The RV repair in Fort Stockton kills the morning, but we still arrive at the hotel in Lajitas before dark. We check into our rooms, then hit the Old Trading Post, looking for a few last minute supplies for the morning. The Mayor of Lajitas greets us from his pen and demands tribute, so my fellow management trainee gives him a beer. The two ladies from Corporate exit the store with snacks and bottles of wine, and reminds us we are expected to play the “What if?” game later in their room. They turn and walk away before we can respond because we have no choice. The goat Mayor of Lajitas demands more tribute.
The sun moved behind the Chiso Mountains in the distance, causing the brilliant streaks of white light to create a sharp contrast between the mountain and the sky. We had been going towards those mountains, but we were stuck alongside the I-10 highway. For more than an hour, I’d been sitting inside the disabled RV, watching our “Corporate Mentors” debate the best way of fixing the burst hose in the engine compartment. Through the window, the light fades away, and the desert sky turns a beautiful indigo blue. I can hear someone talking on their phone to the RV rental service, but the sky draws my attention back as the desert completes it phase from light to night. I head outside to the back of the RV, away from cabin light, and scan the pitch-black sky. I glimpse at the ground as something scurries by my feet, and when I look back to the sky, it is full of twinkling stars. The desert air cools quickly. I stick my hands in my pockets and sit on the bumper, wondering if I can see the Marfa lights from here.
Being trapped underground gives me a great deal of time to think and ponder about why I am here. Am I just a lost part of some grander scheme? How did I end up here of all places? Have the … Continue reading →
I was trying to add the link to my Pinterest board to my blog the other day, and it got me thinking about some of my pins. I have one pin that is, hands down, the single most popular pin I’ve ever posted. When I’m notified that someone has liked or re-pinned something from me, 95% of the time I can guess which one it is. I have two different “Desfiladero de los Gaitanes” pins, one modern day and one from the old days (see above pictures). The modern day “Desfiladero de los Gaitanes” has been re-pinned and liked about 150 times, while the older one has only a few likes & re-pins. Of the two, I find myself drawn to the older photo, due to the history and the men behind the grand adventure, but most people are drawn to the newer picture, with the two people walking the pathway together.
Anyway, back in 1983, my friends and I saved every dollar we made and went to Europe. We hiked everywhere, camping high in the Alps, staying in hostels when we had money, and slept in city parks when we didn’t. We were hanging out at a flea market in Paris, when somebody suggested hiking the Camino de Santiago (some call it, The Way of St. James). Then someone else suggested we journey down to Seville, Spain, where we could go see the nearby Desfiladero de los Gaitanes (Gorge of the Gaitanes). The gorge was famous for the Caminito del Rey (The King’s Little Pathway), which was an amazing man-made walkway across the sides of the sheer cliffs in the gorge.
“The King’s Little Pathway” came about in 1901, when the nearby hydroelectric power plant owner decided that its workers needed a walkway to make crossing the gorges easier and to facilitate transport of needed materials. The construction took four years, finishing in 1905. King Alfonso XIII visited the place in 1921, crossing the walkway for the inauguration of the finished dam, after which they named it “Caminito del Rey”.
For many years, a couple of friends of mine would take any opportunity they could to bring up the city they called home – Austin, Texas. If you talked about somewhere you visited, they’ yammer on about a place in Austin that was just like it…only better. If i mentioned a bar, they’d bring up Sixth Street. If you talked about music, they’d remind you Austin is the music capital of the World. And on and on, ad nauseam.Thankfully, I lived very far away and whether Austin stayed weird or not, had nothing to do with me.
A couple of years later, I ended up working in San Antonio for a time. Once my Austin friends found out where I was, it wasn’t long before they insisted I come and check Austin out. We met up early and they gave me whirlwind tour of the city. We ended up near Congress Avenue Bridge in the afternoon. My friends assured me, I was going to see the “greatest thing ever.”
As the afternoon wore on, crowds started to form on the banks of the river and along the bridge rail. People on the shore looked up towards the bridge and the people on the bridge stared down at the water. Soon, oohs and awes filled the air, and the people all pointed at….bats? The greatest thing ever was watching bats fly out from under a bridge into the dusk?