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 camping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label camping. Show all posts

04 March 2017

shuffling through the volcanic ash of Sunset Crater

Just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, there is a protected area known as Sunset Crater. The ground is covered in soft black volcanic ash, crevasses and fissures can be explored.

The Native American Great Spirit is strong here.
Start along the boardwalk to get a sense of the area, then head out on a trail that will lead you up and around a mountain.

Your views once you reach the summit are worth the short hike.
I come around the mountain and back down as the sun starts to set in the west. I head back to camp, start a fire and watch the night sky unfold.
Another peaceful starry Arizona night.

16 February 2017

The Pickin' in the Pines Festival 2016

For three glorious days up in the cool pines of Flagstaff, Arizona, you can hear some of the greatest bluegrass music our country has to offer at the Pickin' in the Pines festival.

Held in September each year, last years festival was my first time attending. From camping with a village full of bluegrass lovers to the bands playing at the Pepsi amphitheater to the workshops and classes being offered, it is a full bluegrass experience.
I'm salivating just thinking about it, and hope to return each and every year. Until September rolls around again though, I'll settle for this reminder of the great music to be found,

Enjoy the steeldrivers, just one of many great acts to be found last year. Long live Bluegrass!

09 February 2017

Pickin' in the Pines - the camping experience

Just outside the town of Flagstaff, Arizona, there is a little festival that happens each year in September.

People from all over come to camp for three nights, playing their banjos and other stringed instruments in what is affectionately called the Pickin' in the Pines festival.

Last year was my first time attending, and I went all out with a three day pass that included camping just outside the arena.
After making quick work of setting up my campsite, it was time to just relax under the tall pines, sip whiskey, and listen to the music and good times all around.

Many of the bluegrass acts playing in the festival were also camping in the same area as the attendees, which meant you could hear great bluegrass music all the time!

Hiking trails galore start from the campgrounds as well if you need to get away from it all for a bit.
It was here that I heard some great local music, new bluegrass bands from other parts of the West including Durango, Taos, and Moab.

I hope to make this a yearly event for me, but we will just have to wait and see. Until then, I'll strap on my cowboy hat, let my hippy flags fly in the breeze, and enjoy the sweet sounds of Bluegrass Americana.

03 February 2017

camping at Bonito

The large ponderosa pines fill his nostrils as he makes his way down the winding road. Highway sounds fade away, replaced by the chirping of song birds and the faint bugle call of elk in heat.

It's Fall in Northern Arizona, which is perfect camping weather. Time to hang up some hippy blankets and bow down to meditate in Mother Nature.
He finds the Bonito Campground relatively empty this time of year. Only a few snowbirds still linger, and a boy scout troop working on earning their merit badges.

He makes quick work of setting up camp, and before long the fire is roaring and crackling in the night sky.

He watches a million stars twinkle in front of him, then closes his eyes and drifts off.

24 January 2017

Organ Pipe Cactus

It was just an ordinary brown highway sign along Interstate 8.

I had passed through the town of Gila Bend countless times on my way to Yuma, but today my travels took this exit instead, and next thing I knew I was four miles from the Mexican border, deep in the Sonoran Desert.
It's funny how things here in Arizona are reversed from what I'm used to. Summers are miserable and most people spend the majority of time indoors.

Camping season is November - March.

On a weekend in January, I set up my tent, make a fire, and relax in the wonder and splendor of this desolate place.
I see new cacti, hike desert trails to mountain peaks and sunset vistas. I kick a cholla into my ankle and scream in pain as blood soaks my sock.

I sip whiskey in my tent as night comes and a light rain falls.

It sounds like the sweet taste of a tangerine.

08 October 2015


The radio crackled, but the message came through with undeniable reality.

"Dead. They are all dead. Run as far as you can before it gets you too....."

I figure to have only three minutes to gather what I can before it would be too late. Nuclear radiation will move quickly, and the undead corpses will follow soon after. The mountains may be the only safe place to hide.

President Trump, that bastard, went off his medication and destroyed the world.
"Tent. Sleeping bag...."

I kept repeating the items I had in my car over and over in my head, wondering how long I could survive with what I had. The answer, sadly, was not long.

Cars madly drove past me as I make my way high up the mountain. Eventually only a family of Rocky Mountain Sheep are my companions, no humans to be seen, alive or undead.

I set up camp, then go search for water. I strap on protective glasses, as it helps me see our new wasteland of a world.

A few hours pass and madness is already settling  in comfortably.
The water here seems good to drink, free of poisons. I can still easily catch a bug though, and die from the dreaded diarrhea.

Better than succumbing to radiation or becoming a zombie chew toy. I fill a couple of bottles, take a deep swig, and look for food.
Marmots aren't as skittish now that we humans are no longer at the top of the food chain. My hunger is driving all decisions now. I take a rock as my weapon and smash a marmot's head into soft butter.

"My first kill of the day."

I get a fire going and sharpen a stick to skewer my meal when strange sounds gurgle from within. I throw up blood and dirty water, and realize that I can not out run the destruction.

My world is coming to an end, just like the rest of mankind. I crawl into my tent, listen one last time to the sounds of the night,
and fall victim to the end of the world.

05 October 2015

my love for the Swell

He knew it, but didn't want to face the ugly truth. This would be his last time for awhile in The Swell. He searched high and low to find a good final resting spot to be alone with his love.

Through the dust cloud created by the car, he sees an old horse corral, and beyond a patch of earth perfectly centered behind the Wedge and the adjoining canyon.

"Time to set up camp, and drink to the setting sun."
Not another soul to be seen or heard, in fact only a lone lizard was spotted briefly before heading back down the rocky hole he called home. The tent is pitched as dark clouds move south to north.
He cracks the first beer, and cheers the towering orange rocks.

"I'll miss you the most..."

In the stillness he can actually hear the sun setting, revolving, making it's way around our little world.
The darkness starts to abate, showing the fainest glimmer of the wilderness from the tent. Surviving the wild alone, he quietly unzips the tent flap and peers outside. Nothing but small red coals from last night's fire, and his trusty bike.

He slowly gets up and walks to get the blood pumping and stiffness out of his body. The sunrise comes quickly here in the Swell, and it startles him into motion.
He rides to the bridge that the San Rafael river runs underneath. It's too low for anything other than a watering hole for the animals.

He continues on. A plateau calls his name. He stops to listen...
one final time.

02 August 2015

Mexican Mountain

It's the morning golden hour in the San Rafael Swell, but I rise not to capture the sunrise, but to get my blood pumping, my heart racing, my juices flowing along the newly discovered Mexican Mountain trail.
Hues of purple melt into orange bands of fire along the tips of the mountain peaks. Hawks circle overhead for a morning meal as my pedals continue in their forward motion.
There is nothing quite like discovering a new trail, then having the scenery all to yourself in the peaceful hours of a San Rafael morning.

25 March 2015

alone in The Swell

The long, dusty road finally ends as I pull into the valley known as The Swell. Silence is all I hear when the engine dies.
A murder of crows flutter about as I set up camp, re-hydrate, eat a morsel or two. The sun is quickly setting.

I find myself the only soul in this valley of desert sand and red rock.

I could disappear, murdered outright, and no one would be the wiser.
Instead of terror setting in, I find that thought freeing. I set my mind on the act of pure survival as the last log of the fire burns it's orange glow as the sun fades behind the mountain.

Stars come out to shine and dissipate worry. I reciprocate with my own beacon of light.

Perhaps in a far off universe, another soul sees my own beacon and finds comfort.
Coyotes howl and wake me in the middle of the night. The sage brush rustles from the nocturnal stirring of hidden creatures.

Let me survive to the break of a new dawn.
I wake to watch the rising of a new day. I feel like my ancestors of old, those that rose to each new day in awe, and lived as though it may be their last.

As we all should....bring on fresh blood.

16 October 2014

Moose in the morning

6am seems to come earlier and earlier for me as the years pass by. Yet 6am it was as I unzipped my tent and shivered at the frosty air outside. There is nothing more refreshing than waking up outside Yellowstone. As I stretch and start quietly packing up my gear for the day, large rocks seem to be slowly moving in the not too far distance.

I squint my eyes for a closer look...
"I need coffee..."

This thought permeates my brain as I shrug off the "slow moving rocks". I then start to notice cars and a few people pointing to the same rock formations. I think it strange to have such hustle and bustle this early in the morning, so I walk over to be a little closer....
A family of moose are making their way towards the campground as they slowly enjoy their morning breakfast of mountain grass. The size of these animals is incredible. I find myself being drawn closer to them, but am fully aware of the potential for aggressive behavior.

Just as I make my way to what I think will be a safe and secure spot, a young moose surprisingly leaves the herd and runs full tilt through the campground!

Luckily he doesn't trample any tents ( and the unknowing sleepers they hold ).

Ah, the beauty of the animals here.

13 April 2014

Time in Losee


We can lose track of it, never have enough of it, even have too much of it on our hands.

Really, it is all there is, never ending raindrops on a windshield.
I use my time to head out into the wilderness, to a place I first saw two years ago.

My how time flies.
Dark thunderclouds are in the distance, so I take my time to find a ridge to set up camp in case flash floods decide to redesign the landscape. A simple tent to keep out the rain and poisonous thoughts.
As clouds pass by in the cool afternoon breeze, I wonder about the connectedness of man throughout time. Not just the men of the last one hundred years that sat on this very landscape, but human beings going back thousands of years. American Indians and before that, the hunters and gatherers of the Old World.
The past had no concept of time as we perceive it today. Rising with the sun in the morning, waiting for it to return during the long, dark night. Searching for meaning in the stars and heavens above.
I am alone out here, disconnected from the modern world. Savoring the quiet and freedom that comes from Nature, the only sounds are the scampering of wild rabbits, the mournful scream of a mountain lion, and the pages of my mind turning with new possibilities.
The rain brings rejuvenation to both myself and everything that calls Losee Canyon home.

just in time.....

30 July 2013

City of Rocks

When my Uncle passed away earlier this month, I drove to Boise, Idaho for the funeral. On the way I passed a sign pointing to the City of Rocks. It has been twenty five, maybe thirty years since I'd been there last.

Back when Uncle George was full of vigor, and I a child with no cares or worries. I couple of weeks later I went back to this special place to reminisce and remember my uncle.

The boulders spark my imagination just as they did when I was younger. I see giants resting in the earth, their backbones protruding for us mortal humans to climb upon. If you aren't careful or show disrespect, the crevices will swallow you whole.
A summer rainstorm quickly drenches the landscape. I manage to set up a simple campsite before the rain falls like spraying bullets. In my tent I watch the flowers quench the water while remembering Dad's accident from our previous time here.....
He was a much younger man then, younger than I am now, and full of reckless abandon. Riding a dirt bike fast and furious with his brother's-in-law, much like Peter Fonda in the movie Easy Rider.

Then the accident happened, soft sand caused the bike to spill, and all I see is blood and screaming. Dad's face was ripped wide open like an avocado before you eat it. He had to be transported over thirty miles
( maybe further) to the closet hospital.

It all ended well, and as the rain abates and the sun sets, I realize how fortunate I am to still have him in my life.
If nothing else, the sleeping giant boulders here clear my head and make one thing apparent :

"tell those that are important to you, that they are... You never know when it may be too late..."

14 July 2013

the Salt Flats

After almost a month outside my country, the return has been a difficult adjustment. I need time to re-evaluate priorities, with no distractions. The Salt seemed the ideal place for some perspective.
The Bonneville Salt Flats are so flat you seem to see the curvature of the planet, so barren not even the simplest of life forms survive. A place for isolation where one faces demons and personal truths head on.
I find an area to set up camp, and set forth upon the salt and rock, clearing my head with each step. I have no visitors 'cept for the lonely crow, cawing his welcome to the unforgiving landscape. The wind blows the cobwebs from my mind.

I began cloudbursting with renewed imagination. Disconnected from the outside world.
Just me.
As the sun begins it's inevitable descent, I build a fire and chant in sun kissed skin. Laying naked under the stars, my walkabout is revealed in the nothingness.
Surviving the night through sweat and realization. New insight.
Sleeping in the howling wind, I rise to the early orange glow of the returning sun along the horizon. Walking out of the Salt with purpose....

going forward.

22 July 2012

Myself again

Fat thunderclouds roll across clouded visions of a breast I once held dear.
where are you now woman?
Old skin wrinkles my mind.

Sitting in the dirt of Mother Earth next to her serpent
I worship the almighty sun, giver of life.

Take the time for sunrises and sunsets
the peaceful wind gently whispering melancholy.
I see hope in the empty spaces.

The poetry of the dead screams to be heard
high above the blinking lights
of routine madness
The serpent bites, and I close my eyes to the bloody truth of Frank O'Hara.

12 May 2012

in The Swell

I first heard "licensed to ill" when I was around 14, listening to it on my friend's walkman in the back of a van heading to the mountains to ski. The memorable times of youth.

When I heard on the radio that one of the co-founders of the Beastie Boys, Adam Youch (aka "MCA"), passed away on May 4th, I wanted to give tribute to this incredible artist.

The San Rafael Swell worked just fine for this purpose.
Climbing stone outcrops onto the edge of existence, looking for memories. I find the past in this land, the VW bus and a girl named Angie. Family trips when sis was still with us. No cares and the world ahead me.
Tired after hiking through rock and sand with the spring sun baking my skin, I go on the search for a refuge from the heat and night winds. The hidden splendor of Hondo's Arch will work.
I set up camp, cook a meal by the fire, then retire to the tent. The night is brilliantly clear, a full super moon shines down, illuminating cold earth in it's light.
A settlement of horse traders sing and play guitar. John Denver pierces the darkness. I close my eyes look forward to comforting dreams instead of stress and nightmares.
The morning brings an exploration of abandoned uranium mines and shafts. Eerie and hauntingly beautiful. Mixed in between are remnants of the past.
At the end of the journey was no great epiphany waiting for me. Only the faint words out of the lips of a wise man, saying....
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around, you could miss it."