Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Faces of the Mountain and Desert

It was a trip of adventure,discovery, mayhem, becoming more intimate with the Western friends we know and love plus acquiring some new buddies as well. The weather, unlike last year, kept a sunny, albeit sometimes frigid smile, and we found ourselves hiking more, unexpectedly visiting new territory and, of course, getting ourselves into occasional mishaps that proved to be adventures also!

This year, I finally got to see my friend Jeannie's mountain property in Colorado, which entailed taking a long bumpy drive uphill on gravel and dirt roads from Salida, into very uncharted territory. I was fascinated to see all the ghost towns along the route, and a body of water that housed an odd looking ancient salamander like fish.

This year, we got to see the progress made on Blue Star's home up in Wind River-A home he had acquired on the very day last year that we visited. We helped with roof repair, got to enjoy the new restaurant with the incredible salad bar at the Shoshone Rose Casino and witnessed Blue Star lighting the fire in ceremony for all of us.

This year, I decided to visit my Navajo brother Mark Laughingbear in Fresno, and one of the bonuses from that was also visiting Mariposa Grove in Yosemite, a place I had not been to in more than 15 years. In fact, the visit to Yosemite became a kind of hairy, snowy event, as Toga Pass was closed and we had to use the steep Sonora Pass for entry and passes around Monitor to exit back to Carson City.

There was plenty of rockhounding, of course, and I found some interesting tiny clear balls of a glasslike mineral that sparkled like broken glass. Still need to figure out that one. I also came upon two perfect arrowheads one day after the other, and one has been identified as an ancient Clovis. All this after Calvin, the head of the Red Nation Society had a vision and gave me the name Medicine Star!

Mishaps? Well, the blog that came before tells the Jeep saga. However,that turned out just fine when a mechanic in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, with expertise and a big smile named Ricky James, managed to correct all the screw ups, add what was needed to get the Jeep in order, and sent us on our way on a late Friday afternoon before weekend closing time. That buffet in Vicksburg really tasted good after spending five days in limbo in Pine Bluff.
Yes, one more Jeep mishap: Our new best friend Les in Delta, Utah, came to the rescue of same, left up in the hills of Topaz Mountain, when Brian, on a day hike dropped the car keys somewhere in one of the crevices and had to hitch two rides to get all the way back to the hotel where I had an extra set of keys. That ride into Topaz Mountain, is no piece of cake. It is bumps and washboard and a good hour and a half out to where that Jeep was parked. Yes, Les, a total stranger, not only drove us back there, but would not take any money for doing so. Just made us promise to come to his barbecue next year.

That just about sums things up, now, doesn't it? It's why we love the west-Gorgeous scenery, beautiful people and great rocks!

Photo captions from bottom to top:
Les and Austin, our heroes at Topaz Mountain, Utah
Ancient sequoia looms large at Mariposa Grove in Yosemite, CA
Brian enjoying snowfield, Sonora Pass, CA
At Sonora Pass, crossing the Sierras in California
With Mark LaughingBear in Fresno, CA
Serious rockhound
With Blue Star at his home in Ft. Washakie, WY
Roof repair at the Wind River Reservation, WY
Petrified logs and tree sections of blue agate and opal, Blue Forest, WY
Rockhounding with Jeannie at Lake George, Colorado

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Grounded in Pine Bluff

At this time of year, I am normally back in Miami Beach from my rockhounding trip west, ready to post photos and boast a bit about my mineral conquests in the wilds of Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, California, Arkansas and the many nooks in between.

This year the problem is we cannot get home because our grounded 4-wheeler Jeep has us staying put in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as a result of a series of wannabe mechanics playing "comedy of errors" games with the longtime faithful 1997 obsidian green, 250,000 mile traveler.

All we did initially was get a set of shocks installed to handle the weight of the rocks and then came trouble. The rear shock came off the bolt and somehow destroyed a set of wires. The Jeep stopped short about 15 miles west of Conway, Arkansas in the evening. AAA gave us a tow to the Ramada Plaza in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, after a somewhat less than endearing phone encounter with a customer server who requested that I walk the highway at dusk to locate a mile marker! For shame, ma'am!

Well, we are presently sitting out more failed attempts at Jeep resurrection here in Pine Bluff as incompetent mechanics have thus far destroyed a fuel pump and gas gauge in their playful efforts to fix the wires. But, let's not forget what all came before our down time and quite frankly, it was one of the more spectacular rockhounding trips of the past years.

I'm going to post some gorgeous photos of the friends and places that make these trips so marvelous when I eventually make my way back home. So, stay tuned. You will not be disappointed!

Photo: The Ramada Plaza Convention Center Hotel features inside terraces