Big Dreams

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Maturity is a high price to pay for growing up. —Tom Stoppard

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Sunshine, near Amargosa (Death Valley Junction), California

Every day is a good day to be alive, whether the sun’s shining or not. —Marty Robbins

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The Middle Of Nowhere

Rain almost robbed us in Middlegate.nv-0915-2016-013

Escaping the Reno metro area (and earning Bonus Miles for taking an alternate route*), Ulrich and I motored east on Lonely Highway 50. Middlegate was to be our base while we visited the Navy’s electronic bombing range in nearby Dixie Valley.

A rainstorm had preceded us; dirt roads in its wake would be impassable for…days. We had two.

But the porous soil drinks rain almost as fast as it falls, and so we kept our date with surplus targets in Dixie on our second day there.

Better yet, we met Martin, from Switzerland, who was walking across America. We stayed a night in the Rawhide House (and got the door mostly closed). Ate some good food (Martin commented that, in America, “everyone can cook.”) nv-0913-2016-021-copy

Listened to Paul Smith sing the blues. Felt unhurried, and Welcome.

Places like this used to be called oases. This one still is.

*When asking for directions, remember: the person(s) you query may have moved there five days prior to your arrival. But they won’t tell you that. And do yourself a favor: don’t use an outdated map.

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Quick Stop—Tulelake, California

Whether it’s a hurry-up for food, drinks, gas, or photos, quick stops can shortchange you out of other possibilities when you’re traveling.

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If time is short, as it was for me in Tulelake, I suggest walking around the location; even a half-hour can bring you to interesting light and subjects. When you return home, some of them might surprise you.

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Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind. —Nathaniel Hawthorne

Local Color

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Local can be any place if you have colors for companions. These are from Tulelake, California, taken during my recent trip to the Southwest.

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I prefer living in color. —David Hockney

 

The Sign Of Summer

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The sign sits ten feet from the entrance to my driveway, and, as advertised, the county road builders are busily repairing the main road to town. At the moment, and in their second week at it, the crew has sliced off one shoulder of the roadway as easily as I cut through a Sunday pork roast. If they stay the course, this part of the rebuild will continue for another five miles—and that’s only one side. The undulating pock-marked pavement where vehicles actually travel is in far worse shape, although small children are probably thrilled by the roller-coaster ride near the top of the hill, but I’m not going to get started  on that.

Besides, you know the story already. No sooner are your summer vacation plans made than the city/state/county where you live starts a network of unfathomable repairs at all hours of the day to upend your itinerary. You can be certain that, when you meet a sign like this one, another will appear shortly after it—Detour Ahead.

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. —Russell Baker

Ibis On The Uaso Nyiro

Very little light remained in the sky on the evening this photograph appeared; the original Fujichrome transparency is drowned in shadows and garish blues. It’s nothing I’d print, and until I ran across it the other day I didn’t remember that moment at all—not surprising, since it was less than a second out of  120 rolls of film I shot during our 1999 visit to Kenya.

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But after I scanned the slide and began playing with it, the mood and memories of that day in Samburu National Reserve returned (I had to look up the name of the river). This scene was close to the safari lodge where we stayed; the Uaso Nyiro was barely a creek-sized flow in many places, and opposite the lodge, no more than a hundred yards from our tourist comforts, a large (aren’t they all?) crocodile had spent most of the day…waiting. We were assured (warned) that it often hid beneath the river’s overhanging banks.

Crocodiles are easy. They try to kill and eat you. People are harder. Sometimes they pretend to be your friend first. —Steve Irwin