Mancos Camp, Colorado, U.S. 37.34127141315386 -108.18800682029091 – One day I drove down to the coffee shop in Mancos and instead of the quiet little town I'd been expecting, streets were shut down and there were cars and people everywhere. It turned out to be something called Mancos Days.
Durango, Colorado, U.S. 37.33925834885527 -107.91300529443193 – Every evening around 5 the thunder starts in. You could set your watch by it. Except that there's no need for a watch up here.
Mancos Camp, Colorado, U.S. 37.3408278612485 -108.18796390491319 – Stay anywhere to long and things start to settle in too much. The bus was made to move, its fluids pool, metal rusts, wood decays, the windows smear with dirt and rain, the tires lose air. And the chipmunks will come for the avocados. I'm from California, messing with my avocados is messing with my emotions, I don't care if you're cute and striped.
Durango, Colorado, U.S. 37.339292469040316 -107.91403526270777 – For their birthday we took the girls (and their brother) on the narrow gauge steam engine railway from Durango to Silverton.
Durango, Colorado, U.S. 37.3450926749058 -107.91497940028198 – While tourist-filled and mountain-kitschy to some degree, Durango nevertheless has some cool stuff to do -- a wonderful public library where the kids got to see the U.S. National Yoyo champion (yes, really), a really cool indoor water park masquerading as a rec center, complete with a three story water slide, a science museum, and a host of other fun stuff -- as one of the camp hosts we befriended put it, in Durango they really know how to do it.
Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, U.S. 36.04736212964947 -107.9295706172955 – I have only one note from Chaco Canyon: the wind gusts, a light whistling sound through the thin curled leaves of creosote; in the interludes the stillness is filled with raven calls reverberating across the canyon, a conversation bouncing around sandstone, echoing in arroyos until, like everything else here, they fade into the darkness of the past.
Sangre de Christo Mountains, Colorado, U.S. 37.323790180379966 -105.14230484011725 – We celebrated the Solstice by heading back up into the Sangre de Christo Mountains, to Bear Lake. We had to see it, even if we couldn't get the bus to it.
Trinidad, Colorado, U.S. 37.13126787159957 -104.55608123788944 – Inside my head there are tons of voices, but one dominates the rest most of the time, it's the voice that always says, sure, let's try it, what's the worst that could happen? Most of the time the answer to that question is very tame. Once you get past your prejudices and irrational fears, you'll find the worst is not that bad and it's pretty unlikely to happen in the first place. That said...
Trinidad, Colorado, U.S. 37.13424101584671 -104.55605978022751 – That night was our first in the wide open big sky of the west. The sunset reflected on the clouds for hours. I let the fire burn down and watched the sky instead. Later on thunderheads rolled in over the peaks of the Sangre de Christo range. Arcing flashes of lightening bounced around the clouds like streaking silver pinballs. Just as the last light faded away coyotes began to bark and sing. Finally, the west.
Fort Parker State Park, Texas, U.S. 31.599022773408446 -96.54395813109835 – From Austin we drifted north, toward Dallas, stopping in at Fort Parker State Park. Even now that it's summer, during the week we still have the campgrounds to ourselves.
Austin, Texas, U.S. 30.192040627071453 -97.72052520857657 – We eventually managed to book a campsite at McKinney Falls State Park, which is just a few miles from downtown Austin. It's a short drive from the campground into Austin, but it's not exactly a pretty one, it winds through the massive sprawling suburbs that encircle Austin.
Bastrop, Texas, U.S. 30.047031601879716 -97.15953582878349 – I should probably post something about Austin, but all I've been able to think about lately is Alex Honnold free soloing El Capitan. While the sheer physicality of climbing for three hours and fifty-six minutes with no break is impressive, to me it's nothing next to the mental strength and absolute confidence it takes to even consider doing something like that, let alone doing it. If that doesn't blow your fucking mind then I have to say, I think you're probably not wired up quite right.
Huntsville State Park, Texas, U.S. 30.637514423959555 -95.52600616591704 – A while back someone asked what we do when it rains. At the time I didn't know because, despite having some big storms come through in various places, it still hadn't really rained during the day. In Huntsville it rained most of the day so now I know. When it rains, we put on raincoats and play in the rain.
DeQuincy, Louisiana, U.S. 30.45214034312658 -93.43474680590685 – We travel the back roads, the county roads, the bumpy, twisting, slow roads. Occasionally it's a nerve wracking pain the butt and you get lost sometimes, but then we're not in a hurry and we have nowhere to go so we're never really lost.
Near Abbeville, Louisiana, U.S. 29.858303099084598 -92.14195961180936 – From New Orleans we headed west through the bayou country, crossing from the Mississippi basin to the Atchafalaya river delta area where the Atchafalaya River meets the Gulf of Mexico. It's a land of rice paddies, blue crab traps, great flocks of snowy egrets and duckweed-filled cypress swamps.
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. 29.962702189957493 -90.064084474772 – We couldn't leave New Orleans without doing something that's become a pilgrimage of sorts for me -- visiting Marie Laveau's grave.
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. 29.957951590136158 -90.06316179487764 – New Orleans is the last living city in the United States. Every time I return here I am amazed that it is allowed to continue existing, that something so contrary to the rest of America has not been destroyed, locked up and disneyfied. But it hasn’t.
Davis Bayou, Mississippi, U.S. 30.391216890192254 -88.7901424812386 – There is something very relaxing about marshes, or bayous as they call them down here. There's a rhythm to life. The tide goes out, the tide goes in. The periwinkles go up the cordgrass, they go back down. You almost get the feeling that life is predictable. And then you watch a heron wading in the mud, like herons always do, when suddenly it trips and falls face first in the water and you remember that nothing is totally predictable, just rhythmic, one foot in front of the other.
Dauphin Island, Alabama, U.S. 30.250936985476603 -88.081551139365 – From Fort Pickens we headed inland, through Pensacola and up around Mobile Bay before heading back down to the coast and out to Dauphin Island.
Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida, U.S. 30.320886143534025 -87.27098221076228 – Gulf Island National Seashore might be the prettiest beach I've been to in the U.S. It's downright stunning. If you plunked me here I might guess I was in Thailand, except for the dunes, the dunes are unmistakably Gulf coast barrier island dunes.
St. George Island, Florida, U.S. 29.66013302873015 -84.86978287027401 – I haven't accurately tallied it, but my guess is that we've spent nearly two months on St. George Island over the years. Enough time anyway, to make it feel a little like coming home when we get here.
Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia, U.S. 30.730813688628597 -82.53927583057352 – From Edisto we took a few back roads through the low country, headed south and west. We were headed for the middle of nowhere, but it was further than we wanted to go in a day. So we spent a night at the mouth of the Altamaha River before heading on to the middle of nowhere. Or the edge of the Okefenokee swamp. Same thing really.
Edisto Island, South Carolina, U.S. 32.509299424657236 -80.30565018047915 – We woke up on our third day to cloudy skies and predictions of a massive storm. Seemed like a good day to head up to Charleston, do some laundry, run errands and check out the city.
Edisto Island, South Carolina, U.S. 32.508647989854175 -80.3035902439571 – We avoid interstates and even divided highways for the most part, sticking to the county roads, the thin gray lines on the map known only by local names, no number at all. We follow the river, more or less, down out of the red Georgia mud into the Carolina coastal plain.