Afar, California

To the Sea

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“Some years ago- never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.”

  • Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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Texas

Ode to the Waning Summer

Ode to the Waning Summer, Jefferson, East Texas www.bluemesablog.com

As August reaches its end and the mornings turn cool, I’m thinking of summers past, of porch swings and balmy nights, of railroad tracks and aimless adventures.

Some years ago now, a very close friend and I went on an impromptu trip to the charming town of Jefferson in East Texas. We stayed in an old mansion with five course breakfasts served in crystal and silver. In the morning we explored long streets, bayous and byways. In the afternoon we drank milkshakes at the Drug Store, and in the evening we got locked in an old antique store (but that’s a story for another day). At night we sat on the porch swing as the stars came out and the cicadas sang, and our thoughts turned to love and fairy tales and summers of long ago.

Ode to the Waning Summer, Jefferson, East Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Ode to the Waning Summer, Jefferson, East Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Ode to the Waning Summer, Jefferson, East Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Ode to the Waning Summer, Jefferson, East Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Ode to the Waning Summer, Jefferson, East Texas www.bluemesablog.com

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Afar, Home, New Mexico, Texas

Happy Birthday, Blue Mesa

A Prayer for the Traveler, Edward AbbeyBlue Mesa Blog, Texas, New Mexico, Big Bend National Park www.bluemesablog.com

Blue Mesa Blog turns 1 today! The biggest thank you to all my loyal readers. I’d like to raise an imagined glass of your libation of choice to you for all the kind words you’ve shared this year.

In exchange, I’d like the share a few words by Edward Abbey that have always served as something of a guiding evocation for my travels…

May your trails be crooked, lonesome, 
dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. 
May your mountains rise into and above the clouds, 
May your rivers flow without end, 
meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, 
past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest 
where tigers belch and monkeys howl, 
through miasmal and mysterious swamps 
and down into a desert of red rock, 
blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, 
and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm 
where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, 
where deer walk across the white sand beaches, 
where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, 
where something more beautiful and more full of wonder 
than your deepest dreams waits for you – 
beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.

— A Prayer for the Traveler

A Prayer for the Traveler, Edward AbbeyBlue Mesa Blog, Texas, New Mexico, Big Bend National Park www.bluemesablog.com

A Prayer for the Traveler, Edward AbbeyBlue Mesa Blog, Texas, New Mexico, Big Bend National Park www.bluemesablog.com

A Prayer for the Traveler, Edward AbbeyBlue Mesa Blog, Texas, New Mexico, Big Bend National Park www.bluemesablog.com

A Prayer for the Traveler, Edward AbbeyBlue Mesa Blog, Texas, New Mexico, Big Bend National Park www.bluemesablog.com

A Prayer for the Traveler, Edward AbbeyBlue Mesa Blog, Texas, New Mexico, Big Bend National Park www.bluemesablog.com

A Prayer for the Traveler, Edward AbbeyBlue Mesa Blog, Texas, New Mexico, Big Bend National Park www.bluemesablog.com

A Prayer for the Traveler, Edward AbbeyBlue Mesa Blog, Texas, New Mexico, Big Bend National Park www.bluemesablog.com

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Texas

Camp

Summer Camp, El Cosmico, Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

To be honest, summer camp was nothing short of traumatic for me – a disastrous combination of flooding, spiders, sunburn, starvation and serious injuries. For years it tainted my relationship with camping, until my faith was restored by a summer-long stay in a little tent in the wilds of New Mexico.

Although I learned to get along just fine with tents, I admit my feelings towards summer camp remained less than friendly. And then one summer my sister and I found ourselves back at the closest thing to summer camp we’d experienced in some fifteen years—a canvas tent in Marfa. Some details still harkened back to our old harrowing experience—spiders in the tent, cold showers that showed a marked absence of concern for human modesty in their design, blazing hot afternoons, dust storms, and rains that rendered everything into mud—but then there were all the benefits of adulthood—freedom, good food, and margaritas.

We spent our days out in the shady hammock near by, or sprawling over the bed and gazing out at the pretty sunlight filtered through the canvas. In the evenings we took walks around the campground and read stories aloud by lantern light. We even sang a song or two from our old camp days: “The coffee at the camp they say is mighty fine, it looks like murky water, and tastes like turpentine…”

Summer Camp, El Cosmico, Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Summer Camp, El Cosmico, Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Summer Camp, El Cosmico, Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Summer Camp, El Cosmico, Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Summer Camp, El Cosmico, Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Summer Camp, El Cosmico, Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Summer Camp, El Cosmico, Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

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Texas

Tent Living in Big Bend

Tent Living, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

I’m no stranger to tent living, but the first time we camped out at Big Bend we arrived at our site to find it occupied by a black bear. He graciously moved, but that night none of us slept for imagining that every sound we heard outside was the bear returning to have Goldilocks for dinner. The next night a thunderstorm nearly blew the tent over.

But on the balance I think tent living is worth the bears, the storms, and the inevitable rocks digging into your ribs. There’s nothing like falling asleep with only a thin net between you and the stars, listening to the cicadas and coyotes. There’s nothing like a campfire dinner after a long day of hiking, or a campfire breakfast as the sun rises in the morning—you can only hope the bears aren’t thinking the same thing.

Tent Living, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Tent Living, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Tent Living, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Tent Living, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Tent Living, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

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