Sunday, October 23, 2022

Pajaro Dunes State Beach, Watsonville, CA

 Waning Crescent Moon

On a cool, breezy Friday morning I decided to head for the beach to walk and get away from the smoke that was beginning to encroach upon San Juan Bautista. The smoke was coming from a prescribed burn on the Monterey County side of the divide. It was kind of cool-looking at first.

The beach was mostly clear - just a few groups of walkers and families starting their days in the Sun. LOTS of birds, especially pelicans, snowy plovers, and curlews. It's rare for me to see a live crab, but I was lucky enough to see one side-stepping across the sand, leaving little scratch mark "footprints" behind. 

I kept going to the mouth of the river, where a sand bar had plugged the outflow into the bay this day. Then I wandered around to look at the last hummocky mini-dune field nearest the river - odd in comparison with the bigger dunes to the north and south. Every day at the beach is a little different, but always - always - most pleasant.

Peace, Love, and Shifting Sand,

# 2,022 in 2022

Saturday, October 15, 2022

The P. S. I Love You Southwest Memorial Tour Part Eight

 Waning Gibbous Moon

Gila Bend, Arizona

Leaving New Mexico on the interstate, I began to get that "heading for the barn" instinct. The mileage and the gasoline bills were piling up so I started to think about getting home while the getting was good. I had wanted to make a detour to Chiricahua National Monument southeast of Willcox, Arizona, but I decided to pass it up (again - one of these times passing through I'll veer down the road and explore this park). I continued to follow my old bicycle bypass route around Phoenix and headed toward Gila Bend. 

I forgot that Gila Bend is one of my long-time magical places (read Palomino and the Dream Machine to find out why), but when I pulled up outside the Space Age Lodge for lunch, I began to remember. The aliens would have one final adios to send me on my way back to California.

When I asked the hostess if she had ever been to Roswell, she looked me straight in the eyes with a serious, dead-pan expression and gravely nodded yes. The Space Lodge is solely for true believers, hahahaha. The food is good, but be sure to check out the zany gift shop, too. Pat would have loved this place for its reverent, but silly attitude and its out-of-this-world banana splits. 

Across the Colorado River - Mojave, California - Safe at Home

The price of gas jumped from $3.87/gallon to $6.39/gallon when I left Yuma, AZ and crossed the Colorado River into my home state. Remind me to boycott Chevron and Valero every day for the rest of my life. Also, may every single member of their respective Boards of Directors be chased down, abducted, and abused by the meanest, baddest, most metallic Space Aliens in the galaxy. I have connections in Roswell and Gila Bend now. You guys are toast.

Just to end the trip on a trippy, alien, whirling-dervish, dust-devil note, I spent my final night in a Motel 6 in Mojave - not the snazzy, brand new one on Hwy 14, but the old rundown one that used to be White's Motel on Hwy 58. My room was a hiker trash classic - only one light fixture worked and the toilet didn't flush because somebody had snapped off the flusher handle. The AC kinda worked, but the TV only got one channel - the local weather. Guess what? The forecast was hot and windy as hell for the rest of the year, maybe longer. For dinner, I had some sort of mystery meat and mashed potatoes with brown gravy and a side of soggy green beans at Denny's -  America's Diner. It was perfect. 

Pat would not have put up with any of that nonsense for one windy second, though. Her unconditional sisterly love had realistic limits when it came to non-flush commodes and floppy green beans.

I more than made up for all that self-imposed Mojave misery the next morning with a masterfully served breakfast at Henry's Café in Tehachapi. I did not catch the waitress's name, but I'm pretty sure she is The Happiest Woman in All of Southern California and I told her so. That changed her rosy, clean, mountain girl smile to its mesmerizing high-beam version that almost burned my eggs. Whoa, take it easy there, mountain girl!

From Henry's it was one fast, long swerve to I-5 all the way to Pacheco Pass and up-and-over to San Benito County and San Juan Bautista. I whiled away the driving time dodging trucks and other random speed demons and carefully contemplated the previous few weeks. 

The following are my conclusions. I am proud of my well-executed journey to celebrate P. S. I Love You's stellar life. Even though the Great Mystery persists as to whether human consciousness survives after what-we-call-death, I know for certain that my memories of my sister will resonate and continue to inspire me at least as long as I live and breathe. Pat, if you can hear me...

The Very Large Array, the plains of San Agustin, New Mexico

Peace, Love, and Infinity,


Friday, October 14, 2022

The P. S. I Love You Southwest Memorial Tour Part Seven

 Waning Gibbous Moon

La Mesilla, New Mexico

Continuing south past Tularosa, New Mexico, I stopped for a long sleep in Las Cruces before heading to nearby Mesilla (La Mesilla, the mesa, as it was known before the Gadsden Purchase via the Treaty of Mesilla in 1854). In Billy the Kid Antrim's day, La Mesilla and John Kinney's ranch just west of there were the headquarters and hideouts of the Jesse Evans Gang, aka The Boys, about thirty of the onery-est, wicked-est, mankilling-est cattle rustlers west of the Pecos. Billy rode and stole and shot with them for a brief time, long enough to get in bad, bad trouble. Billy was captured and jailed in Mesilla, then transferred to the Lincoln County jail shortly thereafter. Today, Mesilla has a clean, classical old town square with lots of historical references, a beautiful basilica, and a Billy the Kid Gift Shop in the old courthouse where Billy was sentenced to be hanged (not open during my brief early morning stop there). 

I have always like the city of Las Cruces, but before this trip I didn't know about La Mesilla or its back story. It is really charming - I'm glad I made the quick and easy detour off the highway to soak in some history and absorb still more Kid lore. The people I met there were especially friendly and obviously proud of their town.

Silver City, New Mexico

I knew about Silver City from its proximity to the Continental Divide Trail and from reading friends' blogs in past years. I almost rode up that way on my bicycle trip in 2013, but opted for the straight shot through Deming and Lordsburg instead - in hindsight, not recommended! 

Silver City is great. It has everything I like and more and I will definitely return. One day's visit was not enough to do justice to the art scene and the mining history and the hip cultural vibe here. The kind folks at the Silver City Museum were smart and welcoming and a late breakfast at La Familia Restaurant was downhome delicious. Of course, Billy the Kid lived in Silver City too, in his teenage years. This is where his mother died and his first arrest (for stealing some clothes) occurred. He escaped from the jail through the chimney and thus began a rather spotty life of crime and exile. I really want to come back to Silver City to spend quality time investigating the town and to explore the nearby Gila National Forest. I am not a cold weather person, but this is one spot where I think I would like to spend a real winter. Just one. 

I learned something new and interesting just about everywhere I stopped in New Mexico on this trip. Color me happily enchanted and wanting more.

Peace, Love, and Appreciation.


Monday, October 10, 2022

The P. S. I Love You Southwest Memorial Tour Part Six

 Waning Gibbous Moon

The Billy the Kid Scenic Byway

Roswell was a tough act to follow. Only the most dangerous road in America and 21,000 ancient petroglyphs were going to get my mind off aliens and flying saucers. For starters, I set my course toward the Hondo Valley, a pleasant community with an educational roadside rest stop where I learned another tidbit or two about William Bonney or Henry Antrim or Kid Antrim or Brushy Bill Roberts or whatever you wish to call Billy the Kid.

Just beyond Hondo, this part of the Billy the Kid Byway leads to Lincoln, New Mexico, which practically begged me to pull over and stay there for the rest of my days. The legend of this place's past and the beauty of its preserved historical setting tugged at something inside of me that I didn't know was there. I felt intrinsically related to Lincoln like I was a piece of it. The fact that, in the early days of its existence, Lincoln's main thoroughfare was known as the most dangerous road in the Union (bang-bang shoot-'em ups) did not faze me. There is something else there much stronger that intrigues and attracts me. These photos don't do it justice. Whatever that "thing" is that was luring me to Lincoln is not made of stone, wood, and nails. Am I going to sell everything and move there any time soon? Probably not. Am I going to study more of Lincoln's history and try to understand why it calls to me? Most definitely. 

From Lincoln I almost passed by the town of Capitan without stopping. But I saw a restaurant and I craved a hot breakfast, so next thing I knew, there I was at the counter, drinking coffee and ordering up some eggs. What can I say except that is just about my favorite thing to do anywhere? The people at the restaurant were pleasant and kept to themselves, two traits very high on my hungry traveler's stranger etiquette list. I felt comfortable there and the food was decent. I amused myself as I ate by watching the two waitresses engineer the cantankerous, aging appliances and fuss with their bobby pins and spotted aprons. It was like a very slow motion still life.

Smokey Bear is really a big deal in Capitan. I'm going to take a wild guess and say Smokey Bear just might have originated somewhere in the Capitan woods. Okay, okay, I cheated. Dr. Googlie can tell you all about the origins of the real Smokey Bear (after the ad campaign) in the Spring of 1950. You gotta love it.

Moving on, if I had it to do all over, I would have taken a left turn to Ruidoso to do some exploring there. I have the idea that there is more Billy the Kid lore to be learned in that area, so I have it bookmarked for the next time I go wandering. Meanwhile, I have no regrets whatsoever that I pulled into the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site on the way to Tularosa. Who knows if Billy was ever there, but I was and I really enjoyed it. The literature claims there are more than 21,000 petroglyphs at the site. It would take weeks to find that many, but there are more than enough glyphs along the two miles of hiking trails to corral your attention and keep you in a state of wonder.

My sister Pat was a talented oil painter in her youth. I think she would have taken an interest in the Jornada Mogollon culture and their expressive etchings. We will probably never know if they had a purpose for these creations. Were they stories? Words? Thoughts? Directions? Warnings? Maps? Who knows? Walking among them leaves a lasting impact on you, that is for sure.

Peace, Love, and Riding with the Kid,

Sunday, October 9, 2022

The P. S. I Love You Southwest Memorial Tour Part Five

 Full Moon

Lago Vista, Austin, and Dripping Springs, Texas

After high school, way back in the 20th century, I matriculated (feebly) at the University of Texas at Austin off and on for five years or so. I had no sense of direction and managed to change majors four or five times, gaining lots of unconnected units. I ended up with a pretty decent well-rounded general education, but no degree - degrees and direction would come later for me. Was that a mistake? In some people's eyes, probably so - but I was not (then or now for that matter) very concerned about those people's expectations of me. Did I struggle? You bet, but sometimes a good, hard struggle is productive. Pressure makes diamonds.

Throughout those years, I had the good fortune to have friendships that helped me to grow - and to peel back the layers of what was real for the young me and what was mostly illusion. Austin has been thoroughly Dallased up over the years, but there are still pockets of cool people around, and three of my biggest influences from my time there continue to play important roles in my ongoing experience. I will never forget them. 

Anyway, on with the tour...I crossed west Texas again and passed back into the Land of Enchantment.

Roswell, New Mexico

What can I say about Roswell? The whole town is a multi-dimensional color post card that makes YOU come to IT. There are little green aliens everywhere you look and terrific tourist draws within walking distance of each other downtown. After a few minutes, you start to feel guilty that you haven't been abducted or investigated by the government because in Roswell, everybody else has! 

The International UFO Museum and Research Center was the highlight for me. I was a complete rookie on the subject of the 1947 "Roswell Incident" aside from watching the X-Files (television series) and Roswell, New Mexico (Netflix series) and a few random movies over the years. Walking through the exhibits  and reading the literature was simultaneously alarming, fascinating, and hilarious. I came away from a day in Roswell with a giant smile on my face, eager for more. That town really does shine. I could have had a blast there with P. S. I Love You all day long.

I found the residents of Roswell to be very friendly and willing, whether they personally believed or not, to play along and answer questions about Space Aliens, etc. with humor and patience. Great fun! Martha, the captivating hostess at the Days Inn reservation desk, was the perfect ambassador for Roswellian abduction lore. She kept me laughing for a good ten minutes as she filled me in on the 1947 Roswell Incident Timeline. I'm sold!

I would return to Roswell in a minute. I can't believe I had never been there before, but I'll be back!

Peace, Love, and Little Green Men,

Saturday, October 8, 2022

The P. S. I Love You Southwest Memorial Tour Part Four

 Waxing Gibbous Moon

Fort Worth Stockyards

The morning after P. S. I Love You's fun-eral service and the subsequent most pleasant gathering at Uno and Roadie's house, I moved on to the next phase of my journey. The first stop was Fort Worth and lunch at Joe T. Garcia's Mexican Restaurant near the Fort Worth Stockyards with Bearcat Mike. This restaurant is busy and famous and efficient with terrific food in an expansive garden setting. I arrived early, so I walked down the street to the Stockyards to see the sights. I have been there a few times before, so there were no big surprises, but I like the whole relaxed historical cowboy/cowgirl theme the town presents here. There are signs that big money has started to take it over, but I will probably keep coming back any time I am in the area - as long as they don't "Dallas" it up too much. 

I have known Mike since the 3rd grade (1960!) so we always have a lot to talk about. Also in our class back then was a kid named Cosmo Lucchese, whose family was in the cowboy boot business. I haven't seen Cosmo since then, but I guess they are doing pretty well these days. Fort Worth is a big city, with all that entails, but I like it better than most. I have been to the Stockyards with Pat before, so I know she liked it. Also, there were hardly any flies.

Hico, Texas

My next visit was down the road in Cleburne with my beautiful, loving sister Diane (aka Dinesey) and her kind and generous husband Patt (aka King Safari). Other than to say it was great fun and all too brief, I will keep our conversations private, if not top secret. I never pass up a chance to see them if I can help it, though. They are the ones who introduced me to Glen Rose (awesome small town), Dinosaur Valley State Park (very cool dino tracks), and more importantly, the Billy the Kid Museum a little further down the road in Hico, Texas. 

The museum in Hico is a kick in the pants. Not because it is so grandiose or anything approaching that description. What makes it giddy and remarkable is its alternative theory about the death of Billy the Kid. According to the museum's curator, the loquacious and pert Ms. Sue Land, Billy did not die at age 21 from Pat Garrett's gunshot to his chest. Billy actually escaped Fort Sumner and fled to Hico, where he changed his name to Brushy Bill Roberts and lived there undercover (for the most part) until 1950. If you want to know more about this fantastic story, I will leave that up to you and Dr. Googlie. Either that or go to the Hico museum and ask Sue about it yourself. I recommend it!

Pro tip: if you are traveling from Fort Worth to Austin, steer clear of the I-35 nonsense and follow the backroads through the eclectic small towns that offer authentic old school Texas vibes, great food, and glimpses (true or not) into Old West history you won't find anywhere else. Do it soon, before they Dallas it all up.

Peace, Love, and Long Live Brushy Bill,