Monday, September 25, 2017

Two dates after my 54th birthday, I traveled north with three co-workers to start my next project, a big, lengthy archaeological survey of National Forest land. They are thinning trees and bushes to help prevent forest fires from affecting three communities.

The terrain varies from rocky slopes to areas overgrown with manzanita, scrub oak, and super thorny mesquite.

Project area.

Over the course of seven days, 62 hours in the field, we walked 41.5 miles. At times my feet and legs hurt badly, but by the end that had mostly stopped.

Looking north toward the Mogollon Rim.

Lots of archaeological sites to document. A lot of small 1000-year-old farmsteads with single rock masonry rooms. Also present, quite a lot of rock art carved onto boulders.

No one really knows what the symbols meant to the people who carved them.

On the seventh day, a surprise find- a plane crash site. Scattered all over a west-facing slope in a large area were pieces of frame, aluminum skin, various parts, and aviation oil cans. 

Frame fragments.

We will be researching this to find out what happened to the plane.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mid-Life Crisis Road Trip 2017, days 15 to 21.

A woman at the campground had her cat in a stroller and chatted with me about our respective trips. She told me that that was beeweed and sure enough, there were plenty of bees on it.


I packed up and drove toward the visitor's center, stopping at one trail leading to some petroglyphs. A small cottontail posed for me.


The petroglyphs were made by the Fremont culture, roughly contemporaneous to the Hohokam here in southern Arizona.


At the visitor center I said hello to a stegosaurus. Like many kids, I was obsessed with dinosaurs when I was a kid.

You get on a little bus and it takes you up to the wall of fossils. The enclosing museum is very nice and up-to-date (and air conditioned!).

Replica skeleton.

Lot of bones visible, they are no longer exposing more. I had a little guide that I bought and gave it to the father of a boy, who was so excited because they had sold out.

Skull and cervical vertebrae.

After ward I went to Vernal, Utah and washed my clothes. I haven't been in a laundrymat since 1996.


I then drove to Salt Lake City and got a hotel room for two days. The airport Ramada. Avoid this place, it was gross. The windows are covered in see-through curtains. If you turn the light on, people walking down these rusty stairs can peek at you. The whole place was falling apart, the sidewalks cracked and buckled, cardboard patches next to AC units, nasty landscaping. A terrible Indian restaurant attached to it, the worst Indian food I have ever eaten. The "complimentary" breakfast was horrible.


On Saturday, August 26 (day 16) I went to the Family History Library and obtained my 4th great grandfather's will from England, in which he left my 3rd great grandfather his loom (he was a linen weaver). I walked around Temple Square and saw the LDS Temple, very grand.

The next day I went hiking with Jon up in the mountains overlooking Salt Lake City. It was very attractive.

Jon and Homer.

Afterward I drove west from Salt Lake City across the Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake Desert is in fact very salty.

Great Salt Lake Desert.

I tasted it. And later on wished I had grabbed a plastic bag and bagged a sample.

Salty Homer.

I arrived in Reno, where I spent the night at Circus Circus. Casinos are depressing as fuck. No one looks happy pulling the handle or pushing the button on slot machines. I did have an excellent pizza there.

On August 28 (day 18) I drove to Lake Tahoe and spent a day with Kevin. It was nice to see him after two years. We took his two dogs on a long walk, and he made me vegetable kabobs for supper.

Homer and Kevin.

The next day, August 29 (day 19) I drove south to Yosemite National Park. There was a controlled fire within the park and another larger one outside. Going in, it was very smokey.

Crazy smoke.

I found a space in Porcupine Flats campground, set up my tent as ash fell on me.

The sun was red from smoke.

And of course I got bored and decided to go find a candy bar. The store to the west of Porcupine Flat was closed and there was a young couple sitting there, waiting for the bus. For the first time in my life I picked up hitchhikers (Anthony and Claire), and took them back to their vehicle, which was near the only other store nearby. They bought me an ice cream bar. It was fun talking with them. That night I could hear something sniffing around the campground near my tent, I shined my phone light out but could not see anything.

So I got up, had a PBJ sandwich, and then headed eastward toward Las Vegas on August 30 (day 20). I wanted to go through Death Valley National Park but I wasn't paying attention, and Google Maps decided to send me down a deserted road north of the park. Very pretty scenery.

Once again in Nevada.

 Most of my pictures don't show how lovely the wide open spaces of the great American west are. These antelope were nice enough to pose for me.

Antelope, somewhere in Nevada.

I arrived in Las Vegas only a few minutes before Jim and George got home. George made me a couple of very strong drinks. 

Jim, Homer, and George.

Hadn't seen them in a couple of years, so it was nice to catch up. They are the nicest guys.

And the next morning, after a couple of bowls of cereal, I got in the car and drove to Tucson. Buddy, Snowball, and Puff were delighted to see me, as was Doug. 

And there you have it, my 21-day road trip. It was lovely, even despite the lost wallet and Collin's totaled car (I gave him some money to use as a down payment for his next vehicle).

Mid-Life Crisis Road Trip 2017, Days 9-14.

 Saturday, August 19. Despite drinking a lot of Fireball, I did not have a hangover. They were a number of competitions on Saturday at Rendevous. I cannot show you some of the photographs.


I participated in the tug-of-war in the mud pit, unfortunately no photographs. My team of three men and a woman won, although we were smaller than the opposing team of four burly men. I may have tripped their lead man. I ended up being covered in head-to-toe in mud.

That night Steve Grand performed. He is one of the three gay singers (also Tom Goss and Matt Alber) that go around the country. He had been in Provincetown, where Jimbo saw him a few days earlier. He did some of his own songs and covers, a nice job. Very friendly.

Homer and Steve.

The next morning I drove north to Douglas, Wyoming. I wanted to be in the best area for eclipse viewing the next day. I camped out in Medicine Bow, again, but a long way from the unit where Rendevous took place. The camp site was 37 miles south of Douglas, including 12 miles of bumpy dirt road.

Medicine Bow, dirt road.

From my camp site.

I got bored, it was hours until sunset. Ended up driving back to Douglas, where I ended up running in an acquaintance, Collin from Colorado. We watched the Douglas Eclipse Street Festival, and then Collin followed me back to my campsite. Almost. Unfortunately, he managed to skid out in his 2022 Chevy Cavalier, ran into a dirt embankment, and totaled his car. Sigh. As he panicked I told him everything would be alright. So that was exciting.

The next morning, Monday August 21, we drove into Douglas, called a couple of tow places, and then drove back out to a spot I thought would make a good viewing area. There were a number of other people parked there- four people from Austin, Texas; six pediatric nurses from Colorado; a father, two of his kids, and three or four of their friends from Colorado Springs; a pair of men from Montreal; some people from Switzerland; and some others. Click on the panorama I took below of the crowd.


It is was so much fun sharing the eclipse experience with strangers.

The six nurses and I.

We put on our glasses. The two extra pairs I had came into use, one going to Nick from Austin and one to Jason from Colorado Springs.

Collin and Homer not burning our eyes out.

Gradually the moon crossed over the sun. It became cooler and darker, a sort of pinkish glow. It was still pretty light out until the very last moment. Then totality. We shouted with excitement. 

Totality as viewed from my cell phone.

I was expecting to be rather emotional, this was one of the things I wanted to do before I die. Surprisingly, it was just a fun experience, shared with instant new friends. In seven years I am going to Austin, Texas to see the next one.

We camped out at the Wyoming State Fairground with the four Austinites (Nik, Julia, Mike, and Carl[?], and their dog. Sipping beer and talking. The next morning Collin and I went over to the car repair place and met with them, and then drove off to Mount Rushmore.

Three states I had not been to: South Dakota, Alaska, and Florida. Now only two left.

South Dakota.

Nothing special about the drive. Passed through long areas with few houses. Small dying towns. Paid $10 for parking at Mount Rushmore and ate a picnic lunch on the trunk of my car.

To say Mount Rushmore is underwhelming would be to under-exaggerate how boring it is. Four giant heads sculpted on a mountain. Weird.

Collin, George, Tom, Teddy, Abe, and Homer.

Very crowded with lots of people from Europe and Asia. Few children (yeah!). We sat down and called the car place and discovered Collin's car was totaled. Sigh. Drove back, got a hotel room, had pizza and calzone in Douglas, went to bed.

The next day I drove Collin back home to Colorado. This altered my route, I was originally going to drive through Montana and Oregon, but now I had lost two days drive time. So I ended up driving through Colorado westward. I spent the night in Glenwood Springs at a hotel under renovation.

It was snowing at one spot. The last time I drove down this road was in 1987 with Melanie, coming back from Grand Tetons, and in the 30 years since the little towns had gotten bigger as rich people buy 2nd or 3rd homes there. So much wealth, it is crazy.

Glenwood Canyon is really remarkable, the pictures I took don't reveal how beautiful it is.

Glenwood Canyon.

Several tunnels, I am a big fan of tunnels.


Thursday, August 24 I drove back a ways and had lunch with Brandon. That was fun, the food very hipser-ish (cucumbers three ways, the warm cucumber was gross).

Homer and Brandon.

I then drove north to go see Dinosaur National Monument. Google maps took me the back route (something that became increasingly common the more remote I was). I finally reached Utah.

Homer in Utah.

I bought an annual pass ($80) and then drove to the Green River Campground.

Camp site.

That night there was a program on Monarch Butterflies. I had seen the woman giving the presentation in Tucson several years ago at a Santa Cruz River Conference, and we chatted a little. Small world. Before the talk began, she spotted a Monarch flying nearby and was super excited.

The sunset was gorgeous that night. And then the stars came out. You forget how beautiful the night sky is when there is no light pollution.

Sunset along the Green River.

Mid-life Crisis Road Trip 2017, Days 1 through 8.

On August 11, I got in the trusty Ford Focus and drove east into New Mexico. Heading towards Santa Fe, but ominous clouds developed. I was going to the Pecos Conference near Pecos, but by the time I got to Albuquerque, it was raining hard.

Rainy New Mexico.

I ended up spending the night in Albuquerque. I went to Target and bought a hoodie, because it was cold. That ended up being a smart move. A night spent at the Super 8.

The next morning I drove north to Pecos, set up my tent, and then received an award. I made the audience laugh by telling them that after 31 years I was still excited to be an archaeologist.


Afterward as I was walking away a young guy named Michael came up to me and told me that as a teenager he had searched "gay archaeologist" on the internet and found my blog and that it made him realize that one could in fact be a gay archaeologist. That was an awesome moment.

Fancy clouds.

That night at the dance a young gay couple two-stepped together. I introduced myself. It was really fun to meet other gay archaeologists and realize that no one cares anymore.

The next day, August 13, I got in my car and headed north to Denver. Northern New Mexico and southern Colorado are gorgeous.

Hello Colorado.

I had lunch at a Subway in Pueblo and managed to lose my wallet. First time ever. $450 cash and my cards. Discovered this in Denver. Sad face. Cancelled my cards, ordered new ones, felt like a dork, wished I had taken some of that cash out and hid it in my car like I had planned. Oh well, lesson learned. Whoever found it, I hope they had fun or paid some bills.

Arrived at Craig and Chris's place with about four dollars to my name. 

Craig hadn't started working so we got to hang out for the next few days. On Tuesday, August 15, we went to the Denver Botanical Garden. It was beautiful and obviously there are a lot of rich folks in Denver. Maybe Alexis or Blake gave them a pile of money.


We wandered around looking at the flowers. I liked the tropical exhibit. My favorite was the water lilies.

Water lilies.

The next day Craig and I went to a big park and walked around. That night I made Spanish rice for supper. Had a momentary freak out because I could not find my keys, they turned out to be in Craig's SUV. Those same damn shorts.

On Thursday, August 17, Chris was off work so we went to Rocky Mountain National Park. Very lovely, very high up. Surprised to see snow still on many of the mountains. At places we were up in the tundra. It was lovely.

Craig and Chris.

Cute chipmunks visited us while we ate lunch.


So many amazing mountains, which is why I guess they call them the Rocky Mountains. 


We ended up going down a trail and I got ahead of the guys and when I turned around they had disappeared. I ran back and discovered that Craig's chair had fallen off the edge of the trail and dumped both of them in a pond. Everyone survived, although Craig's phone died. It was an adventure.


I got my cards and Doug sent my passport, so I was able to continue my journey. 

On Friday morning, August 18 (day 8), I got in the car and drove to Wyoming. There was a nice visitor center at the border, where I met my next boyfriend.


I stopped at the Denny's at Cheyene and had the best onion rings. I then drove west through the rolling plains to attend Wyoming Rendevous, an LGBT camping event. I was supposed to meet up with Jason, but he couldn't go, so I was there by myself. I wish I wasn't so shy.


The event was held in the Medicine Bow National Forest, although there isn't a lot of forest in this area.


I met a few guys that afternoon, so I didn't feel like a complete dork. That night a comedienne performed and then there was a bonfire and I drank a lot of Fireball and had fun.

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