Jan 5, 2015 from the desert

Jan 5, 2015 from the desert
The desert is a good place — to end one year and begin another. I realize that not everyone is attracted to this stark beauty but I feel the draw it has held for many throughout the ages – mystics, artists, eccentrics, loners, outlaws, naturalists, those who are well-grounded, and those who are not. The desert may be a bit like skydiving and riding a motorcycle – if I need to explain it to you, you wouldn’t understand.
These are some pictures of a fascinating rock arrangement someone set up out in the desert within walking distance of where we parked with other boondockers west of Yuma. Art – unannounced, unmarked, not explained. Just there. Like the cacti, the sand, the sunrise …

art in the desert

art in the desert

We also rode over to watch the dune buggies go crazy on the sand at the Imperial Sand Dunes. It looks like fun, but I’m sure all that sand would play havoc with my lungs.
But we needed to come back to Tucson for an appointment, so we drove the truck camper to town and moved back into the 40 foot motorhome parked at the Air Force Base in what they call “over-flow” – meaning there are no hookups (no electricity, water, or plumbing), but that’s Doug’s preference. He has enough solar power for half of Tucson and enormous holding tanks for the other essentials. His solar powers the coffee grinder, coffee pot, tea pot, microwave/convection, and computers, so it’s not like we’re roughing it. The RV park on base is particularly comfortable – the lots are large and the area is quiet. Not the wide open spaces of the desert, but a good compromise when you need to be in town.
Early this week, I woke to snow on the palm trees. Apparently that is as remarkable as snow in NW Florida.

snow on the palm trees

snow on the palm trees

We’ve begun a culinary study of chile rellenos – one that could take a long time, especially since the study requires a parallel review of margaritas.
To insure we leave few stones unturned, we went to Saguaro National Park West, having been to the sister East park several weeks ago. SNP West has more dirt roads than SNP East, but both are beautiful and worth a trip.

a dirt road in Saguaro NP West

a dirt road in Saguaro NP West

Today we rode up to the ski lift on top of Mount Lemmon – this ski resort is in the Arizona desert, at just over 8,000 feet, so it’s not Vale or Steam Boat Springs. But for someone from Florida, it was impressive. This was the first time I watched snowboarders – what a blast my grandkids would have!

There were a number of bikers heading up Mt. Lemmon

There were a number of bikers heading up Mt. Lemmon

the 1st time I've watched snowboarders - not much of that in Florida

the 1st time I’ve watched snowboarders – not much of that in Florida

As we drove down the mountain, we stopped at several overlooks, each with an ordinary stone retaining wall, yet there was one which is anything but ordinary! It was hard to capture with the camera something of the soul that went into the stone work, hard to catch a glimpse of this art through the lens. But what a gift that stranger left, for strangers to enjoy.

a work of art, in stone

a work of art, in stone

Posted in All Blog Posts | Leave a comment

December 28, 2014 after Christmas in the desert

Dec 28, 2014 After Christmas in the desert

in Mexico you can find a pinata for every occasion

in Mexico you can find a pinata for every occasion

my new friends enjoyed their photos

my new friends enjoyed their photos

IMG_3603

so many smiling faces

so many smiling faces

On December 26, we crossed the border into Mexico at Algodones and met some boon docking friends. After I picked up my new glasses, we had lunch (margaritas and chile rellenos) and then I went back to find my new friend, the crippled street vendor/grandmother. She said, in Spanish, that she had told her granddaughters on Christmas Day that I would be back “manana.” As before there were children playing all around her. I brought her copies of the pictures I had taken of them, and then Doug took pictures of us all. I hope you can see something of the joy of life in her eyes and the eyes of the children. Too soon, it was time to leave. She asked when I would return, and I explained I live in Florida and simply didn’t know. She replied with a smile, “I’ll be here waiting for you.”
For years I’d heard about Quartzsite, AZ, a sleepy town off of I-10, 22 miles east of the California border and 100 miles north of Mexico. This non-descript spot in the desert is surrounded by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and sustains a population of maybe 3,000 during the brutal heat of the summer. However, in the winter Quartzsite becomes an RV’ers mecca. As many as 500,000 RV’s come in from all over the country to park in private RV parks and the open Bureau of Land Management property. It’s still a bit early in the season, but the snowbirds are migrating in, gathering for the annual RV swap meet in January. It sounded like the RV version of Sturgis and Daytona, and I’ve skipped both of those big motorcycle rallies because I don’t like crowds.
But then Doug casually mentioned the naked man who runs a bookstore in Quartzsite who when it’s cold, wears three socks. I googled “naked man, bookstore, Quartzsite” and quickly decided the crowds wouldn’t be that bad. Among the things I learned from Google about Paul Winer is that his daughter, Celia, died at the age of 8; he and his wife set up Celia’s Rainbow Garden as a memorial and the town as well as RV’ers actively support it. The garden continues to grow as a memorial to various loved ones.IMG_3632 (1024x683)IMG_3618
It was in the 50’s, unusually cold; as Doug and I bundled up, we made bad jokes about what a naked man wears in the desert in this kind of weather. It was about 80 miles from our boon docking site to Quartzsite, and once in town we headed straight to the Reader’s Oasis Books. It’s a bit unusual – ahem – and has an incredible variety of used and vintage books. After we’d been browsing the stacks for a few minutes, I saw a man hurry by in a coat, cowboy hat, and bare brown legs. I recognized that face from my computer research, so I walked over and introduced myself to Paul Winer and asked what he had by Herman Hess; he responded quickly, “Nothing. I had Siddhartha, but I sold it. It was right here.” When he walked away, I saw a totally bare behind that looked like sagging leather, or maybe like a very skinny elephant butt. I looked at more books and then began another conversation with Paul. He’s articulate, fascinating, and very intelligent. He stocks over 180,000 titles. He does not own a computer, has no website or email address; he doesn’t own a smart phone. If you want to contact him, you call him on the phone at the bookstore. I asked if I could have my picture taken with him; when he took off his coat, I swallowed hard. His strategically-placed sock had two little turquoise stones sewn into the top lip; the sock/pouch was tied around his waist with nylon fishing line; the sock stones matched the turquoise necklace he was wearing. While I was checking all of this out, I couldn’t help but notice that he shaves his pubic hairs. I gave him a copy of my book, Public Secrets and Justice, and he invited me to participate in his Author’s Fair in January/February. Paul is an accomplished musician, playing boogie blues on the piano; he keeps a baby grand piano in the middle of the bookstore. Paul has many tales to tell, including long legal battles to be able to perform as Sweet-Pie, in the nude. He also explained that in the 1970’s his sing-along boogie anthem contained the phrase “fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke” – a line that was picked up later  by Bette Midler. While Paul is out-there, literally and figuratively, he is also compassionate, quick-witted, well-read, and someone with whom I could spend much time talking.IMG_3619

no caption is necessary

no caption is necessary

Paul at work

Paul at work

cauliflower plants just after harvest

cauliflower plants just after harvest

cauliflower too small to harvest

cauliflower too small to harvest

lettuce

lettuce

and more lettuce

and more lettuce

On Sunday we rode over to Yuma – what an amazing variety of crops are grown here! Acres and acres of – cauliflower, lettuce, and beets; groves of lemon trees and Medjool dates.
Monday, we head back to Tucson. Soon I’ll head back to Florida.

Posted in All Blog Posts | Leave a comment

Dec 25, 2014 Feliz Navidad from the windy desert

FELIZ NAVIDAD

Best wishes from the deserts of eastern California! Doug and I are in his truck camper, parked on open land owned by BLM (Bureau of Land Management). There are maybe 30 RV’s scattered across two miles of this rocky desert. We came to this particular spot to spend Christmas with a small group of Boondockers, ; there are 10 rigs parked here and yon with a fire pit as “home base.” There’s no water, sewer, or electricity provided by the desert, so the RV’ers bring their own. Boondockers pride themselves in the myriad of ways they can use solar and skimp on water; it’s also part of the game to park for free. Most of the Boondockers live full-time in their RV’s and some have gone for years without plugging into an electric pole or paying for an RV spot; they simply migrate with the weather. The type of RV’s range from $300,000 motorhomes to truck campers; all of the rigs are tricked out with fancy/expensive solar panels. Doug has $6,000 worth on solar on both his 40 foot motorhome and his truck camper. Boondockers refer to themselves as affluent homeless; they have money, they just don’t want to spend it on “stick houses.”
Last week we took the car down to Puerto Penasco, Mexico, to visit Bones and Ruth, two friends I made on my motorcycle trip around the perimeter of the US. They’ve lived in Mexico for years and took us to many out-of- the-way places, including a couple of their favorite food push carts. I found many opportunities to brush up on my Spanish – my pronunciation is still pretty good but my vocabulary is very limited. We visited an orphanage, Esperanza para los Ninos (hope for the children). The cinder block buildings were clean, the playground well used, the kitchen bustled, and children were scattered around, enjoying the holidays. Abraham, a shy 4 year old, said his best friend’s name is Carlos; the Director explained that Carlos is Abraham’s 6 year old brother. Abraham and Carlos are the youngest residents at the orphanage; their father brought them two years ago. When I asked of the possibility of the brothers returning to family, the Director just shrugged and said their father brought them because he needed help (“ayuda”) She explained about half of their 30 children were voluntarily placed by family and the others are there at the direction of the “gobierno” (Government) — interesting that she did not say “la corte” (Court). My time and Spanish were too limited to go into the process used in Mexico to remove children from their family involuntarily because of neglect or abuse. But my head and my heart were glad to see a place so clearly meeting the needs of “the least of these, my children.” Email contact for the orphanage is esperanza631@hotmail.com
“Puerto Penasco” is Spanish for port of rocks, and from Puerto Penasco an array of boats harvest shrimp, clams, oysters, and a variety of fish. They sell fresh sea food locally and export vast quantities to other countries. The pictures show something of their 15-plus feet tidal surge.
Many people shy away from trips into Mexico, afraid of being caught up in the violence between the drug cartels. Puerto Penasco is only an hour south of the border, on the eastern edge of the Sea of Cortez. Known as the Arizona Beach, at one time it enjoyed a great deal of Gringo tourism but less today because of fear. I felt comfortable there; Bones has lived in Mexico for 10 years. I’ll go again – the seafood is incredible and the people are diverse and engaging.
After four days with Bones and Ruth, we crossed the border back into the States. The Border Patrol doesn’t want to talk to two gray-haired, white faced gringos, so we didn’t even have to slow down.
We stopped for Chinese and got back to the motorhome in Tucson on Saturday night; I went to a Quaker Meeting on Sunday and then washed clothes. We packed up the truck camper and left again on Monday morning, heading towards Yuma to do some boondocking. Once we were set up here in the desert, we headed south to cross the border for the day at Los Algodones where we got our teeth cleaned and did a bit of shopping – with chile rellenos and margaritas for lunch, of course. I got to talk with a woman only slightly younger than I – she’s a crippled street vendor who is raising three granddaughters. This picture includes a couple of extra friends and big smiles. Though her English is very good, I preferred to speak in Spanish which she closely monitored, with gentle corrections. I am very conscious that I have not “earned” my life history – born an American to caring, well-educated parents, good health, good education, great job opportunities – and that this kind lady did nothing “wrong”; to the contrary, she is doing everything right, to offer stability and a better life to three young girls.
We had planned an outside Christmas dinner in the desert with the other boondockers, but a wind storm changed those plans to an indoor Chinese buffet in Yuma. We’re back in the camper now; the wind is howling and rocking the rig. Tomorrow we’ll go back to Algadones to pick up my new eye glasses – and have margaritas and chile rellenos.

blog.3FB.2 FB.1

fishermen time their lives to the tides at Puerto Penasco

fishermen time their lives to the tides at Puerto Penasco

boondockers scattered across the desert

boondockers scattered across the desert

a few RVs, seen from the back of the pickup camper

a few RVs, seen from the back of the pickup camper

a fascinating contraption used to move boats in and out of the water, regardless of the water level

a fascinating contraption used to move boats in and out of the water, regardless of the water level

hauling a boat out at Puerto Penasco

hauling a boat out at Puerto Penasco

Ruth and Bones

Ruth and Bones

fishermen at the dock

fishermen at the dock

Bones and Ruth's home

Bones and Ruth’s home

they covered the restaurant floor with sea shells - not peanut shells

they covered the restaurant floor with sea shells – not peanut shells

it costs 5 pesos to use the women's bathroom, if you're not a customer.  No charge for non-customers in the men's room

it costs 5 pesos to use the women’s bathroom, if you’re not a customer. No charge for non-customers in the men’s room

a grandmother who supports her three granddaughters and has a big enough lap and heart for more.

a grandmother who supports her three granddaughters and has a big enough lap and heart for more.

a health food store

a health food store

the sign at Mexican border  says you have to stay 100 feet away, but I might have been a bit closer

the sign at Mexican border says you have to stay 100 feet away, but I might have been a bit closer

Posted in All Blog Posts | Leave a comment

December 16, 2014 Ancestors

December 16, 2014 – Ancestors
102 years ago today, my dad, Judge Woodrow M. Melvin, was born in in the house his father built at 306 Berryhill Street, Milton, Fl. My grandmother, Laura Melvin, gave birth to six boys in the same bedroom of the house; Dad was #2 A generation later, my parents made their home in that house, and my mother, Juanita Weeks Melvin, gave birth to one son and two daughters — in the same bedroom. Mom would have been 100 this past July 13. There is a Melvin family plot in the Milton Cemetery where most of my recent ancestors are buried.

Fort Bowie - 130 years later

Fort Bowie – 130 years later

7 (1024x683)

The flag marks the old parade grounds at Ft. Bowie

The flag marks the old parade grounds at Ft. Bowie

southern Arizona

southern Arizona

lonesome cow

lonesome cow

a little cold there in the Chiricahua Mountains

a little cold there in the Chiricahua Mountains

a few of the rocks at Chiricahua National Monument

a few of the rocks at Chiricahua National Monument

talk about bumpy roads!

talk about bumpy roads!

San Xavier Mission

San Xavier Mission

San Xavier Mission

San Xavier Mission

On Monday, Doug and I rode down yet another dirt road in the deserts of SE Arizona; we crossed Apache Pass and other places documented in the westward advancement of the White Man. We walked the 1 ½ miles into the ruins of Fort Bowie, a walk which took us through beautiful land and past Apache Springs; the water bubbles out of the ground, runs in a small stream, and then disappears. It was the water that attracted wild game and humans. The location of those springs set the location of the Fort.
The only sounds we heard were the occasional bird and the steady crunch of our shoes on the rocky ground. The trail was scattered with numerous markers describing various battle sites and the myriad of ways the White Man conquered the Indian. I was intrigued was one plaque beside a mock-up of a teepee; it explained the Indian diet which included fresh game and a large variety of nuts and vegetation. At the Fort, a very different sign explained the rough life of the soldiers and their very limited diet.
There is a Fort cemetery, outlined by an adobe wall. Another plaque explains that after the Fort was abandoned (because the Indians had been eradicated after the surrender of Geronimo), the Government moved the bodies of all the officers and most of the enlisted to a National Cemetery in California, leaving the civilians and a couple of Indians. Today there are wooden headstones marked “In Memoriam” to those left behind in this quiet, beautiful corner of Arizona. One tells the story of a six year old boy who was crushed by a wagon wheel; his claim to fame, there amongst the cacti and rolling hills, is that he was the first child buried at the Fort. My grandparents lost a child; he is buried with them at the Milton Cemetery; I think broken hearts look the same, across time and cultures.
At the Visitor’s Center we met an Apache who lives on the Reservation near Gallup, NM; he had come to this site of his Apache ancestors with a different perspective than most tourists. He explained his house on the Reservation has all the modern conveniences and that he has several Aunts who live in hogans with dirt floors and continue to carry water. He spoke with pride of his 4 year old nephew who is the 4th generation descendant of Geronimo. We understood from the pamphlet that Geronimo had surrendered in 1886 and was brought to Fort Bowie, before being shipped by rail to Pensacola, Fl. Pensacola is about 30 miles from my old family home and the Milton cemetery; my grandparents were young adults when Geronimo was locked up at Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island. Our new friend, this modern Apache, showed us a picture of his ancestor, Geronimo – standing on the parade grounds with his hands on his hips.
On Saturday we rode up to the Chiricahua National Monument – a place much colder than the low-lands around Tucson. In fact, I thought I’d freeze to death. The rock formations are the stunning result of 27 million years of erosion which followed the eruption of Turkey Creek Volcano.
We also visited the San Xavier Cathedral – a white adobe structure that reflects the desert sun.
Tomorrow, Dec 17, we’re heading to Puerto Penasco, Mexico, to visit a couple I met three years ago on my four-corners motorcycle ride. Sixteen years ago I spent a week skydiving onto the beaches at Puerto Penasco. It’s a small world, full of adventure.

Posted in All Blog Posts | Leave a comment

Dec 10, 2014 Tucson and points south

Dec 10, 2014 Tucson and points south
Sunday Doug and I headed south from Tucson to Sierra Vista, AZ to do some birding. Birds generally prefer more remote areas, yet remote describes a different place this close to the US/Mexican border. On the way to “remote” we passed Border Patrol and went through check stops on the highways; several miles down the dirt road in route to Miller Canyon we saw a new-to-me sign; we stopped for a quick photo op before going on. At the end of that particular dirt road is Beatty’s Guest Ranch, which is not really a ranch but a “cottage industry” for birders. Their world — miles from any pavement — is quiet, the slopes run quickly up to the Huachuca Mountains, and rocky banks contain a stream, except when flood waters win and throw the rocks around like dice. The Beatty’s home was one of several we’ve visited where the public is invited to sit in a private backyard and enjoy the birds attracted to a variety of feeders. Each feeding station is labeled, “A,” “B,” “C,” etc. and the birders talk in hushed tones to one another, “See the Acorn Woodpecker on “C!” You are charged $5 per person, per day (I think to help defray the cost of feed and offset the inconvenience of giving up their yards), and you leave the money in a box or jar. Mrs. Beatty also grows organic produce to take to the town market each week; we left with tree-ripened Granny Smith apples, yard eggs, squash, sweet potatoes, and onions.
From the Beatty’s we went further south on Hwy 92 to Turkey Track Road, and headed to Ash Canyon on a different dirt trail to another private yard, known as Ash Canyon B&B. We had seen hummingbirds in Mrs. Paton’s yard in Patagonia, but the hummers weren’t at either Beatty’s or Ash Canyon. But at Ash Canyon we saw several varieties including Mexican Jays and a Gila Woodpecker, and something I dubbed a Very Small Beaver, of some rare desert variety. Picture proof is provided; feel free to rename it. I only saw about 3 inches of it; assuming some proportionality I’m guess the critter may be 5 inches long. After sitting for a while in that backyard, we decided against going further up into the canyon; it was getting late, we were hungry, and the Tucson Audubon Society book describes the road beyond the B&B as “rough and rocky and suitable only for high-clearance vehicles.” Given some of the roads we’ve been on, I didn’t want to learn what “rocky” means.
I have spent years developing a reputation as a totally disinterested and unimaginative cook who takes great pride in washing dishes for others. And although I scrupulously avoid cooking practical meal-things, I enjoy baking – a fact known to few. Though I hadn’t turned on the stove or oven since I got to Arizona, yesterday I used those organic apples to create a from-scratch apple pie, and it was very good. Doug doesn’t own a rolling pen, so I had to be a bit creative.

on the dirt road into Miller's Canyon, south of Sierra Vista, AZ

on the dirt road into Miller’s Canyon, south of Sierra Vista, AZ

the creek running thru Miller Canyon

the creek running thru Miller Canyon

Doug and Mrs. Beatty, in Miller's Canyon

Doug and Mrs. Beatty, in Miller’s Canyon

deer on the side of the dirt road, Ash Canyon

deer on the side of the dirt road, Ash Canyon

the mysterious desert beaver

the mysterious desert beaver

A Mexican Jay in Ash Canyon

A Mexican Jay in Ash Canyon

a multi-purpose rolling pen

a multi-purpose rolling pen

a from scratch apple pie - not pretty but very good

a from scratch apple pie – not pretty but very good

Posted in All Blog Posts | Leave a comment

Dec 6, 2014 Back in Tucson

We spent the night in Silver City – a delightful town with a population of about 10,000, founded in 1870. There is a 55 foot ditch running through the center of town, the result of a flood in 1895 that washed out Main Street; the businesses fronting Main began using the

20 miles of dirt define another road less traveled

20 miles of dirt define another road less traveled

pronghorn antelope racing the car

pronghorn antelope racing the car

vermillion flycatcher in Tucson

vermillion flycatcher in Tucson

rear doors as their front doors, and business continued. Today, the ditch is enjoyed as a walking path.
The next day we headed, more or less, toward Tucson. Doug had found another dirt road ;-) At about 20 miles, this one was shorter than the one running west from Patagonia, AZ. A couple of pictures will show why these detours are so much fun. Once we were back on asphalt, we made good time and got into Tucson about dark.

Posted in All Blog Posts | Leave a comment

Dec 4, 2014 from Silver City, NM

On Tuesday, Dec 2, I was part of a fund raiser called BuY the Book at Solace Crisis and Treatment Center in Santa Fe. http://findsolace.org/ They had an auditorium stuffed with an amazing array of donated books — $1 for paperback and $2 for hardbacks. I have no

At Solace Crisis and Treatment - too many good books,not enough time

At Solace Crisis and Treatment – too many good books,not enough time

Maria Jose Rodriguez Cadiz, Director, Laura, and Ned Jacobs, a board member at Solace

Maria Jose Rodriguez Cadiz, Director, Laura, and Ned Jacobs, a board member at Solace

near the Plaza in Santa Fe

near the Plaza in Santa Fe

a barely damp desert after hours of "rain" south of Santa Fe

a barely damp desert after hours of “rain” south of Santa Fe

idea how I’ll get all the books I bought back home on the plane.
Wednesday, Dec 3, I made a two-hour presentation at Solace to the monthly Multi-Disciplinary-Team – a group of professionals from various fields who work on cases involving child abuse. There were about 25 people there with such diverse areas of specialty as forensic nurse, forensic interviewers, state and local law enforcement, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Attorney General, State Prosecutor, therapists, etc. To understate the obvious, their work is demanding, draining, and vital. They are also dedicated, fascinating, funny folks.
After leaving Solace and as soon as I got out of my work clothes, Doug and I went to the Plaza in Santa Fe & just walked around. The architecture and art is delightful and at times eclectic. I love this part of the world, though it is cold (lows in the 30’s & highs 45 – 55) There’s snow on a few mountains, and we passed some ice in the shade beside a sidewalk. Santa Fe is the oldest capital in the US (founded in 1607) and at 7,000 feet it’s also the highest. Denver, though it brags about its altitude, sits at only 5,200 feet.
From Santa Fe we rode south and a bit west for 300 miles to Silver City, NM, another favorite place of mine. I’ve been out West for over a week now but my eyes remain hungry for the high desert – the 30 – 40 mile vistas, dry river beds, squatty trees, stark rock formations. We rode down through light rain that stirred the smell of desert sand. I didn’t need to run the windshield wipers full-time; I’d flick them on randomly to brush water off the windshield. When we stopped for gas, there were small water puddles on the parking lot but none in the sand. The gas station attendant said it had been raining about 12 hours and that hopefully they’d gotten a half an inch. She added, “I can’t wait for it to snow – just not cold enough yet.” We turned west off I-25 and crossed the mountains to Silver City. I look forward to walking around tomorrow and visiting with special friends, Marion and Jamie.

Posted in All Blog Posts | Leave a comment

and I have a few pictures to prove it

on the road againCanelo PassSaguaro cactusThis little guy was in no hurry.  So we waited.

Wide open country.

This Saguaro is also in no hurry.  It’s probably 100 years old, since it has multiple arms.

 

Posted in All Blog Posts | Leave a comment

On the road again ;-)

“On the road again”
I’m working on my nickname again – gypsyjudge.
My mother, Nita Melvin, would have been 100 years old in July of this year. She was a complex, loving person, and full of curiosity. She loved to travel but stayed where she “belonged” — at home with family. She had a world map as a mural on their bedroom wall and used different colored straight pens to mark where various family and friends traveled. Whenever someone was leaving, she would say, “Take my good-looking eyes with you, and come back to tell me all about it.”
So in her honor, I hope to show you some of my travels, through her “good-looking eyes.”
This week I flew from Florida to Tucson to help a friend who is to have eye surgery and won’t be able to drive for a while. The weather here is slightly different than that in Florida – I exchanged soggy and cold for a humidity (8 to 9%) that was a real shocker to my sinuses. The temps in Tucson are in the high 80’s during the day & low 40’s at night.
We visited the Saguaro National Park – the Saguaro are the cacti of cowboy movies. They grow very, very slowly – they don’t begin to grow arms their first 75 to 100 years; they can grow 80 feet tall and live 150 years.
Yesterday we took the car down to Patagonia, AZ. a small town about 60 miles south of Tucson and 20 miles north of the Mexican border. We had burritos for breakfast – of course – with salsa that would take the hair off your tongue. We decided to take “the road less traveled” back to Tucson but chickened out when the pavement ended and the dirt road began to fork, repeatedly. We found a Border Patrol – not hard to do – and he reassured us that the roads were going to ultimately return us to civilization. So we rode 40+ miles on rough, dirt roads – through patches of small oak trees, over dry gullies, and up to Canelo Pass, a high grassland in cowboy country where the cattle have the right-of-way. We made it back to pavement just before the sun went down; then it was only an hour back to Tucson.
Part of this trip will include an excursion to Santa Fe.  We’ll probably find some more back roads along the way.  Tuesday, Dec 2, I will work with the Solace Crises Center, a child advocacy center, as they roll-out their big fund raiser, BuY the Book; I’ll donate 25% of the sales of my book, Public Secrets and Justice, to Solace. On Wednesday, I do a training session with a group of about 30 professionals from a variety of agencies who work with child abuse.
You can reasonably expect some “operator errors” as I begin, again, to learn the technology required for this blog site.  I had a hard time before with pictures – bear with me as I work through it again.

Posted in All Blog Posts | Leave a comment

out of the world of cell phone and internet

Riding the bike out of Santa Fe, heading north to Ghost Ranch Conference Center, I left cell phone and internet service behind.  I was a little concerned about the one+mile dirt/gravel road into Ghost Ranch, but it was fine – not an issue on the VStrom but I’m glad I wasn’t on my ’04 Yamaha FJR.  The gravel was a bit loose, and the tires squirted here and there, but it was all OK.  I set up my tent in the campground and walked around, finding old friends also there for the week’s conference.  My first night on the ground wasn’t especially comfortable; the high-tech sleeping pad was first too hard so I let air out.  Too much air, of course, so I still wasn’t comfortable.  And then I “discovered” the NM no-see-um’s.  Somewhat in size like the hot gnats in Florida  but they pack something that feels like rattle snake venom, to which I am amazingly sensitive.  I woke up with 8 whelps the size of golf balls – red, itchy, hot golf balls.  Being ever-so-slightly stubborn, I resisted the temptation to move up on the Mesa to the full accommodation housing.  The second night, I took a virtual bath in Deep Woods Off and adjusted the sleeping pad and slept well.  The red cliffs of northern New Mexico shed a pink dust of cake-flour consistency that seeps through anything and covers everything.  The tightly zipped tent was no match, and all that I brought was soon covered in pale pink grit. I slept in the tent 4 nights, then bolted on the bike down to Albuquerque on Thurs morning to catch a plane to Indianapolis.  After serial flight delays, I finally arrived at the 5 star motel in Indiana after midnight.  Interesting contrast to the days preceding – I was there as the plenary speaker at the Indiana Juvenile Judges Conference and was to make a 90 minute presentation to 150 Judges.  My room was with the other judges – on one of two floors with access restricted by card key.  The room had all of the upscale amenities, including a bath robe hanging in the closet.  There were no bugs or red clay.  The clothing contrast also made me smile.  I had to look professional for this Conference, rather than look like a biker chick sleeping on the ground with pink dust and biting bugs, but there’s not much hangar space on my bike.  So I’d rolled up my good clothes, stuffed them in the shoe box with my dress shoes, and shipped them to myself at Ghost Ranch.  There I packed them in the saddle bags for the trip to Indiana.  At the hotel, I shook them out and was pleased with the result.  However, I was NOT pleased to find I’d left my hairbrush in the tent.  The only brush I had was my toothbrush.  After grumbling a bit, I called the front desk and the kind lady brought me up a black comb in a plastic sleeve – a comb slightly thicker than a piece of paper and light-years ahead of my toothbrush in hairstyling potential.  Friday morning, I washed my hair, blew it dry, and beat it into submission with the black comb.  With dress clothes and makeup, I completed my Superman-in-the-phone booth transition, and stepped off the elevator looking somewhat judicial.

I felt the talk went well.  A group of 150 judges can be expected to be stoic and academic;  I appreciate their willingness to engage in open discussions of issues unique to the judiciary working in juvenile,  such as the emotional impact on the Judge of hearing traumatic problems as part of a routine workday, and the frustrations of not being able to adequately address various issues of humanity. I hope I left them with ideas to ponder.

I finished at noon on Friday in Indianapolis and flew back to Albuquerque where I’d left my bike and helmet.  Saturday morning I left the motel early and arrived back at Ghost Ranch in time for the 8:30 a.m. program.  I was only in Indianapolis for 15 hours – amazing what modern-day travel allows you to do.

I reluctantly left Ghost Ranch on Sunday – it’s such an amazing place.  I continue to be technologically challenged so I’ll only post pictures at www.facebook.com/Public Secrets and Justice.

 

Posted in All Blog Posts | Leave a comment