Wednesday, October 28, 2009


A 16 HOUR CONVERSATION WITH AN EXTRAORDINARY PERSONALITY.Unacquainted, we slept side by side in the parking lot---she in her massive, luxurious truck, me in my trailer. In the morning she said hello---beginning a 16 hour conversation as we toured the town together---talking our way through New York--New York, MGM GRAND (caged lions upset her), The Monorail, Flamingo, Caesars, The Forum shops, Art galleries, Waltzing waters etc.
She drives this sumptiously appointed behemoth for a livelihood. It has bed, fridge and assorted storage places for her specialty foods---said she rarely eats at truck stop restaurants. Though widely educated she chose this vocation as compatable with her inclinations---needing considerable space to pursue her interests---one of which is to occasionally make her way deep into the interior of Brazil for esoteric study and experience.

Without hesitation she plunged into this experience---breathing flavored oxygen for 20 minutes.

----while being massaged with an assortment of machines---said afterwards she felt exhilerated.

I take up the pose of the "perfect man" David--behind me.

And do the tourist thing---which is not worth mentioning. The point of this blog is that perfect strangers were willing and able to engage for 16 hours. One of those rare serendipitous connections where the "window of welcome" freezes open and you chat undefensively, without agenda for hours and hours---beginning with the superficial---moving through the personal---to the profound and philosophical. Strangers often can go deeper than intimates--knowing they will likely never meet again.
Would you tell an intimate stranger the things you feel strongly about? I did---she did!
What do you think we REALLY want when we talk to someone? Here's a guess: TO KNOW THAT WE'RE NOT ALONE --in our being, our feelings, our folly.
How can you tell if this stranger is in tune enough with you to engage beyond the trivial? I feel people out by asking ever deeper questions, noticing defensiveness, ideologies, degree of good will and openness. When I strike a vein of good will I follow it to the gold. SHE WAS GOLDEN!

Monday, October 12, 2009


DEEP DESERT HUMANITARIANISM-----COME WITH ME---I'LL PROVE IT! Austin got cold---I bid farwell from this mountain pass and head south.
See those white spots about 5 miles down? Several great hot springs--but it's cold and I've been there, done that--I'm going a hundred miles south and 2000 feet down to Tonopah.
Whirlwind--was warned to dodge them. I flashed on the book of Job where God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind--with a very weak explanation of why the righteous suffer: In essence he said: SHUT UP JOB AND TRUST ME---I MADE THE WORLD. The Bagavad Gita has a better answer: LIFE IS COSMIC DRAMA---EVIL IS PLOT THICKENER.
Settled overnight here on the outskirts.
ROLL THE DICE FOR FREE ROOM? Now there's a story to get to the bottom of. Do you doubt that I will?
Downtown Tonopah--Nothing to write home about----yet. Parked and walked all round--still chilly.
They're a touch proud to have participated in 1908--did they race west around the world toward Paris? I don't understand! Will google it later. ( I did so--and yes they went west--through here to Valdez, Alaska--then by ship to Japan and then to Siberia and on across Europe to Paris. Only 3 of the 6 cars finished. The US entry--a Flyer won)
This I understand: Area 51--the spooky, super secret air base is nearby.
OK here's the dice--for--free--room--rules: Sign in--get ready to pay--roll the 3 dice (by turning this cage)--three of a kind means you don't have to pay. The odds: 36 to one. Nice but hardly humanitarianism. I know--stay with me--I'll get to that.
Asking who conceived and funded this gimmick--I was directed to the Owner---found him, got the story and this clumsy one handed photo op. He told me the dice game was called chuck-a-luck; a favorite of the miners. He invited me to stay and look around. Turns out he is "Mr Tonopah" in the sense that he's built himself an empire here: Hotel, casino, restaurant, museum, bar, art gallery etc. I've seen this syndrome many times out west: Don Laughlin, founder of Laughlin, Nv is an example and the guy who owns Beatty, Nv is another.(more about him later)
Here is a tipoff of accumulated wealth---conspicuous consumption---a genuine Remington in the Lobby. (recognize it? It's famous--entitled Mountain Man) But I was going to illustrate Humanitarianism---- A shocker of a story--Begins here--saw several of these. The town council is obviously addressing a real problem. Another sign said it was a felony to abandon an animal.
Horses are especially beloved. See where I'm headed here?
Read this carefully and you will be as shocked as I was. Guess who felt strongly enough about this atrocity to post the $5000 reward? Yes, it was "Mr Tonopah" putting his money where his feelings are. That, dear readers, is deep desert humanitarianism.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS? I stop as you would--to marvel--surely the biggest shoe tree in the world! I'm moved to poetry:
A spectacle in the midst of great spaciousness,
Sixty miles from anywhere,
But I choose for the moment to make it the center of my universe,
the focus of my attention.
what, really, is it and what, if anything, does it mean?
A shrine perhaps? I do not worship!
That is for fearful toadies who misunderstand our situation.
But I'm struck with the question---draw near in wonder--
A whopper of a shoe tree;
A challenge to small and slender arms tossing lace-tied shoes toward lofty limbs.

Up there, however, dangle myriads,
flung no doubt by stronger arms--football players perhaps
Or fathers determined to hang one for their children.
Thousands have stood where I stand, marveled as I marvel,
Curious, perhaps, as I am curious---
Then go their way---a long road ahead--Austin or Fallon in their sights.
But I will not go! I am seized by the puzzle:
What can this mean? Who? When? Why?----Well anyway Why?
I resolve to seek an answer like Buddha did:
I will sit under this tree--and I will not rise--till an answer comes!
I sit---time and cars pass---I sit----I sit;
My monkey mind jumps and squirms then calms---I sit--and wait!
AND THEN---quick as lightening, clear as thunder --The answer comes!
It commands my eyes like fireworks;
Like a kneeling puppy-- invites to play.
But there is more--I'm sure of it---I continue to sit.
Pictures come---a memory reel unwinds;
I see dollar bills, signed and stapled to a barroom ceiling.
I see names and designs made with rocks along the roadway.
I see driftwood sculptures along San Francisco Bay;
I see decorated Medicine trees in Montana
Still the reel unwinds: I see pioneer names chipped into a rock;
Indian symbols of goats, snakes,men;
I see hand prints on Uluru rock in Australia,
And every name and symbol says: LOOK AT THIS!
And every blank space beside it says: WHAT SAY YOU?
So every dangling shoe says ---look at this!
And every empty limb says: "waiting for you"!--"gimme a shoe"!
Still the reel unwinds: I see a child-like notion
in the mind of the very first shoe thrower--likely 50 years ago--
A roadbuilder, camped here, whimsically disposing of his worn out boots;
They dangle, they delight the crew--
bestow a moment of fame and invite---a second pair--- a third.
Like a snowball the idea rolls forward till a thousand shoe birds
sway in the wind.
THERE IS MORE---I remain seated:
Here, thought ingressed into matter;
Idea birthed into action.
A tiny spark lit a great fire;
Here, stands a clue to human purpose:
Nothing became something;
Eternity stepped through a stargate into time---
to amaze, amuse, connect, and remind me:
I rise-give thanks--drive on.
Shoe birds that fell? or failed?

And lest you need to be told what this is---

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


SERIOUS CODGERISM------75 MILES FROM A GROCERY STORE Surprised to see cattle out here! Could they eat these bushes? Had to find out!
Engaged these two cow---persons--couldn't be sure the far one was not a lady--dared not presume. They said yes the cows could survive on this stuff---if each cow gets a hundred acres.
Survival is all that is asked of them---it's the calves that are valuable. I asked about odd people living far in the outback. Yes! they are out there! AND GOOD LUCK.

OUT THERE! I felt it in my bones. A codger compound for sure---A juicy story! Scanned with my binoculars--saw two strange buildings---found a dirt road and went there.

I Halloed from the yard of a huge old house-----this puzzled, soft spoken gentleman (Terry)came out. Told him I was interested in the history of this place----introduced myself. He said the owner was inside---had the answers---come on in.

Meet Bob---Master of this desert manse. Ten minutes later we are old friends and I have the story. (my charm should be registered with proper authorities---But I will tell you the secret: 1. credentials ( intelligent speech-)-2. Playful personna 3. Keen questions 4. Deep listening then repeat 3 and 4) Here's the story: Retired geologist and bar owner---grew overly fond of alcohol--retreated here with wife---she left---Terry is between jobs---cooks and cares for the old guy. He paused in the telling to pour another glass full of spirits---Terry also. The two big buildings outside are historic relics: the well preserved remains of an Overland Stage depot--a well and stalls for perhaps 50 horses. Terry would give me the tour later. I asked if I could see the house--15 rooms plus 2nd floor.
Ancient stove--works fine

Reading is big out here---one of two extensive libraries---had a full set of Louis L'amour.
Bobcat pelt, photo memories.
One of two barns for the stagecoach horses. The roof is covered with dirt--cool inside.
Sturdy, hand hewn beams--even now. (Have you noticed that I'm getting thinner--on a new diet--the Shangri Lai--no kidding----I drink a tablespoon of olive oil 3 times a day---kills the appetite---eat whatever I want--I'll be 170 lbs by Jan 11th, 2010)----but I digress---want to show you the clever ceiling work.
Think this technique is called waddle and daub---mud and sticks.
Bob hobbled outside to see my wonderous trailer. Invited me to stay. I declined. A cold front is coming--incredibly, snow predicted at higher elevations--where I'm headed.
Austin, Nevada---loneliest town on the loneliest road---one reason I've chosen it as my legal address for certain purposes. Elevation 6000 ft plus. Old gold mining town---now occupied by folks comfortable with quiet comfort. I drove up the hill to the right, found a flat spot , tuned in my satellite and settled in for the night. My rig is a dot --right center.
Now you can see it more clearly. Nary a soul approached me--Had a great sunset.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


SEARCHING FOR KODGERS------- AND THE BAR AT THE END OF THE WORLD. Black stones/ white dirt---who could resist such easy roadway renown. Names and messages stretched for 5 miles on both sides.
50 miles from anywhere is this famous bar. Just like in the movies. A somewhat somewhere watering hole for desert life--- perfect wildlife viewing area.
Great movie set. I imagined a bar fight scene erupting out on the dirt.
Women are scarce and precious in the deep desert. Shirt or no shirt, they drink free forever. I saw only one in my 24 hr stay here--leading me to declare the deep desert a TESTOSTERONE ZONE.
Have you seen this before? I have. The entire ceiling was covered. New and desperate immortality seekers going vertical and overlapping---barkeep estimated $8000 total.
Heard about this--had to see it with my own eyes---guy named Jesus something. Still I was suspicious--climed on the bar to get this shot---discovered the secret. Look closely and you can see it too.
Finally, my codger hunt got under way---found this hodge podge in the remotes. Someone lives here but he wouldn't come out. His little dog, however, was terrified-- ran madly away into the desert---not barking or defending its territory. I've learned that Kids and dogs that grow up in remote solitude are not bold and self reliant as you would expect but timid and fearful as a rule. Bold confidence requires social beginnings. Older folks that retreat to the desert---are another story.
Not far away, I came upon this base camp for an apparantly genuine mobile codger. My instinct steered me clear of this one.
But not this one----I bicycled quietly upon him and waited---sound asleep--and stayed that way---took this photo and let him be.
Before dark, I accumulated lots of neighbors--all very friendly---invited me to their fire at night--They dress in elegant armor--their aim:-- to drink in huge gulps of desert adventure---often traveling 175 miles in a giant circuit---"weird and wonderful stuff out there" they said. Ghosts towns, mines, gaping earthquake fault lines.
Four grandfathers, friends and motorcyclist together for 40 years. Note how well armored. Gave them a tour of my trailer in exchange for the story.
Away they all roared like a Viking horde.
See their dust in the distance? They're headed to the top of that mountain. Perhaps I've stumbled onto the secret of eternal youth---adventure on!
Slow internet connection has delayed this posting. Next I will report on a really deep desert codger I found later this same day.