoeing through the woods. My best float though, John put together a full moon night float on the Gasconade on my birthday. That was incredible.

John and I also vacationed in the Appalachians. We stayed in Sieverville for a couple days and daytripped into Great Smokey National Park. The hike to Laurel Falls was probably my favorite but we also watched a mama bear and her cup snacking and lazing about in a gum tree. It was very cool. We dropped south of the park and did some guerrilla and dispersed camping in the Nantahala National Forest. We hiked in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Grove and saw some great old growth trees and hiked to some more waterfalls including another Lauurel Falls. On the way out we camped in the Pisquah, pretty much skippable. It was a great trip though and I got another mile of the Appalachian Trail and my total stands at 157. I pledged to go back and start north just north of the park, but not this year.

Ultimately John moved back to California and my housemate Kevin bought a house and moved out yesterday, so as of today its just me and Fido. We’re content with that, though the house seems big for me and a little dog. In the Spring if a housemate hasn’t turned up on their own I’ll start looking. I expect someone will just show up, its worked so far.

Lets see, entertained less, but some. Had a nice blow out for Thanksgiving, with a local pasture raised heirloom turkey and Kevin made some excellent sides. We had a collection of strays from my neighbor Henry, my buddy Harry originally out of Toledo, Kevin, his new girlfriend, and a couple of professors from the university from way out of town (Italy and Estonia). We had lively conversation and drank some good wine and enjoyed our lovely meal snug and grateful.

Work continues to go well. I was demoted to counselor after a minor screw up. Best thing that ever happened to me. I got a more responsive boss and a more reasonable work load. I continue to do staff trainings, education groups (added self control and dreams to my repertoire), therapy groups, and am getting to be a better counselor. I am a more confident public speaker and am even more motivational. I came to realize people need more preaching then teaching.

I continue to eat more local food and now that I’m buying all the groceries my local content should do nothing but climb. Lets see, I also joined the Odd Fellows and I’m glad to be a part of something both storied and ready to play a more important role as our government slides further into dysfunction.

In October I got into the post a day challenge a little late but upped my blogging game considerably. It challenged me to have something meaningful to say daily and I started picking up more subscribers and “Likes” from strangers. I cancelled my Directv and will likely drop Netflix as I blog more and watch TV less. I hope to get into an exercise routine in the coming year. Still single but feel closer to changing that but am still not feeling rushed. Have a couple folks that I think are interested but haven’t followed up on it. I may, or I may not when it comes right down to it.

All in all some good things happened in a tough year. I am not sorry to see 2011 go but it was a time of growth and change and I am not ungrateful for the experiences I have had. 2012 promises to have more joy and less pain and I look forward to building on the gains I have made, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.