© 2001 by J R Compton
Except hat my car's air conditioner died somewhere south of Amarillo on the way up — not so noticeable in New Mexico and Colorado, but much missed across West Texas and back here in Dallas — my journey to Denver to get my little brother Dale married was pretty wonderful.
My main goal — besides getting Dale and Clare wed — was to be cold at night. I'm not much for staying in motels and had replaced the back seat of my silver Toyota with a futon. I usually car camped in National Forests, where it and me were free.
I was careful not to get caught near dark in the deserts driving. When the sun went down I headed up, and I was rewarded with major cold almost every night. It was delicious.
As I travel, I keep a trip journal to hold my new understandings. It's one of the reasons I go slow on the ground instead of flying. Another is there's so much more to photograph down here. The main reason, of course, is that I'm cheap. One of my friends calls me "a minimalist." I seriously resemble that remark.
The text below comes from pages in that trip's Journal. I'm so tired of explaining pictures...
I'm parked down a dusty road at a downhill site that's been campfired before, but probably not on a Weddy night in early June. Tall trees with dense canopies of leaves hide the sky, and I haven't seen another car or person since I arrived... Thanks, Universe.
The loudest thing all night was the electric clock. Why does an electric clock tick? I had trouble discerning my stomach gurlgling from some giant, four-legged creature stomping around in the night. I think it's around seven o'clock here time. It might be some other, quieter planet.
Pamale Gulch Road
Remotion — the act of being remote
20 & 180
Cash & Ponder River
Jackson County Road 27
The fine art of raising the window just enough
so the wind isn't terribly loud and the reverb
doesn't drown out the music or conversation.
Watson & Edge — Malcom Watson wears
a white tux and fiddles barefooted
Continental Divide — Two miles up
Willow Creek Pass
Golden Eagle Pass
60 million years
DPitMotR - Dead Pelt in the Middle of the Road.
Something furry. And flat.
Source of the Colorado River
Arapaho National Forest
The flautist for Focus who had a hit
in the 70s called Hocus Pocus
Willow Creek Bar & Grill — A great place not to eat
Big Ray - Worst Food, Warmest Beer
California Guitar Trio
Trail Ridge Road
Green Mountain Trailhead
Coyote Valley Trail
Never Summer Ranch
Timber Creek Campground
A Fragile World
It's downhill from here
Post Continental Drift
Old Fall River Road
Tempting the Fates
Amazing Native Costume of the Week - fat lady in
glo in the night light, lava lamp purple, red dress
Upper Beaver Meadows
Slow Entrance Station
IT IS ILLEGAL
TO FEED OR
The Warming House
The Vickery Inn
Ippibium — Pib is no substitute for DP, says the
DP Kid — some hero in a Greek tragedy
Poppy's Pizza & Grille
peaked with peaks
Twin Owls Motor Lodge
Pink Knoll Apartments
Saddle & Surry
Indian Peaks Wilderness Area
If I lived up here,
would all this grandeur
IN CASE OF FLOOD
CLIMB TO SAFETY
Twin Sisters Trailhead
Wind River Ranch
The Aspen Lodge
Long's Peak Inn
High Park Camp
Saint Malo's Church
Joshua Bell — Short Trip Home - lotta
contrapuntal acoustic country strings.
Some of the flavor of Penguin Cafe Orchestra...
University of Cold Mountain Research Station
a lot less snow last winter
Rollinsville Yacht Club
Fritz Peak Observatory
O'Brien State Canyon
Golden Gate Park
picket fence phone pole insulator collection grows unseen,
an informal translucence museum
down and darker
Golden Gate Canyon Road
Loaf 'n Jug
Watch for Rocks on Road
Colorado School of Mines
on the horizon
High Plateau Truss
Armadillo Unique Mall
back to what they call civilization
DENVER DUMB FRIENDS LEAGUE
Accessories Apparel A...
Beds, Beds & Beds
Mountain View Garage
home, sweet borrowed home
Thanks, Cryspian, Lynn,
John, Jackson, Julie,
Cindy, Yodel &,
of course, Myo Silver.
Freight train breezes in scattered clumps all night long...
It's getting colder — Yum! — There's a strum of guitar and singalongs in the distance, some birds squawking, and a breeze like a waterfall sluicing through the campground. Wonder where my duct tape is?
Driving all over the desert and mountains is all very fine and good, but watching and overlistening to John and Jackson standing in their garden, watering or just sitting here in the dining room is the sweetest part of minimalist travel.
Just being in someone's home feeling pretty much like they do. My laundry tumbling dry in the next room; a lone cricket mating calls in the back yard, beyond the cool breeze from the kitchen window. The J's coming back in, gently conversing in partial sentences, repeating words, learning nouns and pronunciation. Bursts of child language making not much sense, but with recognizable words interspersed. Wah-yer = water. Coughing, then immediate patting on the back after Jackson drinks too fast...
After three conciliatory visits explaining the inevitability of his incipient nap, Jackson is finally quiet, if not entirely out...
John and I have in common the constant loss of things. I shared this fact with him, saying I don't know about normal people, since I've never been one, but I am constantly and consistently burdened by losing whatever the hell I most need at any given moment in time. Yester, it was spoon, today bowl. It's always something...
Accompanying exotic FM is the splashing of a small, rasp-like handsaw, as John smoothes, creates, or learns to create, or times the creation of yet another small part for his big beautiful wooden telescopes out here in the warm-cool, always dry air of this desert oasis lost in the slow rolling hills west of the Santa Fe - Albuquerque axis.
Finally, Jackson is out, like a light, fully immersed in the sleep he fought like an obsessed trooper for nearly an hour. Later, we'll go somewhere interesting to the trouper, maybe even hit that trading post John mentioned earlier. I'd love to find some magical little gem of Indian craft.
Something I'm still fascinated with is what I'm calling a Spirit Bag, which is a very personal item, with restrained beads and natural tan leather, pouch of faintly yellow corn pollen John got in nearly pawn. At the store today in the Indian mall, they were called Shaman Bags and cost $100 and up.
This one has straggly fringe, thin, possibly deer skin, folded up with the long, beaded thong tying it all together. It looks like a flattish, vaguely liquid mass about the size of a pack of cigarettes, only tan the color of flimsy, much-worn leather, with beads protruding.
John thinks it probably did not belong to the man who sold it here. Julie agrees it feels very personal. There is magic about it, but not entirely pleasant, a little jarring.
Not a likely gift — too many difficult vibrations, but enticing enough that I've wanted to handle it several times, and I've even been wanting to sketch it - bad drawer I am - and probably photograph it soon, before the sun fades.
I'm so much better a photographer than draftsperson, so I've just shot it with the digicam on a rough board. I want it, and I am repelled by it. It's magic and I need to capture its soul.
John says some other Indian friends have wanted the corn pollen it is nearly full of. I moved the barely there, mossy stuff slightly with my finger. I like the bag for its person-ness, its simple, quietly blue and white beads dangling. But there's something about it that is discordant.
I kept thinking such a bundle is something I should make for myself, if I really wanted one, and I will begin to research the concept now. I cherish the small, feathered bag of polished stones Rhys made for me that swings under Silver's rearview with crystals, Red-tailed hawk feathers from Iron Eyes and the Eagle Clan, charms and bright baubles.
$110 was a bit much for a fringed, leather bag. This choice of beads and material means something to someone. I bet they miss it. I like the idea of it, but this is not mine, nor is it for me or me to give to anyone else. It's kinda like not being able to photograph the Indians in the pueblo today, "Somebody Else's Magic."
Sun slanting now, setting the space behind the back yard fence afire with bright, blazing light, fairly glowing with the last bits of today's glorious energies.
Ten-something. Finally got to look through John's telescope - at Mars, some clusters, and just swinging it around to look at the panoply of stars all around. I kinda wanted to see some neighbors, but we're not high enough off the ground.
The blazing gold ball of setting sun's been dogging my left ear and both mirrors the last forty miles. I keep thinking soon... soon, it'll drop out of sight and let the temperature fall maybe ten, fifteen degrees. But it's still back there hovering forever, clinging to the western horizon like a two-year-old, tired, so very tired, but refusing to lay his sleepy head on the pillow and close his dimming eyes.