“Almost safe from the cold” I kept thinking during what I thought would be our last day of riding when in Van Horn. It turned out not to be so as the Texas Hills still had this mystery to me, and a call from my Friend Kristi and her daughter Kelcie camping in Garner Park, Leaky, Texas, changed the direction of our route. There had been already too much, too fast, too cold and no rest. I was suddenly looking forward to this. So much so that the recent days was by then already an almost “blur”. The waters from the many rivers running through the Hills I was told were low, sad situation for the many businesses depending on the future influx of tourists tubing down their currants, but for me a great opportunity to photograph the outstanding puzzle of rocks and trunks now almost dry from their lack of water.
We arrived early afternoon and easily set up camp in this beautiful Park, fairly vacant for the time being, only a few steps away from what started much photography for a couple days. Unprepared for any cooking, too late for a store run, I was introduced to MRE’s. MRE’s actually were the snacks we had after a late lunch at the Lost Maple Cafe in Utopia. Why cook when the prepared food is that good and inexpensive. I am talking about the restaurant, not the MRE. Of course now a couple days have past and my opinion has changed a bit! I can see ourselves camping for days in Valley of the Gods as we have in the past, where no fresh provisions are available or even have the room and refrigeration enough to carry them, I think we will then start ourselves hiding a few of those in Spirit’s sidecar. The blueberry cobbler was not bad! The Beef Stroganoff, well, I don’t know what those little hard balls were!
It is nice company and a positive experience when two people with the passion of Photography feed each other ideas with no pressure of time passed and push each other out of the envelope one might remain in if alone. New ideas, new settings, an angle not seen before maybe, alone and away or close by comparing the shots. Someone familiar with the environment also helps a lot, deciding the destinations throughout the day, including where to eat! Spirit has a new Friend, Kelcie. It seems that Pit Bull’s reputation had preceded Spirit as it happens quite too often, and she found to her surprise a well behaved dog which opened up a barrage of questions I am always happy to answer for the goodness of this great breed.
It looks as he owns the place… doesn’t he? Spirit has been in my eyes the Hero throughout this outing. I just cannot imagine anyone else sitting in that sidecar for 3400 miles in the short time it took us to roam around a bit, including bad weather. Human riders do get an award for such and such mileage, I think he more than deserves one. Never heard a complain, not a sigh, he did however started laying down lately and giving me these looks as to when this was going to be over. I reassured him that this will not happen again, no more traveling in this hurried fashion at the mercy of the cold winter not allowing us to spend much time outdoor and always looking for shelter. Our shelter is here… at The Oasis.
Always looking at the camera. His Life and mine reminds me of this photo below I took while there. Two trees entangled for Life of different backgrounds, structure, colors and even their covers not matching, but with the same need to propel forward on a path that can and should only go higher and higher as we try everyday.
Spirit was also the hero throughout our late evening while camping and savoring this blueberry cobbler. We heard some commotion not too far away, only a few feet beyond a tree trunk, some flurried noises, impossible to see and too late for any intervention while getting our flashlights. Spirit somehow had gotten loose from his leash and was defending his domain from what we thought and hoped would be a racoon. There was no need to see, our sense of smell told us right away that Mr Skunk had paid us a visit. I will join now my many Friends who, for some unknown reasons, to me anyhow, are always saying “poor Spirit”… His winter coat saved him much but there was a bit of panic on my part and much apprehension when I saw his eyes shut. A towel and much water later, some rolling in the dirt, some more water and the situation was under control. His health that is… not the smell.
I never minded the smell of skunk. Riding the many miles it is always present in the countryside, but I had never experienced it myself this close with such concentration. Quite an experience, and late at night I could only keep him in the vestibule, luckily very large, versus in the tent itself. The next day, late in the afternoon, chatting with some friendly campers next to us, the “skunk” conversation came up, and remembering that tomato juice will take the smell away, we settled for some borrowed Bloody Mary mix which Spirit also did not care much for but did the job. “Poor Spirit…”. My Hero…
It has been a couple fine days in the Hills. Yet much to discover, maybe even as I always think move to the area for a bit when the wildflowers bloom, that is if they ever do this year due to the drought. We arrived back here last night a bit late, just in time to ride with the sunset, not before getting “that” feel of Big Bend when already passing through Marathon. There is “magic” here, I am convinced of it. This first day back has passed by in a hurry. I have not even unpacked yet, and already as I look outside, amidst some puffs of clouds on the horizon, the sun is getting ready to make room for the stars within night’s darkness and desolate silence that surrounds us. It is going to take us a few days to get reorganized, put things away I guess unless taking off again… but that might and will have to wait for warmer weathers. No more freezing, no more motel rooms, no more gazillion miles a day! Stop and go has always been our speed and shall remain that way.
There are many more photos of the Hills and a passenger that crowded Spirit a bit who I almost gave a ride here… next time. In the meantime trying to catch up on e mails and all that stuff. Much Love.
Twenty eight months of Photography is finally in order on SmugMug… In “Your Favorites”, in “States”, some labeled “first year” and second year”, now also “Texas the third year”. Feel free to browse, you can even use the slide show mode and have fun.
Merchandise is also available through SmugMug. If you like to order a print all sizes are available as I store the originals myself considering the huge bandwidth needed to upload on the Gallery.
Help us keep the site alive. Please contribute… The logistics of it have become costly. It is an open book, its pages for the taking with always the hope that you will support their presence.
Ara & Spirit