So many miles gone by

Best brooch ever.
Best brooch ever.

It seems a long time ago when we finished up our float down the Rio Grande. The four of us arrived at the Heath Canyon take-out across from the defunct mining town of La Linda two weeks ago. It was a very smooth trip full of unexpected delights and a generally relaxed ambiance. You can read about it in the posts below if you haven’t already. As soon as we landed things went a little south for me.

Recent flooding wiped out the road to the shore of the Rio Grande so you either hump your gear a quarter mile or you pay some dude an unspecified tip to carry gear to wear the van and trailer can park. At least that was the rumor. Everything on the Rio Grande was shrouded in an air of uncertainty.

We arrived at the take-out a day before the shuttle was due because desirable camp sites were scarce near the take-out and the shuttle company charged $75 an hour so we did not want to arrive late. Better to pack up the night before and enjoy the wait the next morning. As storm cloud formed on the horizon we deconstructed our water crafts and did the best we could to wash away excess mud. Hardened mud was everywhere. It was in the seams of Stells’s tubes, under the decking, mashed into the cam straps. If there was a hollow spot there was mud. We threw water with our bucket and used sponges found abandoned on the gravel. It was heavy work but satisfying. After nine days with no hope of being clean we were finally heading in the right direction.

As soon as Stella was cleaned my back went out. I was reaching for sponge to hand it to M. I’d felt twinges of irritation all week so it wasn’t a complete surprise but I had hoped to make it off the river and get a rest to avoid the drama. Suddenly I could not stand up. I was stuck bent over for about 10 minutes. The gravel and mud prevented a collapse to the ground. I just hung there in terrible pain. My legs began to quake as I tried to keep from causing more damage. Eventually I pushed myself upright. From that point on I was in the position of having to tell Burt what I wanted done instead of doing it myself. I hate ordering Burt around. He was receptive given the emergency but it was very awkward for me. Burt rolled up Stella and then moved everything to higher ground because the storm clouds concerned me that a flash flood might be headed our way. With the chore done I paced the beach and hoped for relief.

What should have been a lovely evening of storm watching was for me just a sort of fizzle out of a great trip. Pffft. We retired to bed. The next morning a team of characters met us and offered tehir services to shuttle our gear up to the road. Rumors of the tipped based intermediary shuttle turned out to be true. These dudes were at the end of the road in more ways than one. Wives had abandoned them because Walmart was too far away. They wondered if we hand any marijuana we could spare. They could not stop talking. Me, grateful for any excuse, said, “I need a walk” and I disappeared for an hour of road walking. I saw a coyote. My back was killing me but I adhere to the keep moving or die school of back care. I walked.

Without more than some hugs and a see you next year, we bid farewell to our companions. I had the Olvis in mind. I wanted a shower and my dogs. As I lay in the Van Horn, TX cheapo hotel bed post shower I noticed a really big cockroach running across my bed. Huh. There’s another one. I looked for the black bug. I even swatted at it. I felt like I was hallucinating. I kept seeing a bug run by behind my computer as I wrote. I got up and looked for it. I was very calm. That was when I realized to bug was following me everywhere I looked. It wasn’t a bug it was a really big floater in my field of vision. Hmmmm. Seems like a bad thing.

I googled sudden eye floater and read not to worry unless there were flashes of light. I mentioned it to Burt and decided not to worry. There were no flashes of light. If there were flashes of light the interwebz said get to a doctor ASAP. Flashes of light combined with a new floater might be a medical emergency. Twenty-four hours later we were doing laundry in Portal, AZ and trying to decide our agenda for the next few days. I lay in bed and noticed a flash of light. Oh, shit. We were three hours from medical attention. I immediately went into a panic attack. Burt called my doctor. He agreed it was an emergency. We called Portalites. We tried to decide how to best get medical care for an eye emergency on a weekend in a city where we have no eye doctor. After many plans and phone calls we decided to head to an emergency room the next morning in Tucson. Burt would get up early and pack everything and we’d head out as soon as possible. So that’s what we did. I spent a night watching the cockroach scurry as flashes of lightening lit him up. I wondered if I should try LSD. It might have made me feel better. Medical emergencies when you are a transient in a remote location don’t come with straightforward solutions.  More later.

Take-out at
Take-out at
Take-out
Take-out
Stella packed. Here's the new shore line from the over night flash flood.
Stella packed. Here’s the new shore line from the over night flash flood.
A local with exceptional facial geography.
A local with exceptional facial geography. It might house a geode.
Boating is colorful.
Boating is colorful.
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Terlingua, Texas

Starlight Theatre in Terlingua Texas
Starlight Theatre in Terlingua Texas

On January 31, 2010 the Gypsy Carpenters had a bit of stage fright getting ready for a show at the Starlight Theatre in Terlingua, Texas. I just refreshed my memory by reading about it HERE. It’s funny to imagine Burt and I sitting at opposite ends of the trailer playing solitaire to pass the time. The near ubiquity of internet has ruined us. No more hours at the table playing Pinochle or solitaire. It’s online Bridge or social media now. We’re nearing nine years on the road. Our anniversary of lift-off is 11/22. Back in the beginning there was more internal pressure to perform and get this duo off the ground. Until we started rambling we’d only regularly played in bands of five or more. The Gypsy Carpenters was a new endeavor and we weren’t sure we (me) could pull it off. In the gap I learned to sing harmony and play leads more confidently if not more competently. Since then we’ve played so many gigs and events and parties that we are completely confident in what we can and cannot do as a twosome and the pressure is off us to perform.

Two weeks or so ago we were waiting to meet our river floating companions as they drove in from Bluff, Utah. Our rendezvous point was Terlingua. Terlingua is home to the company that would shuttle our gear and us to the river. Burt and I popped in for dinner at the Starlight Theatre and caught a show and the memories of our gig. The side stage we played was gone and it felt like a loss because the night’s group was physically removed from the diners. But the Starlight remains a beautiful venue and has more room for dancing if you’re so inclined. The food is good, too. I had a green chili antelope burger. Yum.

I hear from Burt that a friend of a friend is doing a PhD on the music scene of Terlingua. (Are you reading this Colin?) The town has a critical mass of performers and they feed off each other. The night we were there we got to watch and listen as people came on and off the stage and formed and reformed the group as the night drifted by. It was informal and relaxed. I felt like I could just walk up and say, “I got something…” But I didn’t. I’d had my night on the stage and it was a great one.

This sums it up for me.
This sums it up for me.
Everything's bigger in Texas
Everything’s bigger in Texas
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