in one great, pervasive, influential, and awesome way: space."
“Blue Highways” by William Least Heat Moon
For a wee bit over three weeks, I was lying low in Flat Florida.
Yes, I loved my quality time and Happy Hours with Mike and Robin. (AKA the best brother and sister-in-law in the World). Yes, it was wonderful to view mellow manatees, stilt-legged shore birds, pelotons of pelicans and playful porpoises. Yes, I loved the endless miles of beach walks while listening to a soothing surf. Yes, I enjoyed my ocean sunrises and sunsets. Yes, I thrilled at the Fire and Fury of witnessing a NASA rocket lift-off from Cape Canaveral. Yes, it was great to wear tank tops and baggy shorts for days on end.
The only negative was when an alligator ripped my flesh. Well, not exactly, but it sounds a lot more heroic than being filleted by shrubbery. ( I’ll never look at those green predators the same again )
Despite this blood loss, I had a relaxed, easy going 22 days of Beach Boy bliss.
But, I found myself missing the West. I needed uphill. I craved canyons, mountains and passes. I was lusting for Zip Code sized Big Views devoid of people. I desired Space.
The definition of the what the West is, or where it begins scores opinions from authors, explorers, the US Census Bureau and one Wandering Wondering Jew.
Wallace Stegner described the West as “the geography of hope.”
Gertrude Stein said: 'In the United States there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is. That is what makes America what it is.”
John Wesley Powell that one-armed adventurer and long time director of the US Geological Survey believed the West began to the left of the 100th Meridian. A line separating moist from arid lands. Or another way of stating this: Mother Nature provides the water for crops vs. the necessity of irrigation.
The US Census Bureau gets right to the point. According to this Governmental body counter, the West is comprised of the Rocky Mountain Region, the Great Basin and the West Coast. They tossed Hawaii and Alaska into the pot as well. I guess they didn’t want America’s newest states to feel left out.
For one WW J, the concept of the West is pretty simple. The better part of America begins on the hilly side of Interstate 25. This 1,068 mile north-south road doesn’t run from Canada (Eh!) to Mexico (Si!), so I conceived an imaginary four-lane in my mind for completion. ( Sort of like Borders; just human drawn lines in so many places.)
Jim Morrison of the Doors sang it all so well. “The West is the best.”
I’m now in Snobsdale, AZ. I’m provisioning Barley the Van for a month’s stay in Death Valley National Park. From there, I’ll visit the Mohave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park, Bishop, CA ( an eastern Sierra Nevada town on the 395 corridor), Zion and Bryce NPs, Grand Staircase/Escalante and Bear Ears National Monuments ( what’s left of them after they have been desecrated by President Short Term Thinker ) and a bevy of other beautiful places in the Southwest.
My ETA back to Colorado is mid-May. Right in time for a blizzard of heart attack heavy wet White Death. Once there, I’ll see Family, friends and Rockies and Junior College World Series baseball.
So...if you find yourself on the sunny side of the Southwest, feel free to look me up. I’ll have a spare box of Macs and Cheese and extra IPAs (AKA the Nectar of the Gods). I’m willing to share. My library is well stocked with history books too. Does any American really desire a future President who isn’t well read? I think not.
The last photo is one month’s worth of Happy Hours. A fella can get mighty thirsty in the Desert.
Fun folks are always welcome at my campfire.
Here’s some extra reading if you are curious about a WW J’s typical day.