Up Bear Creek
by Art Goodtimes
|"Spider Woman" Norwood Livery Show #9|
On the road to New Mexico
Arizona & Colorado
PHOENIX … I took my youngest boy down to this Arizona metropolis to catch a plane to Hawaii – his Telluride Mountain School experiential trip. The lucky tyke. The furthest I remember going on a “class trip” (as we called “experientials” in my day) was Alum Rock Park in San Jose – about 20 miles from my Mountain View school … I’m excited to learn all the Big Island haunts he’s visiting, and especially his snorkeling investigation of coral – his class project … But, omygoddess, Phoenix! I had no idea. It’s huge beyond all measure (or sanity) – I mean, it’s the desert, for goodness sakes. I hadn’t been there for 30 years, and then as a hitchhiker, without wheels. Now, I drove around in various circles, putting in miles on the freeways finding our obscure hotel in Tempe, a “beach” park connected with a stagnant lake, and trying to maneuver the ever busy streets. When did it become the 6th largest city in the nation with a population of almost a million and a half people? And if you measure metro areas, Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale registers as 13th in the nation with just over 4 million. Denver-Aurora-Boulder is 16th with just under 3 million … It was exciting driving over from New Mexico along Interstate 40 to Holbrook, and then taking smaller highways through the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and down through Payson. We knew we were coming close when we wound down through mountains with giant saguaros everywhere – a most impressive site. But the desert floor soon clogged with pavement and buildings and miles and miles of development … Once I dropped the boy off with his classmates and chaperones, I took off for Flagstaff, where I spent the night and had breakfast. I’d lived there, on someone’s front porch, after the Rainbow Gathering in 1979, staying a couple months. It too had changed, grown bigger, but it was recognizable, and manageable. I’ve always had a soft spot for Flag, and the nearby San Francisco peaks … Met a slightly younger version of my bearded paleohippie self at the motel I stayed at, and almost ferried the stranger up to our neck of the woods. He was tempted, and I had room. But he was worried his “Cricket” wouldn’t work in the mountains, and he made his living on phone sales. So he passed up the chance … Which worked out as I gave a Navajo hitchhiker a ride to Cameron from Flag. He was my age, exactly, although he looked a bit older. Had waited a long time for a ride. Said lots of Navajo drove by him in their pickups, which was kind of sad. We had a nice talk. Said they were closing the post office in Cameron, where he lived on the Rez, and he was having to go to a bank in Flag to get his Social Security check. It sounded obtuse. But this was Arizona. And when it comes to social services, no manner of rude and inhospitable behavior would surprise me.
|Mark Walsh explaining the Albuquerque Basin to Rio (left) and Gorio) on the slopes of Sandia Peak|
ALBUQUERQUE … Or “Burque”, as the locals like to say … On the way down, Gregorio Oshá and I made a swing through New Mexico’s biggest city (small chiles by Phoenix standards) to visit with Number One Son (and Gorio’s older brother) – Rio Coyotl. And to see an old friend of Dolores LaChapelle – Mark Walsh.
|Blooming cactus on the slopes of Sandia|
Mark led us on a lovely hike through the desert foothill spring flora of Sandia Peak, an oasis of wild above a basin filling in with development (if not on the scale of Arizona’s red hot growth spots). We feasted on barbequed salmon and had a bit of an adventure, coming back from a quick visit to Rio’s bachelor pad and unable to get inside Mark’s seemingly locked door (it wasn’t) and not wanting to wake anyone up (they were waiting for us). We ended up sleeping on pads on the lovely back deck under windy skies – one of those traveling adventures that you’d never do on purpose, but look back on kind of fondly. Roughing it, as Mom would say.
|Susan, Gorio and Susan's dogs hiking off into Canyons of the Ancients in McElmo Canyon|
MCELMO CANYON … Part of our discomfort might have been the royal digs we’d enjoyed the night before Burque, visiting my friend Susan Thomas in McElmo Canyon. Having just built a most amazing home right across from Battle Rock, my boy and I enjoyed a separate lock-off apartment under the main house that we stayed in – beds, breakfast and another lovely hike on a trail into the Canyon of the Ancients Monument – accessed through a gate along her back fence … Susan has a daughter, Francesca, who’s Gorio’s age, and who has horses – has had her own horse since she was born. It’s been a while since I was around (barely) teen-age girls, so it was fun, all of us telling stories and sharing tales.
|Commissioner Pete McKay speaking at the Mining Conference|
SILVERTON … Getting back to Colorado was no relief from traveling. I made a blitzkrieg visit to the Silverton Caldera and the San Juan Hardrock Mining and Water Quality Conference sponsored by Mountain Studies Institute at the Kendall Mountain Recreation Center. Some 25 years after the Idarado Superfund Cleanup, I got an opportunity to explain what a unique and successful settlement it turned out to be. Having been on Gov. Romer’s local committee that managed a win-win-win for Newmont Mining Company, Telluride/San Miguel County, and the environment … It’s a good story, and folks there seemed to enjoy it …
|Mobile at LaChapelle Park|
My buddy, Commissioner Pete McKay, who’s also running for re-election this year, took me for a visit to LaChapelle Park that was created just north of town to honor its famous resident. It’s a beautiful spot, with signs leading folks up to a bluff for a grand view of the town and a lovely stone circle, with pictures of Dolores, David and Ed tucked into a niche in the rock.
LEWIS-ARRIOLA … That’s one of the stops between Cortez and Dove Creek and the middle school gym was where the Lower DoloresPlan Working Group has been trying to hammer out a collaborative alternative to Wild & Scenic designation for the Dolores River. It’s a several year process, but the group is close to making a recommendations, although there are still some boundary and fish issues to work out. It’s been an amazing process. Peter Mueller gave an eloquent talk about collaboration, and it’s amazing to see Repubs and Demcrats, conservatives and liberals, ranchers and enviros all working closely together – singing the praises of having everyone at the table. It makes you realize. Government may not work on the national or state levels, but locally and regionally we seem to do pretty good.
URANIUM DRIVE-IN … Suzan Beraza used Kickstarter to raise over $5000 to start work on her Uranium Drive-In documentary. I was a proud contributor … West End folks are also trying to raise money to save their old Uranium Drive-In sign. It once stood on the road outside the drive-in itself -- on the hill above Naturita.. I remember watching a film at that drive-in when I came to the region 30 years ago. I may not be a fan of uranium mining or nuclear power, but I do love the history of a region – and the sign seemed to sum up a lot about the West End, where uranium mining was such an important historical boom (and bust). The sign itself is a classic drive-in come-on. It bounced around the region. Sat in front of a hilltop gas station in Nucla for a while. Now a Restoration Team has set up a site on Indiegogo and have raised over half their goal of $10,000 dollars to try and restore the sign and put it on public display. They only have a couple weeks left to meet their goal. I’ve donated to the cause. Check it out and send them a donation.
THE TALKING GOURD
Let us not
the hope of wreckage, the
strength of shattering.
That which breaks
can mend with stronger bond.
re-arrange into new wholes
mosaic into patterns new.
Splinters sand to dovetail, dado,
Unbonded elements regroup, reform, reforge.
But that which sits in
safe or wary neglect,
that which fades and crumbles
can only blow away.