Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mountains to Desert

Right now we are sitting cozily in our faithful scamp in central Arizona at Lost Dutchmen State Park. We have had some adventures in the past week which we have been too busy having for me to write about once again. It feels somewhat inconsistent to have written so little about our adventures and does not really do them the justice that they deserve to merely summarize, but that’s what I will have to do I’m afraid. It’s much more fun to write about what we’re doing now!

We traveled through Texas and stayed at a beautiful state park with amazing views of the Davis mountain range which was a lovely morning surprise to wake up and see mountains glowing orange, and small phantoms of mist rising off of the desert. Complete with a hot spring for swimming, it is a very scenic and beautiful park.

How mountainous this whole area has been from western Texas, up into New Mexico and then over along Route 10 (if you feel like looking at a map) I have never imagined this area to be so full of mountains. We keep joking that every mountain range we see must be the Rockies, every corner we turn we say “That’s them; they’ve GOT to be the Rockies.”

We spent a day and night at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park right on the border of New Mexico which we had literally to ourselves and one other human. The camping area is right at the base of the mountains and we got some killer winds, coyote sounds, photographs and a great walk through the low lying canyon.

After over thirty five hundred our muffler sadly decided to detach itself from our car. This created an epic diesel fog in the cabin of the car, and the surrounding area! I’m laughing so hard as I write this. A mysterious rattle that could not be located resulted in this problem, so we decided not to stay another night in the Guadalupe Mountains and to head north to Roswell New Mexico to get it repaired. We arrived to sleet and an overnight snow that iced the doors shut and iced our pillows to the insides of the camper! We have zero degree sleeping bags so we were warm and fine, but if you had seen us stumbling out the good old Beatrice in the morning to find ice and snow plastered to everything, I’m sure you would have enjoyed it. Our visit included a visit to my Grandfathers grave, some family genealogy tracking, visits to the library, antique and bookstore. The most amazing car junk yard that Pat and I have ever seen lay just on the outskirts of town filled to the brim with incredible old cars in amazing condition. Everyone in Roswell seems to have a fabulous looking old truck from the fifties or sixties that isn’t rusted like our cars back east! Old car lovers we couldn’t get enough. We got a kick of driving around and looking at the southwest style holiday decorations, kids playing in the snow with no winter coats, and the absence of plows! It hasn’t rained in over a year there so this was the first precipitation they’ve seen in a long time. Our car was repaired quickly, we met some very friendly and talkative local folks and met an adventurous and kind woman in our campground (hello if you’re reading this!) who is also traveling across the country from Washington State headed toward the east coast.

Our drive from Roswell to Phoenix Arizona over the past couple of days has been very beautiful. We drove through the Mescalaro Apache Reservation which was one of the prettiest areas on our whole trip, took pictures of mountains while leaning out of car windows in the freezing cold, ate delicious Mexican pastries and marveled at the changing scenery.

Today it has changed so fast to cactus country. We have an incredible guard over our campsite this evening, a tall twenty five foot tall Saguaro cactus! There have been some along the highway that have to be taller than that, absolutely massive incredible plants.

It feels so strange that we can get to all these places on a series of roads, it feels like we should have to work a lot harder to get to these incredible sights, years ago it would have been on foot or horseback as the native peoples of this area would have thousands of years ago. We certainly appreciate the variety of places that we’ve gotten to go, it’s just a big like feeling jet lagged from a long trip. A week ago we were looking at cypress tree’s in Louisiana and now we’re accompanied by cactus and sandy desert. To walk from one place to the next you would really get to see the slow change from environment to environment. Here I am cooking up the walking idea! Watch out!

So in this land of dry earth and a thousand shades of brown, and a perpetual blue sky we spend the night. It is clear outside and stars dot the sky despite the city lights of Phoenix nearby. After following the train tracks all day and watching the relics of lost desert towns we landed here and we are glad of it. It is a strange land filled with yellow planes scanning the borders of Mexico and flying over the highways, to the perpetual barbed wire fence that seems to stretch from Tennessee to the ranches here, it is a different culture but still connected to everything that came before it. I feel like we are in a constantly moving painting stretching out in front of us to a never ending skyline and mountains that fool us into believing that we exist on the top of the world.
Tomorrow it is off to Los Angeles to see our very good friend and to meet new ones too. To the big city these to country kids go. Hopefully the crazy winds will allow us into the fair city to a barbecue at the beach that has been promised on our arrival!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cypress Rythm

Where the alligators float in Louisiana...
A big papa cypress spared from logging long ago, one of the bigggest in the Jean Lafitte National Park
We’re leaving New Orleans Louisiana and going through central Texas now, through San Antonio. Yes we went to LA and then we went. Went and went as I say. Straight from Memphis and through the night through a dark and rainy Mississippi we drove. To land ourselves in what will remain an unnamed RV park that we passed by at twelve AM in our quest for sleep.

Cypress in the Jean Lafitte National Park
Louisiana was everything and more than we thought it might be, a landscape dotted with cypress trees and homes nestled in among the swamps and bayous. The only way out by small boats, hidden in among the moss covered trees that drip down onto the edges of the bayou banks. I regret not writing while we were there, but as usual our running was faster than typing hands could keep up with. So many new colors and sounds and birds and plants it was overwhelmingly beautiful.

We visited the magnificent French Quarter in downtown New Orleans creatively built homes inspired by Spanish, French, West Indian, and African influence. Stucco painted in every color, but muted with age. Iron railings, shutters a story tall, and old stone streets meshed with new sidewalks slowly being upturned by tree roots and old age.

The French Quarter in New Orleans

We got to pay a visit to the New Orleans favorite music hall, Preservation Hall. A small room packed with history and legendary players, literally preserved for the players that are still performing the music that was born in New Orleans. Where the confluence of so many cultures from around the world blended to create a new sound that still lives on today thanks to the musicians keeping it alive.  We got to sit on pillows on the floor to hear the Joint Chief’s of Jazz play to us, and I felt like I was a little kid sitting underneath a Christmas tree. Paintings of the people that made music famous in the city line the walls and the light moves very softly throughout the room. A block over on the infamous Bourbon Street there are long lines of bars playing modern music, and the fact that Preservation Hall is still packed on a Wednesday night shows the enduring legacy to the music played there. I wish there had been more of it!

Jean Lafitte National Park, hey everybody!

Old street history

We got a great tip from our park ranger where we were staying on a great restaurant called Coops Place. Best Ever. Two words, that’s it. We also visited the Jean Lafitte National park and walked through the Cypress swamp and marshland areas. There in the downtown our feet stood on the promenade dotted with paint from the sidewalk portrait painters. Voodoo shops with charms and beads and masks, fortune tellers with candlelit tables lined the park in the center of the city at night, and music emanates from alleyways and shop fronts and sidewalk players. Our visit lasted for three days and we really enjoyed the friendliness of the people we met, and relaxed attitude and is our favorite place we’ve visited so far. If you get to pay a visit we’d highly recommend it, and the friendly folks at Bayou Segnette state park in Westwego Louisiana. A fitting name for the journey we’re on, and today we’re doing just that, heading west again across the great big state of Texas.

Till later on,