Archive for the ‘journey’ Category

For my son

Nehemiah Owen McKinsey
Born January 7, 1978
Died May 11, 2009

It is only because of our misunderstanding that we think the person we love no longer exists after they “pass away.”  This is because we are attached to one of the forms, one of the many manifestations of that person. The person we love is still there. He is around us, within us, and smiling at us.
~~~~~~Thich Nhat Hanh

This body is not me; I am not caught in this body, I am life without boundaries, I have never been born and I have never died. Over there the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies all manifests from the basis of consciousness. Since beginningless time I have always been free. Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out. Birth and death are only a game of hide and seek. So smile to me and take my hand and wave goodbye. Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before. We will always be meeting again at the true source, always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.
~~~~~~ Sutra “Given to the Dying” from the Anguttara Nikaya

And at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
~~~~~~T.S. Eliot

Just as a mother would protect with her life her own son, her only son, so one should cultivate an unbounded mind towards all beings and loving kindness towards all the world.
~~~~~~Thich Nhat Hanh 

I am not a bit tamed….I am untranslatable
I depart as air….I shake my locks at the runaway sun.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

~~~~~~~~~Walt Whitman


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The final reading

My mother sent this piece of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” for me to read at Nehemiah’s funeral.  I read it last, after the other readings.

I am not a bit tamed….I am untranslatable
I depart as air….I shake my locks at the runaway sun.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

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After several years of visiting Death Valley during winter break, I told my husband that we were doing the trip at spring break. I was tired of cold and dark. I wanted warm and sunny. The trip wasn’t as warm as I would have liked, given that we were chased out of Humboldt County by snowstorms. We stayed just ahead of the chain restrictions and road closings on our way to sunny weather. Warm weather lagged behind the sun, but eventually kicked in. The trip was nice, but way too short. Maybe another month would do.

Heavy snow on Berry Summit, 40 miles east of Arcata. Barely got through without chains.

Kinda scary.

Snow and fog on Lassen Plateau, west of Susanville.

Sun-kissed snow on hills around Carson City, NV, the following morning.

Barbie says hi from the motel room.

When we started the day, we had three passes to go over that required chains. We drove slowly and checked for updates. The restrictions were lifted one at a time as we approached each pass.

The turn to Sonora Pass (closed), just before Devil’s Gate Pass.

View of the Sierras from Bridgeport.

Mono Lake from the viewpoint on Conway Summit.

Mono Lake and Inyo Craters.

Folded rocks in the “narrows” on the road to Eureka Valley.

The road to Eureka Valley and Eureka Dunes.

Down to Eureka Valley.

Dust clouds from small dune field near Eureka Dunes. It was a very windy day after the big storm.

Almost to Eureka Dunes. They are the tallest dunes in California and probably the entire country.

The barbie gang pile out of the car and drag out their couch.

The gang in front of the Last Chance Range.

Getting rowdy on the couch.

Last Chance Range.

Eureka Dunes with barbies for scale. The fences are actually restoration attempts to stablize the sand. Sandboarding has become a popular sport among the environmentally insensitive. They are destroying the ecosystem of the dunes.

Multi-hued limestones of the Last Chance Range.

A view of the dunes from their east side.

Steve finds some ripple marks in the rocks of the Last Chance Range.

Dunes with our rental car for scale.

The barbie party moves to the dunes.

Some of the girls want to roll down the dunes.

Hanky panky on the couch.

Last Chance Range and my footsteps on the dunes.

Our campsite between the dunes and the mountains.

Last Chance Range and footprints again.

Roll down the hill!


Weird dolly in sand.

Weird dolly in sand.

Dunes with weird dolly for scale.

Still rolling!

Here comes Steve.

Our tent and the Last Chance Range.

Dunes in late afternoon.

Tent again. It’s a Springbar. Best cabin tent in the world. Made in the USA.

People climbing the dunes to watch the sunset.

I’ve been up there. It is way cool.

My new favorite picture of Steve.

Cool hills west of the dunes. I think it is pediment capped by lava flows and then dissected.

Getting ready to leave for Death Valley.

Mount Whitney.

Mount Whitney and Sierras, Alabama Hills, Steve, and bridge over the Owens River.


Mount Whitney and Alabama Hills again. Many westerns were filmed in the Alabama Hills. I think some old Star Trek episodes were filmed there too (I’m pretty sure the episode with the Gorn was filmed there).

On Highway 190 to Death Valley.

Panamint Valley.

Down into Panamint Valley. Telescope Peak is tallest mountain in Death Valley, in the Panamint Range.

Almost down. We will be staying at Panamint Springs Resort, on the west side of Panamint Valley.

Green grass growing because of leak in pipe, on the trail to Darwin Falls. The falls are about 3 miles west of Panamint Springs Resort. The resort pipes its water all the way from the falls.

What happens when you add water to the desert.

Water from the falls.

Darwin Falls.

Close-up of the falls.

Early spring wildflowers on the way back to the car.

Aguereberry Point, the viewpoint on the west side of Death Valley, in the Panamint Range.

Great view from the point. The viewpoint on the east side of Death Valley is called Dante’s View. If you go to both viewpoints, you can see virtually all of Death Valley.

View toward southern Death Valley.

Another southern view.

Badwater “lake” just visible on other side of the valley.

Looking down at alluvial fans to the north.

Looking south to Telescope Peak.

From here we can see the whole world.

Pete Aguereberry spent 40 years living nearby and mining for gold.

View of Mt. Charleston in Nevada.

Pete’s mine at Harrisburg (Pete’s home and mine WERE Harrisburg).

The main mine entrance. I got to go in many years ago, but access is now limited during bat breeding season.

I’m very fond of old mines. I do not have claustrophobia.

Part of Pete’s rail system that took his carts of ore to his crushing mill.

Cashier Mill, where Pete crushed his ore.

Endangered Death Valley pupfish at Salt Creek.

Salt Creek.

Boardwalk at Salt Creek.

My “kiosk” on the hill behind Furnace Creek Inn.

King’s Pool at Point of Rocks in Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge east of Death Valley.

Pupfish and algae in King’s Pool.

One of the pathways on the nature walk around Point of Rocks/King’s Pool.

King’s Pool again. Ash Meadows Refuge is a beautiful, spring-fed oasis that was slated to be a subdivision before it was saved by those evil enviro-nazis who go around ruining the money dreams of asshole developers.

Artwork on one of the bridges.

Artwork on a bench at the picnic area.

The famous opera house in Amargosa, just west of the refuge.

We spent our last night at the park in lovely Greenwater Valley, east of Death Valley.

The barbies piled out again and got ready to have a party.

Spring green in Greenwater Valley.

Party time.

Couch party.

Blanket party.

An uninvited guest lurks in the bushes.

No wonder he wasn’t invited. What a perv!

More lurkers in the bushes.

Spying on the party.

Our campsite.

Early evening light in Greenwater Valley.


More sunrise.

Still more sunrise.

Morning light on the mountains.

What a beautiful valley!

Morning coffee while we pack up.

Somebody wake up the party people.

Passed out on the couch.

A bit of morning hanky panky.

Packed and ready to leave.

Back to Death Valley on our way to the western exit of the park.

One last stop in southern Death Valley to admire spring green and first few flowers.

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Trip to Oregon

I had a nice visit with my best friend. The trip up was uneventful. The ocean waves were big because there was a storm rolling in. I arrived at my friend’s house in time to hear that her daughter was headed to a hospital, probably needing surgery. That was stressful but it all worked out well. We spent the days hunting for mushrooms, working on a mosaic project, and hanging out.

I made a couple of brief picture stops on the way home. North of Cave Junction is a special sign. The original sign looked handwritten, with the misspelling being unintentional. But over the years, the farm must have gotten enough comments on the misspelling that they made it permanent when they had their sign professionally done. I stopped in Cave Junction to buy everclear for my kahlua, and some sausage at Taylor’s. I fell off the curb and badly bruised my hands and jammed my wrists. Ow.

Back in California, I turned off 199 to take the Stout Grove/Howland Hill scenic drive/bypass as part of my driving therapy after the road panic attacks on my Arizona trip. It is a 7-mile dirt road that bypasses Crescent city by making a diagonal behind it. It was muddy in spots but generally in good condition. It adds at least 5 minutes to the drive, but it avoids a bit of freeway and driving 25 mph through boring Crescent City.  I made a quick stop at an overlook south of Crescent City, and then at Trees of Mystery, before continuing south to Arcata and home.

Even an ocean-hater like me can appreciate the big waves in front of the incoming storm.

Storm clouds in the distance.

Sadie’s Turnout. This is where I rescued a sweet, panicked dog who had been accidentally abandoned at the nearby rest area. She ran out into the road in front of an oncoming car just as I was approaching the turn for the rest area.  She looked like she was trying to get the car to stop. It swerved around her and kept going. I was so worried she was going to be hit that I pulled into the turnout and jumped out of my car. She ran straight at me, bypassed me, and jumped into the car via the driver’s door I had left open in my panic to get her off the road. She sat in the passenger seat and gave me a look that said, “Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s go.” So I got in the car and drove into the rest area to see if anybody knew about the dog or had seen people looking for a dog. No luck. I drove north into Oregon and stopped at the first real town to leave information at the Sheriff’s Department. Then I continued on. I was headed for a three-day conference in Eugene and was planning to spend the night at my best friend’s house on the way up. When we got to my friend’s house, the dog jumped out and made herself at home. My friend’s kids liked the dog. My friend liked the dog. I said I had no clue what to do with the dog. We left her outside overnight and she found a skunk that proceeded to spray her. So the next morning there was no way I could put her in my car and take her with me. My friend offered to keep her until I was done with the conference. So I left the dog and went on my way. Three days later, when I returned, the whole family said they loved the dog and had even named her Sadie. Sadie had found herself a home. She lived out the rest of her life in a happy home with lots of company and places to sniff. She was a sweet and loving dog. I’m sure her original owners were broken-hearted to lose her, and I wish I could let them know she found a family to love her to the end of her days. She is missed. Everybody loved Sadie.

Sadie’s Turnout is between Crescent City and Grants Pass, just south of the Oregon border.

The tunnel just before the border. I only took a picture because I was driving really slow following a pilot truck through the road work.

I-5 somewhere north of Grants Pass.

I was almost to my friend’s house but had to pee really bad. I stopped at a little county park that had a restroom. I think Herbert’s Pond used to be a millpond in the distant past, but I can’t really remember.

It’s a pretty little pond.

Fall colors around the pond.

Mushroom hunting at my friend’s house.

The underside of the big mushroom.

My friend in Willy’s Wood.

Her driveway.

Yard and ranch next door.

Yard and house.

Oak trees.

I love oak trees.

Winter is coming.

Working on our mosaic.

My friend’s daughter catching up on healing sleep after surgery. Silver keeps her company.

A fall scene on a neighboring farm.

Our finished mosaic tabletop.


The famous sign on the road home.

Back to the ocean in California.

Nice day.

Sunlit water.

A rare stop at Trees of Mystery.

Paul’s boot.

Babe’s sign.

“Swingin’ Beef”

If Barbie had a big blue ox it would have no boy parts.

I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to get a picture of a kid hugging Babe’s balls.

I don’t know how many times I’ve driven past Paul and Babe over the years.

One of our northcoast landmarks.

The pine needle basket my friend’s mom made for me. She is a second mom to me. I lived with my friend’s family for a year and a half when we were teenagers.

My cat was fascinated by the smell of the basket. Isn’t it gorgeous?

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The road

I tend to break down road trips into road pictures, scenery pictures, and place pictures. This is a representative sampling of road pictures from my walkabout.


The Nevada/California state line, facing Nevada.


Looking back at California.


Almost to Pyramid Lake.


Approaching Pyramid Lake.


“Name Playa” east of Fallon, NV, on Highway 50, the “loneliest road in America.”


A fairly nameless stretch of “Name Playa.”

walkabout09-97Where the “loneliest phone in America” used to be, at the Sand Mountain turn, on Highway 50. Nevada removed all of its payphones, even this famous one. Jerks.


Edwards Creek Valley, between Fallon and Austin, NV. Looking west, back toward Fallon.


The eastern edge of Austin, NV, before the road heads up Austin Pass.


Highway 376 to Tonopah.


The road to Spencer Hot Spring, which is where I spent the night before heading to Tonopah. The faint white area in the valley to the left of the road is the hot spring.


Highway 127, between Shoshone, CA, and Baker, CA.


Kelbaker Road, between Baker and Kelso Depot.


Kelbaker Road, in the northern part of Mojave Preserve.


South of Kelso Depot, by the Granite Mountains, almost to I-10.


Return trip. Approaching the eastern edge of Mojave Preserve from the south.


The Preserve boundary.


In the burned part of the Preserve.


Headed toward Cima Road and Kelso Depot.


Approaching Kelso Depot on Cima Road.


Heading north on Kelbaker Road toward Baker.


Back on Highway 127, north of Baker, heading for Shoshone.


Approaching the turn-off for Dumont Dunes, on Highway 127.


The scenery on 127 is spectacular.


Almost to Tecopa, south of Shoshone.


Driving through the mudhills between Tecopa and Shoshone.


Entering Shoshone.


Approaching Lone Mountain, north of Shoshone.


Short detour east to visit Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge.


Leaving the refuge via the west entrance.


Blowing dust.


I think we are already north of Beatty, NV, on Highway 95.


Highway 95, north of Beatty, NV.


Goldfield, NV, an old mining town. It is the county seat of Esmerelda County.


The Goldfield Hotel on the left.


Approaching a snow squall north of Goldfield.


Arriving in Tonopah in late afternoon, with snow flurries and plummeting temperatures.


Leaving Tonopah the next morning on Highway 95 north. Temperature about 21 degrees.


After a fruitless detour to Fish Lake Valley Hot Spring, which was overrun by a pack of dirtbiking campers with no etiquette. This is Hot Spring Road looking west toward the White Mountains.


Looking back at the hot spring. White dots are the assholes who camped five feet from the soaking pool.


White Mountains from Hot Spring Road.


Heading north again, toward a second detour before returning to Highway 95.


West on Highway 3.


Wild horses ahead!





North on the last leg of our detour.


Very pretty detour.


The clouds were amazing.


They made great shadows.


Almost back to Highway 95.


Junction ahead.


We turn left, toward Hawthorne.


North on Highway 95.


Lobster crossing at the outskirts of Mina.


Of course I had to take this picture.


Approaching Hawthorne.


Walker Lake north of Hawthorne.


Another detour near Silver City.


Fall colors near the Carson River.


We saw a couple of nice campgrounds near here.


Approaching Pyramid Lake from the south.


Getting closer to the lake.


There it is.


Pavement ends at Warrior Point.


Approaching The Willows.


Approaching The Needles.


A view of ancient shorelines as we head away from the lake.


Approaching the turn toward California.


Our turn.


Almost to Susanville.


Lassen Plateau west of Susanville.


the plateau.


Between Old Station and Lassen Park.


Between Lassen Park and Redding.




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Strange trip

My walkabout has not gone as planned, but I am making necessary adjustments. I learn new things about myself every day, even if it is not fun. It may be trite, but baby steps are sometimes just the right size.

I have managed some barbie photos, though not as many as I expected by this time. The girls visited a couple of hot springs, and I took pictures of their enjoyment. The dinosaur has made a brief cameo appearance but needs a more starring role in future pictures.

I visited with my beloved friend Joey today and she was so good for me and to me. She lets me be the strange person I am right now and gives good advice and big hugs. Then had a crazy good time shopping for stocking stuffers at the 17th Street Market, my favorite place in Tucson. Friends and family beware of oddness in your stockings this year. For once I got the cool weird stuff that can compete with the cool weird stuff from mom and sisters. Neener.

I’m going to see a 3D movie with Joey tomorrow, and take a walk-n-talk. I’ve been cutting cactus at my in-laws and wiping out packrat homes. Move along little fuzzballs. The unseasonably hot weather here in Tucson has finally mellowed into the comfortable 80’s. Yay! Meteor shower tonight! I probably won’t be able to wake up for it.

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On October 11 I will drive away on my planned walkabout to sunshine and desert. I’m taking extra containers to store all that sunshine for the winter. I don’t have a laptop, so there won’t be any posts for the three or so weeks I’m gone, unless I sneak one in while I’m visiting my in-laws in Tucson. But I will be faithfully recording my experiences, and taking pictures like the photo nut I’ve become. Up until I leave, I’m going to be very busy with the wedding cakes and desserts for my friend’s wedding on October 10. I will make time for a few posts with fall yard photos, cake pictures, and random photo collections. I might even talk about my new therapy sessions. The one yesterday was useful, but the result was to awaken thoughts I’ve been shoving under the couch, so I ended up lying awake half the night with jumbled thoughts milling around.

I spent 4 hours researching a cheap prepaid cell phone for my walkabout. That did nothing to endear me to cell phones or shopping, both of which I can do without in most circumstances. But because I will spend many days alone in the desert, without even a cat or dog to fend off the crazy people, loneliness, and car trouble, I thought I should bite the bullet and get a damn cell phone for the trip. My new cell phone will work in Nevada and Arizona, but not here where I live. Perfect.

I’ve been building a maze on my Facebook Farm Town. Wow, what a project! Farm Town should add a visible grid. The precision involved in building a maze is incredible. I’m on day 4 and not even close to done. Sure beats planting pineapples though. Hopefully I will have it done before my days are filled with baking cakes like a madwoman.

I turned the heater on today for the first time since spring. The house got down to 57 degrees F. Too cold for me. But with the double pane windows and dehumidifier, it should be a decent winter. I shall survive, as some singer said. Or maybe it was I will survive. No matter. Survive is the key word. Stupid winter. As my favorite fridge magnet says, winter is nature’s way of saying fuck you.

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