Monday, November 22, 2010


This was the week of the broken tripod just when I was furiously trying to rephotograph paintings whose images have been lost by the servicing of the desktop computer. And it was the week the desktop computer CPU fan failed. Fortunately I have already subscribed to the carbonite cloud and my new data is in the ether. And retrievable to my laptop. I managed to get two necessary documents.

Down to one computer it only seemed wise to also subscribe it to carbonite automatic backups. And begin looking for a replacement desktop. And seeking money for summer fair fees, the new tripod, the new desktop, and whatever else will go wrong. Fortunately there is a fair this coming weekend that I have high hopes for.

When visiting the Malpais of New Mexico and the badlands of Utah I have often wondered about the first people to seek a way through these arid canyons, high mountains, deep chasms before hitting the waterless great basin of Nevada. The promised land was California and the gold in them thar hills, but the route was not an easy one. Many a canyon turned out to be impassable or a false route through the sandstone cliffs.

Scouts were paid to lead groups of westward ho pilgrims through the mazes, safe portages across the Colorado, and from watering hole to distant watering hole. But if the tales are correct, even the scouts got lost from time to time. Or worse, died with the trip half complete. Wagon ruts etched in sandstone sometimes lie or a landslide has blocked the narrow passage or the Snake or Colorado Rivers changed beds. Shit happens.

I have stood on what is now the shore of Lake Powell and marveled at the wagon ruts of what is called the Mormon trail heading through a gap in the canyon walls to a slot on the other side of the chasm now filled with water 400 feet deep. How did they do it even with just the raging Colorado River to cross at the bottom?

I suppose our lives today, winding our way through the technological and financial slot canyons, are not as trying or dangerous, but the scenery is a great deal less interesting. And there isn't always that thrill of having at last topped the far horizon and gazed back at the route taken. Some gave up on the route to the Pacific. They stayed in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah or Arizona. They settled for the promised land under their feet. Since there was not all that much gold in California they made the right decision. The Donner Party should have stopped before the snows it.

There really are no scouts to lead us through life; to let us know when to stop seeking the next peaceful valley and just stick where we are. And sometimes you just keep putting one foot in front of the other because the alternative is too hard to contemplate. My father raised troopers. We don't give up but sometimes I just want to ask, "What am I doing here?"

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. Every way of life has good points and bad, but overall I think we are way softer than those pioneers were. We don't stop often enough to appreciate the ease with which we travel huge distances through rough wild landscapes. It bugs me when people take so much for granted. They get all excited when there is an hour long delay in a trip that used to take months.


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