Thursday, September 30, 2010

San Geronimo Day

We moved into our own driveway today, to camp here while we get the house ready to sell. The renters were supposed to be out by today, but they aren't. There's still a lot to do, and I can see how they might feel overwhelmed. We're feeling it too. Once we took a look around and saw the amount of work there is to do, we got right back in the truck and headed for Taos Pueblo for San Geronimo Day. I'd love to show you pictures, but cameras aren't allowed. It would have been easy to fake a phone call and snap a few with my cell phone, but that just wouldn't be right, now would it? Here are a couple of pics I lifted from the internet. Entirely better juju to do it that way.


This is the Pueblo, which has been here for over 1,000 years. The area was jam packed with people today, all watching the antics of the sacred clowns. 


Finally, one (or this time two) of the clowns climbs to the top of the pole, to let what appears to be the symbolic fruits of the harvest down from the heights, and to sit on the very top of the pole. Rick's best guess is that the pole is 50-60 feet tall. And we think we remember a year where the clown actually stood on top of it. Pretty scary from the ground, and very amazing to watch.


As with all Taos Pueblo feast days, the traditions and language are held secret, and it's considered very bad manners to ask questions. I wish I knew more, but there we are... I wish I knew more about a lot of things. Lately the List Of Stuff We Don't Get to Know is getting longer and longer. And tomorrow, oh, I don't know... I think we'll just stay out of the way and hope for the best.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall Color in Taos


From our perch on Taos Mesa, we can see the splashes of yellow high in the mountains, telling us it's time to drive up to the Ski Valley and have a closer look at the changing leaves on the aspens. It's been perfect weather since we arrived here on Sunday. Very seductive. Taos can be a temptress. But we know her moods, and aren't completely taken in just yet. Still, we made use of one of her perfect fall days and drove up to the mountains yesterday to have a look around and a bite of lunch. We were not disappointed.


The base of Taos Ski Valley sits at about 9,000 feet in elevation. It's a little community all its own, with quite a few year round residents, and world class skiing, high above Taos. We haven't skied in years, but like to drive up for the scenery, and to cool off on hot summer days. If we were Rich People, we'd have a little condo up there. It would be a nice little nest to retreat to now and then, but full time would be too isolated for us.


Taking the road even farther up above the village, we came to the Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant. It's one of our favorite places, even when it's closed, as it was yesterday. We love sitting on the deck, drinking big steins of German beer and nibbling on spaetzel or fries with spicy-sweet mustard. Little Heidi feels right at home there, of course.


Our pal Karena rode up with us, and she and Rick took advantage of the Bavarian's comfy lounge chairs for some sun bathing. There's no shortage of Vitamin D, although oxygen is in pretty short supply. I'm glad we didn't try to go up even farther to Williams Lake. We'll save that for another day.


Our next stop was Tim's Stray Dog Cantina, another of our favorite places to just hang out and relax. We sat on the deck and had some good snacks along with our beers and lemonade. Dogs are welcome on the deck too, so we brought Heidi along. Lucy is too wild to behave herself in a place like that, especially when there are other dogs. She seems content to guard the truck, as long as we park it in the shade, and bring back treats.


The view on the way back down was every bit as gorgeous as the way up. And at the base of the mountain, we stopped in the tiny town of Arroyo Seco. It's a really darling little community, filled with galleries, shops, and restaurants. We stopped at Taos Cow, hoping to revive ourselves with an iced soy latte, passing on the fabulous ice cream only because we didn't want to "do dairy".


By the time we got back to the trailer, we were all tired. Even the dogs. And the coffee didn't help me one bit, so I did something I rarely do... I took a nap. It felt so good to just drift off, and when I woke up, feeling much better, I said to Rick, Can I have another one? Maybe I will today. I'd forgotten how being at this altitude can kick one's butt. We were used to it when we lived here, of course, but a year away means we have to acclimate all over again. Maybe driving up even higher was not the best idea so soon in our stay here, but the leaves won't wait. Taos itself is at 7,000 feet. That's high enough to cause a lot of people trouble. Altitude sickness is very common with visitors, and can be really dangerous. I was still feeling woozy last night, so I went to bed early and slept like a baby. A happy baby. Today I'll take it sort of easy, and remember to drink lots of water and eat extra protein. That helps a lot.

Tomorrow we move back into our own driveway... stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Points Of Interest


I have a new rule for myself. Always have a camera in my hand. Not just in my bag, in the truck, in the trailer, but in my actual, very own personal hand. Too many things are getting by in the time it takes to dig for the camera. Maybe it's not at all important to try to catch every little thing. Probably not. But the big things are amazing and worth sharing. I want you to see them. I'll try to do better.

My only hesitation about my New Rule is in thinking about the number of people we've seen this summer dashing to any particular Point Of Interest, screeching their car to a stop, jumping out, snapping a picture, and darting off again. They're like Hummingbird Tourists, always in a hurry, taking little sips and flitting off to the next feeder. They never really see the thing they came to see. Once they get home, they put together a great slideshow, and can say, I've been here, and here, and here, but so what? Merely checking sights off a list is not the same as stopping, spending time, and absorbing a place. I need to remember that as I wander around with my little pink camera in hand. Stop and smell the mountains. Then take their picture. There's plenty of time for both.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

On The Bridge


I woke up just as the sun was about to rise over Taos Mountain. Rather than roll over and doze, I wanted to get every bit of this day, so I jumped out of bed and grabbed my camera. We took our time getting started, drinking tea, eating stove-grilled toast, and talking with Karena. There's no hurry here, at least not just yet. Eventually we gathered up our dirty laundry and headed into town. Laundry time was painless, as was grocery shopping time. Then we wanted to just wander through town and see who we saw. We drove over to our house, and although we could tell there was a lot of activity going on inside, we didn't see anyone, so didn't intrude. We had hoped to chance across some neighbor-friends, but there were no cars or people in sight, so we went to the Fall Arts Festival in Kit Carson Park.

This was where we began to wonder if something strange was going on. We had decided to make a game of people-finding, and just wait to see who was presented to us. We saw two or three people we sort of know, but all of them walked right by us as if we were invisible. Since none of them are close friends, we let them go on by. Finally we saw someone we know quite well, and rather than risk her not seeing us, I walked over to her as she stood looking at a painting, and simply stood too close to her, without saying anything. She looked up startled, and then threw her arms around me, much to my relief. It seems that we are not invisible after all, but possibly only visible to the people who are "supposed" to see us. We are back in Taos. It's very woo-woo here. This is how we talk. You'll get used to it.

On the way back to the mesa, we stopped for coffee at a little place we'd never seen before. There were two other people in there who knew me, but didn't seem to remember that they did. Have we changed so much in only a year? One of them was the owner of the place, and little by little, he began to place me. While I chatted with him and his wife, Rick was talking to a couple from Asheville, NC, and before long, everyone in the place was talking about houses -- mostly ours -- and exchanging phone numbers. We even talked about a vacation house swap. Who knows... And I had to laugh when I opened my notebook to write down their names. I turned to the first page of  new book, where I had already written "Talk To Strangers". 

There are so darn many unknowns for us at the moment, and for most of the people we know. But one thing we do know is that we haven't come anywhere close to imagining all the possibilities for our future. I don't know is my standard answer to almost every question these days, and it's the most honest answer I can come up with. I really don't know much of anything right now. What I find interesting about it all is that I really don't mind not knowing. I'm excited to see what happens, and in total trust that there are unlimited ways for all of this Taos/House/Travel/Home adventure to unfold. I've given up on trying to figure it out. It's more fun to wait and see what's offered from the Limitless, because my one little mind is surely overlooking some extraordinary possibilities.

Crossing the Gorge Bridge on our way back to what is Home today, I snapped this picture. The bridge is 600 feet above the Rio Grande, and I love how it always takes us safely from one side to the other. I think we're at a sort of Life Bridge right now, and I know just as surely that we'll be taken safely across. I don't need to know yet what's on the other side. The view from the middle is pretty amazing.




Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hello Again, Taos

After 2 nights in Moab, I think I've figured out where the name came from. It stands for:


Motors
On
All
Belongings

True story. I made it up, but it must be true, given the noise level of such a geologically gifted little town. We heard cars and four-wheeled-what-have-yous, and motorcycles into the wee hours, and noted on our way through this morning that there are far more "Rent A Jeep" places than there are internet cafes or day spas. Don't get me wrong. Moab is cool, in its own way, but we don't think it's Our Town.

Today we mostly drove, drove, drove, stopping only briefly in places like Durango and Pagosa Springs. Durango didn't do a thing for us at first glance, but Pagosa and its famous hot springs seem to be worth going back for a closer look sometime when we're not so pressed for time. I hate being rushed to get somewhere. That's not what we signed up for, but it appears to be what we've got at the moment.

Today took us through Utah, into Colorado, along the southern Rockies, and back to the familiar territory of northern New Mexico.


Tonight we're camped in our dear friend Karena's yard, looking out over the mesa to Taos Mountain and the moonrise. What's not to love about this place? Well, at the moment, nothing. We have very mixed feelings about being here, and only time will tell just exactly why we're here this time. For now, all I can do is remind myself that everything is OK, and that part of the exhaustion I feel comes from being back at this 7,000 foot elevation that makes me wish for a sherpa just to help me get my purse out of the truck. I will try to get a good night's sleep, and tomorrow... oh, how can I even begin to guess?



Friday, September 24, 2010

Arches National Park

I have to be quick here. My battery is about to run out, and I only have a few minutes of charge time in a little cafe here in Moab that's about to close. We went to Arches today, which is really beautiful, and worth another trip back to explore it further. One high point of the day was that Rick got his National Parks Senior Pass! Now we'll get into all of the National Parks for free, forever. That's what the ranger said - forever. So it looks like we have some traveling to do! It's handy to have an Old Guy around.


As you might expect, we saw a lot of arches, but we were actually more interested in some of the other rock formations, and the general gorgeousness of the area. I kept seeing "elephants", which I'm sure is very important in some cosmic way, elephants being Removers of Obstacles and all. So here are the pictures. Sorry for the lack of explanation. You'll figure them out.


We'll spend another night in the Elks parking lot, and then get up early and head for Taos tomorrow. If all goes well, we should be there by evening. We saw this little car driving through Moab this afternoon. It looks like fun, but I'm glad we have something a little more modern to travel in...




Thursday, September 23, 2010

Resting in Utah


I think I've mentioned before that for me, the fun of travel is not the actual traveling time, but the stopping time. Driving down the road, getting from one place to another, is charming for a little while. I like seeing new stretches of highway, and unfamiliar terrain as much as the next guy, but I also like to stop and stretch my legs every so often, and see what the locals do for fun.

Last night we stayed at Willard Bay, a lake in Utah, right next to Salt Lake, and I'm sorry to say, a place I cannot recommend for an overnight stay. It's right on the highway, and very noisy. Noisy all night. And around 3AM there was the surprise of the train hurtling through, careful to remember to blow its very loud whistle as it passed the campground. Got the idea? Stay somewhere else. I wish I could tell you where. At least we were there for the beautiful full moon rise last night. Some things are just perfect, noise and all.


This morning we hopped back on the highway and took the loop around Salt Lake City, so as to avoid, uh, Salt Lake City. We hit traffic for miles and miles anyway, never did find an espresso stand -- duh... we're in Utah -- and then, low and behold, I spotted a beacon of happiness on the horizon. An Ikea store! Rick said, Want to? I said, Yes!!! And soon we were following the arrows through a wonderland of cheap home decor.

I love Ikea. I am inspired and encouraged by Ikea. I can afford Ikea. And being in the market for more permanent housing sometime in the future, we think, we were totally smitten with the tiny model interiors they had of complete living spaces. The largest, and the one we liked best, was 592 square feet. After living in a trailer for over a year, this looked not only enormous to us, but homey and wonderful.


Revived by an hour of Ikea Therapy, we got back in the truck and made our way to Moab. For those of you reading along here for some actual vicarious travel, here are some pictures of the beautiful part of Utah we traveled through today.


And now we're camped in the Elks Lodge parking lot in Moab. Pretty nice, and as always, nice folks to welcome us in for the night.


And... thanks to our stop at Ikea, the trailer is just a little bit cozier tonight, with the addition of this sweet little vase. Yes friends, homeyness can be purchased for a mere seventy-nine cents, if you know where the good rest stops are.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tweet

My very savvy niece Joni, who lives in Seattle, and so is Very Cool by default, also does something technologically mind boggling for a living, and so when she gives me advice on Keeping Up, I listen. The other night, Joni said, Kim, you need to use Twitter... I mumbled some lazy excuses, and then Lauren chimed in, agreeing with Joni and offering to help me figure out this thing called "tweeting". We determined my phone to be capable, but I couldn't remember the official Twitter name or password I'd registered several months ago, so we gave up temporarily, and I got to ignore the whole thing for a couple of days.

Now today, as we drive across eastern Washington and will keep driving until we get to Somewhere In Idaho this evening, I have some time on my hands, and a good Mifi connection, so here I am, attermpting to become Twitter-smart on my own. I think I have it more or less figured out, but can't really see why it's something I need to do. Still, I'll try it out and see what happens. Remember, I have the dad who bought a computer a few years ago, transformed a special closet into a little office for it, and then refused to plug it in. Ever. He misses a lot, like reading my blog for one thing, because he's overwhelmed with the new technology. I fear that if I let it get too far ahead of me now, it will only be harder and harder to catch up. I want to keep up, and that means not only going outside of my comfort zone, but also outside of my makes-sense zone. So far today, I've managed to "tweet" twice from my phone, and also learned how to post a photo to Twitter, from my phone, via Twitpic. Amazing.  Out here in the middle of nowhere, tweeting like a bird.


I'm having some trouble connecting Facebook with Twitter, but I think I'll call it good for today. I'm already quite proud of myself. And I also want to point out that I'm writing this blog entry from a bumpy, moving truck, which is no small feat, especially for a non-typist like myself. If you're a Twitter enthusiast, my Twitter handle is "gokimmiles", and if I'm doing this right, you can also find me by clicking the button in the right hand column of this page. More ways of staying connected. Must be a good thing, don't you think?


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Seattle

Seattle, day two. There's entirely too much going on here to even try to keep up in a bloggerly fashion. I want to be here, doing all this, enjoying all this, and it's just not possible to write about it all.

Seattle... We lived here for eight years, back before Taos, and after Nevada. We got married here, bought and ran a pizza shop here, raised three kids here, and eventually hit the weather wall and fled before depression and mildew got the best of us. We have family here, and friends, and happy memories. And when we come back, and spend time with these people we love, scooting around town, doing all the fun things, and eating all the good food, it can be hard to remember that we really didn't like living here all that much. The rain, the infamous rain, nearly got me. There was not enough coffee in Seattle to hold me here, and Prozac didn't seem like a lifestyle I wanted to adopt. Sunshine was what I wanted, and we found that in Taos, but lost the family and friends in the trade-off. Why does it all have to be so complicated?

I don't have any answers. I'm just riding around in the passenger seat, enjoying the visit. I won't even venture to tell you all the great and small adventures we're having here. It's too involved, and even for me, with my fairly broad boundaries, too personal. I have pictures though, and for every one I post, I figure I'm saving a thousand words worth of work. These are mostly for the people here, who are sharing these few quick days. These are all people I love and want to see more of. These are people who will keep me from being seduced by Taos when we get there and wonder if we could make New Mexico work for us again. We have beloved friends, who have become family, there too, but Taos is simply Too Far Away, from so many things. We're at That Age where we want -- need -- to be near our kids, our families, maybe even our own shallow roots.










So where will we settle, if settling is even an option for people like us? I really have no idea. Seattle though, is very nice this week, so at this very moment, I'm living here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

First Time Boondockers

Hello, my name is Kim, and I am a purse-a-holic.


I did it, OK? I bought The Purse. But it wasn't my fault. Really. I mean it. It was all my friend Shirlee's doing. She made me do it, the wicked vixen. She told me she wanted The Purse too, and why couldn't we take advantage of the two-for-one deal and have them sent to her house in Taos, which just happens to be right next to my house in Taos? I could see no logical reason not to do this, so I pulled the laptop out at the next rest stop, fired up the MiFi, and before we could get around that slow moving hay truck, I had ordered not one, but two beautiful Sophia Bags, in different colors, of course, so as not to be too twinsies about it, and poof!, there was the confirmation in my email, saying the Sophias were on their way to Taos, presumably to greet me there on the moment of our arrival. 

I can't believe I did this. Well, yes I can. I really wanted this bag, and still do, and now I will have it, and so I can sleep tonight. I can justify this purchase by telling you that I also made use of my mobile internet time by researching cheap places to not-camp for the night while we're traveling to Seattle, and then to Taos. An average of $30 a night adds up to something like a mortgage payment if you do it long enough, so we know we need to find some more frugal ways of parking and sleeping. We passed a casino early in the day, and that made us think, Huh! Great idea! Casino parking lots! But then we found out we'd passed all the casinos along I-5 already, so we needed a Plan B. Then I remembered that Rick had joined the Elks Lodge in Ashland back in January, and one thought led to another, as thoughts are wont to do, and soon enough, I found that the Elks Lodge in Gresham, Oregon allows overnight parking for members for a mere five bucks. To sweeten the deal, Gresham is not far off the route we had planned to take around Portland anyway. And most Elks Lodges have a great little bar with a friendly bartender and good cheap drinks. And if that wasn't enough enticement, tonight just happened to be Bingo Night! We never got around to the Bingo, but I liked knowing it was there. Instead, we had a couple of tasty beverages in the bar while my computer, phone, and MiFi recharged on Elk Electricity, and then "we all" went back "home" to make dinner.


Our "camp" is in the parking lot, with a nice little shrubby parkway and soothing Portland suburb traffic sounds in the background. We have no hookups, so have to be careful with water and lights and such, but it's all OK. It's our first shot at "boondocking", which can be done anywhere from a logging road in the woods to a Walmart parking lot. It just means you only have your own personal resources, like water and batteries and propane. There's no plugging in of any kind, so it's kind of "off the grid" as far as RVs are concerned. Last summer we were too new at all this to even consider it, but now a whole new world has opened up. Our brains are on overtime, thinking of all the places we might be able to stay for free, or for a mere token, like tonight. 

There are websites to help out, like Elks Lodges with RV Facilities, Casino Camper.com, and Free Campgrounds.com. And I know we're only scratching the surface. True, we don't have a lovely riverside site and a homey, campground feeling. But what we do have tonight is a safe place that's fairly quiet, and an enjoyable evening with welcoming people who are happy to have us drop by. All that, and we saved at least $25 on RV park fees. So that's half a purse, right? One more night like this, and I've broken even on my bag obsession. After that, I promise, I'll seek professional help.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Parting Shots

For the record, and I think you already know, I hate writing an "and then, and then, and then" blog. Most of the time...

Days like today though, are mapped out in a way that is clearly leading to something greater than just a regular day, and must be listened to, calmly and patiently, one and-then at a time.

We've been in Ashland for almost a year, and at Emigrant Lake for eight months. We'll pull out in the morning, early enough to make a 9:00 appointment to have brakes and wheel bearings checked in Medford. Boring! Who cares, right? But these are the tedious realities of RV Life. Things have to be in good working condition or... well, they just do.

To get to a day like tomorrow, you get to have a day like today. You drive around town, looking at familiar things, and unfamiliar things you've seen a hundred times in the past year, and wonder if you'll ever come back to see them again. We hope we will. We like it here. We might even love it here, if we thought it could love us back. We've been dating Ashland for a year, and we still don't know her/his Intentions.

But no matter, today. Today was a day all its own, apart from any hopes or expectations. It was a day to just be in Ashland. Ranger Rick finished up some work in the park while I cut my hair and painted my toenails. Yes, I do these things myself. These things are important when one is going to the Big City, which we are doing in a day or two. We had lunch with the boss, not to be confused with The Boss. Kevin is not Bruce, and he doesn't need to be. He's a good guy, working the Parks System the best he can, which, given the current economic times, means we are not guaranteed a job next summer or any other time, but we're on the list, in the running. And we got a nice lunch, compliments of Kevin and Jackson County. That and free rent for eight months makes for a very nice arrangement, all in all.

We spent the rest of the day at the recycle center, wandering around town, strolling Lithia Park, drinking a last pint o' Guinness at the Black Sheep, and tidying up around the campsite. As of this writing, all perceptible belongings are carefully stowed for travel, all food has been purchased, all dog poop has been picked up, and all county property has been returned, including firewood money, keys, worn out t-shirts, and a splintery-handled shovel. Our campground is all but empty, while the RV campground is fairly full. Different clientele. The dogs had a last swim in the lake. I put stickers all over the trailer, and on the truck, enticing people to check in on the blog. We've done our job, and it's time to move on. I guess we're done here. Still, I feel like we're abandoning this place in some way.


We had dinner at Mitzi and Ron's -- take-out Chinese, because we are all too busy and tired to cook -- took great delight in the pond and the garden, and procured some new CDs for the road, along with some killer paintings for the kids. We'll deliver them in Seattle in a day or two, lucky Big City children of mine. When Mitzi gets in a gifting mood, it's good to be Family. You can buy art like this, but probably not when you're in your twenties.


And so, after a day of and-then, and-then, and-then, we're tired and ready for bed, ready to go tomorrow, ready to see what happens next. It's been great here, and now, time's up. On we go, forward to what may look like backward, but we know there's not really anything but Now. We came here planning to move here. We leave here planning to come back. Truth is, we won't know till we know, and however it turns out, it will be just perfect. Thank You Ashland. This has been a most wonderful First Date.