Sunday, August 25, 2013

Westward Ho

Between Salina and  Delta I spotted an aesthetic old farmhouse.  The little relic was busting with character.  It’s likely from the middle of the nineteenth century since that’s when Brigham Young directed his Latter Day Saints to settle this broad valley in central Utah. From 1849 it was a dicey Indian fighting proposition for the Mormon pioneers until they mustered a robust militia in 1871 and finally rid Sevier County of marauding Utes, Paiutes, Navajos and Apaches.

Behind me in Salina were irrigated fields and broad avenues that spoke to the resourcefulness of the Mormons and to the prosperity that usually accompanied their diligence. Did you know it was the Mormons who brought irrigation to the desert southwest? It's a contribution that’s hard to overstate.

But now as I drew nearer to the Great Basin the country changed to arid scrubland that stretches to the Sierras and hosts America’s Loneliest Highway. That's my route, of course. Lonely and dry, it's how I roll. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mulligan Stew

When I got back to Taos and checked my blog I found that the images from Green River were mighty dark. They had looked fine on my laptop’s mediocre screen.  It goes to show that I need to match up the displays of I’m going to post from the road.

So I’m going to take a Mulligan for the first time.  It’s a blessing in disguise though since I gave poor Green River short shrift.   I was so beat Sunday night that I’m lucky I posted at all.

I stopped in Green River mostly because I didn’t know what the next town up the road would offer. By now I’ve learned that Salina about a hundred miles west would have done nicely.  I’m saving it for another jaunt.  Salina is a thriving little farming town of wide Mormon streets, trim irrigated fields and a bustling café called Mom’s.  Salina has Mom’s.  Green River has Ray’s Tavern. 

But this is about withering Green River and the treasure trove of decrepit that it is.  As I said Monday, Green River sits astride US 50 a hundred miles from anywhere and its best days, if ever there were best days, are long ago and far away.  In other words the perfect venue for me.  And as advertised, the town does boast Ray’s Café where I devoured a grilled 12 ounce pork chop, a baker, a chopped iceberg salad and frosty IPA.  Not bad for the fallback position to my fallback position.  Sometimes serendipity delivers if you go with the flow.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Anything but Green River

The last thing I wanted to do was spend the night in Green River. Yet there it sat, a splash of ugly amid the splendors of southern Utah. They say in Nepal that you can drop your camera and still get a good shot.  Much the same can be said of Utah.  See above.
Green River is a withering uranium mining town on US 50 and home to some mighty fine melons and Ray's Tavern. I ferried a cantaloupe all the way to the Point Reyes seashore for an al fresco breakfast on Tomales Bay. It was a honey bomb. Melons and Ray's that's it. 
Their emergency medical equipment, however, is state of the art.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Under A Big Sky

Among my many series, the eclectic range of images that inhabit named categories, is Under A Big Sky, the category that is self-explanatory and which features the sky as the dominant subject that dwarfs what lies beneath.

Earlier this year President Obama signed into law a bill that named the Rio Grande Del Norte as the nation's newest national monument. The bill recognizes and protects a large swath of north central New Mexico that includes the canyon called the Rio Grande Gorge but also vast scrublands that begin just north of US Highway 64 and extend all the way to the Colorado border.  The flat chaparral is the Taos Plateau. It's little traveled and even less appreciated so here are images that celebrate the plateau's stark beauty.
That sky is why we're in Taos, folks.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Failed and Desperate, but enough about me

Good Luck
I was paging through my list of posts and was amazed to discover that I’ve been publishing this blog for seven years this week. Congratulations to me. The thing sputtered along for the first three years till I committed to a weekly post in the middle of 2009, a commitment, swelling of the chest, I haven't failed to honor since.

It turns out that the first post that I called Desert Denizen was of the photograph now known as Good Luck, one of the more successful, by what standard you may ask, images I’ve made.  I wouldn’t have remembered that it was first were it not for tenacious and painstaking research. 

Did I sense that the tragicomic little trailer would have such appeal?  Or, for that matter, did Good Luck prompt me to launch the blog in the first place?  Hell, I don’t know. The fog of time cloaks the obscure. 
Vanishing Point
To the surprise of exactly nobody Good Luck’s rival for best or most or least bad is Vanishing Point.  And apropos of my design musings two weeks ago these images seem to have transcended form and actually have something to say, no fault of mine I’m sure.

The remains of the meager habitation known as Keeler, California and the grim emptiness of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, tell stories of places at the edge of hope. They spur me to discover more of failed and desperate America, a prospect that renders me giddy.