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Friends of a Long Year is a private mailing list bringing stories to your inbox like it's still 1995. It's written in the spirit of Mary Austin. It was originally called Place Without a Postcard, which does a better job of summarizing what I like to write about. Friends is delivered roughly twice a month.

Archive

Arc of Time

Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, U.S. 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.

Solstice

Sangre de Christo Mountains, Colorado, U.S. 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.

The High Country

Trinidad, Colorado, U.S. 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...

Escaping Texas

Trinidad, Colorado, U.S. 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.

Dallas

Fort Parker State Park, Texas, U.S. 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.

Sprawl (Austin, part deux)

Austin, Texas, U.S. 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.

Austin, part one

Bastrop, Texas, U.S. 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.

Keeps on A-Rainin’

Huntsville State Park, Texas, U.S. 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.

Little Black Train

DeQuincy, Louisiana, U.S. 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.

Palmetto Island State Park

Near Abbeville, Louisiana, U.S. 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 Instrumental Number 2

New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. 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 Instrumental Number 1

New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. 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

Davis Bayou, Mississippi, U.S. 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

Dauphin Island, Alabama, U.S. 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

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida, U.S. 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.

Coming Home

St. George Island, Florida, U.S. 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.

Swamped

Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia, U.S. 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.

Storming

Edisto Island, South Carolina, U.S. 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.

The Edge of the Continent

Edisto Island, South Carolina, U.S. 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.

April Fools

Raysville, Georgia, U.S. Our original plan called for us to hit the road on the first day of spring. In reality we finally got going, fittingly enough, on April 1st. Not that we went far, but hey, the road is the road.

Watson Mill Bridge

Watson Mill State Park, Georgia, U.S. In which we get fancy RV stuff, like propane and running water. The new carburetor I ordered is nowhere to be found, but hey, new wheels and new tires. Plus, did I mention we can cook indoors now? Luxury living.

The Mooring of Starting Out

Watson Mill State Park, Georgia, U.S. starting out is like being in that weird moment where Wily E Coyote has merrily run past the edge of the cliff and managed to keep going out of sheer blissful ignorance -- until he looks down. Starting out is that moment when you look down and realize the edge of the cliff is well behind you now -- you're on your way down.

The Wilds of Winder

Fort Yargo State Park, Georgia, U.S. A couple weeks back we thought we had a buyer for the house but it fell through last minute. It was enough, however, to get everyone excited at the prospect of actually hitting the road. And then that hope was yanked away. To make up for that we decided it was time to do something of an exploratory trip, to test out life in the bus with a two night trip to Fort Yargo State Park

1969 Dodge Travco Before

Athens, Georgia, U.S. To close out the year I thought I'd post some images from all the work that I've done on the bus over the last 12 months. It's not finished yet, but here's some pictures of what she used to look like, along with some of the damage I uncovered and repaired.