The Carson Loop, Day 1: A Path of Constancy

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October 15, 2022, Tonopah, NV- Any journey begins with securing one’s place of return. I began the day with a brief visit to Prescott Farmer’s Market, buying sprouts to help sustain me, whilst on the road and kombucha, for when I get back and need a boost, during the change of seasons. My other close-to-home errand was a stop at Chino Valley’s Harvest Festival, with the aim of helping some other Baha’is set up their booth. Alas, between leaving the market late and having a bit of trouble finding the site, by the time I got there, only one small task remained. I helped with that, and had to leave, which didn’t particularly set well with the Friends, but having to run back to the house and get something needful that I had forgotten, and wanting to be up here in time to connect with two Zoom meetings, I bid them farewell.

Getting to the Kingman area, I found myself in the midst of a rather intense post-monsoonal storm, which dumped nearly an inch of rain on the lower Mohave Desert, only dissipating just shy of Las Vegas. Slotsville traffic was relatively mild, and I passed along U.S. 95, with little trouble. Only one stop, at the Speedway Gas Station, on the north end of Las Vegas (my go-to place for filling up in the city, when on a northward run), was needed. No stops were made this time, in Amargosa, Beatty or Goldfield, but I did notice that the latter will soon have its own Truck Stop, south of the historic district. That will be good for those who otherwise go 95 miles in-between fill-ups between Beatty and Tonopah.

Once here, in this mining community, I returned to Economy Inn, carefully pulling in, and being mindful of a distracted young man, who was pacing around the parking lot, playing with a large sling shot. I checked in, asked about the young man, and was told he is the owner and was probably pacing because he is renovating the property and has to do a lot of thinking. I was also informed that WiFi service there is in abeyance, but that the casino down the street will let anyone use its WiFi.

Thus, I sat on a bench, in the lobby of Tonopah Station, joining the two Zoom meetings, as a mostly silent participant-owing to the intermittent foot traffic and occasional noise of the lobby. This, again, didn’t seem to set well with a few of the meeting participants, but we do what we can in this life, and it has nothing to do with priorities. A young boy sat next to me, for a bit of the second meeting, comparing my laptop to the one he uses at his school. He was also enchanted by a music video, featuring Yusuf Islam joining a group of artists singing his song “Peace Train”. It’s always a joy to befriend children, and there is always time.

After conversing with a man who happened to be from a town near Kingman, and alerting him to ths storm that had hit that area, I went back to Economy Inn, and settled in the night. This post comes to you from Beans and Brews, a delightful coffee house, attached to a Union 76 gas station, and a must-stop when I am in Tonopah. The “kids”, both teenagers and older, are playful and very happy on the job. They also serve good fare.

Hiatus for The Rushing Streams

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August 29, 2022- Lynx Creek was impassible, as friend Akuura and I looked out over it, on a short hike celebrating a break in the monsoon. That is okay by me, as the creeks and streams of our area need to have a high flow, if for no other reason than to ever so slightly raise the water table, and flow level of the rivers into which they feed: Agua Fria, Verde and Bill Williams (which in turn feeds into the Colorado River.)

The monsoon itself is on hiatus, with sunny weather predicted from now until Friday, when there are expected to be more storms throughout the weekend. Next week, from Labor Day until Thursday, 9/8, will bring another hiatus, then more monsoon rains, the following weekend. Still and all, this summer has brought the best monsoon we’ve had here in many a year.

Here are some Lynx Creek scenes.

This was at the west end of a residential area.
Scene just off a Forest Service road, in Salida Gulch area
Upstream, in Salida Gulch

Where a cross-creek trail washed out

This area is one of those in which I have spent little time, up to now. It is definitely worth more exploration, in the weeks of early October and those of November.

I returned to a frequent haunt today, finding that the return of hot sunny days affects some adults and children in a not altogether pleasant way. I sense that humidity makes many people disagreeable-and there is also the difficulty that some have with sleeping, on sultry nights. I am fortunate to have ceiling fans that keep my sleep patterns from being interrupted. There is AC, in a pinch, but I try to keep the use of that to a minimum. Other people, particularly in high rise apartment buildings and in older houses,are not so fortunate.

I like the idea of living each day to the fullest, though, regardless of weather.

Not A Hard Dog Day

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July 23, 2022- Beauty thought she would like to go out and smell the rain. So, I put on her harness and attached her leash, then got on my shoes and cap. We walked a short distance, up to a patio near where some kids live and she stood still, waiting for someone to come out. A nice lady came out and greeted the little dog. A boy came out, but not to greet Beauty. He had a household chore to do. We headed back towards the apartment where I am minding her. Then, the skies opened up. She got wet, and tried to shake it off, as is customary for dogs, but her curly hair just held the water. I dried her off with a towel and put a comfort shirt over her upper torso, which calmed her down. She was done smelling the rain.

Beauty is a friend’s dog, and has been acquainted with me for several months now. So, when friend wanted to go on a brief visit out of town, I was asked to stay with her for a day or so. This did not really conflict with anything, so I was glad to oblige. All in all, she is an easy animal to “pet-sit”. We went on three walks, including the wet one. She ate voraciously, then went back to gazing out the window. She fell asleep awhile ago, so here I am, contemplating what dogs dream. I sense that the process includes which of their people are kind to them and which ones are better off out of their lives. There are, no doubt, smells that get remembered, just as humans recall sights and sounds. There may even be a hope or two, who knows?

I was asked, this morning, whether I would be sticking around here for a while. Yes, in fact, I am, barring any family emergencies. There is work to be done, for most of August until Thanksgiving, with a few days in Colorado and northern New Mexico at some point in August or September and a trip up to St. Anthony, Idaho (long story), with a possible stop to visit friends en route (have yet to hear back from them), in mid-October, also in the mix. There are other matters, elsewhere in Arizona, to honour as well. Basically, though, the next few months look, right now, to be on a fairly even keel.

Work to be done? I keep hearing that I am supposed to be retired. Well, there are substitute assignments for which I will make myself available; Red Cross activities, here and there; Hope Fest, on September 10 and, most likely, Farm-to-Table Dinner on September 11. Then, there is always work on behalf of my Faith. Those who wish to see me cease and desist are free to stop working themselves, when the time comes-no pressure from this end.

It may be a dog’s life, for Beauty et al, but I’m glad for that which I’ve been given.

Cloudburst

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August 10, 2021- The water came pouring into the office space, putting electronic equipment at risk and forging a disparate group of workers into a unified team. I’ve noticed that about the school where I once worked full time, and where I am covering for an old friend who is on family leave, this week. In about forty minutes, we had the water mostly sucked up, using wet vacuum cleaners and had prevented any electrical short-outs or fires.

This has been a beneficent monsoon season, after three years of drought-like summers. We are likely to get more storms, this week and at least part of next. The type of storm we had in the Prescott area is called a cloudburst, with a heavy amount of rain falling, in a relatively short time. That the students faced this at dismissal time is disconcerting, but not uncommon. I can recall one storm, in 2010, in Phoenix, in which the streets were impassable, north and south of the school where I was working. Heavy hail was also falling. I had to advise students who were trying to walk home, regardless, to return to the school and wait for safer conditions-and so notified the school office of the situation. Today’s situation was close to that-and many students indeed did come back inside for the duration of the storm. At least, there was no hail.

It is said there is no true retirement, when one’s career has been spent working with children and youth. So it goes.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 54: Cumulosity

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July 24, 2020-

For days, this week, thick cumulus clouds have circled around our town, dropping some precipitation on outlying areas, but skipping Prescott and the other towns closest to us.

While I was occupied with a Zoom session on whale songs and meditation, I sensed that the whales aimed to give the Prescott area a good soaking. Whether there was a cetacean connection or not, we got soaked this afternoon, and as I write this, we’re getting soaked again.

There is a lot that is genuinely monsoonal, in the summer rains that usually bless the Southwest. There was some concern, with climate change, that the rains would be a thing of the past. That is not true, so far this year, though. The storms we’ve had have been doozies and have not been spaced as far apart, as they were in the past five years.

It set me to thinking, in the decades and centuries to come, perhaps the technology will become available to naturally seed rain clouds and/ or to have continent-wide canals that will move water from areas where it is in danger of causing regular seasonal floods, to areas constantly beset by drought.

Pipe dreams, I know, but as COVID concerns and the rain keep me in my cozy Home Base, it’s fun to dream big.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 26: Why Is The Ground Itself Steaming?

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June 26, 2020-

It’s been hot and dry here, this month, as it usually is in Arizona, during the month of June, and often during the first half of July. There are high clouds, that keep the sun from becoming too blazing in intensity, and sometimes, we get the cooler air that’s left over from the storms that are hitting the Rockies and Great Basin. The monsoons, though, come from the south and southeast of us.

The very ground, though, doesn’t usually sizzle. I feel it starting to smoke, this year, though. Earth has a memory, of how her children, whose remains lie in her near crust, have been treated- often in the name of profit; sometimes in the name of convenience; most often in the name of ego gratification-which takes the other two along for the wild ride. She also has a memory of how she herself has been treated.

Reckonings have, historically, been very hard-and are resisted by those who are being asked to face the music. So it is now. There are events that have already happened and those yet to transpire, which have caused, and may cause, me to wince. Many of the great national heroes of our past are being lumped with those who challenged our country’s more enlightened social constructs.

The Confederates, even with the attempted revisionist history of the period 1985-2015, are still relatively easy to relegate to museums and scholarly study. I have visited Stonewall Jackson House, in Lexington, VA and learned that he taught his male slaves to read and write-using the Bible as text. I have learned that he was an organic gardener and herbalist. I recall thinking that, well, Hitler was a vegetarian. There is a difference between Thomas Jackson and der Fuehrer, in terms of degree of supremacism. Nonetheless, Stonewall OWNED people.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, and John Tyler each owned people. They did great things for the Nation, but they OWNED people. The Presidents from the northern and midwestern states didn’t own human beings, but they supported the institution of slavery, to one extent or another, right past the Emancipation Proclamation (which only freed the enslaved people of the states which had seceded). New York City even had a plan to secede from the Union, in 1864, to guard Wall Street’s investments in cotton and tobacco.

All Presidents, with the possible exceptions of William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, had blindspots when it came to the First Nations-and, except for Lyndon Johnson, none had a true sense that African-Americans were the equals of European-Americans. There were limits to how much the country was willling to do, to set things right.

For purposes of this post, I will stop by saying that “Liberals” and “Progressives” do not have a sterling track record, when it comes to empowering and working WITH those for whom they claim to support. There are many paternalistic efforts being made, which only draw the condemnation of conservatives and their supporters among the African-American and First Nations communities. Doing things FOR people has only resulted in a lack of progress for these communities.

I remind those on the Right, though, of two things: The Democrats who actively engaged in segregationist policies, until 1970, or so, became Republicans, at the invitation of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, in the 1970’s and’80’s. Donald Trump is accelerating that effort, in the current era. Secondly, there is still a climate of fear being stoked, by the leaders of both parties, but the Republicans are in charge-and can fire up the machinery of pushback.

Personally, I see value in some aspects of both sides of the aisle. There remain these, however: African-Americans, for lack of a better collective, are not “Negroes”, “coloured people”, or even “people of colour”. There is no “Negro Problem”. Native Americans, asking for their land titles, are still not intent on destroying long-established communities with diverse populations. I was in Maine, duirng the Penobscot Land Settlement. The once and again owners of 2/3 of the state’s land did not evict anyone from that territory. The settlement was legal and financial, not socially disruptive. It was gratifying, as the Penobscot Nation includes some of my distant relatives.

Both sides would do well to get past hatred of the other and dispense with any air of superiority, especially when approaching the communities about whom they claim to care.

Here is a link to a very important, and challenging, presentation. It is worth a lot of thought, in my humble opinion. God bless America.

The Road to 65, Mile 150: Sagarmatha

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April 27, 2015, Chino Valley-  Nepal, and the Himalayan region in general, is suffering deeply from the effects of Sunday’s earthquake and the ongoing aftershocks.  A great deal of attention is going to the Westerners who are stuck on the slopes of Mount Everest.  To be sure, the deaths of climbers are as tragic, in their way, as any other loss.  Trekking is a key source of revenue for the Nepalese, as for those in Indian Sikkim, in Pakistani Swat and in Bhutan, which is only recently opening up to the mountaineers.

The immediate concern of most of the international community, though, is the plight of ordinary Nepalese.  The one silver lining for them is that the Himalayan winter is drawing to a close, and the monsoons are a ways off.  This gives the army of native and international aid workers a chance to accomplish the slow, painstaking work of clearing rubble, burying the dead, healing the injured, replanting fields and initiating long-term reconstruction.

These are orders as tall as Sagarmatha, the Sherpa name for Mount Everest.  The process is as delicate as the ice sheets which now present an obstacle to several climbers who are trying to descend the mighty overlord.  It will require fortitude as enduring as the great mountain itself.

There remain, though, the vagaries of the News Cycle, and by Wednesday, much ado will again be made of the Clinton Foundation (about which, more later) and due attention will be paid to Baltimore (about which, more tomorrow).  The marriage issue will also supplant matters abroad, for a time.

I am neither young, nor financially wealthy.  The skills I would bring to the table, were I to go to a disaster area, would be the ability to teach the young, a well of compassion and the willingness to get my hands dirty, doing whatever is needed to rebuild the community. I am unlikely to just jump on a plane, though, and show up with a bright, but determined, face.

These are my scattered thoughts about the shattered and beautiful land and its people.  For now, I will finish the academic year, comforting those closer to home, getting a rootless man on his way to a better life in another state and pushing forward with my Spirit Quest to the northwest coast.