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Stories from Occupied New Mexico

Jun 7, 2006
Exit. Stage West.
A Parking Whee Will Go....

The past weekend was a wonderful respite from the cold and general busy-ness. Screw the cold. Wore several layers of long johns and stuffed overnight clothes and things into the panniers and duffel bag and rode into town for the weekend. Warmed my hands over the burners of the propane stove at my friend's place after I got off the bike. :-P

Had a wonderful dinner at the Starlight visiting with local friends. Since I make it into town only once/week, these brief social gatherings are so much richer and wonderful. But usually after a day or so, I can't wait to get back to my mountainside and the quiet solace up north. This past weekend was exceptionally enjoyable!!

The next morning I rode up to the Farmer's Market at the Terlingua Community Garden. I was surprised to see the huge turnout! The excellent music combined with the sun and warmer temperatures to bring many people out of the desert and into town.




One of June's protein bars was my breakfast and I sat between Deb's table (from GSMMOTORENT) and India's table chatting with them and whomever wandered by. India may not have her restaurant anymore, but her excellent food can still be had at the Market. And June's baked goods sells out within the first two hours; her breads and pastries are well known and liked in town.

After visiting with folks, I geared back up to go for a Mental Health Ride in the Park. Besides, I needed to renew my annual National All Parks pass. Kinda funny when you know all the rangers at the entrances on a first name basis.

"How ya doing, Mary? Been busy today?"
"Not too bad, but it will pick up soon enough! Lovely day, isn't it?"

Picking up the speed and tempo, the Whee and I rode the Scenic Drive. Wasn't sure where I was going, but something called me south. The warmth of the river basin, perhaps? The colors of the tuft and ash? The gentle twists in the pavement and the undulating hills? The towering craggy mountains?
Probably all of that. And more.

One of my favorite pull-offs whispered a greeting and I pulled in to an empty parking lot. This bluff offers an amazing view over the tops of several mesas, down to the river, a sneak preview of the that slit in the plateaus and that separates one country from the other.
And there is a mountain on my seat!!




In another direction, I could see the Christmas Mountains and even the top of the mountain, where, at the base, I hope to be living in the near future. There's Santiago Mnt, too! Seems you can see forever from up here. But most of all, it's the quietness of that expanse that sometimes leaves you awestruck.

An older couple drove in to the lot in their little car. Smiles and nods; that's all that was needed. I changed the battery in my little Kodak video camera to find that the spare was dead, too. After chastising myself, I just shrugged; no more photos this ride.

I headed back south, hugging the road and switching my weight side to side with the curves. It felt like music in motion.

Castolon came into view and I realized I was thirsty. It certainly was warmer closer to the river. I bet the store had some nice cold iced tea!

Seemed I was the only person there. Even the store clerk was out judging by the sign on the door. Except for the truck, no other vehicles were around and I was the only human. For awhile.


It didn't take long before other people began arriving. A couple cars, a tourist van, and finally the store clerk. After picking out an iced tea and a small bag of crackers, I chatted with the clerk for a bit. Then sat at the picnic table, boots off, and enjoyed the warmth while reading a book I had stashed and quenching my thirst.

I took a stroll to the south end of the parking area when I remembered I had my iPad with me. Which has a camera! Better than nothing, I thought, to satisfy this compulsion to capture some of the scenes around me.



And the photos are quick to upload :) When I uploaded these few to my FaceBook page, a friend in El Paso, Federico Villalba, commented on the photo below. "That was Casa Albino. My father was born in that home, where the midwife often delivered babies to parents in the area." Another connection between the history of this immediate area and people that I know.


The grandparents of Toño Franco, another friend, were born and lived in La Coyota, one of the first small settlements along the river, and about 2 miles or so down the park road. Two of the descendents of Federico Villalba, one of the most influential and largest landowners of the land that would later become Terlingua and the National Park are my good friends. They have enriched my knowledge and connections to this area in many ways that most visitors don't have access to: the Mexican contributions to Big Bend.

Also, I have heard many stories from another connection, a Chihuahuan Mestizo of old Spanish and Tarahumara/Apache blood. Although Alfredo doesn't speak English, my good friend speaks fluent Spanish and translates his stories. And Alfredo is always so happy to speak to a Gringo that speaks and understands colloquial Mexican. ;-)

These people expand my perspectives and appreciation of this area in ways that all the informational displays and guide books lack. They share with me their personal connections, which deepens my own. I am grateful to listen to the Silent Voices of a people who were here long before the Euro-Americans came and flooded the region. Thier presence remains, as do their descendents. And I am honored and humbled to call them my friends.

After returning to town, I pulled in to visit with Dan and Deb Dickie, the folks here from Tennessee and renting out several motorcycles to visiting riders. We had some wine and chatted, then wandered over to the BB Motor Inn Store for some ice cream.

It was time to head back north soon. And, as usual, smiles and sighs of homecoming accompanied me on my ride home. After unpacking the bike and slipping into some comfy clothes, I enjoyed the remaining warmth with dinner and a wine cooler outside.

I love sitting outside here where the rich diversity of plant and animal life soothes any residual stress. Gone are the town noise, the vehicles, the lights, the rush, and dust. Here the mountains sooth me. And I love where I am.


And the moon jumped over the DR, welcoming it home from its long absence!

Jun 7, 2006
Exit. Stage West.
Smitten. Home.

I am a creature of my surroundings. Like most animals, I must live in a place that feeds my senses, my appetite, and my soul. Since losing one such place where part of me is still buried, I have waited, like a restrained cat waiting to pounce, for that place that captivates me. I think I have found it. Only time will tell now if it is to be.


It seems an almost perfect marriage between the realist, the scientist, and the sensory organism that I am. It has wonderful southern and eastern exposures and views, protection from the north and partially from the west. It feeds into my longing for both desert and mountains, for it is at the south-eastern base of a mountain. And the views in all directions contain mountains: the Christmas and Chisos Mountains, now closer than ever before. The Sierra del Carmen’s loom in the background; Rattlesnake Ridge nods a neighborly ‘Hello’, and, I sit at the skirts of this mountain, both now and hopefully in the future.


The site is barely a mile and 1/2 from the boundary of the Big Bend National Park. Below is the watershed of Tornillo Creek, that which teems with natural and cultural history as it flows east and south to the Rio del Norte. This is the land of volcanic voices; rich with red pumice, brown granite and basalt. Volcanic plugs and dikes, uplifts and rifts. I love the conversation and the myriad of geological history here, so vastly different from the limestone and bentonite endless stretches. Here, there is abundant life: birds, mammals, insects, plants, and even a diversity of people from all backgrounds.

This area is alive with color, depth and life. It sings to me in the mornings, hoots in the evenings, and glitters with stars that blanket the mountain sides with no human distraction. Instead of viewing the mountains through binoculars, now I am in them, aside them, in love with them. I sit at their skirts and they teach me; cocoon me like a baby at night. Here I am alive, young as the oldest rock and as old as the stardust that covers us.

I have a new Home. And, in the near future, I will plant my roots amongst the pumice stone. I will let the mountains soothe me. And welcome me back no matter how far or how long I should roam.

I am their child.

Jun 7, 2006
Exit. Stage West.
..... in the Spring

Weather here goes from one extreme to the other. It can be 90 degrees F one day and the next, 32F. Regardless, there's always something to do.


Took a break from this project, which is repairing someone's really bad rock work that was falling apart.


Decided to do some play time. Like taking myself for a ride. This time, I rode with someone else beside me, myself and I!


Met up with three couples and we rode our sweet time up to the Chisos Basin. Been wanting to do this and I'm embarrassed to say that it took me three months to do it. But then, play time has been scarce these last many months.

I've had dreams of cobbler and ice cream dancing in my head for many more months. So while the others ate a real lunch, I ate desert. Then had some soup. I have my priorities.....


After eating, we all went our separate ways. Me, I chose to stay in the Basin for awhile. Strolled to the Window Overlook, sat a spell, enjoyed the sunshine and the views. Put the feet up and just do some contemplatin'. Didn't even take a camera (had the iPad ;)




When I found myself longing to take a nap in the sun, I decided I'd better head back down to the desert bottom. So I can ride back up to the top. Now, If I was a crow, I'd be there in no time. I can see my mountain from the road riding down. Instead, I have to ride 60+ miles to get there. But that's okay, too. :)


Every once in awhile one has to shake the cobwebs binding them. Hit the road, let the wind and throttle guide, and just go. And that day, I did. Long needed, too. Rode the Magic Road up into the Chisos Mnts, landing at the Basin for lunch (in my case, desert). The sun was very warm, the breeze was lovely. I didn't want to leave.

Need to camp and hike in the Basin sooner than later.

Got home in time to enjoy the fading sun. Peace and quiet descends, calms and soothes. Yup. I love it here.


The next day, it starts again. This time with a new adventure. Learning to cut and weld.


And surprises never cease. A day of fog and rain, and I get some writing done! (I write and post quips on the Terlingua Ranch Lodge Facebook page about plants, animals, birds and tracking)


And life goes on. Somewhere. Here, it's my own world. :)





And welcome to it.

Jun 7, 2006
Exit. Stage West.
Stories from Too Occupied New Mexico

Seems that sometimes we go back in time to that which we try to escape. I left the metro area of DFW to Walk Away from the Empire, but the Empire follows us sometimes.

In the middle of the two busiest weeks of the year: Spring Break. When I'm not doing rock work, laying out trails, pruning, writing, and filling in at the Front Desk, there's always something else to do. But much of it is fun time, too. Such as doing this (learning to cut and weld):


and other fun things, such as being a creative knitter and howling at the moon with others by a campfire ;)


This week I enjoyed a hike with Philip who had come down to join in the annual dualsport madness. We went to one of my favorite places in the National Park, Cattail Falls. First time there with no other people! The weather was lovely; with a light cloud cover, it was warm but not hot.

Flowers were out in this oasis! Mexican Buckeye



And a member of the mint family, rare in this desert: Salvia roemeriana, or Cedar salvia (so called because it has adapted to thriving under junipers, but also thrives in oak duff)


I also suspect there might be a few specimens that have hybridized with another salvia species that does occur in the desert. One can usually identify members of the mint family because of their square angular stems, their fragrant flowers and sometimes leaves.


One of my favorite residents in this canyon is the maidenhair fern.



And.... my ultimate favorite of all the desert plants: the agave I affectionately call the Blue Dolphins. One of these I have been photographing for two years now. It still thrives, hidden away, lurking like a little child peeking out through the tangled branches and vines.



Trees and shrubs are leafing out. It is spring here in this little microenvironment.


Water dripped down from the top of the falls, the wall of the pouroff glistening, and the rich blackness sparkling here and there, streaked with white limestone down both sides as if it giant cans of paint were poured over the top of the cliff above. Water in the pools was deeper and clearer than I remember them last year.



The textures and colors were enhanced by their reflection in the largest pool of water.




I think Philip enjoyed himself and the canyon! ;-)


Since I returned home last fall, I find myself unmotivated to photograph landscapes. Seems that's all you see photographs of Big Bend, especially plastered all over the local FaceBook pages. One local posts at least 8 or more photos/day, including 3 or more sunsets. From the same spot. It gets boring. (Never thought I would say that, but I just did)

I've been practicing with depth of field and capturing smaller details of life and everything here. And there are some good opps at Cattail Falls, especially the boulders.



But I still occasionally do landscapes. Experimenting with black and white.


The next day Roger and I did Emergency Bike Rescue Duty. We waited for the dreaded call at our mutually favorite cafe; Y Poco Mas. Visited with other folks, and I got a chance to catch up on some reading.



We got The Call (TM) and drove 16 miles of Ore Road in vain, searching for the Ghost Bike. We almost got out and kissed the pavement afterwards, and tried to settle our chattering teeth and aching backs.

We also rescued a rider and disabled bike. I was surprised to see Philip patiently waiting for a ride. We were treated with a wonderful sunset as we drove out of the park and back to town. I was able to visit with several TWTers I haven't seen in a very long time, get a late dinner, and had an interesting conversation with a weary guy with short white hair. ;-) I'm not sure if he remembers our conversation at all. I thought I caught him snoring at one point. :mrgreen:

Back to rock duty and filling in at the Lodge this week, but after that, I'm going for a long and badly needed bike trip! :rider:

For now, I am glad to be home after three days in town. Surrounded by mountains, big sky, lots of birds, my Great Horned owls nesting above me, the fox that comes to visit, and the bejeweled night sky. Home :)


Jun 7, 2006
Exit. Stage West.
Thanks for the hike! Your pictures capture the majesty of the falls much better than my pathetic attempts.
That's a cool perspective! I like it!

Next time you are here, let me know. I'll take you to the Window Trail. It's like being in Hobbit Land. ;-) An all-day hike, but it is fantastic. Icing on the trail is to have cobbler and ice cream at the Chisos Basin Lodge afterwards. :trust:
And have a welding party!

I hope the DR is better?
Jun 7, 2006
Exit. Stage West.

Shorts from Outer Space


"Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it's been."

And it has been a long, tedious, strange trip since last October. Now I see my light shining.......


I enjoyed my stay in the Big Bend mountains. Enough that this is where I call Home. More rainfall, cooler temps, greater biodiversity (vegetation, wildlife, and people ;). The mountains have spoken and here I again set my roots. While I retain my part-time nomadic life. Returning to the skirt of the desert mountains will always beckon me back and it is here where my sanctuary comforts me.

This was my home this last winter and spring.


Soon this will be the view from my front patio.



Despite several negative diversions this past season, there were many positive experiences.
From new friends, dancing, volunteer work and some income projects.....


(Voni or Ara photo?)


(photo courtesy of Voni Glaves)


.....learning to weld......



...... a few rides on the bikes......




......and co-director of the Terlingua Photography Club.... (we had our first workshop -flash and light painting- thanks to Bill Carmickle).........



.....and contributor/photographer for the Terlingua Ranch FaceBook page.

Cowboy Weekend, March







Then it's time to hit the road for awhile....


Jan 25, 2005
Cypress Tx
Tell them to take good care of that back hoe , there is nothing in the current market to replace it . The new ones have gone to crap . SEYA when it cools off .
Jun 7, 2006
Exit. Stage West.
Tell them to take good care of that back hoe , there is nothing in the current market to replace it . The new ones have gone to crap . SEYA when it cools off .
I think they might be aware of that already. They did replace the old 'maintainer' (what I call a 'grader') with a newer old one :)
See you in late fall or winter, David!