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The Wanderer Returns

I'm going to ask for 2 things next time I pray. 1) No more marathon drives for awhile. 2) no back to back cross country trips for at least a month. 4400 driven miles in the space of 8 days.

Next trip will be to Carbondale, IL to visit an old friend of 20+ years. We used to roll around and flirt and tickle each other on her bed in college. I miss that. I'll take the train down for that. Then up to Nebraska to see an LJ friend. Then to Virginia and NC to see all my buddies. Then to Ohio to visit dead relatives and a new friend that works for the same company as I do. Then if my brother ever gets his shit straight, maybe to Myrtle Beach for Christmas. The Hawaii trip is off now apparently. Boy changes his mind more than I do.

So OK, the travels of late. I swear I just can't go on a vacation anymore that is just about relaxing. It's always gotta have some deep metaphysical meaning anymore. More on that later. I did have an excellent time in the Southwest.

Day 1

The way out was a quick trip. I drove in rain most of the time. Missouri and Kansas was flooded. I did stop in Strong City, Kansas and got a really good massage from Rachel Creager at the Prairie Fire Inn and Spa. Rachel gives me a completely different treatment than my regular massage therapist Rebecca. Rebecca focuses more on relieving pain and straight deep tissue massage. Rachel really moves he energy around and comes from a more holistic approach. Tells you everything she observes. I had another vision when she was working on me. That has happened before with her. With Rebecca, I can get really relaxed and almost fall asleep. I go away painless and very relaxed. With Rachel I go away energized. I like both approaches though.

I went into town to see my good friend chimerae but she was suffering from a migraine so I didn't stay long. It was getting dark When I left her place. I made it a few hundred miles more that night and stayed in the rebuilding town of Greensburg. I stayed in the only hotel in what was most likely the thinnest hotel room I've ever stayed in. 20 feet long but only 8 feet wide. The shower was no better. Good thing I'm losing weight. I was up early the next day and out on the road, eager to see the repairs to the town and get on to Cimarron, NM.

Day 2

Before long, I was in the nearly deserted village of Bloom, Kansas. I've always wanted to stop here and get photos. It's about the closest to a real ghost town that I've seen when not in the West. There is a really scenic abandoned service station as well as a high school that looks to have been destroyed by a tornado and never rebuilt. I could hear singing going on and realized in the back of the school, there was a real tent revival going on. I was respectful and didn't shoot any photos. Kept my distance so as not to disturb them and left soon after.

Outside the town of Boise City, Oklahoma I found this interesting little abandoned farmstead. I've seen it before but never stopped. I spent about an hour exploring everything in and out, up and down and found some really nice artifacts. These will all be posted to rural_ruin very soon.

I hit Cimarron, NM about 3 pm and headed right to Buddy and Irma's house where I was immediately invited to make their home my home base. So this was my digs for the week. The inside of the house is like a Museum but very comfortable. In the back he keeps his beadworking supplies. More stuff than many bead stores. I've always been envious. Especially since he's one of my mentors in that regard. The rest of the house is no less impressive with all sorts of tribal decorations that he's collected or been given. Or made himself. I visited with those two for awhile then went into town to explore. I found my Cousin Tracey at her store, Blue Moon Eclectics. Talked with her for a bit and she convinced me to take in at least one performance at the Annual Shortgrass Music Festival. So I chose classical pianist Lise de la Salle on the first night. Not exactly my type of music but I figured everyone could use a little culture now and then. I went next door to the Cimarron Art Gallery and had a cup of spearmint tea. If you don't know about this tea company, Two Leaves and a Bud makes some excellent tea.

Then I ventured over to my old place of employment in both 86 and 94, the St. James Hotel where I had a plate of chicken quesadillas and a cold glass of Shiner beer. I was sitting and chatting with some local ranchers when I noticed a flashing light outside. I though at first it was someone using a flash camera. I walked out on the deck only to see a big storm rolling in. So I headed out in the direction of Philmont Scout Ranch to see if I could get some pictures of it. You've already seen one of the more spectacular ones. I took some from the parking lot of the Seton Museum and others from the driveway leading to the Casa del Gavillan above Philmont's Base Camp.

Satisfied with what I got, I headed back to Buddy and Irma's so as not to make them wait up for me. I had a good long talk with Buddy while watching the Andy Griffin show. Then I sat up reading a Louis L'Amour book for awhile before turning in.

Day 3

I was up with the sun. Not so much by choice but the neighbors had a loud rooster. I was also starting to hear crow calls outside. So I joined my hosts at the table for a simple breakfast of oatmeal and fruit. They start their day with prayers and a bible reading and I was quite willing to sit there and listen. It's a actually refreshing to see Christians who actually try to live their principles rather than just talk about them. They had a full day of going to cut firewood. I could tell it was something they like doing together and didn't want to intrude.

I headed over to my friends Red an Ethel's house even though I knew they were out of town. I wanted to see the new mural Ethel had painted though. She told me last year she was going to start working on depth of field paintings. Then I drove out to Miami, NM the artist colony where I used to live. Out past Miami Lake where we used to swim and fish. That's Uracca Mesa in the background. It's the scene of many a frightening tale told around campfires at night. The first place I lived was called the old Boot and Saddle shop because that's what it had once been. It was here I adopted a part lab part Brittany Spaniel I named Sugar Magnolia. I lost her and 2 of her pups in the divorce but I hear she lived to be 12 years old. The land value has shot up by 400% because Ted Turner bought a huge ranch near there but it remains a sleepy little artist colony of less than 100 people with many abandoned homesteads around.

There was one in particular I wanted to explore. It had been right up the road from me when I lived there and my ex and I used to walk the dogs near it. 22 years ago, someone had recently moved out of it. It's really gone to hell now.

After the old house, I continued to explore the backroads of the vilage. There had once been an adobe and stucco house out in the middle of nowhere. I've not been able to find it in the past 15 years or so but I looked anyway. All I have is an old black and white photo of it. I failed to find it this time as well. I think it may have been torn down. I did however find an old airplane hangar that had been converted to a barn and a fence row that led to nowhere.

I decided to take Miami Lane back into town. It's technically a shortcut in terms of distance but since it's a dirt road, you don't get back to Cimarron as fast as taking the longer hard surfaced road. It does offer some better scenery than the longer road though. I was paying attention to wildflowers when I saw the movement out of the corner of my eye. Two nice mule deer bucks still in velvet. They were just as curious about me as I was about them and as Laslo Moholy Nagy once said, "The subject stands still only long enough for the photographer it has chosen."

Of course with any great reward, comes great sacrifice and 5 minutes later, I blew a tire. As luck would have it, my spare was low on air as was the donut tire. So I put the donut on and just drove really slow for 10 miles back to town. Back in town I aired up the donut and the spare and headed down Cimarron Canyon to a place by the river I knew where I'd be left alone. I changed tires and tightened up the muffler that I could hear dragging a bit all day. Then I busied myself looking at wildflowers for a few minutes.

The sun was starting to fall when I headed back for town. I had the windows open and caught a sound I'd not heard in a very long time. It was he sound of elk bugling. It's the sound the bulls make during the Fall rutting season. It helps them round up their harems of cows. It sounds eerily like whale sounds. I pulled the car over to look and saw a herd of about 300 elk. The herd was big enough to have several big males all bugling at once. I was able to capture the sound with my point and shoot digital camera. I've cleaned it up a but but you may have to turn your sound up. I photographed the elk for nearly an hour before they moved off to higher ground. I was shooting with my 70-300mm zoom as they were about 1/4 mile off. There were lots of distinct groups.

It was nearly dark before I got back to Buddy and Irma's house for dinner. As I was getting out of the car, the sun was just sinking behind the mountains. Irma had elk steaks and corn on the cob ready for me. That was like, "All that and a bag of chips!" Despite the blown tire I felt extremely lucky that day.

Next entry - Heading to Colorado and the Metaphysical Crow journey begins.




( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 2nd, 2008 08:25 am (UTC)
What are the odds of you making it towards Charlotte this time around? Would love to catch up.


Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
We can give it a try. Have to figure out my schedule first.

Oct. 2nd, 2008 10:16 am (UTC)
Wow. That bugling sound is amazing. I don't know that I've ever seen an elk "in person", though I've seen lots of deer and a moose or two.

I'd like to... my better drum is elk hide and I've always wanted to honor them for it.

Gorgeous landscapes and interesting ruins. Thanks for sharing your bounty.
Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
There will be more bounty to come. Elk are special to me. They have played a role in some of my most profoundly spiritual experiences.

Oct. 2nd, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks for getting me out of the house!

All very nice, the wildflower pic was perfect.
Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
Re: Wonderful
Not a problem. I'll do it again with the next post. The wildflowers really stand out in that high mountain desert.

Oct. 2nd, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
Great shots and story.....what kind of camara do you mostly shoot with?
Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
Thanks. All these were shot with a Nikon D70 DSLR. Mostly with a 28-70mm Zoom except for the elk.

Oct. 3rd, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
Very cool....I just reciently bout ( little ove a year ago) the D80. I love it, but still trying to figure out some of the stuff it can do =) Would love to pick your brain =)
Oct. 3rd, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
Be happy to.

Oct. 3rd, 2008 05:24 am (UTC)
I swear, I've seen that gas station in other people's photos, too!

Nice set!
Oct. 3rd, 2008 05:31 am (UTC)
It's right on the highway so probably. I'll get them on Rural Ruin, Deathly Decayed and Run Down Town soon.

Oct. 3rd, 2008 05:32 am (UTC)
Chataroo or ya goin' to bed?
Oct. 7th, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
i am enjoying nibbling at this adventure a little bit at a time during my recovery. :)

you were in my dream again last night.

if you have time for a stop over in md on your next trip this way, i'd love to see you. hopefully by then i'll be up for our walkabout.

Oct. 8th, 2008 05:18 am (UTC)
That could probably be arranged this time. I should be there a week.

Oct. 8th, 2008 12:28 pm (UTC)
Nice. Just keep me posted of possible dates so I can keep them open. :)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )