There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label Trudi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trudi. Show all posts

05 August 2017

The insta-story family reunion

Our family reunions now consist of days spent up at my brother's cabin in Fruitland, Utah.

I'm not complaining, I love it up there. I won't lie though, I miss the days of going to new places with the family, but that hasn't happened for ten years, since sister died.

With all of us getting older though, Fruitland is easier on everyone.
I created an Instagram insta-story for the weekend reunion for me to enjoy on here.

I doubt anyone will see it until I'm gone and the family goes through this site to see memories of my life.

If that happens, I hope you enjoy it. The music is inspired by crazylegs and Aaz from our time together driving back from the lake.

27 May 2017

The Lantern Festival

The sun was setting in the Utah desert, clouds filling up with shades of pink and orange as we slowly made our way out to the Lantern Festival.

We find a spot and lay out our blankets, then read the instructions to get our lanterns ready. The creative processes of my nieces and nephew flow as they decorate their lanterns in their own unique style.

Cbug draws mushrooms, Flooey does a self portrait, and crazylegs fills her lantern with a million flowers.

I write a note to lost loved ones, and welcome any alien life that may come upon my message.
Cbug excitedly asks if he can light them with the lighter. I can tell that his parents don't usually let him play with fire, but I'm the uncle.

He is thrilled, as any young boy would be.

The night sky becomes an ocean of wishes as the lanterns slowly rise.
It's the most magical experience we've encountered together as our wishes are sent out into the universe.

27 April 2017

leaving despair in Sycamore Canyon


I had just returned to work after a few days in Mexico City, and I was excited to tell my friends all about it. I was giving one friend some rosary beads she had asked for, when my best friend appeared at her desk, visibly shaken.

"My fifteen year old niece just died..."

A flood of emotions took me over, and I went right back to that fateful day of my own when I got the call about my own sister.

It's been forever since we've spoke, but I get a message from an old girlfriend about her support group for MS. She is so young to have to deal with this disease. I know all too well it's devastating effects on a person, and I find no words to console her. I tell her she sounds strong, but the words are hollow and empty.

She doesn't reply back.

I wake before the dawn and driving three hours up North. I'm not prepared in any way, no food and little water, but I don't care. I need to get out of my head and into the wild.

I find Sycamore Canyon, just outside of Williams, Arizona. There is an eleven mile loop that will work, and I start walking.

Four miles in and I get lost. I want to circle the canyon, thinking that is the most logical route for the loop, but I am mistaken.

Further and further I go, off trail and deep into the heart of the wilderness. I hear no other sound than my labored breathing.

but my mind is clear.....

I eventually turnaround and retrace my steps backwards. My water is gone, the new formed blisters on my feet are screaming in pain, and the sweat along my brow has crystallized into salt from dehydration.

I find this to be therapeutic to my well being.


In the way of the world today, I see on social media about a family friend that suddenly died. Only twenty two hours earlier she had posted a picture of her granddaughter at a gymnastics meet, and commented on how proud she was of her.....

I'll be having Counting Crows on repeat for a while, and taking in the advice from Anna begins...

11 April 2017


Costa Rica would be the first country I would attempt to enter after being denied entry in Montreal. That bitter feeling combined with high anxiety levels were on full display as I approached passport control.

Nothing felt as sweet as hearing the click of the stamp coming down, and the big smile on the officer's face as he stated "Welcome to Costa, pura vida!".
It's dark, almost midnight, as my taxicab drives through the countryside to my hotel in Guanacaste. I've no idea what type of area I'll be in until morning. I check into the unassuming hotel and fall asleep quickly, dreaming of what will come in the morning.

I arise to the salty ocean smell, yet I can't see the water. At breakfast, I ask a young man which way to the beach. He smiles warmly and points down the road.

I start walking. I'm not in a hotel zone with throngs of tourists, nor a busy beachside city. It's a laid back and quiet little town with hostels and hotels hidden in the lush jungle, a store here and many a local's home there.

I come to the beach.
There are no annoying people bombarding you to buy wares or hook you up with things you don't want to do. Everyone is just enjoying themselves. I wander around from sunrise to sunset, sleep in the sand, find a shack to eat ceviche when hungry, a bar to quench my thirst.
Guanacaste province is the perfect starting place in Costa Rica. Let the sailboats gently rock in the morning sun as one falls in love with this country.

01 February 2017

the Cholla Gardens

Melancholy mixed with tears covered the man's face as he made his way through the desert, racing the setting sun. An oasis of chollas appear before him, a giant cluster of prickly beauty, seemingly unreal.
He walks into the garden of cacti in a dream-like state of mind. A drum circle of young hipsters chants rhythmically. A young girl looks up, her eyes pierce his soul from her hand knit beanie.

He flashes back to his own lost love.
The moon pulls out the strangest of emotions, the truest of colors lying within each of us, waiting to explode with indignant rage, in the Cholla Gardens of Joshua Tree.

20 December 2016

The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-time

I've been searching for the Christmas spirit in earnest this season, which is a 180 degree shift for me. 

The quest for falling snow and single digit temperatures take me to the Windy City last weekend.
Here I find joy in the smile of the Pakistani man that brings me the best Mediterranean food I've ever had. The smile on my face from the baba ghanouj won't leave.

I walk in the dark under the comfort of great skyscrapers that rise up into the night. Random lights sparkle, Christmas trees faintly glow down onto the icy river. I catch a snowflake on my tongue.
The theatre district is glowing in a twinkling frenzy. I find the Oriental theatre and hand the nice lady my ticket.

The play is everything I hoped it would be, and takes me back to the day the girl gave me the book to read.

A happy memory.
 I leave and walk under the elevated train, watching the snow drifts get pulverized and cascade down onto the street walkers below.

I come to a bridge that crosses the Chicago river. I remember the scene from my favorite Holiday movie, 'It's a wonderful life', where George is contemplating suicide on a bridge by jumping into the icy water below.

He leaps, but is saved. I feel the same, saved that is, and revel in my White Christmas.

08 December 2016

the return to Joshua Tree

Everything comes full circle if you have enough time and patience. I seem to have buckets of both. It had been ten years since I'd been to Joshua Tree National Park. I returned to walk the among the beautiful trees and to re-kindle a lost love, to feel the spirit of her that passed away a couple of months after our first trip here....
We talk about how I've gotten visibly older, I tell her she looks the same.

All the natural beauty here fails in comparison to the light she shines.
I sit in the same spot we did originally, high up on a boulder, and watch the sun set low into the sky before it disappears. I feel your warm breath on my neck as the stars twinkle in the night.
Your Angel Rays are here to stay, forever with me in this special place.

06 October 2016

Grand Canyon Railway

We started the morning in a makeshift Western town, complete with gun slinging cowboys and horse apples. It was just past eight am and the temperature was already approaching 85 degrees.
The train whistle blew, and the familiar "All Board" call bellowed across the station. Tickets in hand, we boarded the Kokopelli car, settled into our seats with breakfast from the dining car, then felt the lurch as the wheels started to roll.

The Grand Canyon Railway train adventure was underway.
After waving to the locals as we pulled out of town, past the prairie dogs and the last remaining buildings of Williams, we settled into views of the expansive open plateau.

Listening to some history from the conductor for a few, then the singing cowboys showed up...and things got interesting.
Cbug got himself fully immersed in the show, dancing and singing wildly up and down the aisle. The whole train car was busting up in laughter.

We heard classic tunes from Johnny Cash and John Denver. It felt like we were going back in time the further the train went, and no one was complaining.
We even ran into some unruly characters that robbed us (in good spirits). I haven't seen such happy faces on my brother's family like that for awhile.

Which made the entire experience worthwhile. As "Country Road" was sung by everyone on the train car as we were coming home, I closed my eyes and thought of you.
John Denver was your favorite singer, and whenever I hear him, I know that you are probably close by, just above my head, smiling down from the heavens.

Your spirit was closer to us on this day I think.

31 December 2015

The ashes of American Flags (finale)

I find more comfort than usual as I watch the American Flag slowly move with the light breeze in the solemn morning of a winter's desert.
The last few town's I venture through before heading home increase with character and the independent spirit.
Ironically, the last two songs on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot are "Poor places" and "Reservations". As they play, an old man emerges from a storefront, struggling to button his trousers before they fall down around his ankles.

He can barely walk, and so I watch him carefully, as I'll need to help him if he can't get his pants secure.

He holds them tightly as he looks both ways before crossing the empty street on this early Sunday morning.

Proud, independent, American.

Only the mannequins and I see this.
This album has emptiness where music should be, notes play when the mainstream wants silence. A lone sign warns of visitors from another world.
There it is, the truth that lies in the ashes of American Flags.
Color comes back into the world as the sun breaks free of the clouds, and warms the tree that waits in patience for the rays of light.

30 December 2015

The ashes of American Flags (part three)

The third act was here, playing out against the cold red rock on the Winter solstice. I savored the daylight I had left on the open road.
I haven't seen one Wal-Mart yet in these small towns, which frankly surprises me, and my premise for this road adventure. It changes my outlook, solidifies the notion that you can only judge something after being a witness to it yourself.
I knock on the door, hoping to purchase something fresh and organic, but all I hear is the distant barking of a dog. I find an open desert valley, and wander in the stillness for a spell....
then turn the ignition, and carry on, feeling that the course of the original project has changed from one of showcasing the decline of the middle class to one of hopeful optimism that it was all propaganda and lies in the first place. 

26 December 2015

The ashes of American Flags (part two)

The communities quickly turned from self sustaining entities to wood cabins and ghost towns. Not from Capitalism over taking good natured business, but from the elements of time.

Something that affects all of us, eventually.
I see the last remnants of something that was started in the late 19th century, when the pioneering spirit and the dream to live one's life on terms you set was a truth many sought, and most obtained. A place where you can raise a family in safety, or shack up in solitude and survive off the land around you.
There are still those that have made peace out here in middle america, and are content with this idea of freedom. A mom and pop motel on the high desert plain. A fruit grove nestled in the canyon. An antique store that holds cherished wonders.

I find artistic lightning striking everywhere as I sit in the earth and ponder the journey thus far....
I'm about halfway, and with quickly diminishing daylight, I don the aviator goggles, and continue down the empty road.

24 December 2015

The ashes of American Flags (part one)

My sister gave me Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to listen to when I was moving out of State.

"It's not my favorite Wilco album, but I think you'll really like it!"

She always understood me better than I did. I used to listen to it nonstop as I would drive around Arizona, through small decimated towns hit hard from the impact of big corporate companies such as WalMart.

I had an idea back in 2012, on the tenth anniversary of the album's release, to drive through small town USA and see if the economy was still in shambles, if Big Business was still destroying rural America.
The weekend before Christmas, 2015, I climbed in my little car at 4 am, and starting a one thousand mile journey through my home State of Utah to complete that idea.
This is part one of a four part series that will show what I saw, put to the music of Wilco's album.

Towns that do not reflect the suffering middle class that the media continually talks about, strong people that thrive off the land, live within their means and die with no regrets.

Vintage buildings that showcase a different America, one that is perhaps forgotten about in today's visuals through computers and cell phones. 
TV's and social media outlets.

People and communities just living, breathing, and being in the moment.

19 August 2015

Jesus, etc

I request a song on Wilco's website, knowing it will most likely be played, but without any personal acknowledgement.

I ask anyway, for her.

"his goal, in life, was to be an echo..."

August the 18th, in the year of 2015, I sit back with a Maasai blanket wrapped around my shoulders, and wait for it.

Lyrics float by like fireflies as the temperatures drop.

Then I hear it.

"Jesus don't cry...."

and for a moment, all becomes right in my world.

05 May 2015

Finding Neverland

My niece has been hard at work over the last several months as part of a local ballet production of Peter Pan.

As I walked into my old high school and took a seat, I reflected on how a small community really, truly comes together to put on a production such as this.

The stage work, the countless hours volunteered, the time and devotion of the the teachers, students, parents....

It brought a new appreciation of my hometown to mind. As the show went on, many of the songs played during the performance were from one of my favorite movies, Finding Neverland.

This was the last movie I saw with my sister. We both cried at the end.

As my niece twirled, smiled and waved as she danced as a little mermaid, I swelled with an Uncle's pride, as a tear made it's way down my cheek.

01 May 2015

Life on a chain

We were just outside of Vegas, crossing into Arizona when she asks if I've listened to the album "music for the morning after".

"only the song on the radio, "life on a chain".

"Well you HAVE to listen to it, it's so GOOD!"

My sister always put a smile on my face that way. And so, as my new life was about to begin in Arizona, we listened to Pete Yorn, circa 2003.....

May the 1st, 2015.  I'm outside the City Winery in the Napa valley, trying to clear my head of one disastrous day by remembering better times. I'm hopeful that this show will help.
My balcony seat has a perfect view of this intimate setting. I order a local IPA and wonder if my song request will be played. Pete's "You & Me" tour is a no set list type of tour. Pete lets people request what they want. The lights go dim and he walks onto the stage.....
The singer Ben E. King died today. Pete sings a soulful and stirring rendition of Stand by Me that brings the audience to tears. A few songs later, my request of Lose You is played. He checks with us to be sure we want it, as it is depressing as hell, but we unanimously request it to be played.

It takes me back to sitting in the back seat of a car after making love to my girl for the last time.

To remembering my sister, may she rest in peace.

To becoming jobless earlier today.

I know all about life on a chain though. It is just my time to endure pain and hardship for awhile. I'll consider myself lucky have started this new road with a songwriter that truly inspires me.

I'll just be waiting over here, waiting for life to begin....again.

21 March 2015


She excitedly asks me if I've heard of the band "Wilco". When I tell her no, she demands I stop everything I'm doing and listen to the albums 3 A.M. and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

My sister and I always had a way of connecting with music. Eight years gone she now is, but through the music, she lives on.
My favorite performance of a night filled with highlights was a little number called "Nobody lives anymore".

Give it a listen.

20 December 2014

a moment to myself in Zambia

All the hard work in Nairobi...

Running an expedition team, building a school, unconditionally giving every last piece of myself for what I hope to be the greater good.


All of the adventures in Zambia..

I needed a moment to myself. I find a path beyond the Chrismar hotel rooms that leads to unfinished construction on the edge of the Zambezi jungle. I climb the wooden planks to the highest point and sit on a concrete slab.

The sun is wrestling with the clouds to let rays of it's light reach the earth. A lake glistens between the tall grasses.
I take a moment to myself in Zambia...

23 November 2014

I'm still here

In a time where memories become intertwined with dreams, I see us two siblings bike riding in Mammoth Hot Springs, elk bugling in the October dusk of evening. We smile uncontrollably, as being in Nature is where we always felt the freest.

The family is together for the last time in the wild before you leave this earth.

I return seven years later to hear the bugling elk again, looking for comfort.

What I find though is a wholly new adventure.

It's mid afternoon and unseasonably warm for October. The small herd of elk are lying in the the shade of the old buildings of Mammoth, waiting for the sun to drop behind the mountains so the male can once again find a suitable female.

With time to kill until the bugling will start up, I decide to explore more of the Old West buildings that make up Mammoth. I circle around the barriers that are set up to protect humans from the Elk, and walk with nary a care.
After about an hour, I find myself behind the Post Office when a lone young male Elk turns around the corner and finds itself face to face with me.


I calmly stand still until he moves further down the road. With hesitation, I carry on. No more than a few steps though and I see that the herd I previously saw had moved from their shady spot, and had cut me off from getting to my car. In fact, I was completely surrounded. My only option was to approach the medical building directly in front of me to see if I could come inside, as Elk were gaining in numbers.

As I knock and explain my situation, I can see that cutting through the building to exit the front wasn't an option either, as the front lawn was full of elk as well. A young man offered to let me ride shogun in his van, and we would drive through the herd where I could then exit safely on the other side.

We slowly make our way past the herd, but the large male was getting increasing agitated. Without warning, he takes off at full speed though the onlooking crowd, chasing two younger males. The police go crazy, screaming to everyone....

 "Get back, GET BACK NOW!"

As I run for cover up the steps onto a front porch of an old building, the large male slowly saunters back down to a grassy area between two roads. He then charges a small tree, ripping it from the earth and tangles the branches in his antlers. This only frustrates the great beast further.

Without warning, he bellows out a great bugle, then rams a camper van! The thunderous crash echoes against the mountains as the van wobbles back and forth unsteadily.
Shaking with adrenaline, I say a little prayer of thanks that no one was hurt. I forget my melancholy and realize that although she is gone, I'm still here.

05 November 2014

smacked by loneliness at Mammoth

I don't recall ever walking the wooden planks that guide one through Mammoth Springs, but I'm sure I have....maybe in a former life.

The rising steam from the center of the earth was encapsulating me like a dream, one from which I was trapped.
I acknowledged others around me, but they were meaningless. The ghosts of dead loved ones were all my brain could fathom.

I never felt loneliness like this before, and it was crushing me. My mind was betraying my confidence.

The camera is a clear window that I don't want to look through, too painful.
I summon the courage in the open space of Nature, and wait out the anxiety of my existence instead of jumping the wooden rail and diving into the scalding water before me.

My time will come, just not today.

"It's only in your head."

28 January 2014

Mavis in Malibu

National Public Radio had Mavis Staples on, promoting her newest collaboration with Jeff Tweedy.

I'm intrigued as Wilco is one of my favorite bands, and listening to Mavis speak about her life story is one of true fascination.

"I wonder if she is touring?"

I do a little Google search, find out that she is playing next Saturday night in Malibu, California. I get lucky and find a ticket, and plans are made for the weekend.

I make it to the shore and sit on the beach before the show begins at the Pepperdine just up the hill. Time to take in the thunderous crashing of the waves, sand in between my toes, sun on my pale skin.
A little girl plays in the surf, her dad watching carefully. Flashes of the past flood my memory and I see my sister and father before me, playing and laughing.....
Thoughts go back to the radio program, and one hauntingly beautiful song, " You are not alone".  Mavis simply states it is about hope, which everyone needs at some point in their lives.

It dawns on me that the day is January 25th, the day my little sis died. At the beginning of the show, Mavis tells us that her hope is to inspire, to laugh, to make us feel....

She moves slowly at first on stage, being seventy four years old has that effect. After a few songs though, you can feel her spirit take over and she dances and wiggles with unbridled joy.

Six decades of entertaining the masses, with time to also be a civil rights activist. Mavis's story of marching from Selma to Birmingham Alabama brings the audience to tears.

I didn't think it would happen, but near the end, she sings my favorite song.

My sister is above me, singing along.

Thank you Mavis.