Tag Archives: Arizona

The Long Trip Home

In the next few weeks I crossed much of the west. From North Dakota. Down to Arizona. And west to California.

News was breaking and I wanted to see. In North Dakota the river was flooding. So I made my way there to write a story. When I got there I spoke with some local news teams. I had hoped to write something freelance. But it didn’t work out. Being a new reporter I imagined things would come to me in a way I soon discovered was wrong.

I did get a Labor Ready job though. It was with the city of Moorehead. Inside a large warehouse I helped stack sandbags to be delivered. I worked with the city for a number of days. At the end they suggested I apply for a job. It was a good area. An area I could see myself going back to live. But not at the time.

The flooding had caused havoc along a long part of the river. This was the Red River of the North. Not to be confused with the one along northern Texas border. This one runs north along the Dakotas and Minnesota. This being one of the flattest parts of the country. When the river flooded, it spread out fast.

While I was in Fargo I slept in my car. There was an all-night coffee shop. It had free wifi, so this is where I used the internet. In general Fargo was a friendly college town.

While in the area I took a side trip into Minnesota. The Mississippi River begins not far from Fargo. And I wanted to see the headwaters of the great river. To see its humble origin. By this time I had given up on writing a news story. And my Labor Ready job was winding down. It looked like it would be time for me to leave soon. I couldn’t be so close and not make the trip.

Finding the birth place of the river was easy. Up a small paved path from a parking lot was a small lake. The outflow of this lake was maybe 15 feet wide. But if you dropped a twig in it, the twig could float all the way to the ocean. It would go down the longest river in the country. When you think of how important the river is to our nation. And how long, and wide it becomes. It enters the world in a obscure park, when I was there there were few visitors.

After this short trip I started back west. I wanted to make a stop at Mount Rushmore. I’d been there before. But I wanted to see it again. It was a bit of a race against time. To get there before it got dark. But I made it, speeding across the Dakotas. There isn’t much to see in these states. But seeing Mount Rushmore is an experience. And I saw the monument to Crazy Horse off in the distance and fog while driving. But it was dark, and the park was closed.

After stopping in Wyoming I started back for California. I had graduated but hadn’t done a ceremony. Since I had free time I wanted to be there to walk with my friends. When I got back to Arcata I thought I would stay for the week. But then I got a short-term job and fell in love in a long-term way. So plans changed.

There was an adventure along my path back to Arcata. From Wyoming I drove south to Boulder. It is such a magical place for me. I spent a couple days in town. And I hiked to the top of the Flat Irons. I didn’t plan on staying in town. Though I always think about staying every time I visit. One day I may move to Boulder and stay to live for a while. But this wasn’t the time to think about such a move. In the past I’d taken the northern route from Boulder to California. This time I took the southern route.

It went through the high mountains, and along route 70. I drove right through Vail, a place where I would soon be living. Though I didn’t know it at the time. I got off the freeway and drove along the route I drove many times later in my life. The mountains are amazing, still covered in snow at the tops. I couldn’t have gone to Yellowstone on this trip because of the weather. But the road through the Rockies was clear.

Moving out of Colorado into Utah I found an amazing landscape. There are few words to really tell people what it looked like in front of me. It looked like an alien landscape. It was orange. The rolling land was broken by deep canyons. The colour made me feel like I was on another planet. Like Mars, but it wasn’t red. The ground had little life. Looking around I couldn’t imagine I was still on earth. It was beautiful in a way which I’d never imagined. I had no clue such a place even existed. All my trips through Utah were in the north. And it has its own beauty. But it is flat and grey, and white. Nothing like the striking deep colours of the San Rafael Reef. This magical place was formed under the ground. After being pushed to the surface it was eroded by many floods. These formed the deep canyons and mesas of the area.

Coming west my goal was Arcata. But I had yet another short adventure.

I went to visit my family in Stockton. I’d talked to mother about a trip to see my brother in Arizona. I asked if she could afford to pay for the gas, and I would drive. We took the route through the desert of Nevada. Because I love Nevada. Even though I got a speeding ticket on this trip. It was a smooth drive down. We stopped for the night a couple hours from Phoenix. It was a cheap little hotel in a small town. The bed was comfy enough for me to sleep. Even if the towels didn’t match each other. Mother pointed this fact out.

Once in Phoenix we spent a couple days with my brother. This was the first time in a number of years I’d seen my brother. He was well. We took a hike on one of the mountains in town. But it was hot there, and Mother wanted to return. On the drive back we stopped at the Grand Canyon. I’d also been here a couple years before with my father. I wasn’t sure if Mother had seen the canyon. Either way it seemed like a waste to drive so near and not stop.

The good news about the return trip was I didn’t get a tickets. Some of those small towns have slow speed limits. But we also made a stop in Reno on the way home. Mother’s sisters live there – and yes I know they are my aunts. But I don’t know them at all. So, they are my mother’s sisters. After visiting for a couple hours we made our way home. We drove along the scenic Lake Tahoe.

After leaving Mother in Stockton I made my way home to Arcata. I think we may have many homes in this world. If this is true, my heart will always be at home in Arcata. And Santa Cruz, Yosemite, Boulder.

Like I said. My plan was to walk in the ceremony. Then leave town. And yes my plans got turned around and I stayed for about two years.


I love Boulder. The first time I went to the city was with M. We were on our trip. Hitch-hiking alone across the country. It had rained on us before Boulder.

There isn’t much I recall. We spent most of our days on the mall. Not hanging out with the hippies. M and I didn’t spend much time with hippies.

We did spend time in the park. Laying out things in the sun to dry. This was a constant on our trip. Something never got dry. In Boulder the park is near the library. We slept an outside corner of the library building. Shocking in how easy it would have been to find us. But we didn’t get bothered.

I recall it started to rain. One day we were spanging. A man in a coat walked by as we asked for money. Then we saw he was a cop. I kind of thought we might be in trouble. I apologized. But he waved it off. Saying he was human too, and gave us some change. Boulder struck me as a friendly place.

Our last night we spent in a school bus. It was pounding down rain as we slept close. I love the sound of rain.

The next time I was in Boulder I was alone. It was after the gathering in Montana. I did tarot reading for money. I never made a lot, but I made enough. This is one of the best times of my life.

I woke up near the stream. Went to the park and did yoga. Ate healthy food from the local market. After breakfast I did tarot readings. It was a space I enjoyed. There were a few people I got to know. Afterwards I would eat dinner. Then I called M on the phone. We reconnected just before I got to Boulder.

All of the people I met were interesting. One man was sure the world was stacked against men. I don’t know he hated women. But it was borderline at times. We weren’t close. But we did talk. He took me out to eat a couple times. I try and accept people for who they are, not what they believe. It isn’t always easy. And it wasn’t easy with him.

I met some of the most amazing women of my life. One was named Otter. She did a Brazilian form of marshal arts. And was so hot. The way I met her was she just introduced herself one day. I see you all the time, it just felt right to introduce myself she explained. She had to amazing friends as well.

During my stay in Boulder, Otter made a trip to Arizona. I had a friend living in Tucson. So I went along to visit my friend. I remember driving with Otter. We would joke about getting hamburgers with bacon. She didn’t eat meat.

I had met Kai Butterfly at the gathering. But got to know her better in Boulder. She was there with her dog. I’ve always impressed by how beautiful she is at a deep level. One of the people I love profoundly.

There was a routine to this visit. I could have maintained it forever. Except the weather. I knew winter would come. It was time to go back to California.

The next visit was in 2001. Many of my memories involve a man named John. He was older and had a beard. He looked a little like Usama Bin Laden. A fact he said teens found to be cool after Sept. 11. I looked like someone their parents were afraid of, John explained.

John told me about chemicals in plastic. But not all his ideas were as sound. We spent a lot of time together and shared food. Again I was doing tarot to make money. One time I had a big salad I was eating. I could see John hesitate for a moment taking something out. But then he ate it. He told me later he didn’t know what he was eating. But figured he could trust me.

I’ve been picked on for years. And I guess without knowing I learned how to let it pass. While in Boulder, John said he learned this trick. He told the story of being at the library. The assistant made comment disparaging of him. But instead of engaging with the comment he just ignored it and walked away. It made me happy to think I had a positive effect on his life. I’ve lost touch with John and I miss him.

John told me he worked with Ayn Rand. I hadn’t read her books at the time. He had done some research for her. We spent time with some students of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. It was run by beat poet Anne Waldman. One of my favorite poems is written by her about Boulder. But John questioned her commitment to the school. The students weren’t happy. One time we saw her at dinner. I wanted to talk to her about the poem. But John accosted her about spending more time with the students. Which didn’t end well.

John was a bit crazier than the rest of us.

Boulder has a great library. And it has always been a spot I’ve spent much time. Not just using the internet. But also reading books. It felt comfortable. The whole town felt comfortable, the cost of living aside. If I could afford to live there I would in a second. But like many college towns it is far from cheap.

This visit was just before going to the Michigan gathering. I made a short stop on the way back as well. It was actually during the stop on the way back we met Anne Waldman.

The city of Boulder has a great pedestrian mall. For several blocks it has businesses, and wide walking space. People do performances in this space. People stop and rest. Some people eat and meet friends. It is a community space. On part of the mall is a playground for children.

But I also recall the creek running through town. The library was on both sides of the creek. With a connecting hallway. There was a long bike, walking path. It was in this park I spent much of my time. And where I did my yoga. I spent a lot of time just walking the bike path. Some would ride the creek in inner tubes. I imagine it would be a fun path to bike.

The last time I was in Boulder was in 2010. Having just gotten let go from the job in Wyoming. I had done some traveling and stopped in Boulder and my way home. It was a short visit. I was offered a job washing dishes. But I wanted to get home to Arcata. I took some photos. And I did a hike of the Flat Irons. An amazing hike. I miss Boulder.

The Grand Canyon

The first time he saw it. It was sudden. The desert lay around him. A sage brush filled blankness. He drove along  thin road. Keeping with the traffic. The sky was wide and blue. Then at a bend you could see it.

There was a Grand Canyon. Falling away from the floor. A unbelievable depth. He stopped. He stared. It is like looking at the stars. They are so far away your brain doesn’t understand. And away out there was the bottom. A river wounding though the land. But it was so far. How could it be so far. He stared. And feared falling to his death.

The cliffs were layers and layers of sand. Rock created over an senseless amount of time. The layers like sheets of paper. Adding a feeling of depth. He almost wanted to count the layers. But knew it was a fools errand. The sun was beating down. His head turned this way. And then the other way. Staring down into the giant hole.

But it wasn’t just deep. It was wide. Could he even see the other side. How many ions was the ocean working on this in secret. Imagine the first person who found this place. Did they lose their mind. Could they even believe their eyes anymore. The canyon wasn’t a hole. And it wasn’t a crack. Though poets may call it both. Not even a fissure. The canyon is multiples of anything you can think. Canyons, cracks, holes. Because it was so wide. A fractal of canyons falling into canyons. Holes sunk into holes. And cracks which just kept cracking.

He couldn’t stop staring at the depth. Like this time I will understand. But he didn’t. And he stared some more. It wasn’t an empty landscape. A trail could be seen. The thin line like a con-trail cutting across the sky. A comet path in orbit. And trees. Like baby trees. Like ant trees. Down there so far beneath his feet. But were they trees at all. He stared from this rock, and then from the rock over there, and then another rock. He was drawn to the edge. And feared the edge.

Could a person even take a picture. His camera was with him. And he attempted to capture the canyon. But failed over and over again. He couldn’t photograph it any more than he could understand.

Standing before something so big, you turn to others. It makes you feel small. And you know your mind can’t grasp what is sees. You talk to others and they talk to you. People don’t speak to each other in public. But along the edge of this spectacle you talk. The various features have names. And they are named after gods and goddess. They look like temples. The god and goddess having come to earth. Made themselves homes with their own hands. And dug a ditch to keep humans away. Those mounds look like humans have never touched them.

He felt like he could stare for hours. But he wanted to move along. To see from another spot. Maybe he could understand from another angle. And every look contained the same raw power. The same vast explosion of being. Every look was the first look. Your mind can’t hold what it doesn’t grasp.

Over millions of years. Layer after layer. Winter and summer, winter and summer. The water washed its way into the very foundation rock of our planet. At the bottom is the Vishnu Shale layer. Rocks close to two billion years old. Half the age of our planet. And layered deeper than anyone knows.

There are almost 2 billion years of history written on the canyon walls. You can see traces of seas. And traces of deserts. Deep traces of history. One can’t imagine a timeline so long. As long as the life of those rocks at the bottom. And what kind of world gave birth to those rocks. The heat and the pressure they have existed through. They sat for so long. Under oceans. Under sand dunes. And they still sit beneath our feet.

It makes him dizzy. Again he fears the edge. But he can’t keep away. Won’t stay back where it is safe. Because he still hasn’t grasped the view. Hasn’t come to terms with its being.

On day two things aren’t any better. It is still the same. And his mind is still too small. In fact years later he makes a second trip. Which does nothing to help him understand. This canyon. One could wonder in its lives for ages. Disappear like Everett Ruess. In this incomprehensible labyrinth there is no exit. And there is no Minotaur. I’ll be honest. The subject of this story is myself.

Years later I sit unsure of anything I saw on those trips. And I want to go back again and again. To re-read it like a sacred script. Find the secret passages of truth. Seek the depths of our world. Crawl into the hole and come out like Alice in another land. Anything seems possible in a world where the canyon is possible.

The first time is like sex. But better. You remember what you thought. What you saw. How you felt. And there is something deep inside. A longing to return. There is a taste and a desire remaining. As long as I breathe. Even now it pulses. Return.

If I ever see it again, I am certain it will feel fresh. Once again the first time. In the long years between these years of my youth and my death. I hope to visit it again and again. In the shadow of the canyon, humanity itself is always in its youth. The layers representing our lives, our whole history. They would be a couple feet. In a mile deep timeline. Maybe another people, or race will follow us in a thousand years. The canyon will still be there in the dirt. But traces of ourselves will have washed and blown away.

Be Bold

“I want to do something bold.”

“Something like what?”

“Something I will be proud of tomorrow. And I want to do it with you.”

“I believe in you.”

“Right now I want to kiss you.”

“And then?”

“How about we quit our dull lives, in nondescript towns. How about we run away together.”

“Where do you want to go?”

“A new town, for both of us. An art town in Colorado. Or a dusty place in Arizona. A conservative village in Kansas.”


“My dear I could go anywhere if I was with you.”


“The world couldn’t harm me if I had the harbor of your arms at night. I could face anything as long as I could row my small boat ashore on your heart.”

“And what would we do?”

“We would start a new life, create a life worth living for both of us. Create lives which are works of art. Be the people we have always dreamed of being before it is too late.”

“And our love will keep us alive?”

“Yes, yes it will. We can start a healing center. A cafe, a restaurant, a tea shop, a tarot-astrological foundation, a yoga gym.”

“I like the sound of your dream.”

“And it would take something even more daring. A whole new level of bravery for both of us.”


“Yes, we need to commit to each other in a real way. In a way we know we can risk it all and we will struggle together. We have to know we won’t be alone.”

“I don’t want you to be alone anymore.”

“And I don’t ever want to leave you.”

“Can we do this?”

“Can we continue to live these lives which aren’t taking us anywhere? I want to live my dream. To walk my true path at least for one breath of my life. And if it is my last breath, I will die happy.”

“When do you want to do this?”

“I don’t know. I am scared.”


“The problem with being brave is you don’t know tomorrow. It is hard to tell what you will look back on and be proud. And what you will look back on and wonder how you were so stupid. There isn’t much which divides the uniquely brave from the uniquely stupid.”

“But you aren’t stupid.”

“And neither are you. And I am afraid for how much I love you.”

“Afraid of love?”

“Yes, and afraid of how far apart we are right now. There seems to be a world between us.”

“But I feel close to you.”

“And I feel close to you. Can I hold you for a moment. And kiss you again?”


“I feel far away from myself. The self which used to climb mountains. The self which dared to love. As much as  I search for this person. I never seem to find him.”

“I found him.”

“But what if I fail you. What if love isn’t enough to feed us when we are hungry. Because I don’t know love.”

“What do you mean you don’t know love.”

“My fear has always been understanding love. And knowing it was love and not lust, or simple base needs. You are an amazing jewel, an angel and a goddess.”

“Thank you. You are amazing too.”

“But I wonder if I can  be the man for you? I fear my own doubts for myself make me less of a man.”

“Please don’t be afraid and kiss me again, it will help you.”

“Do you think you could really love me?”

“I think I do.”

Car Problems

Here I am 16 years later. Sitting alone in a rented room. With a job in customer service which doesn’t pay enough. I am older, but nothing else has changed.

My finances are just as shoddy as they have been for years. I have no real savings to account for my life. No amount of money, no real items of value. Not even any close friendships. What have I done for 16 years, but tread water.

Today my car broke down and it makes me feel so helpless. It means more of a cost on my credit cards. A couple years ago I thought I could start to make progress. But now I am further in debt than ever. I hate having to work to pay debt. There is a part of myself which would love to drop it all and hit the road.

But I know my problems will be waiting for me when I stop. Only they will be worse for not having been tended during my absence. Why can’t I win the lotto and just pay off my debt. Oh yeah, I never play the lotto.

It isn’t the car problems. It is my life problems. As much as I like working at Walmart. I still think about quitting. It wouldn’t be easy. Most of all without another job which could support me. Even if I had to pick up and move. But moving itself is another cost. And I could afford to take the leap if I had confidence of where I would land.

There are many people I could see myself with right now. But most of all I see myself alone. And I am. In a deep way I feel like I am losing my ability to relate to people in a meaningful connection. For too long all my relationships have been perfectly surface images.

It is a down day for me for sure. But I have been feeling restless for a while now. I want this job to take me somewhere, I want to go somewhere. Or I want to go somewhere. Washington and Oregon hasn’t turned out to be the home I imagined it might be when I moved here. Maybe Salida. Maybe Arkansas. Maybe Utopia.

This morning before the car wouldn’t start I read an article about New York City. And it made me want to go back. I miss the subways. I miss Times Square. I miss the city in a way I don’t miss many places. The Turtle Pond. The Castle. The Williamsburg Bridge. And my car not starting could have been a sign. Go back to where you don’t need your car. But how would I live in the city. Where would I work? How would I pay rent? Would I be any better off at the end of the day?

Or would I still be me, with the same problems, in a different show.`

Maybe I should be brave and do something real. But at the same time I know I have many real things holding me down. And one persons act of bravery is another person’s act of stupidity. Take the Darwin Awards. Are they wrecklessly insane? or wrecklessly courageous?

Does it matter in the end if the results are the same? And the results of poor planning are rarely an improvement. At least they have not been so far for myself.

And I pick up and move to Tuscon, Arizona. The sunny desert. Except when it isn’t and it is cold. And I have no friends there, even less than here. And I start from the ground and I think life will be better. But then like moving here from Texas. Like when I moved to Texas from Nebraska. Or from Colorado to Nebraska. Life is the same. The problems are the same.

At least here I have a little more hope I can keep building towards a future where I won’t be so desperate. So broke. So alone. You can’t build anything when you are moving all the time. And I have been moving too much already. I want to rest. I want to sleep. I want to stop. I want to die.

How do you believe the world will end? In fire or ice? Will our universe start to collapse into a new big bang? Or extend itself too far, and all it’s energy be diluted. The universe frozen to death.

And maybe the lotto wouldn’t fix my problems. What would I really choose to do today if I had no debts from yesterday. It is almost too scary to think about, to ask. I would be free. Would I know what to do with so much freedom? Would I remain like an elephant in my chains? Would it make me feel any better about myself and my life. And how much longer until I was in debt again?

Write people tell me. You’re a great writer. I don’t care. I may be a good writer, but I am not Stephen King. I am not J.D. Robb. Not even J.K. Rowling. There is a difference between writing things people like to read and things people will pay money to read. And who pays money for books anymore?

I don’t doubt my skill. I doubt the world cares about my skill enough for them to value me and my life. And it isn’t the world’s job to care about me. It isn’t my friends or family’s job to care for me or about me. We are all doing out best afterall. And I am not the only one with problems. Not the only one broken by this life. Not the only one alone in this world. Not the only one.

Why have I created this world for myself? What could I be hoping to learn? And why have I not learned it yet. It is like the email I keep in my inbox for coding lessons. I want to learn SQL and make a database to create my own computer flash cards. But I also want to learn Spanish, and French. I would like to learn English better too.

Okay, I give up for today. It is time for bed. Maybe tomorrow will feel like a better day.