Posts Tagged ‘free lifestyle’

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 #8: Oklahoma to New Mexico

The fishing lake I camped by was nice and quiet and I set out back on the road early. I made for the Chocktaw National Recreation Area which turned out to be a sweet stop. There was some great hiking and I replenished my supply of spring water I’d drank from Hot Springs.

There were some nice trails with good interpretive signs and lots of CCC masonry. Don’t know if I’ve ever felt compelled to take a photo of a shitter before, but I have now.

I also got a swim in which keeps the road funk in check. I spent a rough night in a Walmart parking lot. I was considering visiting a friend who was relocating to Norman and I thought there was more prairie to hike. The little splash of it I’d hiked in was really lovely after the poorly managed Ozarks and Ouachitas.

Turned out the prairie “trail” was just gravel road surrounded by dense shrubbery and Norman didn’t seem worth frittering 3 days over so I put some miles on. I drove up to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and there I found my prairie. Best prairie I’ve ever seen. So many wildflowers.

There was also a really scenic prairie dog town, some wilderness rock scrambling and awesome hiking. I visited the Holy City which is a WPA project of some stone buildings and arches and stuff where they do a sunrise Easter service. Quirky in the extreme. I also saw some elk.

I got some wifi at a Subway and found a site to camp ( is awesome by the way). It was a drive but I pulled into a municipal park on a lake just over the border in the Texas Panhandle. I relaxed woke in the morning to let it warm up enough to swim and made my way west.

I stopped to hike and “swim” again at Copper Breaks State Park. I hiked a short trail and went to the knee deep swimming area. They have a beautiful little lake but it’s reserved for the boats. Not worth the 18 miles and 3 bucks I invested in that side trek.

I boogied on down to Silverton where they had a little free RV campground at their municipal park. It was a charming little dying town I explored the next morning. Had dinner at a cute little diner and breakfast the next morning. The locals were bitching about illegals and I thought they could use some immigrants to fill their vacant storefronts and bring a little vitality before they become one of those ubiquitous historical markers about where a town used to be.

I backed track to Caprock State Park and took an arduous hike. I missed the fern cave I was looking for and took another wrong turn adding another 2.6 miles to a tough hike. You don’t expect a 600′ vertical climb and decent in the Panhandle but they’re serious about their erosion in Texas. Still not doing a damn thing about it as far as I can tell

I did get to finally see bison after missing them at Chocktaw and the Wyandottes. A local rancher saved them from extinction in the hopes of making desert tough beef crossbreeds. It’s the source stock for the Yellowstone herds amongst others

I learned this at a little museum Comanchero Canton Historical Museum. Has a nice collection of arrowheads and whatnot. The curator was nice but warned me about the crazy democrat governor closing down the entire state of New Mexico so it’s probably not worth visiting.

I was going to crash at Silverton a second night but the travel bug got me and I pushed on to another free municipal campground at Mule Shoe Texas. Got in late enough had to have Subway again.

I stuck around for church, my third time on the trip. Nice, nice folks even mentioned the sin of racism in Sunday School. Better then the harsh criticism of the new religion of Critical Race Theory I’d been hearing on the local airwaves. Had my first Chinese buffet in a year and a half and I was on the road again.

I pushed on to the Sacramento Mountains Lincoln National Forest. I missed my turnoff and I was glad I did. After turning around I saw some creature shamble across the road. I would have sworn it was a sloth if I had to say what it was. I looked it up the next day when I got some internet and it was a white faced coati. Pretty cool. Also saw some mule deer.

Found a cool site nonetheless even arriving after dark. The moon was so bright I took a little hike. The next morning I realized I was camping with a cow carcass. Our National Forest and it’s multiple uses. I hiked some closed forest service roads and cooked some lunch on the zip stove. No more campfires I’m in droughtland now.

I drove to the other side of the forest where the recreation areas are and met some nice campers and cooked some dinner. (I fried an onion and some canned chicken in margarine, which has held up for better then a month, with some white sage I found. Added water, chicken bouillon and powdered goats milk and instant mashed potatoes when it boiled. Pretty good).

Headed out early and did all the hikes at White Sands National Park. That 5 mile dune hike kicked my ass. Had dinner at Denny’s (yay WiFi) and had a mocha and browsed used books at a dying mall in Almagordo. I’m camped at a dispersed BLM campground now so I can watch the Lunar Eclipse. It cools off nicely so I think I don’t have to hide out in the mountains all the time.

Tomorrow it’s back into the Sacramento’s I think to hike the trail I saw coming out this morning and to nap in the cool mountain air. Not enough signal to upload pictures. if it doesn’t upload this post I’ll add some. Otherwise consider following me on the Book of Faces to see pics. Mike Trapp in Columbia Missouri. Goodnight faithful reader, I hope the super blood moon shines on you in peace and prosperity

Epic Road Trip #7: on to Oklahoma

I did some more hiking in the area and spent another night at the site on the Winona scenic drive. I drove into Mena and checked out that dilapidated and quirky town. They have a funky park with a spring and goldfish pond with some aggressive geese keeping an eye on things. There are howitzers and an old cabin. There is also a closed Studebaker museum that looks like a car dealership.

I drove back up to the woods and again easily found a dispersed site. The next morning I hiked 7 miles on the Ouachita Trail. It got a little overgrown three miles in and I was soaked. It’s a consistently well marked and well maintained trail and there are a lot more wildflowers in the west. Wild Bergamot, spiderwort and some I couldn’t name.

I then went to Queen Wilhelmina State Park and checked out this funky stone house built by a Harley riding union organizer in the 30s. They have an old train and some nice scenic views as well.

I drove down the scenic mountaintop road that becomes Oklahoma 1 at the state line. The national forest becomes National Recreation Area and there were a lot of overlooks and interpretive sites. It was fun even in the rain and I busted out the umbrella and checked them all out.

I drove into the next town and had carnitas in a Mexican place. I grabbed some beer as Mena was in a dry county. It was from an Oklahoma City microbrew and their pilsner had a lot of flavor for a pilsner. Pricey but worth it.

The free camping website found me a nice lakeside site west and north. I’m the only one here and it’s quite picturesque. Hopefully I’ll find some internet and post some pictures. Tonight I’m going to bed early.

“i am mostly water, 70 percent, don’t worry about the rent”

Listening to an alt country mix John made for me a long time ago. Great stuff, late 90s. Feeling grateful and content. Last week was a veritable whirlwind and until now I have subscribed to a drama free lifestyle for a long time. But not always and even as I’ve gone about a more ordinary existence I have known a penchant for action lays. Certainly won’t have to worry about boredom anytime soon as it looks.

Fido has been sleeping all day getting up only to follow me to whatever room I’m in and crashing. After better then a week of Olive 24/7 I think he just wants rest. We did walk down to the park and he played a bit with a 6 month old Blue Sheltie. I don’t think I’d ever seen one that cute. She got Fido to chase her but she was slow and they didn’t figure out how to play anything else so we walked the trail home.

I was tired today, slept poorly and slept in for me. I lay down for a nap but didn’t go down and ended up just reading a Spider Man comic. The 70s stuff has a strong since of nostalgia for me. “Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider Man” I remember well from when I was a boy. Tarantula is the villain and I remember drawing him, even the foreshortened right leg and having to imagine the toe spike that’s imbedded in the wall. He was like if Spider Man and Zorro had a kid being Hispanic and the half mask. Some of the stuffs pretty solid but there’s a cheese factor. My next one features the “Death Dance of the Hypno Hustler!”

I forgot this song is on the CD, awesome. Whenever I hear myself its unsettling and hard not to listen to myself and yet its not entirely pleasant (and not just becauseĀ  I’m such a bad singer).

Jeff and Becky and their kiddos came over for dinner. I was hoping Fido would get over his weirded out by kids thing if he had some sustained time with kids but no such luck. I had made minestrone soup yesterday. As a a base I used all my canned tomatoes (pretty much done with canned food all things being equal, I’ll pass on the skyrocketing BPA levels thank you very much).

While I got that going I took 2 local pasture raised cube steaks, floured them in whole wheat flour and browned in the cast iron skillet. Chopped them into little pieces and all the drippings and even the saucer of flour figuring it would thicken. I would later regret that move because I was going to someone who was gluten frees house for a potluck I thought but it was a chile supper and I was late so it didn’t matter anyway. Had a gluten free beer speaking of nostalgia. (Long term readers will remember I lost my papa and gluten free this and that was a frequent blog topic for awhile.)

Oh yeah, I fried the cube steaks in bacon grease, its not much meat for a giant pot of soup and the extra flavor didn’t hurt. I then added the giant kolrabi (well half of it, going to use it for chickpea potato salad with some russets for the work potluck), a couple of Michigan carrots, 3 Michigan red onions, a green pepper, half a bottle of homemade cherry wine (my sainted Mama taught me to add a little sweet to take the bite out of tomatoes), 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, some spinach, and purple cabbage. Whoop fresh green beans snapped real short, the black eyed peas I’d made at New Years, and a sizable amount of dried basil from the garden and Turkish oregano. At the end I added most of a can of black olives I had from Thanksgiving and some whole wheat spiral pasta.

It was yummy, pretty healthy too, and had a minestrone taste to it. Ended up adding a tsp of Better then Bullion too. Jeff and Becky are traveling and to hang out a few hours in the afternoon I thought soup and salad would be nice. I did an all local salad with market lettuce, spinach, purple cabbage, shredded carrot, heart nuts (a cross of Black and English walnuts) from the Michigan market, and Michigan apples.

I made a homemade dressing as well. I added apple cider vinegar to the last of the tahini in its own jar and some Michigan honey (boy you know local honey is cool but the honey that’s like the honey that I grew up on is just more honeyer to me), a little turmeric, a lot of freshly ground mustard (the kids enjoyed the mortar and pestle), maybe something else, I was gabbing with the guests.

Jeff brought a loaf of wheat/rye bread he’d made in the woods in a clay oven. He’s a history buff and reenactor who has a big 19th century or so camp out in Missouri every year at this time and we hang out for a bit before or after. Jeff hosted me on my first visit to Columbia and showed me the town I fell in love with. Its funny in the campaign I say “I love Columbia” and people always say “How long have you been here?”, its funny. He made it old school stretching the yeast, using only a packet for 14 pounds of flour like they would have in the olden days and stuff was expensive. They bought yeast from brewers who grew it.

Early in that paragraph I hopped over to Facebook and told a friend one of my favorite stories about my dad when she had mentioned David Bowie, here it is [One time a long time ago Dad called from the road and asked my mom to speak to me. He said, “Have you ever heard of David Bowie?” “Um, yeah Dad I’ve heard of him why.” “Well I went to get fuel last night about 3:00 in the morning and all the fuel pumps were blocked by these tour buses, so I went inside and I said ‘Hey whose buses are blocking the fuel pumps?’ and this anemic little fuck came up and said ‘They’re my buses I’m David Bowie'” Dad went on “So I said are you any relation to Jim Bowie? He had a knife that could cut his hair, you could use a knife like that.” This was 80s Bowie so his hair wasn’t that long but Dad was sensitive about stuff like that. A couple years ago I showed him The Man Who Fell to Earth and told him that’s who he’d told off.]

Well its getting late and I still have dishes to wash.