Putting the Me in Utah

I decided I would simply hitch a ride to wherever the next car out was going. There were a lot of families with kids at the ranch so i just had to find someone with room in their car and not too much food smushed into back seat cushions. Well… two out of three ain’t bad, right? It’s not like my pants were so clean to start with anyways. I honestly can’t even remember their last name, but this very nice family was going back home to Salt Lake City, which sounded to me like a nice enough spot—why the hell not?

So I turned in my spurs, said goodbye to Sandy (did I even tell you about the horse that saved my life?) and Mike and then voila—off I go, turning the last 3 weeks into a mirage, the only traces remaining is the stench that I just can’t seem to shake.

Utah, Utah – there must be a song about Utah, though I can’t think of any.

I’m at a youth hostel now in Salt Lake City, explored a bit this evening, and now I desperately need a map so I can figure out where I’m going tomorrow morning. I’ve barely used my tent and since the weather out here is so perfect right now, I want to go somewhere where I can sleep under the stars. Ok, google maps…

Okay, there is A LOT to do here. I’m thinking I’ll start at Capitol Reef National Park, and then go over to Arches National Park, then down to Canyonlands National Park — that makes the most sense I think, but then Zion National Park is totally in the opposite direction, as is Bryce Canyon National Park, so maybe that doesn’t make sense. Bear with me…

Okay, this is better: Zion National Park (long bus ride from Salt Lake City, I think) to Bryce Canyon to Canyonlands and then to Arches and I’ll skip Capitol Reef.

Okay cool, I’m going to Zion tomorrow!

Wow, was just browsing and see that you can ride a bobsled at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. And I’m kinda interested in visiting the Historic Temple Square here in Salt Lake. Maybe I should stay in SLC for a few days?

Why am I starting to stress out over this? What happened to relaxed Tim who didn’t give a damn about planning. I need to sign off and go to bed. In the morning, wherever and whenever I’m in the mood to go to, I’ll go.


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Getting in touch with my inner Cowboy

Yeehaw!
It was my goal to become head wrangler and I am proud to announce that I have achieved that title. After much persistence and insistence (begging, really), I came out on top!

Mike: Tim, you may not be head wrangler without years of experience.
Tim: Please, Mike, Please.
Mike: No. Stop bothering me.
Tim: Please, Mike, Please.
Mike: If I let you accompany the head wrangler for a day will you shut up and leave me alone?
Tim: Yes.
Mike: Fine. Shut up and leave me alone.

And THAT’S how I became head wrangler!

Meanwhile, I’ve spent most of the last 2 weeks feeding pigs, washing dishes, and pretending to be important, but I’ve also taken a few excursions from the ranch. Last week I went to Eagle Ranch where I went on a guided tour of how pistachio nuts are grown and processed—and anyone who knows me knows that I was totally in my element. Combine ranches and pistachios and you’ve got one happy guy.

There’s a genre of museums that I didn’t know about til now and because of my recent ranch escapades, I’ve got a newfound appreciation for: the ranch museum. I went to the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum as well as the Ghost Ranch Living Museum. There are a bunch more though, that either highlight the history of ranch life or are museums of local arts and crafts work that’s housed in a ranch. The Spring River Park and Zoo I hear is good too—there’s a ranch there with Texas longhorns (my new best friends) on display.

The culture out here is so rich and I feel so privileged to be a part of it. I seriously keep thinking of my cubicle…

It’s not like the east coast doesn’t have a rich history and culture of its own, but somehow, now, after being out here in the wild west, it just seems so bland. Almost European in nature compared to out here on rich American soil.

Dude, I was born to live on a dude ranch. Maybe I’ll stay here forever…

City Slicker par excellance

This is seriously the life. I don’t believe that just a few months ago I was in NY trapped in my cubicle for 9 hours a day wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life. Just last night I was in some bar in the middle of nowhere drunk off my ass and singing my lungs out at a karaoke bar—doesn’t sound like the Tim you know? Yeah, me neither.

So want to know where THIS cool guy is as we speak? On a dude ranch in New Mexico. I got my cowboy hat and I smell like shit and I just gorged on a ranch BBQ and now I can’t move. This is truly the beginning of a beautiful life. I’m staying here till they kick me out.

Meanwhile, just to track where I was that brought me here: I was in Albuquerque where I met some guys at this youth hostel who were on their way to this place. I spent a few more days chillin’ in the ‘querq (that doesn’t work, does it?) and now I’ve met up with them at this ranch.

There’s standard backpacker lingo around here. The greeting: Where have you been and where are you going? And the response: I was here. I am going there. Do you want to come? It’s a beautiful world we live in outside the constraints of the 2×4 cubicle.

Before making it down to the ranch, I made a stop at White Sands National Monument which is near the Tularosa Basin. I walked for about 5 miles through magnificent dunes and then went dune sledding (on a toboggan that I borrowed from a 6 year old girl, which was very nice of her). Apparently White Sands is the world’s largest gypsum dune field. I’ve got great pictures that I’ll upload when I’ve got a faster internet connection. I actually just missed the Annual Bataan Memorial Death March, which is something that the Air Force organizes every year to honor the thousands of people who died during a forced march of 60 miles led by Japanese soldiers during World War II. It would’ve been cool to be a part of that…maybe next year. There’s an exhibit now in the Philippines called “The Zen of White Sands” about one man’s experience here. You can see some of his pictures online. I was there!

I plan on picking up some city slicker skills while I’m here. I’d like to deliver a baby calf (remember that?) and learn to chew tobacco. There’re actually going to put me to work here, otherwise I’m just a “tourist” and then I have to pay more.
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I’m Baaack!

Bro, don’t read this: I ended up hitching a ride from Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and then all the way to Albuquerque. I was at Guadalupe Canyon (in the NP) which is by far the most magnificent and I ran into this old man who actually I’d run into already at Big Bend National Park a few days earlier…turns out he’s doing a similar trekking route as the one I’ve got (sort of) planned, so he gave me a ride ‘cross the border to our next stop in Carlsbad (it was just under an hour, still in the Guadalupe Mountains, so I probably could’ve ridden my bike—had I not been so damn trusting and left it unlocked by my hostel a few stops back. First my laptop, then this. Grrr.). But then Old Man gave me a ride to Albuquerque which is where he lives and while I probably could’ve biked that over the course of a few days, it was nice getting a free 6 hour ride.

The companionship was certainly nice while I’ve got it. I’ve met a ton of people down here, but most of these “friendships” last for the duration of a hike and then dissolve as quickly as they picked up. Though now I have random people imprinted upon the peaks of the mountains I’ve scaled in the Southwest.

George ended up being a great tour guide through the Carlsbad Caverns National Park — there’s this incredible network of underground caves that date back about 500,000 years. George knew the ins and outs and brought me to some very cool rock formations within some hidden caves. Apparently he had been bringing his kids and grandkids for years but this year they were “busy” (I think it’s more complicated than that) so he was happy to have the company of a young person, I think.

When we got to Albuquerque, he let me shower at his house and then he dropped me off at Cottonwood Mall and now George is just another bleep on my radar. Never to be seen again, but probably never forgotten. If I were to be writing a play or a screenplay, George would be the apocalyptal Old Man…the seer who comes to this world to watch over the orphan child and lead him in the direction of the gods….

I had no idea how welcome the cool walkways of a huge indoor mall would be. I’m not generally Mr. Mall, but, what an alternate universe: People who are CLEAN and SOCIALIZING WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY… almost foreign concepts to me by now. I got a twang of…something. Would I say homesickness? Maybe. I went to the food court and got something delicious and greasy and then…Tim is really reverting back to his old ways… saw a movie. Saw 10,000 BC which was both fun and crap—one of my alltime favorite genres…

I found a hostel (which is where I am now, finally online connected with the world) and I think I’m going to lay low for a few days and explore this city. My body physically needs a break from climbing.

BTW, is my movie taste that bad?
Haha—I just saw that Rotten Tomatoes gave 10,000 BC a 9% rating. That’s probably the lowest rated movie I’ve ever seen…and yet, I enjoyed it. What does that say about me?

Next stop? Hmmm… You’ll just have to wait and find out!

I’m Home

Well I’m back. I am sure many of you were wondering where the hell had Tim gone to? Well let me cut to the chase. I was sitting in a cafe in Ithaca, NY and well I got up to go to the bathroom and when I returned my laptop was stolen. I couldn’t believe it. I asked everyone in the cafe and no one had saw a thing. Well that was that. No more laptop–no more road journaling and with that I decided to return home. I hitched from Ithaca to Elmira and camped there for the night. After that I scrounged enough money to get a bus to Monsey. From Monsey I got a ride with a trucker to New Paltz and of course once in New Paltz it didn’t take me long to get back to my home.

I had a great experience. Really. I saw many different beautiful things, and experienced a tiny bit of reliance on a higher power. Actually I ended up breaking my long time addiction to caffeine as well.

I’ve decided to lay low for a while and stay in my house on the banks of the Walkill. This time the shallow rushing waters will be enough for me.

Lake Revelation

My trip planner is right. The waters of Lake Cayuga are beautiful. I made it up here using a public bus and after short dining experience at a cafe in Ithaca I decided to flee to the less settled shore line of Lake Cayuga up north. Its beautiful here and restful. I can think about the complexities by removing myself from them until everything seems just simple, just an expression of the divine. Isn’t that what this is about? Expressing the impossible, recanting and collecting thoughts in a manner that is a consolidation of revelation of one’s inner spirit? Thats my trip and yeah I guess I am a floaty and doing some inner traveling right now. So I guess I’ll post this and break.

Elmira, I Think I’ll Stay For A While

The title says it all. Its really nice here. Well most people would find it tough, but there’s something about sticking around the city where Mark Twain wrote most of his books. Something else. The Chemung River flows down the center and provides a nice walk. I feel rested and calm here after my night in a hotel room. I think I’ll check out some of the historical sites here. Maybe even sit in Mark Twain’s office. My travel planner insists its a great tourist site! Will write more later.
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