Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beatlick Travel: Albuquerque

Date: Sep 13, 2009 9:49 AM

[The website is up and running with the current issue of Beatlick News featured. This is now our only website, geocities site is closed down.]

The roosters start crowing at four in the morning. We are camped out in a field in the South Valley at a friend’s farm. The cows are right next door, too. This is really the country with the sounds of the day marking time just like the church bells used to do in the Upper Ninth Ward in New Orleans.

The chickens sound like people quarreling off in a distance or Ninja warriors getting ready to attack. No wonder farmers wake up early, you can’t sleep through the noise. The roosters crow until about ten in the morning and then the cows start up. It is a cacophony all day long. And the night is augmented with the sound of the neighboring dogs.

We always have some sort of audio book to listen to so when the roosters start in the morning I turn on the boom box in the dark, put on my CDs of “Benjamin Franklin,” “The Johnstown Flood,” or Michener’s “Mexico.” That usually gets me through till about seven in the morning.

We stayed out in the field for a week with our tent set up. It attaches to the van’s sliding side door and creates such an accommodating space we are quite comfortable. We spend our time clearing out the weeds in the garden and watering the orchards, strawberries, and raspberries for camping privileges. After a week we got to move into the A-frame adobe guest house and set up until some more money comes in for next month.

We have to climb an eight-foot ladder to go to bed. It's a challenge to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and we do our best to avoid it. Makes climbing down from the top bunk of the van a breeze. Although I am grateful to be indoors; it's so much quieter.

We love the simplicity of the farm, the slower pace, and the daily chores. From this vantage point you would never guess you were so close to a thriving metropolis such as Albuquerque. We head out in another day or two, for some poetry functions in Las Placitas, then on to Taos.

Happy Trails,
Beatlick Pamela

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wakiza's Wisdom: When will the wiser people wake up and make a stand? Sadly not anytime soon...

By Wakiza McQueen‏

There is truly a sickness plaguing the American people. Our society has become (maybe always has been) quite individualistic and self-effacing. One often wonders if Charles Darwin was not only a scientific forerunner, but a prophet describing the evolution of the human species, as it were, when he produced his seminal work, On the Origin of Species. For it is truly survival of the fittest in today's society. And the fit, in America, are the top 1% that control the wealth in this country, not excluding corporations. I am by no means an anarchist or a far-left wing zealot espousing the virtues of a socialist economy. I am an American first and foremost, and like our fore bearers, believe in a capitalistic economic system. However, as quoted by Arianna Huffington, capitalism requires a moral foundation with which to operate successfully:

"In capitalism as envisioned by its leading lights, including Adam Smith and Alfred Marshall, you need a moral foundation in order for free markets to work. And when a company fails, it fails. It doesn't get bailed out using trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. What we have right now is Corporatism. It's welfare for the rich. It's the government picking winners and losers. It's Wall Street having their taxpayer-funded cake and eating it too. It's socialized losses and privatized gains."

Indeed it is "Corporatism" and "socialized losses and privatized gains" that has infected our culture, and like a virulent retrovirus, it is destroying us from within and there seems to be no cure in sight, nay, not even a vaccination; we're all susceptible. Natural selection too is taking place, but not by the evolution of the best qualities for success being passed along, but by government intervention, call it "elitist selection", by which our government picks the winners and losers: AIG, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citi Bank, et al.

The solution is simple. We need to change Washington and enact a public campaign financing system that supersedes the existing private campaign financing system that corrupts our politics in this country. We need to change the for profit industrialization of healthcare, the military, and the prison system, that treat human beings as commodities to be bought and sold (I thought slavery was outlawed in this country with the emancipation proclamation). Finally, we need to elect politicians that represent their constituencies and care about the social welfare of this country, and legislate for the common needs and rights for all people in our society. Bertrand Russell said it best: "The problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubt." So the question remains, when will the wiser among us wake up and make a stand? I'm on my two feet, how about you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beatlick Travel: El Malpais

Subject: Beatlick TR: 7Malpais
Date: Sep 10, 2009 10:08 AM

[A note to say there is something going on with website and I'm really bummed out about it, so if anyone is trying to access Beatlick News there I hope I can get this straightened out soon.]

Last night we slept under two chenille blankets, a down comforter, and an Indian blanket over that. The weather has really turned, clouds, drizzle. Beatlick Joe wants to poke around Quemado Lake but I am anxious to move on. We are headed to El Malpais, near Grants, NM. My best friend from my Alaska days way back in the mid 80s, in a little tiny town named San Rafael, just four miles from Grants. One more night to spend in the wilderness and then we’ll be off to Andrew’s house and I can’t wait to see him.

The closer we got to El Malpais the warmer it gets and I am relieved, wasn’t really ready to start enduring the cold yet! The El Malpais National Conservation Area gets its name from the lava beds that comprise it. This area is full of old volcanoes and the black lava flows still dominate the landscape although they were deposited thousands of years ago. You can stand there and imagine what the dinosaurs saw. There is a great picnic ground at the Lower Narrows picnic and we set up. First we pulled all of the blankets and bedding out of the van and stretched them in the hot sun to dry out. In the late afternoon we took a hike along the Narrows Rim.

The Narrows Rim Trail at an elevation of over 7,000 feet gives hikers a view to witness geologic processes thousands of years apart. We took a moderate hike up to the top of an ancient mesa where we could see the much younger lava beds below, all black with gangly trees struggling out of the folds and crevices. On top of the mesa the soft sandstone rocks are a beautiful dirty rose color with light tints of green moss, and pale blue rock fragments. In the light of afternoon with the ferns and vegetation in full bloom it is just a breathtaking sight and in so many pastel colors that contrast so sharply with the lava beds across the highway and the dark clouds beginning to loom overhead.

The wildflowers are abundant all along the trail here in the late summer. Ponderosa pine, a pinon and juniper woodland, and a variety of oak and shrub species line our pathways. Brochures claim mule deer, elk, bobcat and black bear have all been spotted along the mesa trail but thankfully we didn’t encounter any. The rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and lizards are plentiful here and it is claimed birders can view over 30 different species of birds on a good day.

When we heard the thunder we cut our hike short, not even halfway to the La Ventana Natural Arch. On the way back down the trail we ran into to a young man and his grandfather just picking up the trail. The old man complained about how sharp the lava was to walk on and they were expecting an easier time of it up on the mesa. Brochures didn’t encourage anyone to hike up there with looming thunderstorms but they headed out anyway.

We went back to our picnic table. Joe and I tossed around the idea of illegal camping there overnight, we weren’t in sight of the highway, but the thought of getting to see Andrew before the day was over won out and we headed for San Rafael. I was supposed to give Andrew some notice before I arrived but I wasn’t able to because we didn’t have any phone service. He was a little taken aback when I informed him we were already at WallyWorld in Grants. “Oh, wow,” he said, but agreed to meet us in 15 minutes.

We stayed camped in the backyard of Andrew’s parents house. They are both gone now, parents of a dozen children, all raised in this tiny town of 700 people. All his brothers and sister keep this beautiful home like a shrine to their parents. They had a party just the night before to celebrate a fortieth birthday. Andrew and I spent a lot of time reminiscing about our days in Alaska. Andrew and I were hairdressers for Jon Anthony Salons in Anchorage. He knows me so well, has known me even longer than Joe, and I guess outside of some people in Nashville, he is my oldest friend. No one makes me giggle but Andrew. He always cooks up great meals and we stay up late and discuss naughty subjects all night.

Happy Trails,

Beatlick Pamela

Beatlick Travel: Quemado Lake

Subject: Beatlick TR: 6Quemado Lake
Date: Sep 2, 2009 12:35 PM

Next morning we woke up to find two big trailers and one modest tent in the campground. We passed a man in the tent and he struck up a conversation. Turns out he is the great grandson of the first homesteader in the area. He told us all about the Pueblo Creek and how it used to be full of fish. He described the big wash outs that come these days during the rainy season. He said all the property around this area now belongs to the US Forestry Service. I guess he still enjoys coming out to visit the old homestead and remembering better days.

We took the interpretive trail right there in the campground. It featured some sites where the Pueblo Indians used to live. It was a short walk, but at least we did get to see some semblance of where the Indians lived. All the guides that go with an interpretive trail were long gone so we just had to imagine the circumstances. Budget cuts I'm sure.

We were on the road by 11 am. We stocked up again in the little town of Reserve. Beatlick Joe now has poison ivy so we were lucky to find some Benedryl there. We headed on out towards Quemado Lake and set up camp by 1 pm. It looks like a miniature Lake Tahoe in Nevada. We had a big rig parked right next to us. We decided of course to take advantage of the free campsite parking here in a big gravel lot. There's plenty of fee area camping on down the road.

We were perched high overlooking the lake and Joe walked the trail all around it - about an hour's walk. The wildflowers are dominating the landscape right now. Despite some gloomy weather we set out for a little store and steak house we saw coming in hoping to find a land line telephone and a hot drink. We set out wearing gloves, sweaters, and neck scarves. We hiked along sharing a small umbrella with newspaper comic strips all over it. When we got to "Snuffy's" it was closed and the pay phone was out of order.

It was a long walk back, all uphill. Rains seriously set in just as soon as we reached our campsite. We settled in with a hot cup of hibiscus tea and opened a can of hot tamales. We fell asleep to the drone of the big rig's generator next door.

Happy Trails
Beatlick Pamela