Here I sit in a very cute coffee shop in Taos, NM waiting for a call.
The call to tell me the state of my car.
There I was on a very high pass between Pagosa Springs and Taos looking over the vastness of New Mexico.
When I got back into the car the clutch pedal went to the floorboard, but did nothing. I got to drive the next 47 miles with no help from my clutch. Up and down hills; fast and slow; stop signs, stop lights and traffic. Yes, I’m that good.
I hit Taos in the early afternoon and then hit the internet. I found a shop who said they couldn’t crack my hood until the 30th. I then left a message at a Subaru specialty shop and sat. In not too long Colin called me back and I told him some of my story, traveling from coast to coast, and broke down in Taos. He said he would fit me in, having sympathy for traveling souls, but not until the morning. He was just closing up and heading out to a Peter Frampton concert in Albuquerque. So, I dropped off the car this morning and now I wait.
This poem started in Washington. However, by the time I realized it was forming I was in Idaho and so I never took pictures of the original inspiration. I finally got some acceptable ones in Utah. Enjoy:
By the time they’re falling down, it’s too late.
Other things missing.
Are they really obsolete?
Not worth it.
I’ve decided to move on. So, today, whether I need it or not, I took a shower and washed my clothes. Then I’ll be heading South.
But, let me tell you what I did yesterday. Knowing it was my last day in the park I went to where I could get a good long hike. The sun was out, the temperature was pleasant. As I set out I took off my t-shirt and stuffed it on the back of my fanny pack. This is the pack that carries my camera gear, a water bottle and a few other odds and ends. Anyway, I figured this may be the last opportunity to ingest some natural Vitamin D, so I went for it. A mile or two downstream from the parking lot I passed what I figured was the last of the fishermen in this area.
And then I stripped. Well, not completely, I left my boots on. When I went to strap my shorts to the fanny pack I quickly found that I no longer had a t-shirt. Somewhere in my trail blazing it must have gotten snagged. Showing that I still had some sense in my head I emptied my pockets and all the contents got zippered up in the pack. Imagine losing that stuff. I did put a little extra care in fastening my shorts. I was cool thinking I would go back to the parking lot without a shirt, but without shorts too? I also quickly appreciated having spent the extra dollars for that extra padding on the pack.
Why did I do this? It certainly was not for sex as there was nobody around to have sex with. It was about freedom. I bet you’ve thought about this. Heck, I’ve even had dreams of walking around naked. Now I could.
It was an interesting experience. The sun was going strong and felt different. The wind was blowing lightly and felt different. No clothes rubbing you felt different. A slight bit of paranoia about being seen kept me present and alert.
I ended up needing to do some bushwacking. It took on a whole new meaning.
And, of course, the bare jokes.
Eventually I tired and turned around. When I spied my first fisherman I figured it was time to suit up. And the weather decided to change, like right now. So, with me in shorts only, the temperature falling at least 15 degrees and a light drizzle I started hoofing it the last 2 miles. I also imagined the article about the latest dumb tourist found out in the woods. The feared downpour held off until roughly 10 minutes after I hit the parking lot. I survived. Not only that but as I was crossing the parking lot I picked up 2 flies and a Leatherman Micra, which was quite rusty. Today, while my clothes were in the drier, I went across the street to a fishing shop and traded those 2 flies for the use of a brass brush and some WD40. The little knife cleaned up quite well. I only cut myself once.
Being on a Driveabout gives me time to just sit by a stream.
It was high in the mountains, on a sunny day.
A cedar grove was standing guard.
A grove that was still, green, bordering on being dark.
Sitting by this stream, I was almost too hot.
Hundreds of little waterfalls were making a racket upstream.
Seems there was a hurry to get downstream,
To turn into sparkling gems.
Out in the stream in front of me stood a rock.
It was noticeable because it was different.
It was the biggest around, but not by much.
It was darker.
It had edges.
The other rocks were smooth, made up of warm browns and greens.
Next to the bank they shone like jewels.
On the bank they were different.
Still rounded but the colors were all tending towards white.
I threw one in the stream.
It splashed me back.
And then it transformed, grew, intensified.
So, I have drifted over to Yellowstone.
It is after Labor Day so I was hoping the crowds were lower.
They are. So is the temperature. And the clouds with rain.
Nevertheless, and dodging all of that, I had a great day yesterday.
I broke a record. After all my years of hiking/backpacking I had never seen a bear (in the wild). I did yesterday. I was on a narrow path winding through some woods. No buds, no bells, no bear spray. About 15 yards ahead this bear just crosses the path. I stopped. I presume he knew I was there, but didn’t even care enough to look at me. I didn’t move, but I did watch his form blend back into the trees. Oh, I didn’t have my camera out and he was gone before I could. So, believe me, he was huge. It might have been a grizzly or a brown or a kodiak. I know it wasn’t a polar.
But that wasn’t all I missed with my camera. I didn’t catch the osprey attacking the bald eagle. I didn’t even catch any of the myriad chipmunks and ground squirrels that were crossing my path, within feet, and then laughing at me. Finally, I came close:
So, life is telling me that I’m slow. So I take pictures like this:
As I was on the trail of Lewis and Clark the other day I passed through Walla Walla, which sparked this set of feelings:
90 degrees in Walla Walla was miserable.
Having visited before, it wasn’t miserable then;
when I closed my arms, a body was there.
if hot, not noticeable.
That isn’t Walla Walla on this day;
the wine, still there.
the hotel, still there.
when I close my arms, just air.
that didn’t go so well.
I’ve begun my epic journey around the United States.
Airbnb is slated to have an important role.
I headed out of Portland determined to follow Lewis and Clark’s path to Missoula, MT. It wasn’t too hard. I didn’t have to get out of my car even once to portage across any rivers. But I did get out of my car to see where L&C stopped and did various activities. It reminds me that life isn’t all that difficult, even if I do scream at it occasionally.
Anyway, I had booked 3 nights at an Airbnb in Missoula. The schedule I kept with my brother was so wacked that I figured I had to rest up before I got too far into my trip. I try to pick my places with a couple of things in mind;
cheapinexpensive and interesting. Upon arrival I was told I couldn’t park in the driveway. I could try to squeeze my car between two giant pine trees (nope) or park it on the street, in front of the mailbox. But the car had to be gone before the mailman arrived. When would that be? During the day. Which wasn’t a problem because, by house rules, I wasn’t supposed to be at the house between 10 and 5 on the weekdays. Which wasn’t supposed to be a problem because I intended to explore Missoula. But I hadn’t figured on the next day being a rain day. Which turns out to not be a problem because, at first, I couldn’t get to sleep. My bed was in the basement. Not a finished basement, just a cleverly draped off area. But also down in this basement was a sprinkler controller that was clicking away. Gee, no one else had ever been bothered by it. Had I tried ear plugs? Yes, didn’t work. Fortunately my hostess was still up (as was I) and after some negotiation that was far too tense she went downstairs and unplugged the beast.
Now it was dark and quiet. Sort of. Creaks from people walking upstairs. Plumbing doing its thing. Water heater firing up. And there was the other aspect of this (and most) basements. It smelled musty. My sinuses were complaining.
In the morning, I left. I didn’t need to explore Missoula in the rain. I didn’t need to wonder what that basement was doing to me. Let’s chalk this one up to experience and move on.