Tag Archives: Attraction

Valles Caldera ~ Jemez Mountains, NM

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Valles Caldera (or Jemez Caldera) is a 12 mile wide volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. It is one of only six known land-based supervolcanoes. — Wikipedia.org

{wildflowers along the base of cerro la jara}

{new mexico sky}

{view to the northwest across the pond}

{view north across the pond}

{view north across the pond}

{view across the caldera}

{raindrops}

{miniature forest}

{western slope of cerro la jara}

{view south along cerro la jara}

{sun on caldera floor}

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great sand dunes national park and the medano forest fire ~ mosca, colorado

WALKING ON WATER

one of the most surprising, beautiful and surreal places that we’ve visited on this endless trip is right here , tucked into the southern edge of colorado, right where the rockies begin to descend into new mexico. the first time we laid eyes upon this bizarre landscape was in june of 2009, relatively early on in our journey. by that time we had logged a lot of road miles, but because of a lingering rocky mountain winter and a couple of long-ish house sitting gigs, we hadn’t yet done a lot of actual camping. as we pulled off of US160, heading north towards the great sand dunes, we somewhat naively believed that the place would be mostly empty and that we would have our pick of the park’s campsites. i mean, we’re talking about an extremely isolated, sparsely populated stretch of high plains desert…the veritable middle of nowhere.

and yet, as we pulled in, we couldn’t help but notice the line of heavily laden suvs, pickup trucks, and rvs. the place was a madhouse! when we finally reached the entry gate, we were greeted by a sign — campground full — and a speech that the park ranger seemed to be reciting from memory: “i’m sorry folks, but our campground is all full up. you might try san luis lakes state park, about 10 miles away, but i’m not sure if there’s any space there either. there’s also a privately owned campground just outside the park boundary…don’t bother asking about tomorrow, because we’re going to be all full up then too.”

the dunes themselves are magnificent. this is one of the few national parks that allow dogs anywhere past the parking lot and so the three of us dragged our way up a series of undulating, collapsing ridge lines, attempting to get a glimpse of the vast interior of the the dune field. every time we crested another dune, some subtle magic lured us onward, promising us a greater revelation if we managed to reach the next peak, the next vista. we hiked until all we could see, from horizon to horizon, were dunes. it felt like we were on another planet, like we could have walked on forever.

as remarkable as the dunes were, it was the medano creek and the surge flow that captured my imagination. there was something so entrancing, so completely compelling about the endless combinations of wind, sand, water and sunlight, that i fell into a post of fugue state, utterly transfixed. patterns emerged and retreated in the water’s surface; a strange and half remembered calligraphy. within the space of a few windswept minutes, the water would take the form of delicate herringbone lace, a single standing wave, a string of tiny suns.

my communion with this place brought one of the first and most persistent revelations of our journey. standing ankle deep in snowmelt, held in the distant embrace of sun, sky, mountain, dune, forest and cloud, the connection between all of these physical forms became manifest and wholly evident. the only thing separating smoke and creek, sand dune and pine tree were the relative scale of time and size. beyond that, there is no distinction. everything exists only for a moment, every form is transient. all that holds us together is vibration; we are simply standing waves in the profound medium of universal energy. we arise and subside as quickly as a pattern in sand, as unexpectedly as a tree growing on the shoulder of a mountain, as beautifully as a forest fire. all is one.

words are as inadequate a tool as a cell phone camera in the attempt to capture the depth and reach of a landscape like this. better not to dwell too long on these ineffable concerns. better to simply surrender to the call of whimsy, of play, released from the bounds of eternity. let the mountains grind themselves to bits, let the sand scatter, let the snow dissolve into the desert. the sun is shining, the breeze is cool, and the whole world, even the forest exploding into flame, trembles with beauty.

comfort food at the goody goody diner ~ st. louis, missouri

while we were passing through missouri, we followed the interweb’s advice and went to have breakfast at one of the st. louis’ landmark eating establishments, connelly’s goody goody cafe . we pulled up to the restaurant on a hot, muggy mid-morning and were surprised by two things: 1) the location. 2) the size of the crowd.

for against a patchwork background of decaying industry, struggling businesses and post WW2 tract houses, as unexpected and as incongruous as a giant toadstool, sat the goody goody. its parking lot was full, the surrounding streets were lined with cars. and when we walked in, we were confronted by the sight of a small foyer jam-packed with folks waiting for a seat and a dining area overflowing with good vibes. my first thought was, wow, i bet this is going to be good!

goody goody is one of those rare and happy places that cater to people of every race, color, creed, sexual orientation and credit rating. having spent months in many places where i felt like the only brown person within a hundred mile radius (hello northern idaho!), entering a room chock-a-block full of this much diversity always makes me happy. add to that a menu featuring chicken and waffles, greek omelettes, and something called a hobo bowl, and you’re pretty darn close to diner-style ecstasy.

i had the spinach and cheese omelet with rice (instead of hash browns or grits), a biscuit (instead of toast or pancakes), and a side of sausage gravy. i would have posted a picture of this delicious meal, but in the excitement of its arrival, i lost all composure and devoured it in a way that would have made mazy proud.

the following audio offers a sample of goody goody’s happy clamor. we were seated between two young african-american women discussing their love lifes (one was beginning to wonder if the dude she was pursuing might actually be gay) and a group of middle-aged folks exchanging office gossip.

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a trip to the santa fe farmers market ~ santa fe, nm

EVERYTHING’S COMING UP LOCAL AND ORGANIC one of the best farmers markets that we’ve been to takes place in santa fe’s railyard park. it’s a year-round market, so you can enjoy the happy, laid-back, green-chile-and-cheddar vibe even in the depths of winter, but as you might suspect, summertime is the time when the santa fe farmers market really hits its stride. the booths spill out in all directions, laden with everything from the seasonal produce to artisanal breads to giant glass jars of amber honey. an artisans market springs up nearby, full to the brim with southwest tchotchkes and handmade jewelry. live music, balloon artists, and complimentary dog-sitters (canines aren’t allowed in the farmers market due to state regulations) round out the whole experience.

this audio clip captures a few choice moments of our visit. don’t ask me what ethel merman has to do with anything because i’m sure i don’t know.

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