Busted flat in California – Salton Sea, CA

The potato truck roared toward us and left Maggie with one decision, leap into the irrigation canal or plunge down the road bank.

Maggie chose dust over drowning, took her buggy airborne and belly skidded to halt in the date palm grove.

The truck billowed by a flattened Maggie and Woody just stared. She lay there in the dirt and palm fronds, wrapped in tugs and breaching like a poorly tied hay bale. Then out shot her front legs and… Continue reading

Salvation Mountain – Slab City, CA

LOVE” rose huge and pink from the airborne desert sands. Above it in red the words “GOD IS” and crowning the three worlds, like a s sabre stabbing a cake, a telephone pole cross.

I rode closer.

I’d been in the desert four days. I was down to five pounds and four gallons of desert currency; grain and water. But this I had to investigate.

I reined Woody to the base of the mountainous explosion of wind… Continue reading

Along the American Sahara – Cactus, CA


Alone

They once called it The American Sahara, that line of sand dunes that drifts from Yuma toward the Salton Sea.

Then some geographically correct person re-baptized them the Imperial Dunes. As in the Imperial Valley where they grow truck loads of lettuce and alfalfa. Suddenly the dunes sounded tamer. Smaller. It sissifies mountain of sand to re-name it after a garden, even if it’s one of the nation’s biggest carrot producers.

But just what is large? Does the name… Continue reading

The Official Center of the World – Felicity, CA

“Now stand on the plaque and make a wish” Norma informed me as I approached the bronze circle. I stepped into the ring of raised lettering that read “Official Center of the World” and tread onto the dot at the center. This was it. I closed my eyes. I made my wish.

Then I asked Norma, sort of cowering, “Hey, Norma. Has a mule ever stood at the center of the world?”.

And my wish came true.

Magnolia first, and… Continue reading

The Official Center of the World – Felicity, CA

“Now stand on the plaque and make a wish” Norma informed me as I approached the bronze circle. I stepped into the ring of raised lettering that read “Official Center of the World” and tread onto the dot at the center. This was it. I closed my eyes. I made my wish.

Then I asked Norma, sort of cowering, “Hey, Norma. Has a mule ever stood at the center of the world?”.

And my wish came true.

Magnolia first, and… Continue reading

The Sound of Desert Greening – Mobile, AZ

Last night I heard spring arriving.


The sound of spring on the ground

All winter, it’s been a struggle to keep Woody and Maggie fed.

I can haul some grain on Maggie’s cart; sometimes a few flakes of hay. But as soon as I pitch camp, I tether Maggie by a front leg and turn Woody loose. That way they can browse a bit and add the odd wisps of dry Med grass or mesquite twigs to their meager rations.… Continue reading

Mulespeed – Arizona

The joy of mulespeed is the ease of stopping. At 2 miles per hour, the mind slows to the speed of the scenery. From there, it ain’t much of a leap to standing still.

Standing still is where my mind sees the day’s last photos.

I always keep a camera handy and the photos usually just compose themselves. I just have to press the shutter. The following are just a few Arizona mulespeed scenes.


Barbed wire balls – North of… Continue reading

John Henry – Chiricahua Mountains, AZ

John Henry was saying, “The last polymath was …” but the clanking gears in my brain drowned him out. They were too busy working down the names he’d threaded into the last five minutes’ conversation.

The Dalai Lama, Bronowski, the Kula Trail, L. Ron Hubbard, the three types of Pygmy death (dead, completely dead, forever dead).

Just when my brain got the mess untangled, the flash of silver caught my eye. It was John Henry’s skinning knife relieving a coyote… Continue reading

Sierrita Mining and Ranching – Sahuarita, AZ

When the driver asks you to get off and walk, do it without grumbling. He will not request it unless absolutely necessary.

—from “Hints for Plains Travelers” Omaha Herald, published 1877 .


No grumbling, Bernie

“My ancestors were on the way to California when they broke a wagon wheel in these mountains” Norman said as he handed me a photo copied map of the McGee family ranch.

“While the wheel was being fixed in Tucson, they discovered water and began… Continue reading

Butterfield Stage – Mobile, AZ

It cheers me that I can do today what once took an act of Congress. It’s just too bad they never heard the saguaro.

In 1857, Congress voted funding for an overland mail route “from such point of the Mississippi River as the contractors may select, to San Francisco”. The contractors chose St. Louis. Congress chose San Francisco. Ok, so I chose Oriental, NC to San Diego. Still, our routes often overlapped.

As I make my way across Arizona, I… Continue reading

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