Monday, January 21, 2019

Traveling Solo

Occasionally I wonder if traveling alone is any different. Today was an example of what prompts the rumination:

I pulled off to check out a side road. It looked kinda rough so I parked on the  shoulder and hiked in. Returning, I heard the sound of what I thought might be a chainsaw. I went to see. 

It was a Navajo-Hopi man using a weed-whacker to clear an area near a sweat lodge. His grandfather had told him 35 years earlier to put the lodge there. They hold sweats every other week. There were several beautiful art pieces that stay there all the time. They've disappeared, been found and, most recently, suddenly reappeared.

We talked for about an hour and a half. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon. But would I have pulled over to check it out if I'd been with someone?

Friday, January 18, 2019

Marking One's Spot

In my youth I'd hike across Grand Canyon on my way to the River of No Return wilderness in Idaho; it got the winter kinks out.

Last summer, perzackly 50 years later, I found the same backpack in an animal humane thrift store in Hailey, Idaho, not far from my former hangout. (I've always carried my sleeping bag in front stuffed under my shirt.)

Then, in November, when in Albuquerque, I found a tent. The guy had bought it for a trip to Everest Base Camp, but a motorcycle accident intervened. The Kelty Orb 2 was of similar quality to the one I used in my mid-years. (I didn't need no stinkin' tent in my youth.)

First the ground sheet

Here, at the Mount Wrightson Wilderness, I decided I was ready for an overnighter. But as I loaded up I grew increasingly dubious. The whiplash from the accident is still pretty bad and as I added and hefted the doubt came creeping. Eventually I decided to just walk around for a while saying Poohisms such as "Sing ho for a bear" and "We're off on an Exposition."

(More quotes from Pooh)

The Tent

Whipple Observatory sits atop the middle peak.

Sure enough, the exercise exacerbated the injury and the pain kept me awake most of the night.

Two days later I decided to set up the tent. This was my first time. A Teutonic wet-dream, it has enough zipperrz, shnaps und guylines to zahdistfy das Most ANAL! It Vas ein Wunderschon 2.5 hours.

 Flyed Und Guyed

 "New" shorts.
(Diff frm pic at top of blog)

But when I left to go into town for water, I felt confident of having laid claim. Of course, the tent might be gone, but probably not. And he'd assured me the setup would get easier.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Further Out

It's interesting to see where the lines of demarcation begin. 

After attending the meeting of the Tucson Psychedelic Society, I camped for several days near Madera Canyon about 20 miles south of town. The place was crawling with those guys in green and brown and their side-by-sides. Though friendly enough, the blamming they engage in impinges, detracts even, on the enjoyment of my evening glass of wine.

So ah whupt out muh laptop an' fired up Garmin's Mapsource, the mapping software that comes with their maps, and found a spot further out.

The Mount Wrightson Wilderness has fairly limited access, but the road to Whipple Observatory offers some options. Campspots are few, keeping the noise levels low. There've been a few cars, but the road is narrow, winding, steep in places and there are rocks in the road surface. (Lions und Tigre und Barren!!)

The observatory sits atop the peak on the right

Is it the threat of a flat? Perhaps the fear of an unavoidable oncoming vehicle ramming head-on daunts the majority?

Yesterday there was only one ATV. And he was putting along as if he had all day. And, in fact, it was late afternoon when he came putting back out; the rancher, no doubt.

This morning there were two. They came and went at a brisk pace. I'm thinking it may be time to move.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Perhaps it's a characteristic of folks who enjoy this lifestyle. Perhaps it's boredom. Often I wander out skeptical, hearing the opening line from Samuel Beckett's novel Murphy: "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new."

Then, a flash of color and, in the distance, the red spines of a large barrel cactus beckon. It can't compare with the finger-wiggle of a female, but, arriving, it appears to be a one-and-only, at least as far as I can see. And now, thanks to that cataract surgery, I can see pretty far.

The area is covered with large, rounded basalt "bombs." There's a whole lotta splittin' goin' on.

One of the few "smoothies."

In Geology 101 they teach field rock I.D. Cleavage provides a clue. But you'd think round rocks would erode roundly?

The majority are like this.

One could surmise they'd become flattened on top while their protected undersides remained tumescent. But many of these are perched atop.

It made for an interesting amble.

One more....

Saturday, January 12, 2019

White Birds in Afternoon Light - Calipatria, California

I glanced off to the distance and saw a white cloud evaporate....then appear. I pulled over to watch. They'd completed the high drama, but I caught the denouement.

Near Calipatria, California, down the street from the Imperial Wildlife Refuge, Wister Unit.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Bombay Beach & Beyond - Salton Sea

Perhaps, whilst traversing north to south on the west side of The Accidental Sea, you've noticed the wind blowing eastward. Surmisaling the stink predominates Over There, I'd avoided the east bank. But, being a cat-man, my curiosity was killing me.

Perhaps it was luck of the day, but there was no breeze. And though I made a special trip to the shore at The Salton Sea Recreation Area (actually a state park) to test the odour and yes, it's definitely still there, the surreality of it all is worth the trip, at least if it's calm, as it was that day.

Next door to Skip's grocery is this nice mural.

Down the street is the North Shore Yacht Club Community Center.

And right next to it, helping keep real estate prices affordable, is this grafittied remnant.

Across the street from the Yacht Club, less than half a block from some boarded-up homes, is this sign.

The State Recreation Area has a nice Visitors' Center, but this is it; several shade structures and some aging asphalt. Out of view to the left are a series of park-platzes und plugins fur das Motorhomes. A few palms separate their spots from the vista area.

Bombay Beach offered a bit more entertainment.  There were a few occupied homes but this one's trailer addition caught my eye. There were numerous evidences, such as this neighbor's attempt at embellishing with a  planter-boat, that leant poignancy to the "experience."

One place had some interesting cars.

And this faded-pink church with lighthouse-esque roof almost evoked a maritime Arrggggg, Matey!

There IS a store in Bombay Beach. I bought the only dozen eggs, but left the chicken-parts bologna for you. The bar advertises as the lowest in the western hemisphere. I almmosst went in.  But nahhh.