Monday, July 30, 2012

Catching Up in Big Western Way (warning: photo heavy, ok, you're warned)

I was thinking, how to do this, catching up after so much going on. I decided I would just let the pictures tell the stories, with a little explanation from me. I hope you like it as much as I have, because it's been a damn good time. Crazy, fun, weird and a tiny bit of whoa! It's really long and too many photos but if I don't do it now, it will be lost forever. Sorry! Click gone as you wish.

Right now, I'm in a motel in Sierra Blanca. It was supposed to be a shopping trip and ended up being a trip with the truck overheating, right at the border check . We sat there watching it red line, waiting and hoping that each car check would be quick and that the dogs wouldn't make an arrest. It wasn't the border, but these checks are done on many roads, even in Colorado. I think if a few hundred thousand people knew what was happening in America, they would grab up the revolution banner and get going. But I know; the ones who have a chicken or a squab in every pot won't...I'm just here to let you know, it's really very bizarre in certain places here in America, and I wonder how many people realize that many assumed American freedoms are gone. Another post for another day. In the meantime, I was an am just seriously glad the truck didn't blow up at the border crossing, that the guys were cool, giving us water while the red line went back to normal. Thanks, border guys and the universe. I was scared and I don't scare easy. Nothing a vodka tonic can't calm down...eventually.

Let the game begin.

*The following is what I wrote when I thought I could do this a section at a time. But that isn't happening. So wade through it if you like or skip it and go to the photos. This was part of the bus trip.

~~~~Sitting waiting for the bus in Topeka. A bus pulls up and I know it isn't mine but I don't trust the bus yet. The system is alien to me and I need to find my bus world legs. So I watch. I watch a girl get off the bus and the driver open the luggage doors. He gestures randomly, slams it shut and gets back on the bus, shutting the door. The girl bangs on the door, yelling something. The something was that he was driving off with her luggage still on the bus. She would have to drive to Salina to get it as the bus driver would not be turning back. Ok, that was interesting.

Unlike that guy, our bus driver was great. A very short, stocky woman with steel grey hair, she called us hon and darlin' and made sure everyone and everything was where it should be. When we approached our last stop in Wichita, she made (roughly) the following announcement. "Now, when we get in, I'll get off the bus. The new driver will get his things together and you can get off the bus for a few minutes if you like. The door will be shut after you. Do NOT go banging on the door like your mother locked you out of the house, it WILL open again when the driver is ready. This driver will not wait for you when it is time to go, so make sure you are back on the bus. He really will leave! Thanks for riding with us." She was a lot funnier, but what I really didn't understand is that she was warning us about the next driver, and she wasn't kidding at all.

Senor Bus Driver reminded me of my seventh grade math teacher that we all hated. He knew we hated him and I think he hated us as well. Here is (roughly) a sample of Señor Bus Driver. "I didn't tell you to get on the bus! Wait! Wait!" Then he would make the bold offender wait until the VERY end of the line. "Get OUT of the front seat! Those are for handicapped people! "But sir, I was sitting there before you came on the bus. "You are on my bus now and no one sits in those seats! Go to the back of the bus!" Which he told every passenger, black, white, brown, male or female. Later, on the microphone; loudly. "You! You in the back of the bus with your feet on the seats! Yes YOU! Do you think this is your sofa at home? It is not!" Soft snickers are heard around the bus. Señor Bus Driver is not amused. "Respect!" he commands. The bus goes silent. We are all five years old. We hate him.

The guy who sat next to me. I sort of fell in love with him.
Except...for me. Because, as we were reboarding (and switching to him as a driver), another Greyhound guy came on the bus and said, 'We have a little problem...there are fires in Oklahoma and you are going to have to divert to an alternative route.' Señor Bus Driver threw his hands up saying, "I don't know an alternate route, I don't have a GPS! The company will not give us a GPS!" I said, I have a GPS. He said 'Go sit in the front seat.' Great, now everyone on the bus would hate me. But then, a guy came and sat with me, who also knew another way to get there. He turned out to be an amazing guy who is a big story for another time, but he was on his way home after five months working in North Dakota. His wife was waiting for him. Go well, guy.

This is Kim. She is a reformed crack head who had a husband and a boyfriend  who died from their bad choices. She also lost her kids. But many many years later she decided that life wasn't going anywhere and got her bits together. She is on the bus going to see her daughter and grandkids, who she hasn't seen in years. She wants to come to Culebra  If you see her, give her a hug, she's a good one who survived some insane times. We get that. Hi, Kim!
This is a weird art thing coming into Oklahoma City. I got the shot that a few of us tried to get. I have no idea what it is, but it's cool. the lights change and there you are and Bob's your uncle.

Lousy photo but it was dark and I was waiting for it a long time and then oops! There it was!

President George Bush Turnpike. Which I think is akin to maybe being named after a landfill. 

Night shot (as in 2 a.m) photo of Dallas 

This woman...her brother was shot point blank in the chest in Texas and killed. She was on her way to Louisiana to his funeral. She was one of nine children and had an attitude that knocked me out. She showed me photos of her family that she was taking home, her brother and all the kids when they were little, more and more. A seriously sad story and she said, when I said how amazingly well she was doing, RikRik would have wanted this. Side story: Her mother at home is with her other brother Diangelo, and says RikRik, come here. Her brother says, Moma, I'm Diangelo...her mother ignores that and so the brother ignores it. They go into the yard and the mother says, RikRik, come and look at this...and he says again, Mama, I'm not RikRik and the mother says, I know, but you're my new RikRik now. They are going inside and a chandelier in the dining room falls on the floor. Diangelo says, Mama, you called RikRik and he's just answered you. ~~
I love that story. I love this girl.

This really beautiful girl was sitting up when I met her at the Dallas bus station. I needed to charge some batteries and you have to stand right there to be sure nothing happens. She looked up at me and I think I wrote above what happened broke my heart. She was so gone and so needing of something. I kept counting my blessings.

After a million warnings from bus people about the Dallas bus station to not go outside, this was the first guy I saw. He's about 6'7 and beautiful. I asked him if I could take his photo and he said he couldn't let me do that full on but if I acted like it was a random shot it was okay.
So he posed for me. I was in love. Again. When you are in a scary place and a dude like this is around? Life is good.

This guy was out in the smoking cage. Yes, I just said that, it was that. He asked me for a dollar to get a day pass on some bus. Which I think was bullshit but he gave me some entertainment value. I said, I'll give you a dollar if I can take your picture and he said, you can take all the pictures you like if you give me two dollars. I told him he was  pushing it big time. He agreed.  The woman next to him was my side mate for the next zillion miles. Hard core, wonderful.
She's coming up.

City shot of Dallas

More of Dallas. It looks really pretty at 2 a.m. but in the daylight? Not so much.

Not sure what this is, but in the night, it was all lit up and freaking beautiful.
Not so bad in the day either.

I was here. That's all I remember about this bus stop.

I forget but I think this might be a Six Flags thing. Lots on the bus talking about it.

Ok, maybe I'm a pervert, but make of this what you will.

A cool depot, but it's not a depot anymore. I could have played a lot more with this photos...but I didn't.

Just a neat big old building...somewhere in Texas. As are the next few.

A rest stop in Texas. I think this is Something Prarie. But it had places for us to plug in our whatevers outside. Pretty funny. Yeah, that's my phone.

In case you are wondering how you get your US oil? These are them.

A windmill farm out in the oil fields. Irony is ironic

This was a tiny town with an awesome whatever the hell it was. Note the stature of liberty?

Just in case you didn't see her. There was a time when a bunch of these were commissioned all over the US. Look it up, cool history. If I had more time, I'd give you links but...I don't. Don't fail me, readers, check it out, it's pretty cool US info.
Just google 'little statue of liberty's' and that should work.

It was closed. Good thing or I'd have had to jump off the bus.

Yes, you know what this is

Another bit along the way

As is this

There is a LOT of railroad graffiti! Some crap, like this, some really pretty amazing. I watched a lot of trains along the way. This was one of them. 

How could I resist?

There are so many abandoned businesses in Texas, that symbol of American gung ho. Pretty sad.

I pledge allegiance to the...oh, hi China!

But the flag still waves. Sort of.


This woman is from Georgia and has the accent to prove it. She was tough, real, funny and had been through some tough times in her life, but toughness prevailed. I was a little afraid of her, in a good way, but enough that I didn't ask for her photo, even though I'm sure she would have been fine about it.. t loved her hair and stole this photo of it. She was heading to Phoenix to see her grand babies and usually never took the bus. We had a few things in common but that was the biggest at the time. It helped pass the time and in Texas on a bus before you get to the mountains, time stretches in a out of body experience way. 

Some of my fellow travelers

How to disguise a dead business
This young guy, 28, told me about how his mother stopped helping him. He was trying to pull his life together and going back to school and in the middle of it, she just stopped being supportive. So he was on his way to his sister's home and still trying. I hope he makes it. 

I have no idea why I took this photo, except that I liked it more than sad stories. 

Up until I saw this, I was getting a bit worried. Miles and miles of flat land as in three hours of it, was making me wonder if I'd made a big mistake heading this way. I love Jack but how bored was I willing to be? Then I saw these mountains and my grin got bigger. It just got better from here.

This is the motel Jack got for us. I didn't know he was doing that but he wanted me to come to his place in the daytime and I have to say, a hot shower and a bed was like Dreamland Disney. It was a hilariously nothing spot in the road, but it was clean and after two days on a bus, it was heaven with a view. A weird view, but a view. Welcome to Van Horn, Texas.

The view across the street from the motel in the morning. I was delighted. 

They must have gotten some funds for these lights because they went down the road in droves. 

Heading out of Van Horn. The weather turned drama.

I'm totally in love with this mountain. It's the Guadalupe range. 

These are the salt flats of Salt Flat, TX.  Salty looking, aren't they?
I didn't lick them but I thought about it. Not very long.

Salt Flat Cafe. I could have taken the bus to here but I didn't know that.
Sorry for the extra 95 miles you have to go to pick me up, Jack. 

Just a cool building.

See the middle photo of the spring gushing over a rock? It doesn't exist. Just saying.

Dead truck stop. 

I think they didn't know the open arched thing was supposed to be on the bottom

May's Cafe! Yes, she's back. (she sold it and then the guy ran out of $, so...she's back)

May's Cafe

Cool cactus. 

May got back the land that a guy thought he was going to turn into a golf resort.
Now it's May's church. No matter what.

Cows don't go to church

Heading to Jack's place. We're close now
Campo MJ. Yes, the view is...drop jaw awesome. 

More of the view from Jack's

This bird flew by

Everywhere is a view like this. It's like a huge valley surrounded by mountain ranges.
I'm working on learning their names.

These rocks became Jack's front steps. Shoot me, I arrange things. 
We saw some cows. I pissed them off.

An abandoned cow place., but cool.

I am now an official bone collector. 

Jack gave me a huge bed to blow up with the generator. I ended up hating it because it was eating up all my tent, so now it's a folded up pad under my sleeping bag and I'm a lot happier.

Sunset the first night. Wow.

Me taking photos of cactus. Exciting, I know.

In some little town, the fire engine. Really.

A graveyard of fire hydrants. 

There aren't a lot of bars around here. I mean, within hundreds of miles, not a lot.
This is one, but it wasn't open. 

They don't mess around with wimpy bales of hay here.

Chili peppers!!!! This area is famous for them.

Another cow I pissed off

A prairie dog checking us out while we checked him out.

Oh dear god!!! Cactus detour! What way do we go??

If you look closely, the markings on this cow are weird. Black front, brown middle, black back.
Yes, I'm easily entertained. Did I mention that?

All the cows are so intent on anything different and we are different. Uh...yeah.

A thistle. Are you excited yet?

We were desperate for some water and scared these cows away from their watering hole. Oops.

There were a lot of butterflies here at the stock pond. I mean, hundreds.
 I just got a few photos and this is one of them. Is there something in cow shit they like?

There were also these electric blue dragon flies. Wow!

And out of the mud (this pond was just new with water) came the pollywogs. 

And more dragonflies. 

I sent Jack ahead to test the water. Hey, I gave him a walking stick. 

Jack saying 'Howdy' to all the ones he loves. I hope he doesn't die of any infections. 

We went way in the boonies on a drive about. I hope he got a ride home. 



Crows on fence posts

Crows we scared away flying

Another stock pond with a mud duck we scared away. Call me Ms. Environmentalist Chick

Yes, there is water in Texas. Muddy water. Yes, I sang the song.

Jack swore there were antelope. I already won a bet about coyotes singing that I never heard, but yes, there ARE antelopes in west Texas. Here they are. 

There are horny toads too. Ok, I don't really know what this is, but it's horny spiky. 

We got seriously into collecting cow bones. Now I'm addicted. Jack thought I was a bit...whatever, but now he's a bona fide cow bone collector. 

Some of the special bones. The first skull I found, along with the tail bones and intact backbone. 

Jupitar and Mars from my tent view.


It's official. It's freaking beautiful here!
Sorry about the length and too many photos, but my time is going in a full way and I'm having too much fun and no internet connection, so bear with me. Or not!

Have a momentously terrific Monday Tuesday! Do something mondo tirelessly.