On the road again

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GRADUATION … ‘Twas a gathering of the Friedberg / Goodtimes / Sante / Hollinbeck / Willow / Fan / Coyotl / Oshá / Thorneycroft / Rosenthal / Modena clan up in Walla Walla last month to see Sara Mae Friedberg graduate from Whitman College … What was it that most impressed Sara about this liberal arts college where she got a degree in geology? “The people and the teachers,” she said without hesitation. “I’ve met some of the most amazing folks attending school up here.”

ROAD TRIPPING … My oldest son and I drove up to Walla Walla from Norwood. We took three days, exploring blue highways instead of bombing up the Interstate. He just turned 30, is on the path of recovery from a lingering illness, and it was great having that much time together for an adventure.

WYOMING … We caught a spring storm on the way north via Mack. Plans to camp out in Flaming Gorge evaporated as snow flurries began dropping out of the clouds … Hungry, we stopped for a quick bite at Crazy Ate Café Steakhouse in Mountain View. Since I grew up in Mountain View, California, it was fun visiting Mountain View, Wyo. The restaurant name was a bit off-putting. Flip names rarely suggest choice cuisine. But my son is a modern young man. He doesn’t rely on intuition when eating out (like his Pops, which usually results in uneven results). He checks Yelp. Crazy Ate had good reviews, and it was true. A good meal. A lovely waitress who was genuinely friendly. Score one for technology, and rural Wyoming food … We kept hoping the storm would let up as we traveled northwest, but no luck. So we settled on a cheap hotel room in Evanston. Yelp saved us from a bad one, and we hit on the Vagabond Hotel. Inexpensive. Clean. Nothing fancy, but a lovely restful night. It saved us from waking to below-freezing weather … Serendipity led us to Serendipity – a downtown Evanston bookstore, antique shop and coffeehouse with great organic offerings, no tips (since a sign says they pay a living wage and tips aren’t necessary) and the tastiest breakfast sandwich I’d ever had.

FOSSIL BUTTE… National monuments are in the news. The current administration seems intent on preventing the preservation legacy of past presidents. Checking our maps, we got intrigued with the Fossil Butte National Monument in Wyoming. We’d never heard of it, so we detoured up to visit it. What a gem. We learned about the geology of the area, an ancient lake that preserved a treasure trove of fossils from prehistoric animals and plants. The visitor center was a crash course in paleontology. We could have spend a couple days there, but even a couple hours was a great learning. The ranger was incredibly helpful, and knowledgeable. And it was free. Definitely a site I want to revisit.

GEYSER … Another serendipity awaited us in Idaho, at the town of Soda Springs. We saw a sign that said “Geyser,” so we followed the arrow, and as we pulled up to a large travertine circle, a giant geyser shot up a hundred feet or so into the air. Turns out the Oregon Trail town had been the site of hundreds of springs. In the ’30s, they tried to drill into the formation to create a hot springs pool, and hit a geyser of water. The Interior Department eventually asked that they cap the geyser, because it seemed to be affecting the geysers in Yellowstone. So it became a “captive geyser,” allowed to spout off on the hour for a few minutes. We had hit it right on the button … Turns out the area had its own Steamboat Springs, just like Colorado. Local historian Tony Varilone said that pioneers heard the rumbling and roaring from the spring as soon as they entered Bear Lake Valley. And just like in Colorado, the springs were destroyed. In the Idaho case, they built Alexander Reservoir over the top of it. Although there is a video on-line of the old spring when the reservoir was at an historic low: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=3A7cqxY4MQk

BASKETRY … Having had the good fortune to study with Pomo basketweaver Mabel McKay in California back in the day, I was delighted to give a first lesson in coil basketry to kids from the Telluride Mountain School on their class experiential trip to Mesa Verde National Park last month. It’s a simple technique. Basically just a wrap and tie, although – as in any craft – there are tricks … Traditional materials were soaked and woven while wet, which led to arthritis in the hands of many older practitioners. So I quickly switched to rope for the woven inner part and brightly colored yarns for the outer wrap … I call my pieces Wall Mandalas, since they are meant to be displays of color and design rather than to hold things in.

WEEKLY QUOTA … “No wonder psychedelics are threatening to an authoritarian religious hierarchy. You don’t need faith to benefit from a psychedelic experience, let alone a priest or even a shaman to interpret it. What you need is courage – courage to drink the brew, eat the mushrooms, or whatever it is, and then to pay attention, and make of it what you will. Suddenly, the tools for direct contact with the transcendent other (whether you call it God or something else) is taken from the hands of an anointed elite and given to the individual seeker.” (Dennis McKenna in The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss.) Dennis, who grew up in Paonia, will be a featured guest at this year’s Telluride Mushroom Festival, Aug. 17-20.

BOZYDAR MIKOSZ … That’s the name of a precocious 7-year-old poet from Palisade who’s published a lovely new chapbook of his own short poems and dazzling illustrations by regional artist Vinje. The book is called Dead Mouse On a Dog Walk (Scher & Bradley Publishing, 2016) … The title poem is our Talking Gourd selection this month.

Art Goodtimes writes from San Miguel County, Colo.


THE TALKING GOURD

Dead Mouse on a Dog Walk

I’m a dead mouse, dead mouse
there along your dog walk
laying in the grass
with my feet up
on my back.

I’m a dead mouse, dead mouse
there along your dog walk
see me everyday
watch my body
melt away.

Down, down my body goes
right into the ground
my fur and bones.

I’m a dead mouse, dead mouse
there along your dog walk
then will be a day
when I will go away.

— Bozydar Mikosz

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From art-goodtimes.