http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyBe5-irc_4 In July I survived 10 days alone in New Mexico’s Gila wilderness dodging poisonous snakes and wild bears. Opening line #2: In July I enjoyed 10 days of solitude in the Gila wilderness with modern camping gear, good food, a cell phone, and someone knew my entire itinerary. Rattlesnakes are easy to avoid and the bears are so skiddish in the Gila they quickly run away when approached. At least the cell phone never worked so there was some adventure involved.The Dispatch--Tarheel Edition Aug. 2010
I try to spend 7-10 days in the Gila every summer, sort of a yearly retreat. In Peter Matthiessen's great book “The Snow Leopard” (about his three month expedition/pilgrimage in Nepal) he mentions that "too much possibility leads to the madhouse." Trying to live and work in three countries for several years has come awfully close at times to getting admitted, or others having me committed.
The Gila is the largest wilderness area in New Mexico/Arizona and one of most unused. The first seven days I saw more bears (2) than people (0). Wildlife is abundant with a large elk population and wolves have now moved in. On top of the Mogollon mountains I heard the beautiful howl of a wolf one morning.
Adjoining the wilderness is the old mining town of Silver City where I always stop to buy supplies and spend some time in my favorite coffee shop, Javelinas. Silver City is full of rat race refugees from other areas of the country. While drinking coffee I heard a familiar voice and called out “hey Bill, remember me; you were my mechanic in Tucson.” Bill-“Yea I disappeared and now live here off the grid.”
Another guy would just hang out in Javelinas (never saw him buy anything) and sing along to Eagles and Jimmy Buffet songs on the radio. As I was pouring cream into my coffee he approached me: “You FBI,?” he asked. Me-“I hope not. I try to stay away from those guys.” Him-“You better stay away from me.”
In a past Dispatch I mentioned meeting Doug who hadn't ridden in a car for six years and spends weeks at a time foraging for food in the Gila wilderness along with his loyal entourage of three donkeys. I saw a flyer on the street where he was giving a course in finding wild foods and "communicating with plants."
Silver City had their July 4th parade while I was there and parade organizers wanted to make sure everyone was holding a flag. I’m not too keen on waving the flag so I would act distracted when the flag bearers tried to shove a flag my way. Now in addition to being a suspected FBI agent I was also on the watch list for unpatriotic behavior. There was a float about the Iwo Jima flag raising and one car carried a survivor of the Bataan Death March; both events I'm sure happened on July 4th.
From Mayberry to Bogota
Back here in North Carolina's Mayberry with Andy, Barney, and Aunt Bee and not far from the Land of Oz. Actually the Land of Oz theme park on Beech Mt. has been closed since 1980 but I got to visit it as a kid. The park was reclaimed by nature but the weeds have been hacked back so tourists can once again walk down the yellow brick road one weekend a year.
I dropped in on the Amish community near my hometown and talked at length with one young Amish man who recently came from Ontario, Canada and another couple who came from Maryland. They were having a big community gathering when I arrived with men and women in Amish dress playing volleyball.
The 30+ families settled on this rural crossroad originally came from Kentucky. They're New Order Amish so use electricity, tractors, and other modern conveniences but use bikes and the horse and buggy for personal transportation. They will ride in cars but don't drive. They have many cottage industries like jams and other canned goods, furniture, hydroponic tomatoes, and shed construction.
I had hoped to visit my wife's family in Bogota, Colombia this summer but had to cancel so they'll continue to joke about me as the "virtual" husband. Aug. 13 was the anniversary of the assassination of the beloved Colombian journalist, peace activist, and political satirist Jaime Garzon, who was murdered by paramilitaries in 1999. A huge march was held after his death. He was one of the first to publicize the connection between the brutal paramilitary forces and the government.
Here's some great footage of Garzon as the shoeshiner talking politics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FPcuHVGE48
A few months ago I saw a wonderful documentary on the Sundance channel about some of the great changes that happened in Colombia's capital, Bogota during the administrations of two progressive mayors. Bogota was once known as "the worst city in the world". I've seen the wonderful public transit system there along with nice public parks, childrens museums, bike lanes, fewer cars, reduced crime, and other improvements. Here's the link to see the documentary "Bogota Change" :
photos below--Gila Wilderness, Silver City 4th of July parade, Tucson SB1070 protest, Pete Seeger at the Clearwater festival
SB1070 Gets Off to a Rocky Start and Singing on the Hudson
In July a federal judge puts into effect a temporary injunction against most parts of
SB1070, Arizona's new anti-immigrant law and the judge received many threats. There
were mass protests and dozens arrested in non-violent civil disobedience
in Phoenix and Tucson as the new law went into effect. Check out this
great photo gallery of the protests.
Finally see the attached photo of Pete Seeger at the annual Clearwater Festival on the Hudson River
in N.Y. Ted Warmbrand sent me this picture from this year's festival. Seeger and his organization
take folks on a sailing sloop they built to raise awareness about the river. The river has gotten much cleaner
so they came up with a plan to put big cages into the river that are used used as swimming pools. At the end
of any event or festival, Seeger is usually seen picking up garbage or folding chairs.