Tag Archives: Environment

Back Country

I’m really amazed when I travel that I see so many different biomes in a single state or area.  From corner to corner you can go from flat, wide-open spaces to sky-embracing mountains, deeply cut valleys, meandering river basins, high dessert plateaus – and all are beautiful.

This particular view was one I came upon while on horseback.  I’m a total amateur at riding a horse, but love how you can delve into the deep wilderness so quickly and effortlessly riding on the back of such a spirited animal.

Hat’s off to my wrangler, Tina, a free spirit roaming the country picking up work she loves where ever she finds it.

Horseback Ride 7

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Soon . . .

A few weeks back, I wrote a piece about having an encounter with a Bear.  As you can see from my feature pic, I have had another.  This time, I was able to get a nice photo of this magnificent spirit.

You may have noticed that while I’ve been making posts to my Photo Journal, I usually don’t reveal my exact location.  I do this for a number of reasons.  One is I often see people on social media giving the play-by-play of everything they are doing and everywhere they are.  They share their personal information as well.

And predictably, people doing this on Facebook have had their homes burglarized while telling everyone they’re soaking up the sun on the beach.  I’ve also learned that privacy protections on social media platforms basically suck.

But I am going to make a post soon where I do reveal some locations, after the fact, because I want to make some fun comparisons.

In the meant time, appreciate this magnificent  Grizzly 🙂

Grizzly - Day 2 - 1+C1

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Fishing

This is sort of an iconic image.  A sole person testing his skills fly fishing in a mountain stream.  I’ve never done fly fishing per se, at least not the way it is supposed to be done.  But I do love fishing because I find it to be meditative.

Repetitious motion.  Casting.  Reeling.  Casting.  Reeling.  Letting your thoughts drift.

Then there is the thrill of catching one, and in most cases for me, releasing it again.  Although there have been times when I’ve eaten a few.

Many moons ago, I was in a remote part of southern Utah living off the land, and was catching trout by hand.  Amazing.  And nourishing on different levels.

It is said that to dream of fishing is to really be dreaming about spiritual pursuits.  I like that image.  And just looking at this one, I find it to be meditative.  Relaxing.  Letting inner thoughts fade into quietness . . .

Fly Fishing

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Water is Life

I have to say that I haven’t always been that observant.  We pass through time and places and forget to pay attention to the little things.  Sometimes the very obvious things.  As I travel, I now see that many of the communities I drive through are river cities.  And it makes sense.

These towns and cities sprung up over a couple of centuries ago because there was a major source of water for drinking, agriculture, and for travel and shipping.  Some of the cities have grown beyond the ability to provide fresh water and water tables are dropping.

I’m currently in a “land of water.”  It surrounds me in all forms.  I see it rushing down mountainsides, feeding rivers that cut deep valleys, forming lakes that stretch out over the horizon.  Yet I’m reminded of the need to conserve and the residents here go to extraordinary efforts to collect and store water for the basics.

Water is life.  We emerged from the ocean as a process of evolution.  Our lungs and our kidneys maintain the salt water environment internally that our primordial species used to splash around in externally.  Without pure water we would all perish.  We can’t take it for granted.  We must be observant 🙂

Undine Falls Area

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Urban Hiking

Yesterday, I was able to get in about 7 miles of “hiking” in an urban setting.  At some point I’ll put together a travel piece for that experience, but for now enjoy a little beauty I discovered along the concrete trail.

I still have to identify this one, as I do with so many other of my flower pictures.

Zoo Flower 1 +C1

The morning sun hit this one just right 🙂

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Cantognake

As writers we are continually on the hunt for words.  Words drive us.  Words are our souls.  And a couple of days ago I found one.  This one is from the Sioux language and I think it is absolutely beautiful.

Cantognake

It means to place and hold in one’s heart.

It can be used to describe a special place or person or persons or, for that matter, any soul or anything where ever you might encounter it.

I just recently left a place and souls I have placed in my heart.  Of course, there is already a collection of souls and places that occupy my heart too.  My heart is filling up.  It feels good.  Warm and glowing.  And even better to have a word to describe it.

Do you have a favorite word?

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Photo:  A lake shore from up in the north country.  There are so many pictures I could choose of locations and special persons and animal friends that I really couldn’t decide which to use for this post.  I might have to add an entire gallery under this same title 🙂

Photo Journal

If you had the chance to read my last post you probably noticed that I mentioned I was gearing up for travel again.  Consequently, I won’t always have the time I desire, at a given moment, to write out some of my stories.  At least not until I am settled long enough to hammer out some lines.

Also, there is a direct relationship, which could be graphed, between having adventures and writing about them.  Have to have them first in order to have something to write about 🙂

So I thought I would launch another category in the blog today – Photo Journal.  When I don’t quite have that next story put together, I can at least post a nice pic for the day.  Some positive energy.  Beauty without words.

I’ve noticed other blogs doing the same and they use the theme of being “Wordless.”  Makes sense and sometimes, as the old expression goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I have many pics of wildflowers that I haven’t had the chance to identify and this is one of them.  Maybe someday I circle back with a name for this one.  In the mean time, enjoy 🙂

Another White Flower 2

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Photo:  While I try to use all of my own photos for all of my posts there are times that I must seek out others to match the theme, but every post in this category will be one of my own.  I took this one on the trail yesterday 🙂

 

 

Monsoons and Mountains

I’ll be gearing up soon.  Time to cut roots, pick another dot on the map, and drive.  As the time dwindles in my current resting place, urgency grows to take in all the sights and sounds possible in this oasis.

I study maps and locate a pristine spot that holds great promise.  A place where perennial streams meander through desert canyons.  A place bursting with life.  But I discover you need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get there. Such are many places here.  Primitive roads where only a bulldozer has preceded you.  Signs warn that you’re driving at your own risk, and being out of cell range you want to be sure that car is up to the task.  It could take a day or more to hike out if stranded and returning with a tow truck may even be difficult depending on where and how you get trapped.

Forty years ago, I off-roaded in an old 1970 Plymouth Satellite.  It did ok for the most part.  I knocked the muffler off once and a while bottoming out, but I’d just reattach it and move on.

It would have been quite the sight, if anyone had been there, to see me driving that car right through the middle of forests, across open grasslands, or over rocky flats.  In search of the mythical Escalante.

Freedom then was being surrounded by Ponderosa Pine with fifty cents in my pocket, half a tank of gas, and some food to cook over an open fire.  Most probably food I had caught that day after making the proper offerings.

But the world has changed and I’m outfitted quite a bit differently now.  I’m driving a Prius with about 8 inches of ground clearance.  Smooth ride on the highways, but cautious trolling on the back roads.  I’ve had to turn around many times where the rains have washed out gullies big enough to swallow this car.

With one destination scratched from the list, I search out another.  It’s not far away from the original target and promises a good hike through the mountains.  Unusual mountains.  They look like some giant had fun rearranging and piling boulders to the sky in very unnatural configurations.  I wonder what this terrain must look like from the Eagle’s point of view.

How did this mountain range form?  Was it volcanic?  Was it upheaval?  Metamorphic stone smoothen by the rains and bleached by the sun over millennium.

I have good road most of the way, but the last five miles are primitive washboard.  I creep along at 10 miles an hour.  Any faster and the Prius shakes violently.  I bridge cattle guards in this open range country and cross four low-water washes.  They dip gently enough to cross, and a few inches of water reflects the recent rains.  If it rains again, they’ll fill rapidly.  Flash flooding is common during this season.

It is the Monsoons.

As I reach the base of the mountains, I discover the road is gated.  This segment of national parkland is “closed for the season.”  The sign doesn’t say what season, but I’m here and so I park on the road.

I check my gear, settle my backpack.  Essential to fit it correctly to avoid strained shoulders, neck or back.  But as I head towards the trail dark clouds start rolling in.  They appeared so distant on the horizon only moments before.  What appeared to be days away now envelops the area.

The temperature drops rapidly from the 80s to the 60s.  And as the rain drops begin to fall, I scramble back to the car.  This is not a time to hesitate.  I have to make it past those low-water crossings and can’t speed to do it.

As I splash through the first one, I glance back and the sight is amazing.  The mountains have virtually vanished in the veil of heavy rain.  Like a magic trick of monstrous proportions, the Monsoon rains have made the mountains disappear.

Chochise Stronghold 5

No time to gaze, I creep back the way I came and I’m grateful to make it across the last wash intact.  Now I can pause and reflect.  Marvel at what I’m witnessing.  But I can’t pause for too long.  Time to finish finding my way back to that paved road.

Once back on solid ground, and with hiking out of the question, it’s time to pick a new destination.  The rain forces me east, and I find an old historic town with the navigator.  The navigator wants to save me time, but I choose the backroads.

As I streak out on that gray ribbon and back into the warm sunshine, I notice I’m in a valley, a flat plain between 4 different mountain ranges.  The Monsoons blanket the north and the west, and I’m treated to a wonderful display of wrap-around lightening from the Thunderbeings.

This dessert grassland has been brought to life with water.  Water that hides in underground streams.  I’m driving through orchards, and pecan farms.  Corn fields and pistachio trees.

Vineyards and wineries dot the horizon.  The soil here perfect for developing the favor and sugar the grapes need for their fermentation.

Hawks ride on the trusses of the center-point irrigation systems that pull water from the buried aquifer.  The perfect vantage point for any prey attracted by both the water and cultivation.

I pass a gin factory and a bean plantation.  A cattle feedlot appears, surrounded by planted pines – an attempt to hide the final forced growth before the trip to the slaughterhouse.

Dust Devils spring up in the cultivated fields.  Mini tornados spawned by the Monsoon winds not far behind.

Herded out of the mountains, I find myself in an almost two centuries old town.  I park on the street next to the railroad tracks and soon a freight train rumbles through town.

First stop, a cowboy museum.  Not where I expected to be, but the storm brought me here so I explore the town the same way I explore the mountain trails.  I walk the streets and feel where my body is pulled.

Of all things, I find a bar of old-fashioned lye soap to purchase.  Something suggested to me to avoid modern soaps and detergents to which I now have chemical reactions to.  I didn’t know where I might find some, and wasn’t looking for it today.  But here it is.

Next stop, an antique store.  Now the Monsoon catches up with my retreat and as the high winds blow and torrential rain pours, I take my time in this shelter of shiny objects.  Glassware, military medals, old clothing, hats and rocks and minerals.

The proprietor turns out to be a Cheyanne Indian and she gifts me with a beautiful feather.

The symbolism associated with feathers refers to ascension and spiritual evolution.  A flight to other realms, Shamanic Journeying to gain knowledge.  Feathers also represent the Thunderbeings, along with the power of the wind.  Both clearly present today.

Feathers are also used ceremonially, fanning the smoke from sacred tobacco, sage, sweet grass and cedar.  A way to carry prayers to the heavens.

The proprietor and I talk and trade stories of life as historic figures might have traded coffee and sugar for furs.  It never ceases to amaze me how we meet kindred spirits on our paths.  In the middle of nowhere.  Some 1500 miles away from where I call home and a hundred miles away from where I’m currently based, my soul recognizes a familiar soul.  Had we walked together before, a different time and place perhaps.  Had I gifted her with a power object in that past life time, a gift now returned?

As we talk, she shows me many treasures in her shop.  I elect to add one to my collection.  A piece of rutilated quartz.  Quartz with inclusions of Titanium Dioxide – golden filaments.  This stone has also been called as the “Venus Hair Stone.”  It is said to be an energy amplifier to aid meditation and intuition.  To help free one from the feelings of suffocation or strangulation.  It is also said to connect the physical and spiritual realms and to aid in bringing out one’s true spirit.  It is an illuminator for the soul.  An interesting mirror image as the heavens touch the earth with life-giving water and electrical charges.

I am gifted again with a medicine bag for the stone.

The rain, thunder and lightening now paused, I give my thanks and say my goodbyes.  I make one final stop.  The retail shop of one of the local wineries.  A glass of wine to top off the day’s unplanned adventures.  As it turns out, the store’s owner, the only person in the shop, is a displaced mid-westerner from my home area.  So, we remanence of familiar times and places we walked before our consciousnesses had connected in this distant town of less than a thousand households.

What are the odds of any of these encounters?  These gifts – all cleansing, physical and spiritual connections, healing and growth.

Such is life in free-flow.  Chance occurrences.  Chance connections.  Compelling feelings to head into the mountains, to drive to an ancient town, to walk inside certain buildings, to converse with complete strangers whom we’ve seem to have known for lifetimes.

But is anything truly by chance?

The storm cloaks the mountains I sought, chases me out of that remote natural world to a place with spiritual gifts, kind words, and communion.

It was a good day.

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Photos: All captured in the moment.  Below, a couple of shots before the rains.

Chochise Stronghold 7

Chochise Stronghold 8

Published ! Thrilled and honored that my story was published by The Urban Howl on September 12, 2018, under the title “Surrender Control & Let The Wind Take You To A New Adventure.”