Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lonely Whazoo's Thanksgiving

Before I start, let me share a video of my youngest daughter's little Chihuahua, Daisy, as she tries on new snow boots to come see us in Durango...if you need a laugh as much as I do, click on the picture.

Did someone say encore? No? Well I certainly wouldn't think so. But the way this year has gone finds me doing something I used to enjoy, a trip report, in my search for normalcy. This has been a strange year where things haven't been quite right. Like being transported from one place to another yet not put back together in the right order with thought patterns, emotions and synapses all having shifted just a little. Like Supertramp said, "Not Quite Right."

We left Phoenix after 20 years, leaving kids and other family to move to Durango, a place that seems like heaven on earth for us. Lynn has made the move effortlessly yet part of my personality didn't make the transporting, didn't all beam back together. This sad piece of a trip report is my effort to find a little of what is yet missing. I'll apologize upfront for the post. I'll be gone in a moment...

This is the first Thanksgiving in 34 years Lynn and I had been apart and not camping together as a family. Packed and ready to go, our last dog of four, Little Anne, died on our couch the night before we were to leave. We now have just one ol tomcat left out of 4 dogs and 3 cats.

In our shared depression, Lynn went to Phoenix to visit our girls. Supposedly staying in Durango, I decided to go camping solo, the silence of the house crushing what little spirit I had. We had a very long run of incredible animals.

The huge winter storm that covered most of the U.S. on Thanksgiving week made a mess of the places I had planned to go. With a couple of days of above freezing temps the roads of snow were now roads of mud. I do as little mud as possible in my old age of not being able to bend over at the car wash like I used to, trying to spray those hard-to-get-to areas.

That limited my options as every dirt road I wanted to drive was a quagmire. Now I don't really know what quagmire means, but if I had a quag and it was mired I imagine it would be very depressing. Not wanting to be any more depressed it became a priority to keep the quag un-mired.

Ending up on a canyon overlook you would never know it was there. It too was mired...in fog, a fogmire.

It teased me, the fog. Pieces of blue sky, almost enough to make a Dutchman a pair of pants, would show through and my depression would lighten.

I waited. Taking a few pictures now and then, I felt to be in that Clint Eastwood movie "Play Misty For Me," as the misty fog would move right back in. I left that overlook without ever seeing the canyon I knew to be there.

Several miles away I broke into the eternal sunshine of a fogless mind. Looking back I could see an incredible fog bank, coming straight up the canyon wall, that ran for miles. I would learn later that the winter inversion layer ran for hundreds of miles covering the entire 4 Corners area all the way to the Grand Canyon.

Having busted the fog bank I had some great views as rock spires played hide and seek.

Wondering where to go, another possibility for me was a route not taken before. That road became a wash.

I left, taking as little mud as possible.

We have started, at this late stage of tc camping, to collect decals for the camper. Can I tell you how hard it is to find decals anymore? It seems they are few and far between, a vestige of earlier days.

A spur road led to a higher campsite and to a canyon without a road though the map said there was one. The fog had lifted here and the sun with blue sky made for a not so lonely evening...of missing a little black dog.

A fabulous evening, a fabulous walk.

Finding ruddy jaspers...

and something I don't see often in the desert, green moss, looking like my Uncle Si chia pet.That tells me that these crevices hold on to moisture longer than most giving chlorophyll a chance to do it's work.

Then I stumbled across something that made my jaw drop, a shoe print in rock. Hardened sandstone actually, yet very old. It left me with the thought of Anasazis wearing Brogans, size 11. If I'm lyin I'm dyin, take a look in the middle of the picture...

This guy had been shadowing me for a while now. I knew by looking that a couple of things were wrong with the picture. First off he was taller than me. Second of all, well you figure it out, I don't know what's missing.

Then another footprint, bare this time, and perfect. I'm either traveling back in time as I walk or have discovered that man did indeed walk with the dinosaurs. You decide.

Temps were dropping while walking back to the truck, mired in thought about ancient footprints.

Not having my wife or a dog to model for me I reverted to the only model left, the incredible tc. Ok, the scenery is pretty good too yes?

My pareidolia was acting up again, as I saw a feline with headdress and tail pointing to the right while arms and hands wave to the sky. I hope I'm not being catty when I say that.

A little post processing made the Comb show up a bit more than normal, it's not a good picture though and wasn't to begin with. It was Thanksgiving night. Chicken and dumplings for this boy. Not just any C&D, oh no. Lynn makes the best chicken and dumplings this side of heaven. In fact, her's is so good that if the Devil were to get his taste buds around a spoonful, well he'd find religion real fast. I went to bed excited about the next days hike.

Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a Comb across my head. Went downstairs and had a cup. Looking up I noticed it was cloudy. Wait, what? That wasn't in the song. Where did "cloudy" come from? It was fabulous last night. Man, what a downer. At least it was an out-of-towner-downer and not a home alone kind of thing. That made it better. And a guy needs to make the best of his surroundings. Did John Wayne say that? Hiking anyway, it was 28 degrees out the door. I've learned this week that 28 is balmy, with an overnight low and wind chill down to -20º in Durango, my new home town.

"Stop" said the creature with stick-like appendages. "Don't go into the Forbidden Zone. You will never come back."

Totally ugly skies made me look down more. Made me pine for a sunny day. Did I say pine? Did I say a very little pine? My gosh look here, in this tiny hole in a rock. Jeff Goldblum said one of the most profound things I've ever heard in Jurassic Park, "Nature will find a way." Indeed it does. It may not last long, live to fruition, but it's here now for me to see.

Still looking down I saw a game trail...

And deer me I saw that game abounds there. Animals understandably know the in's and out's of most places wild.

Feeling game I too bounded down the trail, noticing that man, even in the seemingly remotest of places, (is "remotest" a word?) leaves his mark...or beer.

Coming to some rock ledges I saw some type of bird's nests. (This is weird isn't it? Reduced to taking bad pictures of ugly bird nests?) But it made me wonder if they were snowbirds, seeing no sign of recent nesting.

With a swallow and a tern I left the area for hopefully better pictures.

Walking along I had Tiny Tim in mind as I did a tiptoe through the crypto and I wondered, would that have been a hit? " "They" say it's live dirt with cryptobiotic organisms at work. I wanted to knock and see, was anybody home? Yet not knowing what "cryptobiotic" means, I crypt by as quietly as possible.

Following the game trail, I was heading down. Which was the way I wanted to go.

Reaching the bottom and walking up canyon gave me what I was looking for. A new place to call home. It was a fixer-upper.

What looked to be a kiva had been exposed just a bit.

The alcove walls were so covered with loose dirt it was hard to see the rock art underneath.

But it was obvious by the grooves in the wall where they had sharpened their pencils.

Then there was this self portrait of Kilroysazi.

While bending over to take this picture from a lower angle, I sneezed. True story. Now you know that sneezing while bent over tightens some muscles and loosens others. You think you know where I'm going with this? Well let me tell you that my sneeze went into those ruins, picked up amplification and came back out the window as an echo five times louder than from my own mouth, and almost, I say almost, caused an accident of epic proportions. Cheese and rice it scared me butt good.

Looking inside it was apparent that the fire was made in the lower room. Telling me that these people were smart enough to have in-floor heating on the upper level. Not having a wide angle lens I'm hoping you can see enough to make the same deduction.

It was time to leave, hiking up-canyon I was surprised to see water instead of ice.

Something else I noticed, being focused on the ground instead of dismal skies, were the Moki steps ground into the rock. The picture may not make them too visible but this was obvious to me as the main thoroughfare along the rock of ages.

Finally I could see home on the range.

I had one more night to spend. Wanting to live long and prosper I tried to get as high as possible by taking a road to the top of the ridge under seldom-seen blue skies.

I pulled into a spot that was the trifecta, the triple P, Pea Picking Perfect. And you, dear friends, can no longer say that I'm off by half a bubble.

Well it was pert darn near perfect. I don't guess that rock under the step was an issue...

Cold but clear, it was a good place.

The air force was doing maneuvers...

Trees and brush on fire...

Oh what a difference a day makes when it comes to weather, whether you want it or not. My last morning was more of the same dreary clouds and fog and for once I was looking forward to going home.

Without my wife to take pictures I was surprised to find how hard it was to get back in and close the door at this angle.

Back home I had to beat some of what little mud I had collected with a hammer to get it to fall off. It's no wonder those ancient houses are still standing.

All I can say is that the trip was good and bad at exactly the same time. It was good to be out in any weather, but under depressing circumstances every moment was forced. Driving back through Cortez I gave my wife a call. She had left Phoenix sometime that morning and we hadn't touched base yet. When she answered I asked where she was, "Cortez, at the gas station." I pulled in right behind her less than a minute later. Now that's radar love. Looking at the last picture here I came up with a moral. No kidding, can I say that, a trip report with a moral? When things are foggy, cloudy and depressing, find the light and go for it...and enjoy it while it's there. Because we, are, not, in, control.

Thanks for reading,

Whazoo's Thoroughly Worthless Thoughts:
I hear talking urinal cakes are all the rage, though I've not seen or heard one yet. I hope they're complimentary and have a soft feminine Swedish voice that say's something like "Hello there big fellow. Ya, I'm glad you dropped by today." Instead I'm sure they are ad driven. Probably with a voice like John Wayne it will say something more like "Howdy Pilgrim. Why don't ya, get a hold of yore self and, march on over to Serious Texas Barbecue. Get yore hands on some real beef."

I also hear so many conversations about "hashtag" this and "hashtag" that. Why don't they call it what it was back in the day, a food fight?

Also, advice to those that travel with an already opened aerosol can of whipped cream. For pumpkin pie. You might consider taping the cover on that can with duct tape. If that cover comes off and the can lodges up against the nozzle you'll pull into camp with a mess on your hands. Don't ask me how I know. Just know that the stuff dries like Elmer's Glue.

Originally posted on rv.net 12/11/13

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