Friday, July 31, 2009

In praise of Durango

My new favorite town in America: Durango, Colorado. Cool, green, clean, scenic. The town has just the right amount of western flavor and modern athleticism, my favorite combo. The Animas River runs through town attracting rafters and kayakers. And, of course, there is the famous Durango & Silverton steam train which brings thousands of visitors to the area each summer.

There is a wonderful walking path alongside the Animas dotted with public parks and art. The day was beautiful. People were out on bikes and the river full of people floating in inner tubes. We strolled unknowingly upon a music festival at the Rotary Park where Allie climbed an aspen tree for a better view of the gazebo where players performed Peter and the Wolf. We asked an older couple, long-time residents, for a recommendation on where to go for lunch. Rather than explain, they insisted we hop in their car (an old Cadillac) to be dropped off door-side to Guido's, a cute Italian eatery on Main Street.

All day long Allison and I were singing the praises of Durango and wishing aloud that we could live there. And it did seem like the sirens of Durango were conspiring to lure us to stay. We joked and made references to the Chevy Chase movie, "Funny Farm," where he pays the townspeople to behave as quaint and charming as possible to lure a buyer for his house. It seemed that everyone in Durango was friendly, polite, and attractive.
We did, of course, ride the Silverton train. We opted for the bus ride up and the train ride back. The ride is long, but not dull if you like scenery. We were constantly on the look-out for wildlife and other interesting sights. Besides the gorgeous views of rushing waters and rustic train trestles and enormous drop-offs we saw a bear, deer, prairie dogs standing at attention, and the wildest of wildlife, the young folks floating the river who greeted the passing train by pulling down their swim trunks and mooning us.

Our stay in Durango was short. We next headed toward Silverthorne, Colorado where we spent the past week enjoying more wonderful weather and pine-infused atmosphere. And today I write from the worn sofa of my "permanent" home. Naturally, it's late and everyone's asleep (I'm the night-owl.) The Airstream is parked in the driveway until we get it unloaded. It stands as a beacon to the neighborhood that the wanderers are home at last. At least I think they see it that way. Could be, they're wondering how long that thing will sit in the drive.

I'll probably stop writing as I take time to readjust to home and fall back into the comfortable rhythms of normal life. So, until later, goodnight America.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting up to Speed

Back to Airstreaming again. We left Loreto and flew to San Diego where we picked up our Airstream trailer and visited friends and family. We visited my mother in Arizona, showed Allie the Grand Canyon and Four Corners, and now we are set up in Durango, Colorado where we'll ride the train to Silverton and back just for fun before continuing on towards home.

Finally we are in temperatures below 100F. Our last stop was in Cameron, AZ near the Canyon where the wind blows like a furnace and we run the A/C runs continuously or risk roasting in our tin can. Once we passed through Cortez, Colorado and entered into the San Juan mountain range the world turned green again. Pines and ponderosa, creeks and rivers replaced the stony plains of Navajo country, beautiful in it's own way, but untouchable. The occasional monument of weathered stone was awe-inspiring looking like sculpture or an emergent ancient skyscraper. Traveling on Highway 160 we just skimmed the edge of the valley. I know we missed a lot by scooting past, but we were weary of our days of heat and driving. We did make an obligatory stop at the site of the Four Corners and took the obligatory photo on the cement slab marking the four states' touching border: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado.

Of course, the Grand Canyon was incredulous if not predictable as Robert and I have seen it several times. We again, took photos at the exact spot behind the Tovar Hotel that we took on our honeymoon, and at later dates with our sons. But this time our souvenir purchase wasn't an Indian craft or tee-shirt, but a book titled, "Death in the Grand Canyon," a compilation of tales of stupidity really; as in people falling off ledges while showing off or taking photos. I read the best parts out loud from Cameron to Kayenta until I finally tired of the grim subject.

The past two weeks have been a blur of geography, climate, and activities. Many mornings I awoke in confusion as to where I was. Usually, the shock of re-entering American culture after many months in Mexico is something I get to ruminate over, but this rapid sprint leaves no time to process anything. I'm functioning from memory: Grocery carts, drive-throughs, stop-lights, mall traffic, American currency, GPS programming, wi-fi hotspots, Starbucks blends, paper or plastic?, I'm regaining my fluency. But like riding a bike, it all comes back to you.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The rewards

Seven months in Loreto Bay, now it's time to go home. This marks our fourth winter living in our little casa. We've built another life here full of friends and adventures; it feels more like home all the time. I think this was our most enjoyable visit ever. Our sons spent Christmas with us, Beau bringing his fiance, Karly along. Our younger son came here for his summer internship at Dolphin Dive. He was great fun to have around. I hope it's a summer he'll cherish even if it meant he had no friends to hang with and he had to live with his parents.

We hiked, biked, kayaked, fished, played tennis, golf, went boating. We saw every type of marine life in the Sea of Cortez including an orca whale and her calf. On our last outing we encountered a pod of pilot whales that took a curiousity to us. A few of them came within feet of the boat to catch a closer look at us. We were celebrating Independence Day with the Brown family. The whales were our fireworks; we oohed and aahed at the thrill of these magnificent creatures breaking the water's surface. We've had lots of experiences like that.

If you just stay in one place long enough interesting things happen, maybe not every day, but often enough. I remember one day when a hummingbird landed on my finger. He was either too trusting or too young to understand what he'd done. That one thing made my day. Those occurrences are reward for the patience of living through the boring days, the days there's nothing much to do. There are no movie theaters, book stores, shopping malls. We create most activities ourselves like having friends to dinner and cards or tennis. At least Robert created a job for himself by teaching English to the kids at the Internado. (My job was our co-op homeschool.)

Now we head home and pick up again on our other life. I'm ready. I'm ready for the over-stimulation and assault of abundance. I'm ready for some "noise." But, more than that I'm ready for some good American eats. I'll let an In-n-Out cheeseburger make my day. See, I've learned to appreciate the little things.