Llamas are a working animal in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and other high Andes South American countries.
Llama wool keeps locals warm and you can buy llama sweaters, caps and blankets in open markets in Otavalo, Ecuador as well as other marketplaces in the Andes. This llama,far from home, is boarded at Dave’s daughter Kim’s house in the country near Larkspur, Colorado.
” Kathy, my ex, rents them out to back packers, ” Dave once told me in one of our conversations. ” She just finished a month long backpack trip in Oregon …..”
Some men talk about their ex-wives with disdain. Dave was different.
This llama gives me a look of disdain and I go back inside with the rest of the mourners.
Dave’s ashes are in a small wood box on a living room side table. A slide show on a nearby television shows high lights of Dave’s life; his marriage, the birth of his children, his life as a young man, photos of his father and mother, pictures of him smiling. Dave would be pleased with the turnout, not pleased with the preacher, pleased with Kathy and Kim. He would be back in the kitchen tasting treats if he was still with us. His dog, Chaco, has lost weight and acts anxious as he looks for Dave but can’t sniff him out.
Dave was generous and I expect he would be okay with Kathy gently sprinkling him into a slow moving mountain stream on one of her Spring llama trips somewhere in Colorado.
Dave would also be okay with his daughter, her husband and his grand kids packing into his almost new Airstream and going anywhere, except Texas, a state he loathed.
When I get home I’m going to dust off my walking shoes and take a trip to Mexico, a trip Dave and I talked about for the last two years but didn’t get around to doing for his health issues, which he rarely talked about.
When I get to Mexico I’m going to smoke a cigar for Dave even though I don’t smoke, and have a drink of Crown Royal even though I hate blended whiskey.
This home on wheels was originally owned by a couple from Louisiana who traveled from town to town with a carnival. They sold kewpie dolls and prizes, and, as far as we know, lived as happy as the Old Lady who lived in a Shoe.
Inside, it is roomy enough for a couple that gets along.
For a couple that doesn’t get along, there is no house big enough.
Metal can be cut, bent, welded, bolted, folded,stacked,sanded,smoothed. It can make incredible sculptures or just simple brackets. Protected from water, it lasts hundreds of years. Made from Earth’s minerals, steel is still a prime building material for our twenty first century.
Thom’s shop is full of automobiles from the fifties and sixties, stripped down, in various stages of renovation.Paint and body tools are where they were used last,collecting dust on the hood of a Chevy Pickup or the roof of a Ford mustang.
Hanging in the paint booth are a hood and car door, suspended from a cable. The painter can walk around them, unobstructed, wearing a respirator and plastic paint coveralls over an old pair of pants, careful to keep the spray gun moving, not creating runs and catching all the nooks and crannies.
When the final coats of paint are done,my nephew Weston’s El Camino will be a beauty.
Collectors want their gems to sparkle.
When you put lots of time, thought, and energy into a project you want it to be worth doing.
This car is no longer a car. It is a piece of family history.
In high school, Weston started banging out its dents, measuring from A to B, searching the internet for alternators and chrome. In college, he was home for holidays and fashioned new panels to replace rusted steel and grinder smoothed the rough welded seams. This week, he is back in the garage, with his dad, getting the El Camino ready for its final paint job.
He hauled his project to Thom’s country paint and body shop last week on a flatbed.
” You guys did a great job on this, ” Thom says, running his hand over the metal curves of the car, lovingly. ” We don’t see much here we have to do, a couple of coats of primer, a little touch up and then two coats of paint. She will be a beauty…. ”
When you have spent hours and hours wearing respirators, paint dust all over your levi’s and buried in the creases of your shirt, it is good to hear compliments.
After the paint job, Weston and his dad will haul it home, put in the glass, the seats, attach the chrome and dashboard, hook up the electric and lights, start her up and take her for a victory lap around the block.
This 1960 El Camino will find her place in parades, car shows and Sunday afternoon drives.
Doctor Who has the most unique phone booth in the Universe. but on our way back to Creede, Colorado, Richard’s idea is to stop and pay respects to one of the last pay phones in America.
On site, Richard and I both pick up the phone and listen to the dial tone to confirm the antiquated technology is working and take our obligatory pictures. I wish Columbus had had a camera to document his first landing and native Indians had been able to shoot videos of foreigners sticking a strange flag in their hallowed ground. Seeing a You tube video of the universe created in real time would also be inspirational.
Dr. Who would know if there are payphones or push mowers on Mars.
He would know if there was a Denny’s hidden in the rings of Saturn.
He would know what the Gates of Heaven are made of.
I can’t call Dr. Who though because this last of its kind pay phone doesn’t take credit cards, phone cards don’t let us call outside Earth’s atmosphere, I don’t have a truckload of quarters, and the Operator is on break.
Watching a piece of human history disappear has sadness wrapped inside its wrapper.
Back in the day, we didn’t use our phones much.
We had mostly the same complaints but shouldered them better.
There are picks, shovels,axes, some wrapped with gauze, injured from too much use. There are scythes, traps for animals, lanterns, hammers, levels and long thick nails used to secure railroad ties upon which cars carried ore away from deep mines.
In the eighteen hundreds, young tough men prowled these streets.
Daily, they went underground into tunnels secured by hand cut timbers, never certain they would come out alive. They ate bad food on metal plates that doubled as gold mining pans in the river that tumbles through town and into the valley below.
In the winter, snow was up to their waists and bitter cold seeped through cracks in log houses that had been stuffed with newspapers and torn shirts to keep Old Man Winter from sneaking in.
Iron stoves, vented through the roof, got so hot they looked like meteors.
The sign on the wall says ” No Sniveling. ‘
If something can be done, do it.
If you can’t do it, find someone who can.
The pioneer spirit, in America, is fighting for it’s life.
This wind sock, inflated early, has arms flailing and a big smile on its face.
Creede hasn’t awoken yet, but June, the lady that lives in her parked Tiny House and sells food from her trailer cafe, is cooking already, at eight in the morning.
” I like your house….. ”
” It has everything I need, ” June says as she sips her morning cup of hot chocolate, turning on burners and slicing onions, looking at me like a suspicious pirate.
She has a big pickup for pulling her home away in a month when the first snow hits Creed, Colorado. Her truck plates are Texas but she volunteers that she will pull her rig to Florida and sell smoothies to tourists in swimsuits and bikinis, wearing hippie bracelets around their wrists and ankles.
You can see this blue sock from blocks away and it has big black eyes and long Ichibod Crane fingers snapping the air.
Big multinational corporations sell using Madison Avenue advertising giants with MBA’s and associates with degrees in Psychology, Sales, Marketing and Sociology. Once they turn us into cookie cutter people and make their products our choices,their job becomes easier and more profitable. In Creede, this wind sock is more than enough advertising.
Inside June’s Tiny House, there is room to stretch out, fix dinner, watch her big screen television, read a book, have special people over, clean up, curl up on the couch, let sunlight crawl through the window blinds.
A home base doesn’t have to be anchored to be a home.
A chalkboard street sign on Main Street reminds us all to, ” Follow your soul! It knows where to go.”
June follows her soul, and the wind sock, this morning, says her soul is open for business but heading to Florida as the first snowflakes fall on the windshield of her big Chevy truck.
Creede was established in the late eighteen hundreds.
At the north end of town is a silver mine that has become a museum. Running through the middle of town is a river that carried mining sludge into the valley below that is now being reclaimed by environmentalists. Main street is a Historical landmark with old red brick buildings turned into shops, restaurants, museums, and a repertory theater. The two cliffs on the north side of town look the same as they did when our family came to vacation here in the 1960’s.
While Richard fills out a police report on the deer that ran into us on a highway turn last night, I take a walk about.
In its prime, this town would have been filled with dusty miners who cleaned up in the cold stream and put on Sunday clothes for a chance to dance with dance hall girls in local saloons. Their picks and shovels would be leaned in a corner of the cabin they shared with other boys and a silver dollar would have bought them dinner and drinks all night.
The people who founded this town were tough, rough and ready.
Out here, in the West, you keep your powder dry, your mouth shut,your ears open.
Why that deer turned, and ran in front of our van, haunts me?
When Richard exits the police station with a copy of the police report, he says the insurance company is taking care of damage to our rented truck.
On our way back to his cabin site, we both watch both sides of the highway extra hard.
Deer don’t have insurance and they make mistakes too.
This isn’t Niagra Falls or Victoria Falls, but it is a waterfall nonetheless.
At North Clear Creek River, Colorado, we walk down a dirt path that ends at the river and a fifty foot drop. The river rolls to the edge of the drop, then tumbles over and smashes into the rocks and pool below.
A mist hits my face as I lean over a fence overlooking the falls and look down into the chasm.
This water feature hints at the power of water in bigger quantities, cutting through rock, able to generate power by turning wheels and turbines, harnessed for human purposes.
This little stream, transported to the Sahara desert, would be worth more than it’s weight in gold.