Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Observations from the Road Trip NM to TX from 10/3

I made it in once piece! Thank you new, old car for behaving. I am up on the third floor of a vanilla cookie-cutter condo complex where I will be living for the next few months at least. I would rather be grounded in an adobe in Santa Fe, but this is a great location so near Barton Springs and away from campus. I will have an entirely different and freeing experience of Austin living here with a car for the first time. 

The trip back: I stopped at White Sands first, walking across a bone white beach in the middle of a dessert. Shadows, footprints, heat, prominent. 

A few hours later and south, I drove through Lincoln National Forest. Tall pine trees, high elevation, cool air and a ski resort! I could have been back in the enchanted circle around Taos even though Texas is very close.  

I reached Carlsbad and my first couchsurfing destination at 7:30pm. I immediately knew this is a strange town and a weird house. Too many pets, not so well cared for, and my allergies acted up which they never do with animals. The highlight of that stay: watching a Ken Burns special on PBS about national Parks, which focused a lot that night on Acadia National Park and my childhood home. Anyway, my host lady had a good heart so I  knew I was safe, but I was out of there before the sun rose the next morning. Took back roads to get to Sitting Bull Falls just as the sun woke up. Water oasis and waterfalls in the middle of rocky dryness. A tarantula marched across the middle of the road. Jack rabbits, cows chewing cud, ravens, lizards. Every other turn presented wildlife. 

Carlsbad caverns by 10am. I loved wandering through the cool, damp, darkness. Stillness. For 2.5 hours. On the surface again, an insect buzzed past. The ranger told me the bug was a spider hawk. "They sting and paralyze tarantulas then flip them over on their stomach and lay their eggs in the new host nest," she explained. Mother nature. What a way to go.

Then straight on to Marfa. A touch of sadness leaving New Mexico and the changing seasons. Now I see "Don't mess with Texas" don't litter signs and "Adopt a highway signs" too frequently for comfort. West Texas beckons. Golden flat land stretching out to meet purple mountains. At one point I am encircled on every side by a mountain range. In Mafra, I met Daeryl, my second couchsurfer of the trip. I realized immediately we have a lot in common; her path is one I feel drawn to. She is a graphic and book designer and also a healer.

She showed me the local view of the town and she seems to know each person. I love the aspect of saying hi to everyone! First stop: a wine tasting at the new alternative market, The Get Go. Then on to Jett's for dinner where Daeryl introduced me to a wealthy Marfa benefactor, Mr. Crowley, who spends a lot of his money improving Marfa for the public. For example, he built a shade structure for the farmer's market and he turned an old building into a theater - he pays the expenses so bands like Bon Iver can play for only $2!

After Jett's, we migrated to Maya's. I wish I'd waited to have dinner there and I'll definitely have to come back! I tried their divine lemon-pistachio cake with prickly pear ice cream. Yum! The bar tender, a 24 year old Marfa native, chatted with Daeryl and I for a while. Last stop, the last place open, Padre's, where we ran into some of the same folks who had been at the other places. Called it a night and walked home to Daeryl's adorable home. You would never guess, from looking at the cracked, brown exterior, that a space of such peace exists within. White walls and floor, art, tomatoes drying on the table. I asked Daeryl more about her life. As it turns out, she recently wrote a book called "Opening the Window to the Soul" which she designed and self-published and sells on her talking tours around the country. In fact, she will be speaking for free in Austin the end of October and that is just too much of a call to ignore. 

Up before dawn again so I could make it through Big Bend and back to Austin in one day. Arrived at Big Bend at 9am and hiked through the painted gap trail. A colorful black and yellow grass hopper and a few campers, some pink desert flowers, a hare. Giant yucca making the times feel prehistoric. After all this, I still found myself in Fredricksburg at 5 and picniced near enchanted rock because I had to see it since I was near. No time to unwind much until now: I spent the day following Big Bend at ACL, experiencing only one day of the music festival this year. I am glad about that. Its pouring rain today, I have no plans until an after show at 11pm, can do as I please, and no one knows where I am.

Monday, October 5, 2009

From The 29th of September, hiking with aspens

Went for a gorgeous hike with Kelly today through the changing aspen and here and there patches of snow. Absolutely stunning peace and majesty. Unusual 70 degrees up in those mountains and an unbelievable number of people out enjoying their sunday. Good to see. On the drive home, I think the topic of mean and angry people came up somehow. Kelly said she likes being her. "You're stuck with you all the time," she said. Its true. And if you really think about that, why would you possibly put up with being a mean and angry you when you don't have to? I am so grateful I am me. And I got to be with me on 7 miles or so of Pecos Wilderness trail with someone who likes being her too.

I keep experiencing deja-vu today. Its happened four times. I think that happens when transitions are taking place. Kinda strange. Is mercury still in retrograde? Does that make any difference? I swear, this month, I've been loosing things and forgetting things and leaving room for distraction. I also had a very weird, real dream last night that I am remembering right now. I don't remember it all, only splices. On a boat with a young girl who is making people disappear, but not in a malicious way. And one guy on the boat is someone I knew from my volunteer experience in England two years ago. She makes this guy disappear and he ends up simultaneously in two new places: in one instance, he is a performer in a strange play and in another, he is a carnivorous dinosaur in a landscape that looks like New Mexico, the meadow where I went hiking today - before I even saw it. And the dinosaur is laying eggs. Maybe all this is just the cause of karaoke, movie size boxes of reces pieces, hula hoops, and cat-faced spiders too close to bedtime the night before? In any event, its fun to record. 

Also, this morning, I saw my first black widow. Nicole pointed her out to me. She was crawling along the siding of our house. Her sticky web spans the crevice between flower pot and ground. There are spiders everywhere this time of year. Great, I've probably set myself up for some new and crazy dream tonight!