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 road trip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label road trip. Show all posts

13 August 2017

Biosphere 2

Last weekend I get home on Friday from a long and exhausting work week. I look to relax, yet notice the house is much warmer than usual. I check the thermostat and seeing the temperature is at 91.

Long story short, my AC unit had to be replaced. My weekend trip had to be cancelled, a hotel was in order for the weekend until the AC could be replaced on Monday, and I was looking for an alternative plan on Sunday.

Enter Biosphere 2.....
Previously, when I heard the word Biosphere, my mind went to the Pauly Shore cringe-worthy movie. Little did I know the science that actually went into the building of this place. You pay a twenty dollar entrance fee that includes a tour, which is worth it to help keep the research that scientists are conducting here going.
The place didn't knock my socks off, but it certainly is interesting and a perfect way to kill a few hours in the Arizona summer when your AC goes out.

Do you know what Biosphere 1 is?

12 August 2017

Bear Creek Falls

A Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu and a Christian all call water by different names, but it's all still just water.
These words echo in my head as I start the early morning hike up to Bear Creek Falls in Telluride, Colorado.

No more than ten minutes on the trail before I realize that my bear spray is still on my bed. I laugh uncomfortably to myself, say a pray for safety, and continue on. I have my intuition that will protect me.
For a Saturday morning, the trail is unbelievably empty. I see only a few other hikers as they pass me quickly and are gone from my view. I have this place to myself as I make the 2.5 mile journey to the Falls. I arrive as the sun starts to peak over the mountaintop.

I bathe in the waterfall spray.
No one intrudes my meditation principles up here. I rejuvenate in the clean air and forested beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Clouds start to form on my way back down, changing the landscape in dramatic fashion so that it feels like a new hike on the descent.
I knock out a 5 mile roundtrip hike before most people eat breakfast on a Saturday.

28 July 2017

Mount Shasta

It was easily over four hours from the bay area up to the pristine mountains of Mount Shasta in northern California. Years before a friend of mine had shown me a picture of them hiking here, and that was all she wrote. I took a mental note and planned for the day that I would one day witness the beauty with my own eyes.
I pull into my cabin by the lake, and unpack my groceries of fresh fruit and whiskey, break out the ice and relax on the porch. I only want to be here now, no other place to be. In this moment, with just you and me.
Oh yes, just be here now.

25 July 2017

The high country around Cortez

Dirty and disheveled, the lone wanderer makes his way along the scenic backroads through the high country of the Navajo Nation on his way to Cortez, Colorado.

Lone crows call out his name like psychotic girlfriends from prior lives. The sun paints haunting images in the sky.
He finds a place called Negro road that is the loneliest place he can recall being in for the longest time. A single tree seems out of place amongst the tall weeds that sway gently in the breeze. He feels like resting his back against the tree trunk and letting his body die.

It wouldn't be a bad place to go.
A semi appears out of nowhere and rumbles him back to reality. He shakes off the dire thought of death and focuses of the peacefulness of this place.

Peace, not death, instead of peace from death.

13 July 2017

Mesa Verde

Sometimes a road trip can alleviate all your stresses and worries that come from every day life.
I leave Phoenix at mid-day on a Friday and head to the remote town of Chinle, arriving as the sun sets. In the morning I make it the rest of the way to my destination, Mesa Verde. My last time here was in 1997, traveling with a potential girlfriend to a wedding in New Mexico. We didn't do much exploring as it was November.

This time around was much different, and more my style of exploration.
If you can just imagine yourself as an Anasazi Indian, living in the adobe cliff side dwelling, you can get a real sense of the lifestyle here a few hundred years ago.
The park lets you wander and explore the rooms found here, which is a rare treat for such precious artifacts. Be careful, take your time, and explore the wonders of Mesa Verde National Park in the four corners area of colorful Colorado.

10 July 2017

Tonto Natural Bridge

In the dark of night I lay out my equipment on my bed for today's adventure to Tonto Natural Bridge just outside of Payson, Arizona. Believed to be one of the world's largest natural travertine bridges, I look forward to the possibility of seeing wild javelina, scenic Arizona beauty, and a caving adventure in the high country.
I arrive in the early morning with only a few other people already here. A large group of javelina's are grazing in the green grassy area just to the left of the Ranger's station. I keep my distance as I enjoy seeing the wild and ugly beasts having their meal.

I see that their are several different routes one can take to the bridge, from overhanging viewpoints to trails that take you down varying degrees into the canyon. I opt to take the trail that is farthest to the right of the parking lot and have unknowingly chosen the way that will require some bouldering and fighting of overgrown brush, but it is ultimately the best way to see the bridge.
Water cascades down from the lip of the canyon onto those of us brave souls at the bottom. The water pools and follows gravity as it turns into a flowing river to sustain the life down here.

The start of the mighty bridge comes into view, and I momentarily forget to breathe.
The Spring runoff makes the boulders slippery and treacherous. I decide that sliding on my bottom is the best course of action to get across these immense boulders. I come to the center of the bridge, and look to my East and to my West to see the towering entrances from both sides.
Humbled I am by the power of Mother Nature, and put into my place in the Universe by Tonto Natural Bridge.

I stay for a while, then start my ascent back up, cleansed and renewed.

06 July 2017

Puerta Blanca

The trail head signs are overshadowed by a larger warning :

"Illegals and drug smugglers may be crossing in this area. DO NOT attempt to approach them, immediately call the police!"

The morning fog is thick as I make my way along the White Door in the southern bowels of the Sonoran desert.

A lone coyote howls.
Here in the misty mountains of Organ Pipe I don the comfort of the gas mask, strapping  it on tightly before caressing the hollow bones of the Saguaro.
The hollow emptiness here is not conducive to even the bravest of smugglers, lest it be of the human kind or the other.
All souls just disappear into the mist.

05 July 2017

Tusayan

The fallen snow does its best to cover the past. The crunching of my boots on the frozen ground is the only sound in the subzero morning. I see stone markings of the ancient ones in the area known as Tusayan.
The museum is closed in winter. I wander in silence by myself in the graveyard of the Natives, a lone crow laughing by my side. I wonder if it is a sign or a warning?
These days it doesn't seem to matter. No good or bad comes to me, only the progression of the sun migrating East to West on a never ending journey around me.

I marvel each time my friend the Sun passes me, as if the two of us are sharing in a secret unbeknownst to the rest of the world.

There are times though that I would like to share the secret....

31 May 2017

Little Colorado River Gorge

The Eastern entrance to the Grand Canyon is a long and desolate path in winter time. Tourists have dissipated, and the local Native American road side shops are all but closed.

Only the crows watch over the land.
It is along this stretch that one can find the Little Colorado River Gorge. A lone dirt road is my sole companion as I kick rocks in the early December morning. The signs to watch for scorpions and rattlesnakes makes me laugh.
You don't have to pay a fee here, and the views are spectacular. I climb to rocky precipice's and dangle my feet over the edge to feel a surge of adrenaline.
You can make your way out to a climatic point that gives you views both East and West, as well as straight down to the Colorado river itself.

I turn my head and look into the camera, and see that a rare look of contentment is on my face, visible among the wrinkled lines of life and the dark circles of trials.
 I circle the trail along the edge of the Gorge for a spell in the quiet, then eventually find my way back. I look back and see a lone house on a plateau.
I find that this captures the isolation and solitary wonder of this place perfectly.

05 May 2017

Organ Pipe's Desert view under Jedi steps

Darkness is quickly enveloping the desert landscape as the old Jedi pours the last of the moonshine down his parched throat. The teddy bear cholla watches in silence.
He fixates the beacon of light upon his head and makes his way up the trail towards the setting sun. The force surrounds all living things, including himself if he lets go of his fear, hate and suffering.
He carries onward in the dark, letting the small light  guide him safely along the path.
At the summit he reaches to find the valley in it's last glow of light as the sun disappears behind the mountains. He needs the light more than ever now, as the nocturnal creatures become more active in the blackness.
Fare thee well, the Jedi says to days last light....
and fades into the recesses of his camp for another night in the desert.

04 May 2017

A rainy time at Kanab's balloons & tunes festival

When I first read about little old Kanab having an annual "Balloons & Tunes Festival", I couldn't believe I'd never heard of it before. I mean, I lived in Utah for some 40 plus years.

Yet it took me moving to Arizona to find a weekend of adventure up in Kanab.
The dark clouds looked threatening as I pulled into town mid-morning on a Saturday. I find the blocked off Main Street where booths were set up and the Battle of the Bands was to take place. I enjoy the small town feel of the locals as I admire their wares and tasty foods.

The hot air balloons were cancelled today due to the inclement weather, and the next day wasn't looking any better. I was bummed for sure, but I've learned by now that you can't ever let weather ruin your plans.

Dance in the rain, as they say.
Instead I stay warm under the tent canopy as local bands from all over the West play in the Battle of the Bands contest. I hear all styles of music, and thoroughly enjoy the scene. As evening time rolls around, a break in the rain does allow for a brief showing of the hot air balloon baskets to light up the night sky.
Later, the crowd that has stayed to endure the cold night are rewarded with a lantern glow. As we all make our wishes, I hear many that hope for good weather tomorrow. I feel sad as I know that wish will not come true. I light my lantern and wish for something bigger, much bolder and more universal.
 I watch my wish lantern slowly take flight as it rises with hundreds of others up into the night sky, becoming one with the stars above.

03 May 2017

Navajo Bridge

The open road winds through the Navajo Nation like a slow moving snake. Your thoughts can easily be swallowed up in the vastness.
You see a small gathering of manufactured homes with a row of new Ford and Chevy trucks, rusty playground equipment teeters in the winter's breeze. Abandoned roadside stands hold artwork of the Native American.

I stand beside it for awhile and think about loss.
I come to a bridge, Navajo Bridge to be precise, and get out of the car. An old Navajo woman is selling jewelry in the rain. I greet her with a smile but don't buy anything. I walk towards the bridge and wonder how many have taken their final plunge here.
You feel closer to God out here under the gray skies and Red Rocks. I walk back and forth along Navajo Bridge, looking down into the Colorado river and seeing my own reflection, I look up into the sky and see nothing but simple truths.
As the song says, all that you have is your soul. Save my soul, save myself.

27 April 2017

leaving despair in Sycamore Canyon

4.18.17

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.
4.19.17

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.
4.22.17

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.

4.26.17

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...

24 April 2017

Horseshoe Bend

I had about an hour before sunset when I pulled into the parking area where the trail to Horseshoe Bend begins. I climb the sandy trail as a cottontail pricks up it's ears at me before scamping off into the sagebrush. The wind flute of the Navajo echoes below.

I feel a great presence here.
Tiny human
dots rise on the red rocks, standing before the mighty formation. The closer I approach, the more I find myself catching my breath. Not from exertion though, but from the raw power of Nature's beauty that the Colorado river has created.
I creep towards the edge, then sit meditation style on the rock lip of the great Bend and watch as the sunset lights up the area in brilliant colors.
The next morning I rise well before the sunrise and start hiking in the darkness back to this special place. A coyote meets me on the trail today, but pays me no mind as I can't satisfy his hunger.

My coffee quickly becomes cold in the chill of this winters morn. I lay down on the edge of Horseshoe and marvel at the quiet sound of a sunrise.
Few places bond my spirit back into one solid piece like the mighty Horseshoe Bend outside of Page, Arizona.
******

20 April 2017

The Durango Railroad

Trains are my favorite way to see the world. You get the old world nostalgia seeing the steam rise from the locomotive. Walking past the connected cars as you look for the stairs that will lead you to your seat.

Hearing that final "All Aboard!" call as The Durango & Silverton narrow gauge railroad gets ready to leave the station.
The cars jostle rhythmically back and forth as we make our way up the mountains. Town fades into the distance, farms roll past my window, the ground starts to show the snow from winter.

I get lost in thought as the conductor tells stories of Durango's past.
Higher and higher we rise, and you can open the window to feel the cold slap your skin as you look down the at the sheer cliff's edge. We make hairpin turns as we carve through the mountainside. It's awe inspiring.
We come to the half way point and exit the train so that the engineer can maneuver the train in reverse to turn us around. As we walk in the snow along the river bank, you notice the greenish brown color of the water.

We learn it is from the mines that are still in the canyon, leeching out the toxic remains into the water. It's a sad reminder of the environmental cost of mining.
The train is finally ready for us to head on back. I take one last look at the mighty engine, it's robust machinery and strong back metal frame.
Train 473 is ready to ride the rails once again, bringing safe passage to it's occupants back to the city of Durango.