A Travellerspoint blog

November 2009

Into the Wild

Don't worry, I got back out.

40 °F

large_DSCN6156.jpgDSCN6160.jpgThis is us before I go into the wild. It has just rained and the mountains are misty and beautiful.

There is so much gear and crap to get out of the car that I am, of course, overwhelmed and moving slowly because I don't know what to do first. This is something I'm trying to cure of myself, and this trip actually did the trick. V gets most of it and I carry it into the woods.

I have Perp Jr. (the purple hiking backpack), filled with everything including the tent. I have two plastic bags tied to it filled with more stuff. That reminds me of when we had too much on the back of Perp and we would hang plastic bags on the speakers. I'm carrying the gallon of water and the saddlebag suitcase with the blow up mattress. It was about 150 lbs of stuff. I had fresh fruit, dried fruit, 2 lbs of peanuts, bread, sunflower seeds, and a few other foods. I had no meat. I told V that I would either catch my meat or I'd get skinny.

I am in the mountains north of Sedona in the Coconino National Preserve. The area I'd chosen was gorgeous. There were lush, tall evergreens everywhere and rocky cliffs artfully popping out of these mountain forests. The rocks were mostly standard gray, but there were some white, yellow, and the red rock of the Sedona. It was such a beautiful mix. I told V that parts of the area north of Sedona looked like paradise. All they needed were a bunch of waterfalls pouring over the cliffs. My absolute favorite areas had cabins and houses, so I figured I wouldn't be able to camp there. I settled for an area higher, colder, and not as beautiful. But, as I've learned on this trip, people are very kind and happy in places that others don't want. When you have the best place, you worry about others trying to crowd in or take it. It becomes a big stressful fight. It's often better to go for the second best place nearby because no one notices it.

The pines are tall and healthy, but the forest floor has been cleared haphazardly. Sharp points of roots and bushes are sticking up everywhere and medium sized trees have been cut and piled into teepees everywhere. They should have just had a controlled forest fire. V says that they probably sell the firewood.

I see a trail winding through the woods, back and forth underneath a telephone line only about 15 feet off the ground. I figure that it's animal because that would be a weird trail to make, "Let's get outa town and into nature! There's trees, and birds, and cliffs, and telephone lines?" When it hits the road down a ways I see a trailhead. The sign is an old piece of rusted metal with lettering etched through the metal (probably with a torch). It says, "trail #72 - Telephone." OK...The park service is really running out of ideas.

I grab all 150 lbs of stuff and climb up some rocks; hmm, south facing overhang that fits the tent. But, it's within sight of the trail and blocked by trees. It would be cold. I climb on, but first I take some branches off a cleared pile and cover all the stuff. I'm getting comfortable and relaxed. My vacation is starting. I happily climb.

Posted by - Rain 16:00 Comments (0)

Dunes of Time

Here are some emails from Gini (from Tai Chi) and I that I'd like to post b/c I am lazy and want to capitalize on my time spent story telling:

Hi Vanessa,

You are seeing places I have been in my long distant past. We lived a year in El Paso (1959) and went to White Sands several times. We saw it again a few years ago and the sand had plants growing up through it quite a bit. When we were there the first time it was all just like sugar. Maybe I have a picture.

Next email:
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Then here is my response back to Gini with a few additions:

Hey you found a picture! I love the car in the background! You guys look so authentically 50's (probably b/c it was 59, but that still gets me). And I love that you went barefoot. I was in sandals in the beginning, but then the sand kept getting into them, and I had to keep shaking them out. Then I was thinking... humph, this is my first white sandy beach... why am I wearing sandals? It was like 100 times better after I got my shoes off. My favorite part was skiing down one of the dunes, the sand up to my knees, and just watching as the sand billowed down in front of me. I was worried at one point that I might go too deep, but it wasn't that big of a dune, so by the time I started to worry, the sand already began to shallow to the ground.

Then when I hit El Paso I was surprised that nobody had a southern accent. I was like "hey, I'm in Texas!" but then it seemed just like everywhere else down south. It even reminded me of Utah.

Pic from El Paso:
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Pic from Utah:
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Doesn't it kinda look like I just zoomed in on the mountains? They both have the same shape and red trees that dot them. Seeing them again made me feel like home just a bit. These mountains in Utah were right outside the restaurant where Joe and I had our first full and separate meals. The whole rest of the day I remember floating on a bit of a cloud, feeling like the people who anonymously bought us those meals are out there, and that there are many more like them. But, I'm not in Utah I remember, I'm in Texas. And I realized that I was in a different place when I hit the checkpoints leaving the state.

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I hit one leaving El Paso going to White Sands, then another going from White Sands to the Very Large Array. The first stop the guy asked me for my license and registration (something he didn't do to the 3 cars before me). Then he nodded his head, confirmed, I am suspicious. My license said I was from Ohio, but my plates (that were only temporary... making my car rather disposable) said I was from Arizona. Then he asked why I was in all the way out there if I just bought a car in Arizona. I told him that I was visiting Carlesbad Caverns (New Mexico), and was on my way to White Sands (New Mexico), and that I was only following the path my GPS was taking me, and that I was on a large road trip.

"How did you get to Arizona?"
"On a motorcycle."
"And where is you motorcycle?"
"With my boyfriend in Arizona."
"So you two rode from Ohio to Arizona on one motorcycle, then you bought a car and came on a trip to New Mexico by yourself."

He seemed to not believe me, so I explained that we were running out of vacation time, and he wanted to see Arizona, and I wanted to see New Mexico, and I couldn't take being on the back of the motorcycle any more, and that buying a car was a sound investment since we were on our way to relocating in California and I would need my own transportation separate from him when we got there anyways. He didn't seem to like that story either (if he only knew the truth!) That's when he asked me to open my trunk ("I do not consent to search!" - sorry Bill, I actually didn't say that. I really just popped my trunk). He didn't even ask the semi driver to open his cargo hold (is that what they're called?). How many Mexicans can I fit in my trunk anyways? One? Maybe two? The semi driver could fit at least 30, you'd think he would take the extra second to check the semi before checking me. Thankfully he didn't ask me to step out of my car though, because my driver's seat looks like it had been searched with a knife for hidden stashes of crack.

He let me go on my way, and I got to see White Sands, which was beautiful, but not a place I wanted to hike in long. It was really hot there, and I got dehydrated a little when I only hiked for a half hour. It wasn't the need of water that made me leave though, it was the fact that the trial was a 3 hour hike through the dunes, and I guess desert just isn't my thing, because I got a little bored just walking between dunes and seeing almost the exact same thing around every corner.

Then I headed back out onto the road, and it took me back near El Paso, and I hit another search point. This one had a dog though, so I wasn't harassed too much.

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The guy did want to check my GPS though to confirm where I said I was going.

"Where are you heading?"
"Phoenix" I don't know why I said that, it sounded like Flagstaff, and I had been there so often, it just came out I guess.
"Phoenix! You shouldn't be on this road if you are heading to Phoenix!"
"Well, I mean I'm heading to Flagstaff first, then going down to Phoenix..."
The plot thickens. I eventually make up a story about picking up a friend in Flagstaff to see a concert in Phoenix.
"What concert?"
They had my license plate info now, so I didn't want to lie about the concert in case they went online and checked later, so I told them "The Flying Monkey Machines." He raised his eyebrow at that one. "They were friends of mine in high school, and they have a small gig at a bar in Phoenix that I promised I'd go to if I was in the area at the time... and the timing just worked out." Surprisingly I guess my stories were outlandish enough to warrant a little poking and prodding at, but cohesive enough to have to be true (because who makes up shit like that?)

I think I was so believable because I base all my lies on truth (just like Michal Weston in Burn Notice). I really did have friends in high school who were in a band called "The Flying Monkey Machines" and I really was heading to Flagstaff to Phoenix on several points on this trip. Finally I really was planning on relocating after my road trip, its just that my road trip also included Hawaii, Asia, and relocating in Australia rather than the simple "California" I told him.

Anywho, Joe spent the week at the Sedona, and he says he has some videos for me to upload from that, so I'm sure that if there isn't any Tai Chi, there will at least be some sort of martial art video of him in the Sedona to watch.

Posted by - Rain 08:58 Comments (8)

The Difference Between

Being a Granddaughter and a Daughter

I don't know how many people know this, but I am claustrophobic (hence why I mention claustrophobia all through the blog). Where does a grandmother of someone who is claustrophobic send her on her trip southwest?

All sorts of Native American pueblos, and places like White Sands (that I will be visiting tomorrow, but because of the wonders of technology and my inability to keep up with blogging, you will get to see a day early):

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I know it looks like snow, but its really not. Here are my feet digging into the white sand to prove it!

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Now that was a strange site. There were all of these picnic benches not facing the ocean. That's the one thing this place really needed, a large body of water. It was just too hot and dry without one (hence it being a desert, I know I know).

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And yes, while that really makes it look like a snow plow, it really was a sand plow. Pretty cool.

Now to where a mother of a claustrophobic daughter?

Carlsbad Caverns:

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Don't get me wrong, both places are beautiful, but come on... I was freaking out. It was about an hour hike into the big section of the cave, and to get there, it was steep, dark, and in some places tighter than I would have preferred. To top it off, remember that I am alone here in off season, so while I would see the occasional person, there weren't that many. It added to the majesty of the place, but I did notice that just by knowing that other people were there I would start to breath easier. Then there was this:

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An original rope later used to explore the caves. Yeah, they didn't let us go into that part.

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I started to breath normal again once I got into the Big Room partly b/c it was so spacious, and partly b/c I was getting accustomed to the fact that I was more than 3 Statue of Liberty's worth of distance beneath the surface of the ground. I kinda blacked out a half dozen times or so, but there were plenty of railings for me to hold onto until I got my sight and head back on straight. Then there was the coup de grace, which for anyone who has ever been in any building with me over 2 stories, you will know why this was just the cherry on top:

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Taking the elevator was pretty much the only way back up. On the way up the woman operating the lift began talking about her training for car to car rescue for when the elevators break down... and I just had to laugh. It actually made the ride less of a problem to hear her unknowing attempt to make me cry. But when the elevator doors opened, I still ran out just as quickly as I usually do.

I wanted to watch the bats fly out of the cave at night, but they had flown south to Mexico about 2 weeks before I got there. So I left after watching a video where they show the bats leaving for the night to hunt. Then I slept in a camp ground in the Guadalupe Mountains above Carlsbad Caverns (which was surprisingly the warmest nights sleep on my entire week vacation from Joe.

Posted by - Rain 16:33 Comments (3)

Dooo ^Doooo Dooo ^^Dooo ^^^^Dewwww Dooooooooooo

Bummm ^Bumm ^^Bum Bum ^Bummmmm

Roswell!

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I'm so excited! I drive into town and I totally plan to eat at some diner called the Crash Down (or something else cool) where the waitresses wear outfits with aliens on them and hats with glittery tentacles.

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I keep driving down main street, but after 2 blocks, the alien attractions stop. The place kinda reminds me of Lakewood (no offense, but I was disappointed). I just need to find the visitor center, then they will tell me where all the trendy touristy stuff is. I keep driving... I can't find the damn place. I turn around once I pass all the motels and hit the middle of nowhere. I must have passed the Military Institute like 4 times looking for the visitor center. So I finally took a picture of the damn cannon shooting the tree.

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I drove around some more until I realized that there were less than a dozen places in Roswell that had anything alien, and they all existed in a 2 block radius. So I went to the UFO Museum. There they asked me for $5. I looked around at what I could see, and the place reminded me of a Junior High poster fair, but not as creative. You know, where you staple your report and some pictures to a big fold up poster board and glue the occasional artifact. I ask the woman if there is anything else in Roswell... touristy. She kinda shakes her head and gives me one squinted eye that tells me "Not really." She gets out a pamphlet and circles some free art museums that I should go to, and then points out the free zoo, and then finally the National Park that is not too far away.

Defeated and really smelly, I start searching for a motel. I go to the motel 6, which is not a motel, but a hotel, and doesn't have nearly close to 6 rooms, but more like 3 stories of rooms. I am not hopeful of a decent price, but they had an indoor pool, and I really wanted a pick me up. "How much for one person?" "85 plus tax" I was almost going to as her how much for 2 people, wondering if they worked on the same system as grocery stores (buy in bulk).

So I drove around and found the place that looked run down, but wasn't (I'm getting a good eye for these diamonds in the ruff). He tells me $40 plus tax. I sighed, and honestly asked if he knew of any motels that were closer to around $30. He said that he could give me a queen bed rather than the king bed for $30. Wow, I didn't think that it would work, mostly b/c I wasn't trying to pull anything, I was really ready to keep looking around. They also had free cereal and juice for breakfast. I was sold. I asked them if there was anything touristy here, and they looked at me like "why?" I clarified "You know, like aliens and UFOs?" They smiled at me and kinda chuckled "No, just the UFO Museum, that's about it. We don't really have any of that stuff in Roswell." Okkkaaayyyyy...

When I walk into the room, my throat immediately clenches up (like when you watch a sad movie and you're trying not to cry and you get that burning sensation in the pit of your throat). I check the door next to mine, and it has to no smoking sign that my door lacked. Now, I'm not as bad as some of my family where they can't even be around someone smoking. I've been to bars and concerts, and the fresh smoke doesn't bother me. Its when the smoke has made itself part of a cars upholstery I have to sit in or my bed I desperately want to sleep in, that I start having problems. I was on the phone with my mom at the time, and I let out a plethora of colorful metaphors that she apparently has learned to subconsciously tune out. When I went back to the front desk, they were gone (who leaves a hotel unmanned at 5pm?) Hungry, I decide to get some dinner. I really want pizza since Joe dislikes getting pizza, so I'm looking for a place and I pass a CiCi's. I know I cannot eat a whole buffet worth of food, so I go in and ask for one med. pizza for 4.99 to eat tonight and tomorrow (I have a fridge and microwave). Well, the med. pizza w/ one topping is the same price as the all you can eat soup, salad, and pizza bar where they will make you whatever pizza you want, with whatever toppings, with whatever number of slices all for $4.99. So, of course, I went for the buffet.

While there I called the front desk, and they were back. I explained the situation, and they told me when I got back they would have a non-smoking room I could switch to. The place was really nice, and it even had a wonderfully comfortable sofa!

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I watched a little man vs. wild and thought of Joe (sorry he's not here b/c it seems a waist to pay for a room for only one person, but glad I get the TV and the computer all to my self). I wrap everyone's presents that I'm still procrastinating on sending (b/c I can), and I set up the computer to get ready for some blogging. Then I think, I can blog at any Starbucks, but I can only watch Castle at a motel (I miss Firefly, and Castle is my replacement).

After an episode I decide to take a very long shower (my neck was throbbing from having bad posture while wrapping). There is no warm water. I turn the cold nob to see if they are mislabeled, but cold water comes out of that too. I decide to leave the shower running, hoping that the hot water heater kicks in, while I watch another episode. But when I check the water on commercial breaks, it is still freezing. After the episode I decide to try and see if the cold water nozzle was in fact the hot water, and I have patience this time, and I waited a few minutes... Hot water! The sink was the same way. I wondered if in India they thought of hot water not like polar ice caps, but like the base of a flame. The hottest part of the flame is blue, and the coolest part was red, just like the hottest stars are blue, and the coolest ones are red, our sun, being right in the middle, is yellow. Now don't you feel re-educated?

That night I was supposed to get up and look at the Leonid meteor shower, but this was my first nights sleep not in the back of a car in over a week, and I didn't want to get up. Also, the boys in the room next to me were really rowdy and kept setting off car alarms (of their own cars... I checked). So, not feeling like getting into conversation with a bunch of drunk guys, I kept to my warm bed.

The next morning I set out to find the damn visitors center (I finally got a real address to plug into the GPS online), and I finally found it. Their sign that says, here is the visitor center, is just a sign on the far right of the building on the ground and back always from the street. Their mail box was a sweet R2D2 though! (I always forget that Star Wars characters are considered "aliens." Chewy is a Wookiee, Wicket is an Ewok, and R2D2 is a droid. The other side characters with blue skin and such are the aliends, the others are.. well, like I said: Wookiees, Ewoks and droids.)

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The woman inside was extremely helpful, but again, she confirmed that if I wanted anything alien, I had to go to that 2 block radius downtown and see the UFO Museum. But before she let me go, she made me pose with the poster that I guess all our misunderstandings of Roswell comes from:

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When they have their UFO Festivals. Unfortunately, their next festival isn't until 2010, but she said that if I was really interested in extraterrestrials and the like, that I simply had to come back to Roswell for the Festival, because I would absolutely not be disappointed. Oh well, story of the trip, right place, wrong season.

So, here is my actual art walk:


Wait, I'm at Starbucks and I just heard something that I need to write down before I forget.

Man to woman: "Yeah, like the time you texted me LOL and I thought it meant Lots of Love? I was like, "How do I respond to that? I love you too? *laughter from both* I mean, what do you say to that?"

The girl is bent over laughing at this point. They are both in suits (no jacket) and obviously work together, but you can tell that the situation was so funny, not because he misunderstood, but because they both seem to want the first meaning to be the truer one.

Anyhow, now to my art walk:

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(Above Georgia O'Keeffe)

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(Above Native American symbol that has been on most of their artwork. It is usually a silhouette, so the meaning of the tired warrior coming home was harder to infer, and kinda cool to hear described by this little old Native American woman who I bought something with the warrior in silhouette painted on it.)

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(Above Title: Strike Anywhere, Materials: Match boxes)

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(Above Grave said Trinity Site, and described how all the bomb testing lead to this)

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(Above Picture of Georgia O'Keeffe)

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(Goddard Rocket Launching Site)
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(Above This is a painting, I thought it was a picture)

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(Above This guy reminded me of Joe)

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(Above: Title: Defloration)

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(Above Title: Natural Progression)

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(Above These were all done by Anderson, who the gallery is named for)

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(Above I love this part with the girl holding the Japanese Kama telling the kitty "No!" or "E-A" (say the letters e and a and you'll basically be saying no in Japanese)


Hold on, must go back to these 2 people at Starbucks:

Man talking about the medical field, refreshing her memory about this that and the other thing, blablabla, "And how long have you been out of the field... like 3 months now?" She nods, "Well, that tells you how valuable you are to the profession." She smiles, looks down embarrassed, then looks back up, and looks loved. He gives her the same look.

Art:

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Above Now really look at this last painting, it was one of my favorite of the day. Look at the depth, and try to figure out what the artist is saying about the world, and its leaders, and the different forms of greed that comes with power.

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Above Now, the painting behind the bar I swear is this painting:
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I looked for a label, but they were redoing the section, and many of the paintings didn't have labels anymore. I suppose I could have asked. But whats in a name? So what if it was the ram Manet? I looked at it, and I thought it was wonderful, and I did not need to know if it was Manet or someone who was a fan of his work, and found it within themselves to follow down his same path.

Ok, back to the couple (I'm going to call them that, since that is obviously what they want me to call them):

She gets up and says she needs to get a jacket (its not that cold, but I've got a hot drink, and she has a frozen one). When she comes back, he asks her if she is comfortable, and she says that she is. Then she asks him how he is doing, he must be cold (but he is a man, and he is also drinking a warm drink), and he answers that he is fine; and they have this conversation about who is comfortable and are you sure, no are you sure, *giggle giggle* *manly laugh* oh come on! The suspense is killing me now b/c she has folder her hands on the table and leaned into his already noticeable lean. His hands have been talking, slicking the table with horizontal knife strikes as he talks about the progression of cancer, and her hands she placed not so far from his. You can see the noticeable lack of hand gestures on his part, wondering if he doesn't move, if her hands will stay just as close. She seems to wait, to see if he will put his hands on hers, but without his initiation, she leans back, disinterested, and crosses her legs and she picks up her drink and sits back from the table. The sexual tension is gone, all business again, and their opportune moment, for today at least, has come and gone.


Art:

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Above I loved this boat, not sure why. But it told a story, and I just felt like there was so much fun here.

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Above Now check out the bottom painting. It reminded me of the Kiva's and how they had a hole in the middle of the ground to represent the navel of the earth where we crawled out of to come into this, the fourth world of light. And exiting the Kiva is representative of that transition from the third world of darkness, into the fourth world that we live in today.

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Above This last photo makes me hate myself. I am part of the problem I'm trying to escape. I'm an American, and I could not be happy on the back of a motorcycle. I needed my independence, no wait, I needed my car. My love for automobiles has led to the rise of power of tyrants who believe that women are beneath man, and that they are allowed to have money and riches, but their people don't even deserve clean drinking water. Does this painting make me turn in my car? No, it just makes me feel temporary bad time to time. I try to ignore it, I try to deny myself the ability to do the right thing in order to do the thing that makes me happy. But what makes me happy is apparently something I will never be able to achieve. I always try to reach, in my utter unhappiness, the moment when I can "do it" with my car. Bleak? Maybe, but I am an American. Does that give me an excuse to hide from the bleak b/c to not have these outlooks is to not be myself? I don't know where I'm going with this, probably because to know where I'm going with this is harder than not.

Starbucks:

Ok, I lied, their bringing it back. She is asking about a patient of his, and he responds:
"'Well, she had brown hair, and blue eyes..."
*Giggle* And she clarifys her question to be about his treatment for her.
They both lean in, hands playing with the open air between them. The leaning is killing me.

Art:

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Above I really connected with her writing, so read it if you have time.

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Then I went to the P.O.W. park where they have the original wall the German pow's (WWII) built. They were put to construction work in Roswell while they were imprisoned and they put the German cross into on of the walls they built. The people of Roswell were enraged, so they covered over it with cement. But over the years the cement had been eroded away, so you can see the cross again. The German's also sent Roswell part of the Berlin wall for their kind care of the pow's from Germany (of which after the war many stayed and made roots in Roswell). The democratic side is the side with all the graffiti.

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After that I broke down and went to the UFO museum. They said that if I had military ID it was free. I asked what about Air Force Simulation Training and Support ID, and they said "No." Well, I didn't have my ID anyways, they made me turn it back in.

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I think this would be more accurate if the cow boy had a shot gun.

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This pic was neat b/c it was something that they gave out to people so they could better describe what they saw in the sky with a well understood format.

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This poster was the only Roswell TV show thing I found in the whole city. This place reminded me of Deadwood. Totally didn't want to capitalize on the media they could have had. The city seemed to be more of a "Yeah, we know, it was cool in the 50's, but get over it! We want our town back!" I felt bad going into the 5 gift shops in town with alien stuff. The one was alien and Native American, another was alien and fairy, and the other 2 were alien and general sci fi. I felt when I entered their stores that they wanted my money, but they didn't want my kind. I perpetuated the need for the alien crap in their city, and they wished they could move somewhere else, but this was their home, and the next nearest city that I saw of a similar magnitude, was up by Albuquerque.

So I got the coolest thing in all of Roswell (I know, I looked in all the shops they had) at the UFO museum for Laura. Its actually kinda perfect for her, so satisfied that I had done everything alien I was going to do, I went to the free zoo.

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Yeah, there were peacocks just wandering around the whole place. I seemed more out of place than they did though, being as more people looked at me than at them. I need to rent a child, I look strange w/o one I guess. Anyone need a babysitter for a few hours? I'll take your kids to the zoo? I could use the money.

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Kinda a sad zoo, but hey, it was free. Then I hit my last stop, the National Park. I took a few pics, but it was getting late, and any further was a dirt road, and I decided not to drive dirt roads unless it was something I really wanted to see.

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That last pic is for you Danielle.

Posted by - Rain 07:30 Comments (3)

Joe Will Drool

One of the more stressful things in the Sedona was trying to find the cave Joe wanted to make camp in. I drove back and forth like 10 times looking for the thing, and we think we may have found it, but we're still not sure if it was the same one. But today, I was going to find the hills made not of rock, but of holes in rock, and Joe is going to drool all over himself when he sees how many damn caves there were in Bandelier National Monument.

But first, many of you might have received this picture mail:

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Yeah, it totally snowed all over me on my way north of Albuquerque. Luckily I made it out of the snow before I made it to Bandelier, but there was frost here and there at the park still.

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Then these up coming shots made me gasp out loud.

No really, I gasped, and people looked.

Then I was approached by a woman who was coming down from the caves.

"Excuse me, do you know what that area down there is supposed to be?"

She was referring to the place I had just come from. I didn't purchase the trial guide, but the park ranger did give me a map and I recognized the area from the front cover. I patiently relax, and realize that I could explain to her the things I've learned about pueblo Indians since Mesa Verde, and show her the map, and still get to go to the caves. The area below, if your curious, used to be a full circle with the clearing on the inside as a park/ market place. The outer edges was made of solid 2 story pueblos that you could only get into from the outside from ladders. So it was a fort like in medieval Europe, but w/o the draw bridge. Then you should all recognize the Kiva for what it is, and when she herd Kiva I saw the light go off in her head "Ohhh, where they go inside and pray or smoke drugs." She laughed and seemed to wonder if she should have said that. I reassured that she was fine by saying that I they probably were doing both.

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They let you go inside!

Then latter down the path (much latter, not b/c of distance, but b/c I didn't leave until I saw people walking down the path towards me, and its their off season, so it wasn't a short amount of time), there was the only fully standing pueblo. The rest of the pueblos looked like the ones in the circle I first went to, just the foundation. So you have to picture when you see foundations in front of caves, that at one point the Indian's were just living in the caves, and then latter on they built pueblos in front of the caves, expanding their village.

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That is a pic I took sticking my head inside the window and looking at the roof.

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This pic is cool b/c you can see that they might have been building walls around their cavern village by using the rocks surrounding the wall of caverns, and reinforcing them with stone and mud (who needs to buy a trail guide when you have blind guessing?)

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Then that is a pic. of the paths they used to get through the rocks to the wall of caves. They were very thin, and would be easy to get lost in if you didn't know where you were going. Very smart to keep bad people out, b/c you could see people coming from one of the higher caves really easy, and they have no where to run, so you can easily pick them off with a bow and arrow (again, speculation rocks).

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Now this place made me tear up. It unfolded in front of me like a book. The more I looked at its pages, the more I came to understand what the place was, and it was a religious experience.

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Now that last pic wasn't of the circular window above the doorway, it was a vertical chimney, showing that this very large room was probably had a smoke fire you had to walk through in order to enter the cave. Then the fire would escape out the chimney so nobody inside would be oxygen deprived. The smoke would purify you as you entered, so you could be your spiritual self, rather than yourself held down by your physical body (that I learned at Mesa Verde from talks about the Kiva's having smoke rising through the ladders).

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Then look at that! I did not see that spot of light the first 5 min. I spent inside the cave. But then the clouds moved away for the sun to show me this calendar!

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The light came though the seemingly extra window on one of 12 dots on the floor. And if I remember form Mr. Mack American History class right (b/c he was one of the only ones who ever covers America before the Spanish) that the Native Americans broke the year and day up into 12 segments, just like the Europeans. So - very - cool.

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Now in these you can see the holes in the wall where the logs would go into, and the foundations of the pueblos that were in front of the caves, so you can connect the dots here and think of this place as looking like those 3 pueblos I saw just after my first cave.

Now I walk into a beautiful pine forest to climb up to a place on the top of the cavern wall.

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Now if you're thinking that the Kiva was really well preserved, it wasn't preserved so much as... reconstructed. But still cool.

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Now I take a mile hike back to the visitors center, get myself a swig of water and a carrot out of the car, then I head out on a 1.5 mile hike to the waterfalls! There are two of them and I am so excited! I get there, so amazing! So extremely amazing! I go to take a picture... out of frigging batteries! It has enough juice to give me a bright white screened message written in red: Warning Batteries Exhausted! But it can't take my last pic that I desperately want. The sun is already setting, I try everything I can think of. I even lick the battery to reduce resistance between the connectors. (It tasted acidic if you wondering.) Then I give up, by not giving up even a little. I start power hiking back to the car. It took me 35 min. to get to the waterfall with a normal walk, and I got back to the car in 25 min, got my laptop case with the battery chargers, and my bag of PB&J fixings, and I power walk to the restroom. I plugged in both batteries and my laptop. I had already run out of memory on one card, and was onto my other, so I decided to unload all my pics onto my laptop just in case I ran out of memory when I made it back to the waterfall. Then I made myself a sandwich and waited 30 min before unplugging the batteries. This should give me at least a dozen pictures worth of juice.

I power hike back to the waterfall, and I friggin get this shot!

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After one shot the batteries are exhausted (Joe's frigging camera fantastica he is always bragging about! Its a great camera if you ignore that it can't hold onto a charge worth shit! And it takes forever to fully charge the batteries in the first place.) I do Joe's trick of turning off the camera, then pulling the battery out, and plugging it back in (this trick of, hey, here is a new battery, surprisingly works every time).

Worried to press my luck, I power hike down the canyon to the second waterfall pressed for batteries and daylight.

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As John Steward would say (in a high pitched sing song voice) "Nailed It!"

Then it was back up the path, and I frigging took every pic. I could.

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Then I made it back to my car just at dusk (and I really wanted to make it back before dark because they told me that the black bear only comes out after dark. They said he doesn't bother you if you leave him alone, but he does like to wander around the visitor center. I didn't want him getting confused of me going to my car as "bothering" him, so I was tired of walking over 10 miles that day, and half of them really fast, but I was supremely satisfied as well.

Posted by - Rain 19:16 Comments (7)

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