Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Bus Stops Here

It's no longer August. Or September. Or October. Fall leaves garnish the trees and wisps of wood smoke curl out of chimneys and into the air.

My bus now is parked beside a grove of trees in North Carolina following a long trip across the country. Winter is coming. It is time to take a break. Time to write a book.

My brother Will hosts a beef bourguignon dinner at his
home near Gettysburg on the eve of his 70th birthday.
The two-week journey from New Mexico to North Carolina, by way of a family birthday and reunion in Pennsylvania, was a good one without incident — except for leaving my gas cap at a Shell station in Santa Fe and smelling fumes at night  trying to sleep under the stars.

The country in September had an hushed tone prelude to melancholy autumn, as though it sensed the coming of a bitter election and a rampaging storm that would savage the east.

There were complaints  In Dodge City, Kansas, Mike Casey, owner of Casey's Cowtown Steakhouse and Club sat down at our table.

Mike Casey 
"I lost $14,000 last year just staying open. People are still coming but not spending like they used to . Now everyone  watches pennies." It's Friday night at the steaks are good but the mood inside is sober. Mike shows off the art he collects and sells on the walls.

Back at the Gunsmoke Trav-L-Park at the edge of Dodge where we are staying two roustabouts from the booming oil fields of North Dakota pull in.

"Good pay and a lot of work up there," one says. "But no place to stay or even park an RV. Crazy."

They were at Casey's the night before and will try Montana Mike's, another steakhouse, this night. Although the RV park is almost full we find it is for sale.

 It seems everyone wants to get out of Dodge these days, a city that in six years, from 1872 to 1878, shipped 3 million buffalo hides on the railroad that ran through and gave it birth. Later it became a shipping center for beef as ranchers moved in and replaced the bison with cattle.  For miles in all directions today are feedlots, some stretching almost to the horizon.

America has a beef habit and Kansas feeds it. In the morning we start our little four-cylinder engine and push on.

Bosque del Apache -- the bus stops here
Getting to Kansas required some doing and some sightseeing and discoveries along the way. Leaving Truth or Consequences New Mexico our first stop was Bosque del Apache to the north, one the the nation's premier waterfowl watering holes for migratory birds on their way south. We were too early for the bird traffic, which peaks in mid November, but enjoy the peace of early fall under magnificent New Mexico skies.

There we meet a volunteer full-timer arriving early to work at the large preserve. At Bosque grains are planted to further aid the birds on their journey south. This year the Festival of Cranes is November 13-18.

During the night the desolate sound of trains passing by, sounding their horns as hey carry coal southto El Paso.

We leave early the next day en route to Santa Fe. We feast at a Mexican restaurant on Cerrillos Road, Tortilla Flats, drink dark beer and go to bed exhausted.

Cranes, like airborne origami, at sunrise.
We spend two days visiting Santa Fe and touring art galleries on Canyon Road. We find a gem. Mirador Gallery owned by David Bau who began bringing in contemporary Tibetan art — some of it smuggled out of the country under the noses of Chinese overlords — and putting it on display.

Please see Tibetan Contemporary Masters.

Bau is an easy-going guy who sits on the window sill and talks not about art but about living.

"I can't believe this is what I am doing every day, coming here. This isn't work. This is life as I thought life should be."

Tibetan Mickey
David Bau
In the back is a small restaurant. No high pressure sales here as is some galleries. The owner, art and gallery are as one.

There is much to see and do in Santa Fe — and we do. But there is a long journey ahead. Almost 2000 miles. So we head north to El Santuario del Chamiyo halfway on the way to Taos where miracles are said to have happened. And where we meet Father Casimiro Roca, a 94-year-old priest, who says the church will not let him retire.


  1. Glad to see you! I'm in San Diego at a standstill .. trying to figure out where I want to go next.

    I do believe you just finalized my decision ! yay

    The Festival of the Cranes??? I'm there...

  2. Sad about Casey's economic problems. And you would think some enterprising person would open an RV park for the oil field workers.

    Mirador Gallery sounds like it's not to be missed!

    Especially enjoyed the cranes photo.

  3. Excellent post worth waiting for all the time you did not write.
    Thank you Roger!

    1. Thank you, Peter, both for your kind words and patience ...