After the Garcia's I headed back over to see Shirley Dale at the Outfitter. I'd decided to trade her the Pink Point Blanket. I got a flint and steel firemakeing kit and several beaded elkskin bags for it. But I've been doing some research on the blanket and it seems she may have gotten the better end of that deal as the blanket may end up being very rare. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Plus I figure I've come out ahead on some of the other trades I've made with her.
Since it was close, I walked down to the St. James Hotel again. I wanted to get a look at the mural project they were doing in the main dining room. A few years back, they discovered these hand painted murals under the wallpaper that were done by students of Georgia O'Keefe way back when. An archaeologist from the U of NM is helping to remove the wallpaper layer by layer and restore the old murals.
Earlier in the week, I'd ordered 30 pounds of roasted green chillis from the local market. About this time of year, you can drive from small town to small town and just smell the aroma of chillis being roasted in open air roasters like this one. Once you smell it, you will never forget the odor. I'd intended to use the chillis as gifts on the way home.
Wrapping up the fiery hot chillies in a plastic bag and loading them into my car, I was packed to the gills. The car looked like a kid heading back to college. So I drove on down to the Museum and talked for awhile with Buddy and Irma. Took a last look around at all the exhibits for the last time that I will see Buddy behind the counter. Then I got to looking at the beads that he has for sale in the Museum. Several years ago, he and his late wife Bebe formed Two Bees Indian Crafts. She was a Cherokee from South Carolina. Buddy met her there when he was working for Duke Power. Buddy always sold his Two Bees jewelry and regalia in the museum and I've often contributed rare beads and admired what he does with them. He's another of the mentors I credit with teaching me to make jewelry. Irma reminded me that I'd be getting the lion's share of his beads at some point. But Buddy has always said that when he passes on, I should get all his beads so I really don't want to think about getting all those beads just yet. I picked out some old vaseline beads and he gave me about a pound of Cherokee corn beads, all that he had. I told them it was time for me to hit the trail and they both hugged me close and watched me walk out to my car and drive off into the afternoon sun.
I drove a short distance to the cemetery to go put a stone on Bebe's grave as I always do and remember her in my own way.
Then I climbed back into my car. I was leaving 2 hours later than I had intended.
I had to be in Kansas City the next day for the first of the Stone Soup gatherings. KC was over 600 miles away and I was starting out at 2 in the afternoon. So I didn't waste much time getting through Miami and Springer and back on the road to Clayton. I did stop at the Gladstone Mercantile though.
It's the only business in 85 miles of otherwise scenic but empty road. I borrowed their picnic table to sort my green chillis which were still hot after 3 hours, into gallon freezer bags and get them into my cooler. Then I went in and traded the lovely proprietress 5 pounds of green chillis for a pound of cranberry pancake mix and an antique tin salt and pepper shaker. I also gifted her with 5 more pounds for letting me use her picnic table. I think she was happy.
Then on up the road, not looking back because I knew it would just make me sad to be leaving again. My final view of the Southwest was seen in this sunset as I was heading into the grasslands of southeastern Kansas.
Then I just put the hammer down and drove. Through lonely little nameless towns and bigger towns that had names like Dodge City. I wandered down detours two lane back roads through dusty little towns and passed a stock yard, so thick with cattle I could barely breath from the stench of urine and feces. Then a dust storm that put me in mind of what the dust bowl must have been like. I'm still getting a fine yellow dust out of my vent system.
At 1 am, I stopped in a rest area in Topeka, just short of KC. I had a place to stay in KC but I didn't know if they would be up if I rolled in at 2 am. So I did what I've not done in awhile and decided to sleep in the rest area. I've not done this in a long time because Deb hates for me to do it and also, I usually plan my trip well enough to stay with friends when I travel. But it did me some good. I needed time to process the enormity of the trip and also to get my head wrapped around a dinner party for 10-12 people and I only knew 5 of them. It was hot and muggy and I woke in a pool of sweat. I bathed and washed my hair in a hydrant in the picnic area. I figured the truckers had all seen a half naked man before anyway and if I scare away any tourists, so much the better.
Feeling refreshed and ready, I drove in to KC and after getting lost only once, found the home of my friend Susi Lulaki. I was there a few hours before noon. chimerae was to show up by 1 pm with her friend Sal who was to then take off and pick up his new boyfriend somewhere in the city. Susi had to go run some errands all afternoon so I sat down with my laptop and a notebook and proceeded to get ready while I waited for my other friends to arrive. Sometimes the best executed plans have very little planning at all and this was the case with this gathering. It was impromptu just like the Stone Soup story. Chris and Sal got there, we talked a little. I typed up the bare backbone of an agenda and the Stone Soup Story. Sal went and picked up his friend and came back. Susi got back home. We went and shopped for fresh bread then hit the Mexican market for salsa ingredients. It was an amazing Salsa but don't ask me for a recipe because I don't really remeber what I did. I know there were tomatoes, tomatillos, cilantro, corn, limes, red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. But damned if I can remember the proportions. Susi made these wonderfully crisp green beans and a peach coffee cake for dessert.
We arrived around 7pm at the home of Joyce Omer. If you are wondering what part is her home, it's the whole building. But our party was on the 3rd floor. everyone had brought a little something to add to the meal. There were a couple different kinds of bread, a cheese plate, a platter of several different kinds of sliced tomatoes mixed with chunks of feta cheese, all sorts of fruit, our veggies and salsa and a whole salmon as the main entree. The wine was flowing, people were chatting and getting to know one another. We had artists and psychics, empaths and shamanic practicioners, neihborhood developers and restarauntuers and even an investement banker I think. Looking at this crowd without knowing any of them, I'd have had my doubts about the ability of Christina and I to convince them that a series of metaphysical retreats was a good idea. But after I stood and introduced the organizers, thanked Joyce for her hospitality and read the Stone Soup story, something magical happened. The stream of conciousness started flowing and Chris and I just tapped into it and started channeling everyone in the room. I started out on the Mission statement then Chris gave her spirited interpretation and I don't remember much about what was said after that. I do remember we had an answer for every question or criticism and we just kept rolling with the flow. By the middle of the evening, Joyce was sitting back looking contentedly at us and the skeptics were all moving their heads up and down in unison. It actually looked like a bunch of people doing a mass car dance to some mystical psychadelic tune. It was an out of body experience all to itself. Afterwards, people came up and said, "When you have the first retreat, I really want to be a part of it!" Not too shabby for something that came together in 8 days an only few minutes of planning. So Chris and I agreed that night to hold a one day event in Chase County, KS sometime near the end of October and we are still hoping to pull that one off.
After gifting Joyce with a pound of Pinyon coffee and 5 pounds of green chillis and helping her clean up a bit, we all headed out into the muggy Kansas City evening. Kathy Marchant, Sal and his boyfriend, Tony I think, Susi, Chris and I went back over to Susi's and uncorked a bottle of Duplin winery wine from NC. It was my favorite Beaufort Bay and we all got pleasantly buzzed or should I say we carried on the earlier buzz talking about all the possibilities for Stone Soup. We were still up at 1 am or so when people finally started to trickle out into the night and we all headed for respective beds and couches.
The next morning Chris, Susi and I gathered on her cool and shady gazebo beneath the green leaves of her overhang.
To sip green tea with honey and nibble on coffee cake, this amazing Stilton Cheese with apples and pears in it, tomatoes and avacados. We had a wonderful discussion. Eventually Sal showed back up and it was time for them to Head back to Strong City. I visited a bit longer with Susi and listened to her talk while I shot some pix of her amazingly comfortable home. Then I got cleaned up and headed out for what turned into a 5 hour odyssey of driving to Southern Missouri to meet more friend for a canoe trip down the Current River. And that brought my vacation to a close.