Colter Bay, WY (inside Grand Teton National Park)

BOOK: Half A Yellow Moon – story of the evolution of Nigeria and ultimately Biafra. It is an excellent book and I find myself looking for time to read other than just before falling aslleep at night…as well as reading way beyond the time when I should have closed my eyes and gone to sleep!

SONG: C’est En Septembre by Georges Becaud

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Living too close to too many people can be disturbing, even in beautiful places. KOA campgrounds are best used for passing through places rather than staying in them. The people are so very cordial and there are laundry facilities…but as Lucy used to say, “It is TOO much!”

The amazing insight it took to set aside these national treasures and really amazing places so that they could be shared with everyone was a gift!!!! There are so many people who come to places like The Arches and The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, but there seems to be room. People pass through with different agendas and goals, but the real images must surely bend our imaginations just a little bit beyond the limits they had before we arrived. Taking our breath away happens when the altitude takes over and the air is a bit thin, but the vastness and power of millions of years of change and transformation is the real bottom line for me. that I am even a teensy part of it all really makes me happy!

Most photographed spot at any time of day - OxBow Bend

Same spot, different time!

In the passage north, we have had the same brake repairs done TWICE at great costs…way too much of a story! In the course of that dose of misery however we connected with my stepsister and her husband and got a couple of tender, funny and beautiful days in a part of the mountains of CO that we probably would have otherwise missed. Finally though, we are just 2 days from the conference in Yellowstone and Peter is off with another of the photo friends to look for wild life (not the kind that drives, but the kind that “lumbers” out of the deep forest for a peek at the peculiar beings that are very strangely checking out the place in which they really live! The Grand Tetons really are just that – very Grand! Pine trees, a chill, sun coming up and things are already getting warmer…or is it the cup of coffee I am sipping.

There is an overlook not too far away and I will take my bike in that direction after breakfast…look through some photos and then take some more.

I love you all and hope your lives are moving along just as you would like them too…

xoxoK

 

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Jackson, WY

22 Sept 2015

BOOK: Half The Yellow Moon

THOUGHT: In a long trip with one other person (hopefully someone you love alot), violence is never a solution; hostility does not help; silence is your best mutual friend when Tired is that unhealthy traveler sitting between the 2 of you

SONG: Long and Winding Road

For anyone reading who is offended by profanity or not in the mood for it, I suggest you go on over to Peter's blog where there will be wonderful pictures. My goal is to eventually write about the glowing wonder we have wandered into and to also write a blow-by-blow account of the days that got us from Raton Pass to the foot of the Grand Tetons…both the expected and the unexpected. For this moment however I would like to reflect on the dialogues that come up after weeks on the road with recurrent visitations in the middle of “Wonderful” and 'Wow' from the lesser friends known to us as 'Tired' and 'Hungry.' We meet these latter 2 in the middle of nowhere usually, in the vast spaces between the former 2.

The civil discourse is as follows:

“Really?????”

“Are you fucking kidding?”

“No fucking way.”

“I don't give a fuck.”

“Go fuck yourself.”

'No, you.”

You can see, in this civil discourse, that there are no exclamation points. There does not need to be any voice elevation. It sometimes starts in a mostlly inaudible tone of voice. When it raises itself to audible, it does not carry full or even moderate wrath. It is just commentary. More of less cogent. More less aimed at single specific moments, acts or statements. It's intention is not to initiate war, it is a point you might think of as “skirmish.”

In order to elevate it a little closer to wrath and rancor, the word “Asshole” needs to be included in the given sentence and voice elevation is required. Asshole rounds out the syntax and rhythm of what you are saying and your deepest intention to head for the jugular without other weaponry involved. At one point in the parking lot in The Arches, late in the afternoon, I heard a woman banging on her car, screaming in another language…(I am sure asshole and fuck were in the conversation just based on the inflections) Her husband (or traveling companion) had just raised the automatic windows and engaged the “all-door-lock” feature. She had definitely raised it up a notch. Banging on things is an indicator that someone needs to move out of the line of fire immediately.

These are the times when you actually recognize that you need to acknowledge Tired, Hungry and Cranky as the dwarfed little assholes they can be, but in fact they will not go away without both acknowledgement and direct solutional activity.

For me I have come to love the analogy of the Bus (as in Bus of life). On this bus, I am supposed to be the driver. There are so many on that bus, and they have gotten on and off throughout my lifetime, but I have many frequent flyers who may get off at a rest stop but they hop right back onto the damned bus as soon as they hear the engine rev. Along with these 3 dwarfs (and I am not politically slurring dwarfism, I am Disneylanding them,) there is Bratty Patty Ann who knows her absolute rightness in all situations and insists on trying to override all the others inside and outside the bus. Serene has been trying to stay in her seat for a long while, but seems to be crowded out of her seat way too often. She is getting stronger with age however. The Alarmist and Catastrophizer sit together – great pals. They tend to lead with panic rather than research, and they generally seem to carry a lot of heft in this crowd. They are the voices of Impending Doom. The Submissive little driveling one is out there working on personal martyrdom at every turn…”Oh no, let me do it all!!! Please! Oh no, I love shoveling shit!!! Really! (note in this “really” there is no sequence of sarcastic question marks.)

So as the bus continues to roll along, I hope this gives you a bit of insight into the complexity of the littlle being you see when I am headed in your direction.

I love you all and so does the bus-full. Have a great day wherever you are. I am sitting next to Horse Creek which flows into the Snake River just 100yds down from where I am sitting. The sun is on my back and neck and I still have a little hot coffee in my cup. I will wander down to the Snake River and write some more. It will offer me that new and different perspective through which I can offer you a share in the beauty I really am in! Fresh Eyes!

 

Sugarite National Campground, NM

10 September 2015

BOOK: Half the Yellow Moon by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

SONG: What A Difference A Day Makes

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Layers on! Layers off!

Instead of plowing through several layers of pain that we take on when we travel more than 4 hours, we stopped in a small park in NM called Sugarite National Park. It is an interesting and really beautiful place that at one time was a coal mining region. The original mining town was in the valley but none of the original structures remain. It progresses upward into a really green forested area along the Sangre de Christo mountains. The old mine was sealed. They had a viscious forest fire in 2011 and the blackened trees are still standing, but most of the area has grown back in and there are Ponderosa Pines and Gambel Oaks that are a beautiful forestation. Fall flowers are in bloom. Lots of white and purple asters, coreopsis and the sunflowers have started to die back. No big foliage changes yet. Last night it was in the low 50’s and today it soared up to 67 just an hour ago (it’s about 3:30pm) This is definitely the mark of what is up ahead of us. For now it is just comfy with a shirt or 2 and a nice pair of pants. Socks are a must…no hats needed so far. BIG contrast to 98 degrees and scorching sun. The pictures of Palo Duro are, however, a tribute to it all having been very worthwhile. Going through them in the computer has been really great. I am loving my llittle camera more and more.

Walk on a misty morning

We took out the bicycles, but the altitude took a toll on us – especially me! I felt like my lungs were going to explode in my chest about 1/2 a mile up the road. We took a nice walk after supper and it was pretty level so I did not panic about possible catastrophic limitations. The chilly overnight temps were not the least intolerable and relatively early the next morning, we took a really lovely walk up to the higher elevation of the campground and the bigger Alice Lake. There was a mist over everything and we immediately thought of our friend Kimberley. Taking pictures really changes how you see things when you walk and I love the shift in how you also look for things, think about how they are framed and whether or not they are going to show someone else what you felt and saw at that moment.

Alice Lake off road easy path

Little sitings that speak of Fall

September just would not be itself without some Asters and Sunflowers

Walks, campfires and BBQ are definitely a way to go. The pop up is big and Peter referred to it aptly when he said it is really “camping with amenities.” For me that is the bed mostly, but the indoor cooking on a rainy day is not bad.

Today is a work day. Laundry, shopping and a chance to find wifi so we can see the mail and post our stuff. The little town of Raton has seen its glory days…it has moved from shabby chic to seedy, but there is a grocery store and laundromat and the library has wifi! Yippee. Tonight I will sort through some of the pictures and bring them into the blog so I can send it tomorrow as we leave for Great Sand Dunes which is only a couple of miles from here. After that it will be the Arches and I am really looking forward to that.

And then PS we did not make it to The Dunes…chattering brakes pushed us to Pueblo where Peter awaits the replacement of the two front rotors. Meineke has a piece of our heart and a few $$$$ to boot, but the safe journey through the many mountain passes will be something we will appreciate with more smiles than faint hearts.

And before I leave off, for any of you who want less blah, blah, blah and mroe pictures, Peter provides many more pics…check him out at peterflorczak.wordpress.com He is not so much into the blah…

Love to all of you and thank you too for the support for Lia and for Jared’s family.

 

September 12, 2015

Raton, NM

SONG: Calling All Angels by k d lang and Jane Siberry

Thought: Trying to imagine the new connection from this point

Today I got news that a wonderful young man died. I was immediately and overwhelmingly brought to my knees. I can't touch him again. I will not hear his voice again. I will not see his eyes shine in that handsome face. The sadness is always unexpected…it can't be prepared for. It was too sudden. He was too young.

He is Jared Burke. He was bright and just so very handsome. He was completely transparent – not an ounce of pretense in him. He has been part of our family's life for more than 20 something years. Lia met him in high school and they have never not been part of each other's life – and that will continue now in some new context and form. Other than his mother, I know no one who loved and believed in this man so fiercely and deeply as Lia has. He knew the precious gift it was. This was the most real of the ordinary love that underpins all other kinds of love.

Bring on the angels.

 

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX

9 Sept, 2015

Palo Duro State Park (TX)

Book: Finished Abide With Me, which was a tender story about grieving. Ready for a few chuckles and so I will search out something by Sarah Vowell. She does have a new book that is coming out in Oct but I have a couple of hers that I still have in line to read so I will pick one and let you know…as I am sure that you are waiting for this info with bated breath.

Song: It Had To Be You. I was watching Peter as we setup in a sort of familiar lock step that has come from many years of doing this sort of traveling. Who else would fit into this, this way, and think it was so totally cool!?

Thought for the day: It is all good.

We arrived in Palo Duro Canyon around 6:30pm. Arriving at our assigned campsite, the family that had been there for the past few days, was only just beginning to take down. They had overstretched their hiking and were running late getting out…about 7 hours past check out and we were just grumbling quietly…but had 6 hours of drive time percolating at that “just ready to explode” setting. We drove through the rest of the sites and several were open. One looked pretty nice with more than a full share of trees in this grasslands park. Sparse Mesquite trees and Hackberry – the latter being high on the allergy richter scale in this state. Scrub Juniper…nothing over 5 feet except for the occasional cottonwood that grew along the river, but not adjacent to the campsites. this particular site did have a seriously aging one whose dead branches will one day fall and crush someone’s camper or tent…It was 97 degrees and there was no hint of wind at the moment or in the forecast. No rain and just a hair of a drop in the mid-day temp forecast. Maybe the disastrous branch would hold through our stay. Re pending temps: plans for “day hikes” would be on hold and even the half day hikes looked like they could be hazardous for one’s health.

Strong verbal and paper warnings were all over the park. The rangers handing out permits had a very long and disaster-laden litany of things not to do. All the pamphlets described the possible impending doom for the less than wary. The famed Lighthouse Hike (10 miles RT) has been the destination of several rescues for heat exhaustion and injury, especially in the recent weeks. I gallon per person for water carried. I was impressed with our initial entry into this gorgeous park, but not so ready for becoming vulture food. Our first hike started early-ish the next morning, with a cloud cover that lasted until about the 2d mile. We had been walking for about 2 hours with lots of stops for photograph after amazing photograph…or if the photos aren’t that amazing the views certainly were. The sun came blazing out about 10:30 and we knew the fun was going to be over in short order. The return was slow with sitting and sipping in itty bitty scraps of shade. This was our first hike in months and we did not really want it to be our last. Acting our age seemed really like a good idea! We turned around at about the 2 mile point and counted it for a 4 mile RT.

Wild life siting from chairs in the shade

In spite of the even more intense heat in the camper – we have a fan but no ac – we collapsed into an afternoon nap that was more llike a coma, and then after dark and a descent to about 80 degrees, we ended the day sitting by a nice fire (not very near…but in a viewing distance that did not absorb any of the radiating heat…with some fresh fruit, a brandy and 3 ibuprofen each! Song coulda been Oh What A Night!

not so wild life!

a little bit wild life

And the absolute reason for this magnificent park's existence!

Early hike the second day was less intense, but still full of beautiful landscapes…old is incredibly beautiful here. More mountain bikers and hikers come in each day – this is not a place for the faint of heart. We have scored the only day-long shade cover in the whole park and noted the campsite with big stars. And tomorrow we will leave for something short of Great Sand Dunes National Park. The 6 hour drive will be cut back to 4 and the choice of place to stay llooks llike it will be near Raton, NM – elevation about 7,500! Cool temps lie ahead.

Heading North – The Yellowstone Trip

Sept 5, 2015

Book: A pretty mundane Baldaccci

Song: On the Road Again, Willie Nelson

Thought for the Day: The calendar is not that important when you are retired, is it?

Thursday was the 3d. We were set. By 2pm we were on the road, heading across Hwy 46. Tired but packed and ready to be on our way, I began to notice a number of travel trailers coming across 46 in our direction. A little more of them than usual and I commented to Peter, “We are lucky it is not Labor Day weekend.” He winced and asked me to check with Siri. “Siri, is this Labor Day weekend? “Wait, I am checking on that.” Pause… “Yes this is Labor Day weekend.” So bland and yet so powerful, that voice. We were about 8 miles down the road. Silence…then the pondering…no real laughter, but no screaming…”but Peter I bought my shoes last weekend at the Labor Day sale! Wasn't that Labor Day? REI would not make ,that up!”

So, no, Labor Day sales apparently start long before the day…silly me. All the camping trailers and adventurers were about to land in every park in the country to celebrate the time off that comes at the end of summer. Every child, parent, family and their miscellaneous power boats and jet skis were going to be there…'there' being anywhere we might be able to go, given out plans. Peter brought up the possibility of a Walmart parking lot (for all their trees and grassy areas) to modify the 100 degree days we still have in TX. People watching???? Not so much the best vacation starter for me. And never at Walmart. And no ac in the pop up. There was quiet disccussion but we both knew that Casa PC was the best alternative. We knew there were reservations just for us. There was ac. There was a pool and a really comfy bed. A quick drive thru at HEB and we could get 3 days of groceries and not impact the loaded, well planned stock I had so carelfully planned for.

The HEB parking lot was jammed full of people shopping for – you guessed it, LABOR DAY picnics. Peter found one remaining pull thru parking space for the rig, I went in with my heavy heart and geared up for the grill on our very own porch for the pending 3-day delay. We got home. Brought in the overninght essentials and sat down with some wine and cheese and realized the world had not ended and that we had 3 found days…like the snow days we used to get in school. There really was nothing we had to do. We pulled out the pool floats and realized this was not on the list of things we could ever declare as a “stress!”

From this

to this, including brandy for nights with hot chocolate

In the course of regrouping we got a reservation for Sunday night in San Angelo State Park and another for the next night in Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo. Most likely we will be in the Arches by the middle of the week. I am including a few pictures to see the progression from one stage to another for the getting from 'here' to the 'away.'

 

and the clothing went from this

 

Into 2 Boxes under the bed in the van…one box extra for shoe gear.