Beatlick Joe and I took our first three-mile walk to the wi-fi cafe down a long dirt road and around a few mountains. We have been at Astor Camp, courtesy of Neil Astor, for about five days and I have dismantled the whole campsite and put it back together every single day since we got here. We were so excited when we arrived on Friday that we put up our custom tent that attaches to the van. Then I attached a tarp to the tent and we raised up the van roof to access our sleeping quarters. With all that we had some serious square footage.
I spent the second day, all day, figuring out how to build a fire pit. It seems like it would be simple, but getting all those irregular stones into some semblance of order and important to me balance and appeal, took hours. At first I had a big, huge really, stone flush to the ground for a base. I had rolled it uphill myself. This is exactly the kind of grunt work in which Joe Speer has absolutely no interest. It didn't look right so I started all over and dug a hole to build up a bit of a firewall and put the rock into it. I hauled a bunch of large stones needed for circling the pit. But by the time I was finished fussing with all the rocks and moving them around, the peculiar soil out here full of Bentonite had all blown away and the stone was back flush to the ground again. Where did my hole go? I kept asking Joe.
Inside the tent I put up a shelf and stacked all the canned goods, we had a table and chairs, all the kitchen utensils, water and wash basin, it was like an apartment. I was ecstatic. Outside we have a 20-gallon jug, a 5-gallon jug, inside a 3-gallon jug with spicket and about five more gallon jugs. We were great for about 36 hours. Then the wind kicked up. At one point I was leaning against the tent like those actors on the prow of the Titanic. It was between something like that and wind surfing. I could lean the entire weight of my body back against the tent rigging the gales were so strong. After a few hours of that we decided we had to take our irreplaceable custom tent down rather than damage it.
So on the third day I had to load everything I had taken out of the van back into it. That day I attached the tarp straight to the van and had a little awning. That was a real comedown after all the spaciousness of the day before. On the fourth day Joe suggested we put the tarp up on the tent frame. And THAT has been the answer. We can sit outside under a nice large tarp and move the chairs, table and a futon Neil left behind all in the appropriate shade provided as the sun rotates around the panorama.
We cook on the fireplace except in the morning. We have coffee in the van first thing, check out the landscape and see what the sun and wind are doing. There is not a single telephone pole to be seen out here. The only cars on the private road are other property owners. And it is quiet. And still. We often cook with Henry, our neighbor, who is Neil's brother. Only once was I ever able to pick up the Marfa NPR station so only music on the renegade Terlingua station Cayote Radio 100.1. It's good, really good, but I do miss the news.
We've watched a few movies on our DVD using Henry's solar equipment. We spend a lot of time reading, hiking and setting up camp for now. The sky is just becoming overwhelming to me. I see more up there than I can figure out. I'm not even that interested in sitting out there watching the stars right now because I can't always wrap my head around what I see. Neil is coming soon and we hope he approves of our camp design.