Monday, October 31, 2016


From Socorro, NM into the depths of Arizona--it will lift you into high country, cool you with its breezes,  show you the real meaning of SPACE--let you see the wide prairies as the indians saw them---show you the stars as you've not seen them before.

Some do not like lonely roads like this one and the famous hwy 50 across Nevada---but I do. 

 One of the great paradoxes of life is that a seeming NOTHINGNESS can be a well of creativity.      (Perhaps the entire universe came from nothing.)

This highland plateau grassland between mountain ranges is an historic 200 mile cattle trail from the alpine grazing country of Arizona to the bustling railhead town of Magdelina up ahead.  What a gift from the Gods these cool grasslands must have seemed to the cowboys driving their vast herds. With lots of cattle feed underfoot, all they had to do was dig strategic wells to water them along the way.
 A string of these wells remains to this day.
 Notice on the right the remains of the railroad that took the cows to the eastern market.

The town the Cowboys aimed for was Magdalena.--This charming Lady runs the information center there.  She has historic photos to illuminate the story. I found her personal story so enchanting that I wrote her a poem and gave her one of my books.  She traveled the world then chose this spot to settle; explaining that she fell in love with SPACE. She has worked on several of the huge ranches in the area--each the size of an empire and "got hooked" on the glory of openess.

Her house (shop) was filled with antiques.

I'm about to show you a magical valley---only 20 miles beyond Magdalena,

on the other side of those mountains.  

It is called "the plains of  San Augustine--and during the day you might see this.

And at night---this.

Image result for photos of vla nm
And from the air--these 27 whopping telescopes.  each dish is more than 80 feet across.  Each works 24 hours a day and all of them are aimed at precisely the same spot.  The "pictures" they reveal are added together with giant computers to reveal.....

Image result for pictures taken by the vla
things like this quasar in a galaxy far far away

I pose to show their size.  They will let you visit this one.  Up close you will be impressed at how "busy" they are---moving every few minutes---all 27 of them precisely coordinated.  The mind blowing news is that in the last few decades giant computers have enhanced their powers about a million times---so that now we can see back into time and perhaps to the edge of the cosmos.

Furthermore they can now coordinate its "pictures" with hundreds of other telescopes to make ever-clearer the deep secrets of the heavens.  Click here  and  have a look.

In Datil I took a walk and took this pict for my friend Laurie--who is looking for a rig.

I camped for the night at a campground nearby and got intrigued with the couple camping in this old vw.  Try as I may I could not engage them.  When I approached they would retreat inside and close their door.

Outside their car were these two mysterious objects.  Anyone imagine what they might be? 

Moving on to Pie town.  Much TV hoopla has been made of it---Charles Kuralt did a piece on it some years back.  The cowboys of yesteryear stopped here for a piece of pie---and the tradition continues.

Nearby is a rare business---a windmill store.  These devices are underappreciated by everyone
except  ranchers.  They know that this invention along with barbed wire made ranching possible. Windmills pump water---and later they generated electricity to charge batteries. 
Inside the pie store--there they are--- a spectrum of pies: $6 a slice---$27 for a whole pie. 

As we ate---two familiar people entered the cafe: Pish and Barbara.  What are the odds of crossing paths in this remote place.  My friend Wayne would likely believe it was a whispered message from the universe. (synchronicity)
And Glory be--sitting nearby was a genuine astronomer and a genuine anthropologist---I asked both of them lots of questions.

CB and I moved on to Springerville--a big time rancher town---stopping for the night at this "waterhole.".  A friend of mine: Architect Joseph Smyth designed this structure in classic western storefront style. Read about him here. (A man with a plan to save the world)

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  So what have we learned?  I think it's this:  EVERYTHING IS INTERESTING--when looked at closely.   And EVERYTHING IS RELEVANT--even an anthill is an integral part of the whole.  Bored people are those whose curiosity is asleep.  My last remaining
boondocker companion stayed 2 more days with me then departed for an eastern adventure.  I will now drift alone for awhile and report my findings to you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


AFTER SANTA FE, OUR LITTLE BAND DECIDED TO SCATTER FOR AWHILE----being mindful of Thoreau's advice that a reason to gather is to share experiences and a reason to part is to get new experiences to share.

Before I report on our scatter, I want to introduce you to some couchsurfers that visited us in Santa Fe.

Meet Paul--bicyclist with a question.  Travels the entire US at an average pace of 35 miles per day, relying on the kindness of strangers for his lodging---and everywhere he ask the same question:
How will we live tomorrow?  He records answers and will compile the best into a book at journey's end.  I told him that no one could imagine how wonderful our future lives will be.  As evidence of this, consider that a cave dweller of old could not possibly imagine the wonders we enjoy today.
Meet Lisa from Germany---whose size and gentle manner belies the awesome boldness of her travel accomplishments and ambitions.  She will finish the US and do South America and then New Zeland.

And here's a few more on a morning where we hosted a veritable flock of vagabonds.
This is a CB project for which we are all grateful---bringing world wide travelers into our lives.
And before I hit the road---Barb does a concert for us.

And as though to wish us all happy trails--God blesses us with a rainbow--the best one I've ever seen.

Right away, I start having adventures.  At the first intersection I encounter this classic Rolls Royce worth a million dollars.
I made my way South to Socorro, NM and met this (seemingly happy) trio.  How kind to give each of them a window into the real world.
And I met Willow--a truly well adjusted man.  He has lived 20 years in that tiny trailer with his dog Bimbo.  He makes one of a kind walking sticks like this one and sells them for $50 to $75.  He ranges between Montana and Tucson----has a unique travel strategy. "I never travel until the wind is behind me."  He estimates he has saved thousands by not fighting headwinds.  (what a great philosophy of life also)
Nearby is the Bosque del Apache wildlife sanctuary--I parked just outside the entrance and spent the night.  

Had I been camped here 16 July 1945 I would have witnessed one of the great events in human history. Just 25 miles directly behind that pole is the spot where the first atomic explosion occurred.

Here is a piece of that explosion---part of a massive steel shell with walls 18 inches thick placed at the site to test its force.  The 100 ton thing was shattered into pieces like this.
Meet Chris Leeser, Ranger at refuge headquarters who took time to answer my questions.  I wanter to know how this great project got funded in the 30's when our consciousness was perhaps not so sensitive to the need for preservation.  The answer:  Duck hunter fees bought the land and continues to  fund it's upkeep.  FDR made the legal decision. 
I borrowed this photo--but if you go there you might take one like it.

While in Socorro I ate with the senior citizens.  Most towns have a center for them and they are well attended.  My friend Bushrod explained that these and a host of other services the government now provides are an "underground" form of socialism slowly making its way into our lives and consciousness.  I agree and approve.

I forgot to mention that Bushrod took me to a very unusual seminar--on homelessness!  About a 100 homeless folks showed up and discussed various aspects---like community resources, dealing with the police, begging etc.  I shocked the whole assembly by declaring that I was happily homeless, living very cheaply,  wandering the country enjoying life, with no desire for a permanent place.
I stunned them with a quote from Thoreau: "the cause of most wretchedness is not so much a lack of money as a lack of imagination."

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Our group as spent the past 8 months together and it has been splendid.
I feel more polished in my manners ---ready to go on a solitary drift and let the world speak to me.
Next, I'll report on one of America's scenic highways--hwy 60 across New Mexico and Arizona.

Saturday, October 01, 2016


it interferes with our individual styles of sightseeing and adventuring. (I stop often--to look at anything or anybody that interest me.  My companions likewise stop for whatever interest them)
As I'm idling along,  it comforts me to know that my friends will join me at our pre-designated site.

So we decided to leave Colorado and slowly make our way south to the Albuquerque balloon festival.
Here's how the adventure unfolded:

Image result for rio grande gorge

Image result for rio grande gorge

We decide to follow the Rio Grande canyon south to Santa Fe.  Few people know its amazing geological history.  Unlike the Grand Canyon WHERE THE RIVER CREATED THE CANYON.  Here, the shift of tectonic plates opened up a gigantic fault extending from Leadville, Co to Socorro, NM AND THE CANYON CREATED THE RIVER.  The origional canyon was 2 miles deep---twice the depth of Grand Canyon.  Then the Rio Grand river began to flow south and in time FILLED IN THE CANYON to its current depth of 800 ft maximum. Click here for details.
The rift averages 10 miles in width and is obvious once you know the story and glance left and right as you drive south.
We agreed to spend our first night at Alimosa, Co Wal-Mart.

We agreed to meet on the canyon's edge at the Rio Grande National Monument. We split up and each made their way there.  I note as I'm leaving Colorado that "border stores" selling Marajuana have sprung up  to service NM clients.

Many New Mexico areas have a sky phenomenon called Angel Fire.  Wondered if this was it.
Anyway, we assembled at the designated place just steps from the canyon's edge and stayed the night.
Great campsites with views like this.

Then on to Taos across impressive dips like this.  

To the artsy city of Taos.
Where the local Indians have joined the protest against the proposed Pipeline from Canada.

Here in the town square they fed a busload on their way to the pipeline site. (I don't get the bomb sign)
We split here in Taos because my Truck needed repair.  Kathy and I managed to camp right here in the heart of town.
During my stay I met this terrific couple--Mike and Barbara--an Anthropologist and a Philosopher.
They invited me out to their place for lunch and a great conversation.

Recognize this Church?  Georgia Okeeffe added to its fame with a painting.  This is the backside. The front was sealed off for making the movie Galileo.

Back downtown, big things were happening:  A trashy fashion show.  Entrants were challenged to use trash to make a fashion statement.
Here's an example. Her skirt is made of newspapers.
Here's a recycled shower curtain.
South of town 6 miles is Forestry road 438 where the bold can make their way into the forest.
Feeling the need for some solitude, I went there. Kathy and Barb moved on to Santa Fe.  CB stayed to comfort me in my truck repair. (Cost $375 to fix my driveline)
And then we all reassembled here at Bushrod's place south of town.

Here is our camera shy host and a golden sunset he sees often.  Ours is a 50 year friendship.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: The Philosopher William James once asked why two robbers can successfully rob a rail car with 40 people, when everyone knows that the 40 could easily overpower the 2.  What the robbers have that the 40 lack is an AGREEMENT.  None of the 40 can be assured that others would join him if he resisted.  SUCH IS THE POWER OF AGREEMENT.  

Our little BAND OF BOONDOCKERS have about an 8 month history now and we have quietly bonded.  We like each other! WE HAVE EACH OTHERS BACK AND WE HAVE EACH OTHERS HEART.  You are invited to join us at any of our stops---we just might be the merry band you're looking for.