Afar, California

To the Sea

DSC_0370

“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

DSC_0317

DSC_0302

DSC_0340

DSC_0354

DSC_0326

DSC_0337

Standard
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

Standard
Texas

Prada Marfa

Prada Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Ah that weird, wonderful destination that is Prada Marfa. Not actually in Marfa, but beyond the small town of Valentine, Texas, just a little past the point where you decide you’ve gone too far and think about turning back, Prada Marfa sits as a strange and fantastic art installation, an iconic folly in the middle of the desert. It’s the perfect place to go when you have nowhere else to go to. It takes long enough to reach that it feels like a bit of an adventure.

Once you arrive, you’ll find there’s nothing to do there but take photos that look just like everyone else’s photos because the landscape never changes and the weather never seems to, either. You may find yourself racing tumbleweeds or walking down the adjacent train tracks to give some semblance of form and meaning to your journey, as much of a folly as Prada Marfa itself.

Prada Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Prada Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

v

Prada Marfa, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Standard
Texas

Summer Nights

Summer Nights in Texas www.bluemesablog.com

There’s something about summer nights in Texas. It has to do with the sound of cicadas, the concrete hot from the day, the wild wind and starlight. It means wearing cowboy boots and not much else. It feels like sweat dripping down the back of your neck and watermelon juice on your lips and fingers. Summer nights are for moonlight swims in cold rivers and bare feet on warm earth. Sultry, stifling and sleepless, you can spend hours lying beneath the stars or driving nowhere with the windows down.

Summer Nights in Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Summer Nights in Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Summer Nights in Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Summer Nights in Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Standard
Texas

A Love Letter to a Place: Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

I’ve always been more susceptible to falling in love with places than with people. The process is similar: a jolting first glance and premonition of adventure to come, an initial shyness and slow discovery, consuming passion, pain upon leaving, persistent memories, a desire to return, and, ultimately, enduring affection that evolves but does not dissipate as time goes on. I’ve had a few great loves in my life (not least of all Texas and Oxford), and Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park has been one of the most stirring.

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

I first visited over five years ago, exhausted from days of hiking. I arrived at the canyon in the late afternoon on my last day. It was deserted and eerily quiet except for the sound of the wind through the reeds along the riverbank. The atmosphere had the sense of uncanny calm that I imagine occurs before battle. I walked up into the canyon with a sense of anticipation, of something to come.

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

It soon became tradition to hike the canyon last on every trip. Its muted stone walls and quietly flowing russet river frame the desert behind, with its plains of pale gold and bright blue. I always arrive tired and slightly delirious, which only intensifies the magic of the place. It has the feeling of a gateway into something different. My hiking companions and I always linger there, contemplating the changes that have taken place since we last visited, and the year to come before we visit again.

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

My visits to Santa Elena have been meditative, thrilling, and celebratory. One year we brought champagne and cake. I couldn’t say for certain that the love is reciprocal, but I like to think that, as with so many romances, the champagne helped.

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, West Texas www.bluemesablog.com

Standard
Texas

Ghost Town

Terlingua Ghost Town www.bluemesablog.com

There are few words more evocative when paired than “Ghost Town”. The name evokes the shadowy remains of old houses, objects left where they were last used, and a haunting atmosphere of memory and demise. And then there is Terlingua Ghost Town, dusty and bright. There are no shadows in its crumbling houses, the remnants of an old mining community, nor are there creaking floorboards or abandoned objects. There is wind, which sweeps dirt and sand across the arid plane, and a silence that may be peaceful or troubling, depending on your mood as you walk over the pale plateau.

Terlingua Ghost Town www.bluemesablog.com

Standard