back to the '60s: o-o-o-old friends rendezvous
Departure for Colorado began auspiciously. I was setting the sprinkler system, when, not another fuse this time, but the whole neighborhood lost power. My neighbor knocked, carefully mentioning it was 9-11. I was using the computer on battery. Had forgot the date. Perhaps I was going nowhere--the Toyota gas tank was nearly empty. Eerily, it was about 8:20am.
As soon as the house was in order, I planned to head off to the Flat Tops in western Colorado for Rendezvous 2002, the world's first Simian Outing Society (our '60s Illini outing club) reunion. I'd been rounding up and harassing folks, largely via The Net, for nearly 2 years!!
"Idaho lost power when the CA earthquakes hit", neighbor Sally mentioned carefully. Could this be the end of life as I'd known? Gulp. She was off in the car to learn what was going on.
Quickly I turned off Revelations, reclaimed equanimity, and began humming the favorite hymn, "All is well". Switched to last minute tasks that required no power, like changing car oil. Too much time hanging out with prophetic evangelists! I chuckled. My neighbor returned with the report that Albertson's down the street was doing business as usual. Another "blast", a nearby neighborhood transformer blew. A couple hours later, neighborhood power resumed. Set the sprinklers, blessed frig, plants, house, neighborhood; headed south towards Salt Lake City. Phew.
Cares dropped away. What's forgot's, forgot. But what's this! After months of drought and fires, I was driving out of sunshine towards, then under, heavier and heavier clouds! Since I rarely follow weather reports--my philosophy being so what!--I hadn't expected to spent a cold, rainy night in the mountains at my favorite overnight site east of Salt Lake City. However, the next day the drive along the Bookcliffs was made extra gorgeous by clouds and lightning. Never had I seen so much water in the desert!
When I realized the size of the storm front, couldn't help but start worrying about the exciting-under-the- best-of-conditions road up to the Flat Tops, and the RV coming up from Denver. Eek.
A dry home in Grand Junction that night was ever so welcome. "Our first rain", everyone said. At last the fires that had been scorched Colorado would be doused for sure.
Mercifully, weather cleared for a long, delightful weekend on the Flat Tops. Rendezvous adventures are detailed in enormous depth at SimianOutingSociety.org
When the next front rolled in, I convinced the last rendezvousees to escape to low country above Moab. One night in a BLM campsite right on the Colorado River, well above Moab, ever popular international travel destination. The call of the wild and the roar of RV generators, compelled me to explore for an off road site. We relocated up a wash as the full moon rose above the cliffs behind us, moving its light across the valley. The next morning we were able to have the holy desert time I'd dreamed off. Curt sang in Hebrew with Gretchen on violin, midst God's awesome red rock canyon country.
After fond farewells, I headed north, car camping through the new country--Flaming Gorge Reservoir, crossing a corner of Wyoming, then along Bear Lake. Stopped at an Arctic Circle and to explore geysers of Soda Springs, then past famous Lava Hot Springs. My head swirled as I drove the miles, marveling at the adventure of seeing old buddies after 30 plus years. As my mind drifted, often had to rewind a section of books on tape. Winchester's geologic history, The Map that Changed the World was perfect company as I turned towards Featherville.
Once again, spent the last night on the road in the ponderosas above (the low, low waters of) Anderson Reservoir. Finally time to sit in the sun with laptop, empty mind, write up adventures of the rendezvous. The more things change, the more they stay the same--sometimes! A brief soak and it was back to Boise, grateful for another good western outing.
seattle/portland... wait, wait: Nevada
In the midst of this extraordinary heat wave that has melted plastic onto the dashboard and found me reading in the cool bath tub, it might be pleasant to look back at the short trips in cooler months!
Surely I've been somewhere since the big East Coast adventure last fall! The November weekend in Bozeman MT to hear zen priest Reb Anderson seems like lifetimes ago. As we sat together the weekend before Thanksgiving, mild autumn shifted to biting winter winds and spitting snow. While the world enjoyed the Leonid meteor shower, the ceiling lowered over Bozeman Valley. Skunked!
The usual jaunts to Seattle/Portland: Christmas, Easter and Memorial weekend, with overnights at Breitenbush or “frog” lake. Another fine winter solstice at Breitenbush; grand cabin mate from Seattle. Savored the last chapters of Bones of the Master, as author George Crane accompanied NY neighbor/Taoist monk Tsung Tsai back to Mongolia. Remarkable, touching story! Practiced “sleeping” yoga in Buddha's cozy straw bale House with lightly heated floors (the Sanctuary was busy). Alas, the retreat's hot water dispenser was broken and several hot pools out of commission. I glared defensively at the Pollyanna who nailed me on my whining attachments. No tea water!! Brought out the camp stove.
Car camped Christmas eve on a dike north of the Columbia River--who knows just where!--full moon reflected in the water; awoke to beautiful sunrise Christmas morning, clonks and clanks of fisherman launching boats before dawn. Christmas dinner with Katy, Carl and friends in Bellingham.
Early Easter service with Mary in Wilsonville. Soul reviving visits with Seattle buddies refreshed my parched-for-connection spirit.
Seattle Center undergoing major construction during Folklife/Memorial weekend. Above all, I was blessed to hear Pat Wright's incredible Seattle choir, Total Gospel Experience; and to be in her workshop. She's an incomparable national treasure.
I was deeply moved by documentary film "Why Does the Cowboy sing?" (answer: Why does a frog croak?) interviewing, among others, Glenn Orhlin, whom Archie Green brought to the U of Illinois campus in the late '60s! Enjoyed fine logging documentary film and logging demonstrations--tree climbing especially impressed me, as did women log rolling. Exquisite shakahachi flute with Peter Ross. Stunning peace choirs left me teary and moved, as did the memorial day service at CSL, which always catches me by surprise.
As a visitor now to Seattle, I observe how some old friends--now acquaintances--seem unchanged by the years, while others have aged shockingly (not me, of course!) Marvin still dances, but Themma keeps a close eye on him, as he easily gets confused. The image of Seattle police with cigars, enjoying the last evening of Folklife, is still in my mind's eye; some beat: Folklife!!
Speaking of which: thus far this year only 2 police encounters! Pulled over for slowing up traffic coming back from the Oregon coast the evening before Easter. Another night, a rap on the car and request for i.d. awoke me. Seems I pulled too far onto the “landscape” (blackberry bushes) at a rest stop. Life must be boring for late night patrolmen. They always seem disappointed they don't find whiskey bottles or guns in the Toyota! Boring meets boring.
No wild dash to Salt Lake to purchase a car this year—though I shopped the internet for a RAV. Didn't hear back about the purple one with a moon roof in Utah, or the green moon roof near Sacramento!
Wait-- I have been somewhere new: in June I crossed just over the border into Nevada on a "Green Party" camping trip into Jarbridge country. Back in my goode olde activist days, Jarbridge was the epicenter of the infamous Sagebrush Rebellion. Drove 50 plus miles of gravel road across the bombing range through Owyhee/Bruneau Canyonlands; signs said something like: “Items may fall from the sky at anytime”. Luckily only sunflowers lined the road. Rolled my veteran eyes at massive chained areas. Rascals!
Wasn't prepared for such sensational country--the edge of the Jarbridge Wilderness--and such a feeling of having been gone away from home; or the quaint, tiny, settlement of Jarbridge. Thanks to my slow driving, we pulled in to camp just at sunset. Spectacular country to non ranchers; or, terrific deals for subsidized outfitters, sheep and cattlemen, who historically want “the government” they rail about to butt out after building and maintaining roads and water systems paid for by others! “Anything else we taxpayers can do for you?” Looked like a free gourmet lunch from here.
Hearing tales of environmental issues in Idaho and Nevada, brought on a tsunami of déjà vu. Change names and places and stories are identical, down to the last outrage, to those I witnessed in Colorado and Utah in the ‘70s & ‘80s.
While the rest of the small group covered high country morning, days and evenings, I prowled, listened for blue birds and swung in the hammock in the aspen grove where we car camped, reading Home in Hells Canyon and Traveling Mercies. Nearby, house wrens and flickers fed new families in the same dead aspen. Everyone was happy. The birds; me, left alone with mosquitoes, no waivers to sign; the others, hoofing high ridges on sturdy legs. Hadn't been with folks who cared so passionately about the wilds in years. Seems I'm still one, from a hammock. I was totally eclipsed as a naturalist--a rare treat; learned a lot! After long, late sunsets, we sat and stood around a small sage/ pine fire on the dirt road we pulled onto. Hadn't been in country with so few lights off in the distance for decades.
Late one night what seemed like an annoying bright flashlight, turned out to be the waning moon rising not much before dawn, flooding the tent with light. By the time I crawled out of the tent each morning, Katy, Brent and Mike had been off for hours, their coffee grounds cold.
In an interesting chain of events, the following week, 4th of July, a group returned to the same country. As they started up the controversial "closed" trail into the wilderness, near the town of Jarbridge, the same one we'd been on the weekend before, one of Idaho's leading activists looked up, then fell to the ground from a heart attack. Boots on, a good day to die. I will never know Lee, but I know where he breathed his last breath and his spirit left. I had a glimpse of why.
Jarbridge Country - looking into Idaho
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