Tag Archives: Wildlife

A Legend Illuminated Under Today’s Lamp of Knowledge

I wanted to go into some more specifics about the Legend I spoke of in my post, “Rabbit Hole Number 2 – Quetzalcoatlus northropi.”  That Legend involved the Aztec’s search for their land of paradise. 

One version of this Legend tells us about how a dying Shaman, and leader of his Tribe, instructed the Tribe to seek out their new “Dream.”  “Dream,” as used here, refers to the Tribe’s collective idea, or “Tonal,” or image of what their “Home” and “Society” constituted.  

A number of my posts have focused on travel and the literal, “Finding Home,”and this is no different.

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Boquillas !!! Hayarokwetu & Tʉmarʉhkaitʉ

When I began writing this series, I had no idea the words would just keep on flowing beyond a single post.  But, hey, that’s OK.  I’ve enjoyed the writing, and we finally made it to that point in the story where I get to talk about my favorite little town along the “Grand and Turbid River to the North.”  A town I actually never set foot in. 

It was, as you may guess from the titles, Boquillas del Carmen otherwise known as Boquillas !!!

Continue reading Boquillas !!! Hayarokwetu & Tʉmarʉhkaitʉ

Boquillas !!! Pahiitʉ

Now, there are a number of areas in the States that are “Big Sky Country.”   And Big Bend is one of those places.* Where the horizons stretch on forever.  A vast expanse.  It’s difficult to tell where the Earth ends and the Sky begins. 

It is a mirage within a mirage. 

The only thing offering a tethering to the ground in Big Bend are the Chisos Mountains.  They break the joint between skyline and chaparral and provide definition.  They restore the sense of gravity that would otherwise vanish completely.

In these places we get that duality of striking beauty mixed with the desolate and dangerous.  It’s enchanting and alluring here, but there is deception because if you’re not careful you could easily die from the elements. 

The population is sparse for obvious reasons.

Continue reading Boquillas !!! Pahiitʉ

Boquillas!!! Dos

When I arrived at Big Bend, half of the National Park, as well as the River running through it, remained closed to us humans due to COVID.  But, nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park, and the section of the River running through it, were still running wild and free.  No restrictions. And as I have learned in the past, one of the best vantage points to take in such alluring scenery is on the River that runs through it.  

I had booked a day-trip and was joined by two other passengers to embark on a leisurely Oar Raft tour meandering through the River’s Colorado Canyon. 

While most of my adventures involve hiking, or utilizing some other mode of travel like river rafting or horseback riding, through the wilderness, another very important part of this exploration, and of every escapade of mine, is a perusal through, and the translation of, the words describing the back country I’m reconnoitering.  (Whew! That was a big sentence.) The words themselves can relay vital pieces of history or give you some historical context. 

Or not.  😊 

Continue reading Boquillas!!! Dos

Hiking – Some Thoughts

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”

Aristotle

A while back, I posted a couple of blogs where I talked about hiking, contrasted the differences between “hiking” and “walking,” and dissected the purpose of hiking; whether it be for camping or exploring some aspect of Nature in particular, or to just connect two dots on the map.  And I also discussed the use of mantras for calling cadence, which can have miraculous effects on extending our endurance and the distance we can cover.

Our minds can overcome things our bodies cannot.  And vice versa, our bodies can overcome things our minds cannot.  Harmonizing both mind and body can make the difference between having a wonderful hiking adventure or facing a life versus death scenario.

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Returning to the Spirits: Ongtupqa – The Omega

I started out thinking of America as highways and state lines. As I got to know it better, I began to think of it as rivers.
Charles Kuralt

I have to say this quote rings true. It resonates with me because I’ve been traveling for the past four years and what I’ve discovered is that the majority of population centers I’ve encountered are centered upon Rivers.  

And it makes sense.  

In the beginnings of our hostile takeover of these lands, Rivers provided the major sources of water and food. They provided the major travel and trading routes of the time.  Those advantages persist, although they may have shifted in form.   

Many of the people whom I’ve met in these towns have lost that historical connection. They no longer see the River or feel its Presence.  They are detached from how these waterways formed the basis of their communities.* 

And more importantly, how the Rivers shaped the land. 

***

Continue reading Returning to the Spirits: Ongtupqa – The Omega

Returning to the Spirits: Ongtupqa – The Mu*

The boats fully loaded and with us all onboard, our departure eased out slowly from Lee’s Ferry.   We gracefully slid under the Navaho Bridges (Between Mile Markers 4 and 5), watching the California Condors perch on the bridges’ substructures. 

Transplanted here in an attempt to help seed their survival, Gymnogyps californianus, were slowly clawing their way back from the brink of extinction.   About forty years ago, there were only twenty-two in existence.  These magnificent birds, sporting wingspans of ten feet, glide effortlessly on the thermals.  And their numbers have now rebounded to about 500 today, spread out in Arizona, Utah, California, and Baja Mexico.

But it wouldn’t be long before this incredible peacefulness would be interrupted with the rapids, with names like, Badger Creek, Soap Creek, Brown’s Riffle, Sheer Wall, Redneck, and North Canyon.  Some were simply named for mile-markers, like 23-Mile Rapid and 23.5 Mile-Rapid. 

Where I come from, in the Midwest, . . .

Continue reading Returning to the Spirits: Ongtupqa – The Mu*

Returning to the Spirits: Ongtupqa – Zeta

Crossing the state from the Mexican border driving North, I traversed a number of different biomes.  Ecological zones spanning lower desert and high desert, thornscrub, chaparral, grassland, woodland forest, riparian, and even alpine tundra at the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff.  As I neared what would be our departure point on the Colorado, I came upon the Vermilion Cliffs at Marble Canyon, near Lee’s Ferry. 

The Stone People

They carry the history of the Earth.  These cliffs record the changing environment during the Mesozoic Era – some 248 to 65 million years ago. 

Continue reading Returning to the Spirits: Ongtupqa – Zeta

Returning to the Spirits: Ongtupqa – The Alpha

The CRACK was earsplitting!  It sounded like a tree limb exploding!  As if hit by lightning!  And I felt the blast simultaneously jolt through my left shoulder and ribs as the sound burst in my brain. 

I was disoriented in space.  Falling.  Spinning.  Tumbling.

Gravity showed no mercy as I rolled down the slickrock surface.  A surface punctuated by other large pieces of granite and ending in a pile of talus. 

The only thing breaking my fall was one of the other members of our group.  His position on the trail below crossed perpendicular to my trajectory.

But by the time he arrested my momentum, the damage was already done . . . 

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“My Destination . . .”

Photo: The Merced River in Yosemite Valley. It is insanely beautiful here. You can marvel at pictures, but they don’t capture the essence. There is great magic here.

And peace.

You have to be here to truly experience its wonder.

I traveled through Yosemite during the time of COVID restrictions, and the Silver Lining was the number of people inside the park was restricted. The experience was so much more enriched without the pollution of so many humans. 🙂

As the quote would indicate, there is an Art to “Seeing.” To shine a light on differing perspectives. To consider the Nature of a place with more than just “Sight.” To “Feel” it. To soak it all in. And to travel inward for clarity. A view from our Internal Light. Our Heart.

May we all be so bold.

***

BTW: I stole this quote from my blogging friend, Victoria Ray. You should really check out her blog. I love her writing.

The Miracle Half Mile

Being at “home” is not just being in a physical location, and arguably a physical location is not even required.  It’s a mental state of well-being.  Of being in a place where you’re not only physically comfortable, but where you’re loved and where you express your love freely.  It is a combination of all our senses – sight, hearing, touch, and even taste and smell.  Add intuition as well.  It could be in the embrace of a lover.  Or just lying in a grassy meadow by oneself.  A place of total peace and contentment.  And every adventure of ours will hopefully bring us a step closer to finding such a magical place . . .

***

Continue reading The Miracle Half Mile

Elsewhere

I dislike beginning another blog with a chant about being absent for a while, but there it is.  I’ve not been here.  I’ve been elsewhere.

But where is “elsewhere?”

I kind of like that word.  In fact, if I ever incorporated a township, that’s what I’d name it – Elsewhere.  And everyone would be invited to go there and take a mental vacation.  And better yet, while you were there you could conjure up any type of reality you desired.  The only limits would be the boundaries of your imagination.

Actually, I think we are all in Elsewhere every day.

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Contrasts – Isahluko 6 – Southwest versus Midwest

I had spent about five months in the Southwest, and I was beginning a roundabout meandering back to the Midwest.  A few years ago, I might have called the Midwest my stomping ground, roost, flop, backyard, or some sort of other euphemism for being settled, but now I don’t really call anywhere “home.”

That’s too big of a word.  It carries too much connotation with it.  As a dear friend put it, home has a “heart connection.” 

After being in motion for so long things become a bit disorienting, but I think that’s a good thing.  Always striving for balance and always approaching each day as if facing a totally new horizon.  You usually are.

I had been staying in a little oasis.  Multiple biomes, where desert meets water and where mountains touch the sky.  Wildlife was diverse and abundant.  Trails unending.  Floating on soft ground.  Even rocky trails seem to give way and bend with your footsteps.  Meditative dreaming.

I made a turn west and found an incredible extreme in Yuma.  Desolate.  Sand baked to concrete in 108-degree temps.  Wind farms, sun farms, RV parks, hellacious cross winds, no visible wildlife.  In stark contrast, there was deep blue water, but it was running in cement canals siphoning from the Colorado river.  All to be used for local agriculture or industry.  No longer feeding the Earth.  No longer reaching the Sea.

I continued on for a brief visit to the ocean, the absolute opposite of Yuma, and turned right this time heading back towards the center of the country.  With a slight divergence north, I was now in 40 to 60-degree temps, picturesque mountains, spring-fed streams, towering vegetation, wildlife on steroids.  Simply amazing.

Mid-world again, I find myself on an asphalt trail.  No longer the soft earth.  No longer the coating of dust on my boots.  It’s an old section of railway.  The lines defunct, the tracks were torn up and they were paved over.  There are many paths like this here and they’re all named after the railroad that used to glide down the missing rails.  The Great Western Trail, Blue River Rail Trail, Katy Trail, Rock Island Trail.  The list goes on.

They’re hard on the feet, ankles and knees, but they can wind through some beautiful countryside and trace serpentine waterways.  But they’ll also be close to civilization.

One of the first contrasts I notice upon being back is the humidity.  I had been in the high desert, north and south – clean, crisp air – warm in the south, cool in the north.  The barren desert, with no trace of moisture.  And the coastal region, where gentle sea breezes moderate the air.  Here the humidity is so thick you could cut it with a machete.  I struggle to breathe, feeling a heavy weight on my chest. 

The high desert was full of wildlife, but it largely moved in silence.  Here the air is abuzz with birds and insects.  A constant hum, chirp or chattering.  Even the squirrels have something to say – clicking and barking.  Warding you off.  An angry wren gives its warning call when I get too close to its nest. 

The vegetation is radically different.  While both parts of the country share oaks, willows and sycamores, the varieties here are much larger.  Leaves can be ten times the size of those in the southwest.  So much more rainfall here to feed their roots, nourish their trunks, spread to their leaves.  They grow 65 to 85 feet tall, not 20 to 30.  A full-grown oak here can put 200 gallons of water into the air each day.  Respiration.  Humidification.  To come down as rain again later when icy winds in the upper atmosphere collide.

Plus, there are also hickories, elms, maples, sumac, sweet gums, catalpas, walnuts, cherries, plumbs, olives, locust, hedgewood, redbuds, dogwoods, and buckeyes.  Too many to name them all.  Most are second and third generation, or younger, this area having been clear-cut by the pioneers.  But a few first generation trees still remain.  Older than your grandparents and with trunks so huge it takes four or five people holding hands to reach around their circumference.

The stream beds here aren’t pristine like those I saw out west.  They’re totally polluted.  Agricultural runoff from crops and feedlots.  Toxic algae blooms.  Industrial waste.  Discarded trash.  Plastic bags.  These waters haven’t experienced respect in a long time. Fish still survive in them, but I wouldn’t eat them.

And there is a different kind of people here too.  In the high desert I encountered fellow hikers. Luminous glows.  Shining eyes.  Happy to be in nature.  Thrilled to say hello.  Knowing you were sharing the experience.

Here there are few enjoying nature.  A couple walks their dog, but turn away as you pass.  The homeless.  Looking for a place to wait out the day, and for another to stay warm at night.  Drinking two forty-ounce beers for breakfast.

Yes, there is still staggering beauty here, but also some depression.  Weight. 

It seems harder to settle in each time I come back. 

But along comes a familiar face.  A beam of light.  I wrote about this person before.  Maybe I’ll encounter more of the radiant.

There is hope . . .

***

Photo: Along the trail that skirts both countryside and city.  With pretty streams, but of polluted waters.  Through towering trees, but on an asphalt ribbon.  Many contrasts . . .

I wrote about this town in Echoes of Home.  And I hope this piece doesn’t sound overly depressive.  After you’ve experienced other amazing places it is an adjustment to return to what you’ve become accustomed to seeing as being mundane.  But persons visiting this area for the first time will probably be amazed at the unique beauty and history here 🙂

Prior Chapters of Contrasts:

Contrasts – Kapitel 1

Contrasts – Hoofstuk 2: Which Animals Do You Watch?

Contrasts – κεφάλαιο 3 – Cabrillo National Monument

Contrasts – Chapitre 4 – Two Museums

Contrasts– 第5章 – Wild Spaces