On the road again........

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Since the parents-in-law had a few problems, we decided not to take the long vacation this year (sorry Trish). But tomorrow morning we leave for the Big Bend country of west Texas. Miles and miles of miles and miles - this is one of my favorite places. It's where Elmo and Olive lived, if you remember, and Seminole Canyon is where you can find Panther cave with the pictograph of the white Shaman. We'll go to the park at the ancient Balmorea spring, then into the Davis mountains and maybe do a big loop through Big Bend.

I think they've had rain recently, so the purple sage may be blooming, along with some agave' century plants, perhaps. If all is well in a week, we may extend into New Mexico, and zip over to the cliff dwellings at Gila.

I'll bring everybody an "authentic" Indian rubber tomahawk, or a drum with colored feathers, and pick up a few postcards as well.

See you all later.................

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), July 06, 2002


I want a tomahawk! :-)

Have a fun, safe trip, Lon. Maybe you'll be inspired to write a brand new story. I just hope it doesn't involve a FLOOD! ;-)

-- Gayla (privacy@please.com), July 07, 2002.

Ahh, Lon - I want a postcard! Pretty please with sugar on top :-)

I hope your trip is wonderful. Some year you'll make the Big One, just let me know so I can meet you in Banff or Jasper or somewhere. (Edmonton is gorgeous in the summer.)

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), July 07, 2002.


-- helen (send@some.more), July 07, 2002.

I second the emotion ;-)

-- (sonofdust@post.card), July 08, 2002.

OK, since I am the FRL Chief Investigatress, I feel it is my duty to help you all with your reading and comprehension skills. ;-)

In Lon's last paragraph, he clearly says AND a few postcards. That indicates that everyone will get postcards. The OR comes between a tomahawk and a drum. That is where you have to make a choice.


-- Gayla (privacy@please.com), July 09, 2002.

Thanks for clearing that up, Gayla. Guess I'll go for the 'drum with colored feathers' since I like music. Besides, I don't know what I'd do with a Tomahawk. Uh, do they have Robahawks, or Gaylahawks, or Tricahawks... or only Tomahawks?

just wonderin'.

-- (sonofdust@drum.please), July 09, 2002.


I think Tom has the market on the item, sorry. ;-)

Which reminds me... growing up, I never could find anything with my name on it. There were key chains, pencils, bookmarks with names on them... but my name was just too unique.

It works well for a reservation, though. Don't even have to worry about giving them a last name. :-)

-- Gayla (privacy@please.com), July 10, 2002.

Reservation? Yeah, we have them 'round here too. But no Tomahawks. No, we got the Lenape and Unami and Mohawk Reservations in this part of the Country. And when I was in the free State of Colorado, I bought some stuff for Dear Mrs Michaels (turquoise jewelry) that was made on an Apache Reservation.

-- (sonofdust@reser.vation), July 10, 2002.

Wow! Lenape and Unami? We don't have those restaurants where I live. I've heard of the Mohawk, though. As I recall, you can get a really cool haircut there. ;-)

I like turquoise jewelry too, and I've been to Colorado, but it wasn't free. I had to pay to stay there. You must have some awesome connections!

-- Gayla (privacy@please.com), July 10, 2002.

Well, but, Gayla... Lon doesn't say he's going to give the postcards away, or write them or anything. He says he's going to "pick up a few postcards". I want to be sure that he spreads them around, doesn't just pick them up and keep them!!

Oh, and we have Mohawks here too. Mohawk is the brand name of some gas stations and although sometimes they have restaurants attached, I don't think you could make a reservation at one of them ;-)

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), July 10, 2002.

Gayla: Connections? No, as I recall we flew direct - no connections. I remember it well... they tried to tell us we were on a non-stop flight, but we did stop! (when we landed at the Airport which looked like the whipped topping on a big lemon merangue pie). Uh, is that how you spell merangue? Anyway, it all worked out ok. Marie still has that jewelry too.

Tricia: Hmmm. Maybe Lon's gonna bring back postcards of a Mohawk Reservation that has a gas station too, I don't know. This is all getting a bit confusing.

Good Sir Cooke: If you're reading this, then could you give us your usual clear and consise opinion on what this whole thing's about? I'm sure that you are just the right FRLian to explain it, as in the past you've explained so many difficult things to us before.

-- (sonofdust@lemon.merangue), July 10, 2002.

Rob, so glad the brakes were working on your plane. I love lemon meringue pie (your spelling makes more sense!) but that wasn't what I thought when I saw that airport. (You must have been hungry.) ;-) Being as I'm an FRLian, I naturally thought it was a circus tent. I looked all over for Spam-on-a-stick but they didn't have any. I DID encounter a few clowns, though. :-)

Tricia, I don't remember any of those gas stations, but I sure remember trying to figure out how to convert liters into gallons. (almost 4) Your gas is expensive, but your food is cheap. And yummy! :-)

-- Gayla (privacy@please.com), July 11, 2002.

Well, if gas is expensive and food's really cheap then there is one easy answer; Beans. Eat lots and lots of beans!

-- (sonodust just@being.helpful), July 11, 2002.


-- Gayla (don't light@match.then), July 11, 2002.

Aww, c'mon Gayla. Don't you still have any Y2K beans left? I'm still trying to use up mine - really hard with a family that doesn't really appreciate them.

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), July 11, 2002.

NO beans .... A little bull left perhaps, but no beans.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (racookpe@earthlink.net), July 15, 2002.

The wise prepper would have stocked up on Beano. Don't tell me you people overlooked this.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), July 15, 2002.

Peter, surely you jest. 3 bottles of it. I gave one away, lost one and still have most of the 3rd left - it doesn't go fast when it only takes 4 or 5 drops per usage.

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), July 18, 2002.

Do we know why everything died for a bit?

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (racookpe@earthlink.net), July 18, 2002.

No idea. This happens sometimes but I don't recall it being down for so long before. Maybe kritter or someone else knows.

-- (sonofdust@up.now), July 19, 2002.


-- Robert A. Cook, PE (racookpe@earthlink.net), July 24, 2002.

Will be in the Daytona Beach are for a couple of days.

Keep writin' ... I'll catch up when I get back up here.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (racookpe@earthlink.net), July 26, 2002.

OK, I got back, and just in the nick of time, since we got another story starting. Actually, I've been back for a few days, but the morning after the trip, I washed the RV and the toad, unpacked and cleaned the inside, then washed ONE dish, and threw my back out. I've been flat on a heat pad ever since.

Anyway, I did find some souveniers. A blue chicken feather headress for Gayla, a really nice cedar toothpick holder (hand painted scene of mountains) for Robbie, a GENUINE space rock (with fact card) for Sir Robert, and a shot glass filled with colored sand to look like the desert for Trish. But, I see that while I've been gone there have been a lot more of the old regulars show up, expecting really neat stuff, no doubt. Well, you guys will just have to make do with some photos, when I get them up on the net, and share the box of crayons we got with the kids menu at a TexMex cafe in Presidio.

Anyway, we had a great time. First to the ancient spring at Balmorea, which the CCC boys built into a huge swimming pool back in the 30's, then on into the Davis mountains and down to Big Bend National Park.

I'm always amazed at the happy accidents that happen to me while traveling. We knew that the Big Bend area would be "hotter n' Hell's hubcaps" this time of the year, but decided to go anyway. Well, it started raining the day we drove into the park, and we didn't even turn on the air conditioner for four days! Just a little front with heavy clouds to keep us cool, and add excitement to the huge sky.

They had already had some rain, and the desert plants were starting to bloom, especially the purple sage and century plants. And the best part was that everywhere was absolutely deserted! Cottonwood campground in Big Bend NP had not one camper, and even Chisos Basin was less than half full. The rain let up so we could hike some trails, and we spent two days just driving around.

As we came towards home, we stopped at Seminole Canyon and toured the pictographs at Bell Fate Shelter. I didn't get to see Panther Cave where the White Shaman is, because of the lake level in the canyon. Kit can hardly see his feet, but he likes to hike, so long as it's not down steps. The park guides tried to discourage me from taking him along the 2 miles into the rockshelter. I told them that I realized early on, there would always be an excuse to leave him behind, and I determined then to always include him if at all possible. So, I got to carry him down all the steps into the canyon. By the time we got there, I though he would have to carry me out! I swear if he gets any bigger, I'm gonna teach him to skydive.

But the rain caught up with us again there, and we had one of the most spectacular sunsets ever. We also found a little roadside cafe/bar/pool joint called Emilio's. Emilio waited tables (we were the only customers except for a Border Patrolman who got a Cake and a burrito to go), while his wife and mother-in-law cooked. There is nothing as good as really fresh TexMex food, cooked by someone who knows how to do it. It took a little longer, because she made the salsa fresh for us. In the meantime, Emilio showed us pictures of his son in the Navy, who lives in Hawaii, and we all became friends.

All-in-all it was a great trip, and just too short. My son is putting the photos on the net for me, and I'll let you know where to find them, if you would like to see some of the Big Bend country. Acually, we only had one complaint the whole time. I told the Ranger at the park that we had come all that way, and had been in the Chihuahuan Desert for a whole week, and we still had not seen a single chihuahua!

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), July 28, 2002.

Lon: All the Chihuahuas heard what you wanted to do to the Pupwursts and decided to keep a low profile!

Sounds like a good time was had by all...especially Kit who got a pony ride! :^)

You're a good man, Lon Frank.

PS Let us know where the pictures are so we can see, okay?

-- LindaMc (jmcintyre1@cox.net), July 28, 2002.

Hi Linda!

Actually, as anyone who has hiked the back country trails as much as Kit and I can tell you, we were fortunate to avoid the roving packs of wild chihuahuas. This time of year, the hungry pups are just venturing out of desert dens and the voracious parents prowl the moonlit trails. It's these midsummer nights that have earned them their fearce reputation. Many are the grisly stories remembered in our folklore about unsuspecting prospecters in the early days of the West, who woke to find his favorite slippers chewed to tatters, and yellow puddles strategically placed about the campsite.

It's no wonder that men still shiver in their dreams when the moon rises and the chihuahuas howl.

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), July 28, 2002.

Lon, you're right, those are some fierce chihuahuas! I should think you'd be glad you missed seeing them. Although, even a grizzly is cool to see when you're safe inside a large vehicle :-D

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), July 28, 2002.

"roving packs of wild chihuahuas"....ROFLMAO!! Now a investment minded person could make a bundle out there!

-- Aunt Bee (Aunt__Bee@hotmail.com), July 28, 2002.

Wow, Lon! Thank ya kindly for this here cedar toothpick holder with the hand painted scene of the mountains. Next time I go away I'll have to get you a nice gift too ;-)

-- (sonofdust@thanks.Lon), July 28, 2002.

sniffle ... not even a cedar toothpick, much less a cedar toothpick holder ...

(Welcome back!!)

-- helen (sobbing@on.a.mule), July 29, 2002.


I've owned one of those wild chihuahuas! His name was Taco and he was the the doggie equivalent of Lon Frankenstein! Taco was blind in one eye and so he ran around with his head cocked to one side...kinda like a boat with only one oar in the water...he ran lots of circles unintentionally. You could hear him running, "click, click, click, thunk; click, click, click, thunk."

Anyway, Taco's revenge for us laughing at his 'thunk' trick was NIGHT TIME. My nights as a teen were spent sleeping with one eye open 'cause if Taco got on my bed, I had to be sure he couldn't worm his way under the covers. And it really wasn't the getting under the covers that was the problem...it was if I happened to touch him during the night! You've never seen such a whirlwind of teeth and fur! No telling what would get bit (and being the teen-age girly sort, I certainly didn't want any unsightly bite marks!) That dog was 2 pounds of misshapen skull and razorsharp teeth. It was hard to miss him when he went to doggie heaven (hell?) PS Hi, Kit!

-- LindaMc (jmcintyre1@cox.net), July 29, 2002.

OK, photos are here:


(And Helen, I got you that fringed leather thong bikini set you asked for - I just wasn't gonna talk about it in public, you know.)

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), July 29, 2002.

WOW Lon! Some spectacular photos there! Thanks for sharing friend (although on my puter the last link is broken :( ) The beauty of the desert is incredible is it not? Blows me away, every day of my waking life! Nice to see you and Kit in the light of day!! A coupla handsome fellas there!! Glad you all got to take in some of God beauty where it is the hardest to survive, which makes it all the more incredible! No need to send the tomahawk or the drums. Hope you got Kit a dreamcatcher while you were there though! And one for yourself too! (Not that you don't dream ENOUGH, and that's in your waking life!!) Thank you again for sharing, and hope the inlaws problems were solved while you were there! Nothing like a roadtrip to trigger one's imagination! Oh, how were the moonlit skies??? Nothing like the desert with a full moon!!

-- Aunt Bee (Aunt__Bee@hotmail.com), July 29, 2002.

I second Aunt Bee, Lon - great pictures! Was Kit feeling a bit shy in the one you took of him? It looks like he's trying to hide behind that pillar. Or maybe he was just avoiding the sun?

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), July 29, 2002.

Hi Aunt Bee! and you're right about the desert mountains; they are beautiful. I hope to go again in the late winter if I can, and naybe see a whole 'nother landscape.

Trish, that's the courtyard of the old Pasiano Hotel in Marfa (famous for the UFO lights). Since Kit lost most of his sight, he is really not secure unless he's holding my hand. So, when I have to park him somewhere, I give him lean against something or hold on to.

I haven't heard from Gayla and I'm worried. Do you think she fell out in a swoon when she saw my photo?

(well, it COULD happen!)

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), July 30, 2002.

WOOHOO! Pictures! I'm swooning! :-) Lon, you look so... normal. I was expecting a little chihuahuan snout or tail or something. LOL! Just kidding! The pictures are really neat. I'm jealous of your RV, too! It looks like you guys had a blast. I think you're a great dad!

Thanks for the postcard and the headdress! I love the color blue. Sorry I was late to the 'party'. We were back in Houston over the weekend and were in quite a wreck. Everyone runs red lights in Houston, but not usually 30 seconds AFTER their light turns red. The guy admitted he ran it and the police report says he was at fault. It will take awhile to get everything straightened out, but the important thing is that we're all OK.

-- Gayla (privacy@please.com), July 30, 2002.

Great to have ya back Lon, pictures and all! Did ya see any of them there UFO lights? Matbe we could work that into one of the stories ;- )

Gayla!!!! Thank God you're ok!

-- (sonofdust@welcome.back), July 30, 2002.

Lovely photos Lon, I especially liked the way you framed the building through the archway. No wonder you have a bad back, carrying Kit down all those steps. You must be a very good Dad. Gayla, sorry to hear about your crash. I hope your family are all ok and you are not without a car for too long. Tricia, I'm just wondering if you get to see any of the aurora's up your way. Cheers.

-- Carol (down@under.com.au), July 30, 2002.

Gayla, (It's so nice of you to swoon) I am so pleased to be normal, at least in your eyes. We're all glad no one was hurt in the wreck. I was thinking just this week, that I would love to never see Houston again. I have some clients there, and after a day of dodging the idiots over there, I'm a nervous wreck for a week.

Rob, we DID include the Marfa lights in a story already. That's the area where Elmo and Olive live.

And Carol, you weren't paying attention; I threw my back out doing dishes. Remember that the next time you ask a male to do such strenuous work. Actually, Kit is pretty good about being carried, except when he thinks it would be fun to tickle. I threatened to leave him for the wild chihuahuas, but he didn't believe me. (Now there's an FRLian story line for ya - "Abandoned child raised by wild chihuahuas, grows up to own a Taco Bell franchise")

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), July 30, 2002.

Taco Bell... isn't that the Mexican phone company? ;-) Sorry, I couldn't resist!

I would prefer not to see Houston again, too, but all of my family is there. (Including my kids! I think they'd be a little offended if I never came back. LOL) My niece got married on Saturday. It was a beautiful wedding. Robert, you would have loved it! After the ceremony, when they walked down the aisle leaving the church, it was to the Aggie fight song. (They met at Texas A&M.) :-)

I'm going to put in a link for Lon's photos to make it easier to get there. Thanks again for sharing them, Lon! Vacation photos

-- Gayla (privacy@please.com), July 30, 2002.

And thanks, Rob and Carol!

Rob, I HAVE been thanking Him. :-)

-- Gayla (privacy@please.com), July 30, 2002.

Oh dear Gayla~! You sure you're ok? How's the Mister? So sorry to hear about your accident! I'll save you extra fudge, cause you'll need it for healing, ok? Time to make another "Gayla batch".... And thanks for the linkypoo too!

-- Aunt Bee (Aunt__Bee@hotmail.com), July 30, 2002.

(((((Aunt Bee))))) You're such a sweetheart. :-) I'm a little sore, but doing OK. (If I say I'm really sore can I have extra fudge?) ;-)

Will email soon...

-- Gayla (privacy@please.com), July 30, 2002.

(((Gayla))) (((Lon))) (((Kit)))

-- helen (pics@are.beautiful.and.so.were.the.scenery.shots), July 30, 2002.

Well, since you guys seemed to like the photos, I'll tell you some more about them and the trip.

The first one shows the tiny cleft in the solid wall which is Santa Elena canyon. The Rio Grande goes through it, and it's some of the most spectacular rafting scenery this side of the Grand Canyon. Kit and I might actually take a raft trip there someday, when we plan a little more time. The man in the photo was actually from the cast of an X-rated movie that was shooting near there. I got him to pose as me because he looked so normal.

Next, is a shot of the RV on the side of the road, where we just pulled out to eat lunch and stretch a moment. It was on the "river road" which follows the Rio Grande between Big Bend National Park and Precidio to the west. This area is a state park, and is actually prettier than much of the national park. Also along this route is the old ghost town of Terlingua, although it is more tourist trap than ghost town now. It had rained so hard the day we went to see it, the old cemetary bluff was being threatened by runoff.

We could see the water running down the sides of the mesas and the little dry creek was just boiling and raging along. I expected to see something like an outhouse (or a coffin) come floating by any minute. We watched it from the outdoor eating area of Miss Tracy's Cafe. Miss Tracy was about a gazillion years old, but lovely, and fixed a mean green enchilada. It was pouring rain, and there were steady leaks through the old tin roof over all the tables.

The next photo is from Fate Bell rockshelter, and is a very unusual and famous example of the Pecos Style. It shows four figures standing in a circle around a central shaman. What makes it special is that most rockart of this period is flat in dimention, while this one shows depth and perspective. Notice the feet are pointing different directions, and the rear figures are higher. The central figure wears an antlered headress and holds in his upheld arms the symbols of eternity (the circle shown in the sculpture on the other photo)

It's in the open air, of course, and the colors are just as you see them- I didn't touch it up or enhance the photo. The black smudges are thought to be wings and were added at a later time.

The floor of the shelter is built up of debris and ash and is as much as 20 feet deep. Several bodies were exhumed from the floor by early tourists who could dig and carry off anything they found for the price of $1.00 per car. There are dozens of surviving images here, and even older ones still on the walls beneath the floor level.

Next is the old Paisano Hotel in Marfa, and man was it neat! The new owner is totally restoring it, and very well. The loby is a riot of old colored tile- sort of an Art Deco/Mission style. I posted Kit at the courtyard gate, looking like an abandoned urchin, but nobody came by to give us a handout. Maybe he didn't look hungry enough. I really, really liked Marfa. It was clean, friendly, and COOL. The rain hadn't come yet, but the air was fresh and so nice it tasted like spring water.

The next is the rockshelter again. As dry as the country is, there was some water puddles down in the canyon. We stopped and watched a foot-long snake hunt himself a tadpole lunch in the 3-inch-deep water.

Next is a sculpture at the park headquarters, which depicts the shaman figures of the rockart. The circle he holds represents the portal into mortal life, and back out again. Sort of akin to the "sepapu" in the kiva cultures to the west. The navel of the earth, the passageway to the spirit world/afterlife. If you can imagine the cactus in the foreground with deep purple pads, that would be the Santa Rita variety and is all over Big Bend. Along with the creamy yellow of the century plant blooms, the deep reds of claret cup cactus, the soft grey and purple of sage, and the yellow, blue, white and orange of tiny trailside flowers, the desert is an astounding palette of color.

Next, is a roadside photo in the Davis Mountains. You can see the bloom stalks of several century plants, evidence of recent rain. These stalks, also called sotol sticks, I think are the stakes which inspired the original Spanish explorers to call the great featureless area to the north the "Llano Estacado", or staked plain. Many old adobe dwellings used the lightweight sotol stakes for roof material, supported between bigger logs of cottonwood or willow.

As you drive into the mountains south from Balmorea, you follow the old wagon road to Ft. Davis, over Wild Rose Pass. The walls suddenly close in on you, and you find yourself looking up at cliffs made up of tall basalt pillars. I always am reminded of groups of ancient peoples watching me go by, and join them in their silent vigil.

The last photo was almost ruined by the glare off my head, but how about them knees? Kit is so funny - he is the essential couch potato at home, but when I get him out, he just loves to hike. I never know how much he sees, and he is generally looking down, or at me, but he tramps right along. Usually if I stop for more than 5 seconds, he's bumping me to get going again.

That's about it. I just wish I could do it all over again, and hike the trails with each of you. There is nothing so good as an evening stroll in the desert with a good friend to talk with. I would even let you hold Kit's hand (for a little while).

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), July 30, 2002.


Ah, so that's what a poet and All Around Good Guy looks like! Just as I suspected, you're disguised as a father-type lookin' guy. Kit must appreciate the poetic sort of guy that you are if he can't see very well. Your descriptive powers are wonderful!

I enjoyed the pics but missed the Missus...did she not go along?

-- LindaMc (jmcintyre1@cox.net), July 31, 2002.

Hi Linda,

Sure the missus went along. She likes southwestern silver jewelry, and real Texmex food, so I can never go out there without her tagging along. Her main job was to sit in a lounge chair in the shade while I watched for packs of roving chihuahuas. Oh, and she also did a few little chores like washing clothes, fixing meals, changing flats, etc. She just wouldn't let me post her picture (bad hair day or something).

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), July 31, 2002.

Carol, we can see Auroras here, but we see them less often in summer because our nights are much shorter.

Tonight at 10pm I noticed there was a lovely sunset off to the northwest (what I could see through the clouds). We've been getting rain the last few days (thank-you, God!) and our weather has gotten much cooler. When I went out at suppertime, I could see my breath! Brrr. Lon, if you liked Marfa because it was cool, you really need to visit Edmonton... anytime of year will do ;-)

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.etn), August 01, 2002.

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