Browse Tag: Taos

From Elation to Sorrow

We travelled and camped in far-Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado last week and it was just spectacular. I have finally caught (and released) my first wild Cutthroat Trout in upper Costilla Creek; and I did it with a hand-line. No need for a fancy fly-rig, which I would likely not handle well on such a narrow stream.

It got really cold where we camped last Thursday above 9,000 feet. It even snowed that afternoon as we were making camp.

Surprisingly I was able to carry & chop wood at that elevation, as well as take a couple good long walks.

Unfortunately we got back to Bernalillo and just a couple days later my partner-in-crime “Mister Dog” died in my lap from a stroke as we rushed him to the dog hospital. We think he had a few small strokes, that presented as perhaps a problem with his spine; but the second time we took him to his local doctor she said, “There’s something worse going on here and you need to get him to the ER right away.” It was too late, though. The ER told me he’d been dead ten minutes when I brought him in.

As if that wasn’t enough, my daughter-in-law contacted us to say my oldest son had been a week in ICU struggling with a rare blood disorder – a result of his double-knee surgery nearly 2 years ago – that’s causing blood clots to erupt all over his body and in vital organs. He now has two large clots in his lungs and one in his brain.
This is not a survivable disorder. Doctors have fought it for almost a year and determined last week there are no more options; aside from keeping him comfortable. He’s already developed such a high tolerance to the opioid drugs they are using heavy doses of Fentanyl, an evil drug that’s over 100 times more potent than straight hospital-grade Morphine and nearly 200 times the strength of street-grade Heroin. The pain in his head is evidently intense but the disorder also causes shingles, extreme discomfort, and sloughing of skin.

He’s so embarrassed for how he looks he didn’t want me to go see him. But I am the father and he is the son. Had to remind him of that and remind him I’ve seen much much worse.

I saw my Cardiologist this morning, who gave me strict warnings about the stress in my family’s situation. Arrgh. People complain about my smokin’ so I stop smokin’. They bitch about me drinkin’ so I stop drinkin’. They tell me to exercise and clean up my diet, so I’m back to running a mile on the treadmill and eating no salt and no foods high in LDL cholesterol. It never ends.

At least I’m 116-days sober and well-entrenched with my homegroup, sponsor and therapist. I’ve got excellent support.

Tomorrow I will drive to Lubbock and see my boy. Not sure how long I will be there or how I will pay for a long-time stay; but he and his little family need me there.

There’s a bit of irony, here, because this blood disorder has some cancer-like behavior & characteristics. Both of my sons and their mother lived a long time in the community of Sanderson, which had made a bad settlement deal with Southern Pacific Railroad over the contamination of water wells with diesel, benzene, and other chemicals. My boy’s mother died from Leukemia last Summer and both my boys have had cancer (testicular and tumors in the bladder). A high percentage of longtime residents of the community have died from different types of cancer.

When it rains it fucking pours. Damnit. I’m gonna need to go sit still in the Southern desert for a month after all this trauma.

Northbound Again

Like the Dire Straits song but reverse the direction.

Leaving tomorrow or Friday for a week in the North country, mainly the headwaters of the Costilla River (right on the Colorado border) and the Blanca Peak wilderness area.  I’ve looked at Blanca Peak in awe, studied all the maps, and decided the best place to camp is accessible from the NE side (adding another 3 hours of driving).

My good friends, Debbie and Debi, will be joining us for the last few days of the adventure.  My best friend and sometimes nurse, Lysa, will be riding shotgun for the whole trip.

So how does a guy like me survive two nights in a freakin’ tent with three good-lookin’ women?  I’m thinkin’ the best way is to go to bed earlier than all my wild girlfriends, get settled, and make grunting noises when they bring all that girlpower into the space.  If that doesn’t work, then I go sleep in the car with the doors locked!

I’ve made two bamboo bobber rigs, and I’ve been practicing with my fly rod since April, so I’m gonna go terrorize those wild trout in the Northern Sangres!  All the fish I’ve seen up on the Costilla are really too small to eat; but the little monsters will be fun to catch & release!

Gotta stop in to see friends, too, in Taos and Arroyo Hondo; then the best AA meeting in New Mexico at Questa.  We’re going to hit the little club at San Luis, too.

Yayyy!  Finally going to the high country where it’s cool and we can experience a high-mountain thunderstorm!!!

Sadly I became such a worthless and arrogant prick, before I moved back South from Taos, most of my friends in the Taos area don’t even want to speak to me.

I no longer have the luxury of thinking I might never drink again; but two things give me much hope:  (a) I’ve never submerged myself to this degree in the honesty and humility of working our steps; and (b) I don’t have a lot of time left.  I don’t need to worry about staying sober for years.  Just today.  Just enough.

I want to die sober and surrounded by my loving, caring and TRUE family.  I can attain that.  Not so much to aspire to, based on the condition of my heart; but I’m 77 days sober and totally on fire with my own quirky step-driven spirituality.

Constant and persistent prayers for those of my past whom I have hurt or caused harm.  You are the most important people in my life, the ones to whom I owe the greatest debt of gratitude.

Que se vaya la paz contigo.

 

 

 

And in the weather….

The much-needed snow has not come, so ski’ing hasn’t brought deep-pocketed visitors to the Taos slopes.

More importantly the early Spring and lack of Winter snow in the Sangre de Cristo means our Rio Bravo runs a bit above average now – but will diminish rapidly as predicted wet-storm activity decreases.

While La Niña has caused dramatic weather on both the East and West coasts, and strangely warm days across the middle of the continent, the ocean current is now moving away from the Americas – without any of the slow (but typical) transitions we see to an El Niño cycle in the Eastern Pacific.

Looking at current jet-stream activity, and the large/fast change in ocean-water temperatures attributable to loss of the La Niña current, it appears the Southwestern mountain states (AZ, NV, UT, CO, NM, TX) will return to severe drought status by the end of Summer 2017.  Wildfire risk in forested areas will become a significant tourism consideration in the ensuing Spring skiing and Summer outdoor recreation periods.

 

Meanwhile in Taos…

Kalya Scintilla played Saturday night at the Startribe music festival on Taos Mesa – and his show was excellent!  The whole Startribe experience was an ideal introduction, for me, to the local scene.  Playing music outdoors here is complicated by our infamous wind (especially out on the mesa!), but I thought the sound system was up to the task.  We were on our feet wigglin’ for nearly all of Scintilla’s set.

I was pleased to see so many splendid dancers live in the community, and thrilled by all the fire dancing and poi!

There was a cool mystic quality, too, in the full moon on all the surrounding snow-capped mountains and the fires & lights on the desert.  A strangely peaceful, surreal, and spiritual experience!

I have to be back in Bernalillo next week for a few days, namely to pick up a car, then will complete my move to the house here on the Rio Hondo.  Our weather is becoming much prettier, though we’re having little rain showers in the afternoons which remind me more of the weather we expect here in Fall; but the late mornings and midday hours have gotten warm & sunny.

Much to the chagrin of locals, we’ve been named the most scenic place in the state by online travel guides; and, sure enough, there’s been an increase in foreigner sightings.  I’m inspired to spend a lot of this Summer with the cameras and recorders to capture what I can of the place before more development occurs!

Like I said, it still gets cool in the afternoons and pretty darned cold at night; so I’ve not traded the axe for a fly rod just yet!  Still gotta keep enough wood cut to run the stove at night – though we’ve had a few nights without it these last two weeks.

The wonderful things I’m discovering about living in Taos are coming to constitute a rather long list!  I definitely like the music and dance scene, the peace-first attitude of all the local starchildren, the spiritual communities that converge so well in such a spectacular place, the availability of outstanding organic food at the local market, and the sheer magnificence of the wild surrounding country!  We’re only half an hour from access points to the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area, ten miles from the peak itself, and very close to Red River and Eagle Nest.  We’ve made some good trips already – mainly out on the West mesa and in the Rio Grande Gorge itself around the John Dunn crossing – but we’re really itchin’ to pack up the camping gear and disappear into the hills!

Sheesh!  Between painting, taking photos, playing and recording music, fishing, camping, pokin’ around in the mountains, going to raves, and simply participating in a really cool community, I am going to have a busy Summer!

 

 

Alive in Chamisaville!

It’s like a dream come true to be able to say, “I live in Taos.”

But now I do!

Taos is one of 3-4 places in the US where I’ve traditionally driven out of town wondering, “Why am I leaving?”  So it’s soooo awesome to finally live here!

I actually live in a small community outside Taos on the Rio Hondo. It’s not far, though.  Everyone works and shops in Taos.

Based on the characters I’ve seen or met so far, this little community is a dead ringer for Chamisaville in John Nichols’ New Mexico Trilogy!  Very cool!

While Taos is a beautiful and historic place, it’s really the Taoseño culture that’s drawn me to live here. It’s almost an underground culture, in that visitors see mainly a tourism-driven community of shops, inns and restaurants; but behind the scenes, there’s a wonderful community of people who live by the same drop-out starchild values that I do.  And unlike the rest of the state, the spanish-speaking people here answer me in spanish!

A few other things I’ve noticed:  lots of genuine artists living close to the edge on solely the proceeds from their art; there are magpies all over the place and they really ARE drawn to investigate shiny objects; Cid’s market is way better than Sprouts or TJ’s; there are more charitable organizations per capita than anywhere I’ve ever lived, and if you want to keep your house warm you better know how to operate an axe!  Oh, and the pecan sticky buns at Michael’s Bakery are to die for!…

The most significant reasons for choosing to live in Taos, though, are spiritual reasons.  There is a strong sense of love, tolerance and generosity in the community – and a remarkable feeling that Taoseños share my values.  The same types of young people I find at raves down in Albuquerque – starkids who’ve abandoned mainstream culture and run for the hills.  Plenty of people who don’t vote, could care less about politics or government, and who feel real change occurs at a grassroots local/personal level.  A strong sense of “we” being far more important than “me”.  I have to admit, too, that I feel a pronounced sense of spiritual retreat when I’m home on the Rio Hondo.

And when you live in Taos you quickly learn to avoid that damn stoplight east of the plaza!  In fact you learn to stay off the main thoroughfare through town entirely!  Traffic at that main stoplight is how we know there are lots of foreigners in town!

But I’m duly impressed by the demarcation between the Taos which tourists see and the actual community of Taos.  Peace.  We either live by our values or we don’t.  I’ve found that, home on the Rio Hondo, we live by our values.

Here are some pictures….