THE FISHERMAN’S DREAM

THE FISHERMAN’S DREAM

 

Have you ever day-dreamed about fishing every lake in America? If you are a true angler I know that you have. Would it actually be possible? What about your job and your endless list of responsibilities? A challenge like that would be absurd …, well, unless you reduced your responsibilities to feeding yourself and one companion and made fishing your job. It would be even easier if your companion was totally devoted to you and anything that makes you happy; accepts and gives all the love you want without hesitation, eats out of a bowl and will drink out of the toilet if the occasion calls for it. Meet Lunchbox, an English bulldog and devoted companion to David Salzberg who is a man chasing that fisherman’s dream.

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At thirty-six years old Salzberg knows exactly what he wants to do with his life, fish. At thirty-six I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. That matters little because I still have not grown up. After working at a few tradesman jobs and eight years in the army (served in the Middle East and returned as a wounded Vet – honor and respect folks, he paid for his freedom. Oh yeah, and ours too) Salzberg made the decision to go on the road and video his fishing adventures in a Hobe kayak, all over America.

We met at Caballo Lake in New Mexico. He pulled into the campground as I was preparing to leave after waiting five very long days for the wind to settle on something less than gale force. My kayak never came out of the RV. In that kind of wind a kayak quickly becomes a carnival ride. Since neither of us could get on the water we decided to sit a spell and spin some yarns, he being a Texan and me a country boy it seemed like the natural thing to do. When he told me about his plans I immediately told him that I have some folks who would like to meet him, most of them back in my old stomping grounds of West Virginia. So here he is.

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Now ladies, I am going to answer the first two questions I am sure popped into your mind. No, he is not married. No, he does not have children. He does have Lunchbox, a mighty cool truck and the most positive attitude about life possible.

Salzberg’s tattoos, of which there are many, reflect the way he feels about life. On the back of one hand is candle and on the other a mirror. He explained that these symbolize a philosophy of human nature. If you cannot be the candle, bringing light into someone’s life, be the mirror reflecting the light to them. The fish on his chest is unmistakable, a big mouth bass; Salzberg’s passion. On his arm is a portrait of his father.

The kayak might appear at first glance to be sort of a mish-mash, but everything has a purpose and this fellow has an eye for quality gear. There are two video cameras, one fore and one aft, a Lowrance depth/fish finder, four fully rigged poles with Abu Garcia and Shimano reels and some comfort as well as emergency equipment.

Who needs an art gallery when you're wearing one

Who needs an art gallery when you’re wearing one

Tomorrow morning David Salzberg and Lunchbox will head north. If you want to go with him turn on Utube and search for: The Kayak Nomad (with spaces), and you can follow his adventures from the deck of a kayak without leaving the comfort of your easy chair, getting splashed with cold lake water, having your stomach churn from seasickness or wondering where the heck the bathroom is on this thing.DSCN4890

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A WORD FROM DESERT DAVE

Tomorrow morning I am leaving on a new camping adventure. When I return on 6/3/15 I will have a new story to tell. It just might be a fish story. It might be about something entirely different. Who knows, I might find Bigfoot, the lost city of Atlantis or a UFO. Okay, in reality it will just be a fish story, but there will be pretty pictures and I promise no selfies.

I have to tell you that I have totally fallen in love with New Mexico, even though it is not ‘new’ or ‘Mexico.’ There is a lot more to explore than I ever imagined. In June I will be heading up the west side of the Rockies (Continental Divide) and you are coming with me. There will be all sorts of interesting and beautiful things to show you. Come along and share the fun, especially at the world’s largest nudist colony for supermodels. Maybe I read that wrong. Oh, it is actually the world’s largest nudist colony for super old Mongols. That changes things a bit. I mean, Genghis Khan did not look all that good with clothes on, so I may just skip that. I am quite sure we can find something far more appealing.

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I AM ABSENT

My friends, I am sorry I have not given you a story this month, but circumstances have kept me from doing most anything of interest. Next month  I will return and have a story; maybe even a few photos. In the meantime I hope you all have a great holiday weekend.

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BEACH CAMPING II – The Next Day

BEACH CAMPING II

 

The last article on Beach Camping was ended before much of the fun began. I thought things were going as good as possible. I was wrong. After I posted the story, festivities really picked up and got rockin’. I met some of the nicest people ever and enjoyed watching the lake come alive. It was so much fun that I could not leave you out.

The Easter egg hunt just up the beach brought out a lot of children, as they say, young and old. People took chairs out into the water so they could sit and fish. Fortunately, boaters paid attention and none of the anglers became targets. I did not see a single detached head bobbing around in the water. As Martha would say,” That’s a good thing.” However, I missed the photo of the day when a seagull dropped a gooey present on a little boy’s hand. He froze and stared at the hand like it had been totally violated. His mouth opened wide, terror in his eyes; he started trembling and went into a slow-motion crying jag that built up to one deafening shriek which brought his parents running from different directions.

An attractive young woman named Crystal got my attention with her marvelous tattoos. New Mexicans seem to have a real affinity for body art. Now, some of it is art, but some of it makes one wonder how empty the Tequila bottle was when someone asked for that particular tat and someone else made the attempt to scribe the ridiculous thing into the other’s skin. In Crystal’s case her body art is just that. The shoulder took five hours. That, my friends, is dedication to one’s art.

More fun than an art gallery

More fun than an art gallery

Peekaboo.  I see what you're looking at.

Peekaboo. I see what you’re looking at.

Sometimes love hurts.

Sometimes love hurts.

There was a general feeling of affability that fused a huge group of strangers into a big party of friends. Laughter was common; the smell of charcoal cooking lasted all day and it was especially heart-warming for me to see how well young parents cared for their children. A whipping post was totally unnecessary. I was amazed.

A ranger patrol boat spent most of the day floating in the cove we had turned into a carnival. Once it was obvious that they were not there to harass people or curtail genuine fun they blended in like everyone else.

The next morning it was a little unsettling to see that the water had risen so high that coolers were floating, chairs and tables were turned over and carpets were submerged. In some cases the water came right up to the campers steps.

Between the high water and blowing sand many vehicles were now stuck. People with big 4-wheelers ran around with tow straps helping everyone get out. Just another day on a desert lake beach. These are plucky people. As one local told me, “Sand ain’t nothin’ but tiny rocks. No worries.”DSCN4870DSCN4867

After being unshod for three days it was necessary to put on sandals to drive; it is the law, a silly one I think. A better law would be prohibiting driving without a brain, or pants. That would make spilling convenience store coffee in your lap very inconvenient.

So now I am back on the grid with electric, water and a covered concrete patio. The sun just dissolved into the distant mountains and the sky is displaying its usual beauty of bright pink, teal and blue streaks. Tomorrow a fruit smoothie in the blender, a wild caught salmon steak on the Barbie and jazz on the stereo is my answer to civilized living. How long thisDSCN4823 will last is anyone’s guess.

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BEACH CAMPING IS NOT FOR PEACE AND QUIET; IT’S FOR FUN

BEACH CAMPING IS NOT FOR PEACE AND QUIET

 

I feel sorry for people who come to camp on the beach expecting the quiet and peacefulness of a concrete RV slab. This is the beach and it has it’s own life. Music, boat motors and playful laughter are just part of the experience. There is also blowing sand, wandering dry bundles of flora and sand fleas. The only way to keep sand out of your rig is to lock it up tight and never go outside. People either love it or find it annoying. I love it.

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Two days after arriving my RV entry is practically a little sandbox and almost every flat surface inside is gritty. My windows and door are open. Hiding from the environment is not my style.

Just down the beach some campers in a tent are playing really good rock music on their radio. It is just audible enough for me to enjoy, which is plus, saving my battery power.

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One thing I do find annoying is a loud generator. My electric is solar powered. I call it “clean power” because there are no expendable resources being used to give me all the electric I need, provided my power output is managed correctly, like eavesdropping on someone else’s stereo. Maybe later they can eavesdrop on mine, and knowing their music preference I can return the favor in kind.

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Yesterday a blinding sandstorm washed across the beach and almost stopped traffic out on the highway. Mother Nature has a rather interesting sense of humor; like she’s saying, “Here’s a few pounds of sand for every crack you don’t want sand in.” Again, it is just part of camping on the beach.

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By now you might be wondering where in the ‘Wide, Wide World of Sports’ we are. Tahiti? The French Riviera? Rio de Janeiro? The Jersey shore? Nope, none of those exotic locations. We are on one of the beaches of New Mexico’s biggest lake, Elephant Butte. Why spend a fortune travelling to an exotic locale when this beach has everything a person could want? There is sand to cover everything and burn the soles of your feet, water for boating, fishing, swimming and losing your keys in, sun for solar power, warmth and that pink glow on your skin that will later turn to blisters and the beauty of snow-white seagulls who steal your food and crap on your shoulder. Ah yes, my friends, this is paradise. Take the bad with the good or go home.

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SMELLS LIKE CAMPING SPIRIT (A few words about spring)

SMELLS LIKE CAMPING SPIRIT

(A few words about spring)

Here in the southwest winter is just coming to an end, one of the main reasons I spend the winter here, and today the air was filled with the aroma of outdoor cooking. And yes, I added heartily to it.

The BBQ season is nine to ten months long, depending on whether or not you can handle two months of 1100f + temperatures in the summer. I usually leave so that little bit of Heaven can pass without me. Although, I have spent many summers in Southern Arizona just to experience the true sense of the desert.

One day while sweeping the sand, lizards and scorpions off my patio I happened to notice the thermometer. The day felt very warm. Oh, it was. The thermometer, in the shade, read 1140f. I was not really hot until I saw that. It is a dry heat, really. Then I wondered how long it would take me to get my dumb butt back inside. Not long.

So the campground on Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico is now buzzing. The bees are back. That is an excellent sign of spring. When the temperature is below 550f most bees can’t fly, or maybe their little stingers freeze-up or something, but when they are out in force it is a definite sign that spring is right down the road.

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Birds tell us about spring, too. They fly fast and low with their wing tips almost grazing the water, and boy do they sing in the spring. They are happy little birds singing with all their might to attract a mate and signal to other birds that they are back in action.

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And then there are the insects. Speaking ill of something so necessary to the equilibrium of the planet goes a bit against my grain, but being bitten, crawled upon and buzzed is not my idea of fun. There is a Bottle fly in the Sierras that is so big and has such a hard body that the first time one hit me on the head I thought it was a darling youngster with a BB gun. That is also why I love seeing the insectivore birds, lizards, dragonflies and bats, hoping they will fill the sky at sunset. Of course the lizards do not fly and though the Springtime garner dragonfly can reach 60 mph, it and the Blue dasher dragonfly generally stay close to the water. The dasher actually perches and waits for prey to flit by. That is a smart dragonfly. Being coldblooded dragonflies are also subject to air temperature, like bees, but are surely one of the most beautiful little critters on the planet, with bees bringing up a close second.

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Just now the plants are coming to life as well. Brittlebush and creosote will bloom bright yellow, the elegant white flowers of the Datura are soon to come and yesterday a Cane cholla showed the yellow buds that will open into gorgeous cactus flowers. The desert absolutely enlivens in the spring.

Then again, it is only a couple hours drive to Albuquerque were there are shopping malls, Starbuck’s, 5-star restaurants and theaters. Nah, I will take dragonflies and cactus flowers any day.

So here are a few photos of what signals spring in the desert.

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A hard day at the office

A hard day at the office

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A BEARY NICE PLACE TO VISIT

A BEARY NICE PLACE TO VISIT

 

I'm not as bored as I look

I’m not as bored as I look

When most people think about bears their mind goes to Yellowstone or Yosemite. Few consider Arizona to be bear country. Guess what? It is. On top of the Mogollon (pronounced: Mo-gee-yon) Rim, an escarpment dividing north and south Arizona, is one of the densest populations of not only black bears (Ursis americanus), but also Mountain Lions (Felis/Puma concolor) in the United states. So what naturalist would pass up such a place?

The environment is a tall ponderosa pine forest that soars up from 4,000 to 8,000 feet. The cliffs are mostly Kaibab limestone and Coconino sandstone. The escarpment is a result of erosion and faulting, though an Arizonan once chuckled and told me, “It’s not my fault.” It’s also not that clever.

My camp, not RV country

My camp, not RV country

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If you believe those who claim to have seen it, there is also the legendary  Mogollon Monster, a 7 foot tall, hairy humanoid with large fiery red eyes. Personally, my favorite part of collective descriptions is that it stinks to high Heaven. Perhaps it needs to see a gastroenterologist. Certain eco groups have been quite verbal about cattle producing gaseous pollution. Maybe they should consider the no less than potent pollutants coming out of a

Looking south over the rim

Looking south over the rim

Bigfoot’s tailpipe. As for me, I have not seen one. Also, I give a hoot, do not toot and therefore never, ever pollute. Yeah, right! There must be a reason why Matt, Bobo and Renae (“Finding Bigfoot” TV series) have not been there. Bobo, give me a call and we’ll talk about it.

Anyway, I did not go there to hunt Bigfoot, but for bears; big ones, little ones and some that are just right. What I found was…, well, bears.

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The Rim country is also a beautiful place, bears or not. The white sandstone cliffs are amazing when hit by sunlight and just before nightfall shadows from the colossal pines create an eerie atmosphere that makes you peer into the darkness looking for movement of whatever might be lurking there. You might even imagine something exciting. Was it really there? Imagination is magical on a night of long shadows, creaks, snaps and cracks from strained wood and the echoing calls, wails and moans of elk, owls and mountain lions. Big cats sometimes sound like a baby crying, a woman screaming, a man groaning or something so alien that it makes your spine tingle just a little.

It is a common belief that a campfire will keep wild animals away. Yes, that is mostly true, but I have seen bears walk so close to my campfire that their hair was almost singed. These bears are smart. They work things out. They have learned the difference between a campfire and a wildfire.

For a raft? He's nuts.

For a raft? He’s nuts.

Are they dangerous? No more than any other 500 pound predator with the speed of a race horse. Oh, wait, there are no other predators that big and that fast. Be careful, ya’ll.

I believe I mentioned this before, but a couple years ago my sister, Marla, was heading for Romney, West Virginia when she hit a black bear that ran out in front of her. That bear just got up and walked away. Marla’s PT Cruiser did not fare so well. Black bears do not just look tough, they are tough.

So enjoy the photos I selected and remember, if you are not accustomed to the bad habits and questionable behavior of bears, give them a wide berth.

Ah yeah, a raft is perfect

Ah yeah, a raft is perfect

 

Bald eagles

Bald eagles

Osprey

Osprey

I keep thinking back; when we were big cartoon stars. Now this.

I keep thinking back; when we were big cartoon stars. Now this.

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I'm a genius. I just invented The Stick.

I’m a genius. I just invented The Stick.

I was not snoring

I was not snoring

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SMELLS LIKE CAMPING SPIRIT (A few words about spring)

SMELLS LIKE CAMPING SPIRIT

(A few words about spring)

Here in the southwest winter is just coming to an end, which is one of the main reasons I spend the winter here, and today the air was filled with the aroma of outdoor cooking. And yes, I added heartily to it.

The BBQ season is nine to ten months long, depending on whether or not you can handle two months of 1100f + temperatures in the summer. I leave so that little bit of Heaven can pass without me. Though there was a summer spent in Southern Arizona just to experience the true sense of desert.

One day while sweeping the sand, lizards and scorpions off my patio I happened to notice the thermometer. The day felt very warm. Oh, it was. The thermometer, in the shade, read 1140f. I was not really hot until I saw that. It is a dry heat, really. Then I wondered how long it would take me to get my dumb butt back inside. Not long.

So the campground on Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico is now buzzing. The bees are back. That is an excellent sign of spring. When the temperature is below 550f most bees can’t fly, or maybe their little stingers freeze-up or something, but when they are out in force it is a definite sign that spring is right down the road.

Birds tell us about spring, too. They fly fast and low with their wing tips almost grazing the water, and boy do they sing in the spring. They are happy little birds singing with all their might to attract a mate and signal to other birds that they are back in action.

And then there are the insects. Speaking ill of something so necessary to the equilibrium of the planet goes a bit against my grain, but being bitten, crawled upon and buzzed is not my idea of fun. There is a Bottle fly in the Sierras that is so big with such a hard body that the first time one hit me on the head I thought it was a darling youngster with a BB gun. That is also why I love seeing the insectivore birds, lizards, dragonflies and bats, hoping they will fill the sky at sunset. Of course the lizards do not fly and though the Springtime garner dragonfly can reach 60 mph, it and the Blue dasher dragonfly generally stay close to the water. The dasher actually perches and waits for prey to flit by. That is a smart dragonfly. Being coldblooded dragonflies are also subject to air temperature, like bees, but are surely one of the most beautiful little critters on the planet, with bees bringing up a close second.

Just now the plants are coming to life as well. Brittlebush and creosote will bloom bright yellow, the elegant white flowers of the Datura are soon to come and yesterday a Cane cholla showed the yellow buds that will open into gorgeous cactus flowers. The desert absolutely enlivens in the spring.

Then again, it is only a couple hours drive to Albuquerque were there are shopping malls, Starbuck’s, 5-star restaurants and theaters. Nah, I will take dragonflies and cactus flowers any day.

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WHAT GOES AROUND CAN BECOME A ROUND: A Nodule Story

WHAT GOES AROUND CAN BECOME A ROUND

 

Rocks are one of my passions, right up there with root beer floats and, attesting to my age, Daisy Duke shorts. Sometimes it is not the rock type that is interesting, but the shape of the rock. It seems that the most common question I am asked is, “What made this rock so round?” In the studies of geology and sedimentology one encounters many unusual, yet natural shapes. Recently someone asked what the rock balls just up from the lakeshore are. Now, that is an interesting question.

Look at the formation of rock ‘balls’ below. What are they? How were they made?

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These funny looking sort of un-rocks are called nodules or concretions and are generally a combination of two components, a solid center mass DSCN3717and an encrusting outer material. They are sort of like an old Tootsie Pop. The Pop, however, was hard on the outside and chewy in the middle. These are the opposite. Chew the center of a nodule and you will be gumming everything else for some time. It is usually made of manganese, cobalt or some other very hard metal. I am sure some of the young people immediately thought ‘oh yeah, like Metallica.’ No, that is Heavy Metal. Not like gold, but they do have a Gold Record. And now that some of the old people are completely confused, let us return to nodules.

What is interesting about them here is that they usually occur on the seafloor and we are hundreds of miles from the closest ocean. Just recently a German research ship, the R/V Sonne, while cruising a few hundred miles east of Barbados discovered a seafloor littered with manganese nodules ranging from soft ball to bowling ball size. Mine are not quite that big, only about baseball size, but they are very nice balls none-the-less.

Manganese nodules have been found in every ocean, though most occur in the Pacific. Exactly how they are formed is still a mystery, but excess metals reacting in sea water or close to underwater hydrothermal vents, maybe with the help of microbes, is the most possible method.

At times when scientists cannot explain an occurrence with certainty they use the SWAG method, a Scientific Wild-ass Guess.

The chemistry of nodules, however, is well-known, but I will not bore you with that aspect, though I find it extremely fascinating, and it could be considered rather complex. Unraveling a nodule is a little like peeling an onion that has lain around for several million years while surface material is continually added in semi-liquid or viscous form, adheres and hardens. The real rub, so to speak, is that one cannot know what is encased within the ball until it is opened or viewed with remote sensing equipment.

Imagine walking down the street and you see a man coming toward you. What can you tell about him? From a distance all you can see is his clothing. What does that tell you about what is inside? Usually very little unless he is not wearing clothes, at which time I suggest running. As he gets closer you can see the clothing more distinctly, his face, skin and maybe a hat. Closer still and imperfections in the skin become visible; the condition of the clothing and how well it fits is obvious. You still cannot tell exactly what is inside, but you can make an educated guess. That is also how a geologist looks at a rock. There are textures and colors, weight and hardness, general shape and condition that can reveal much.

And no, that does not answer the question of how they got here in the southwestern desert of North America. To uncover the answer we must go back in time. In Jules Verne’s “The Time Machine” a man goes through time finding all sorts of wonderful things including pretty women. All we are looking for are rocks. They are rocks that form under water, so when was New Mexico covered with sea water?

There is a geologic model explaining this called transgressive/regressive seas. It describes how ocean water transgresses, or covers the land and then regresses, or retreats back into the ocean basin. A surfer would love transgression; a real estate agent would love regression. So when did this happen? First we have to go back a ways. Do not start looking for last year’s calendar; we are going back 450 million years to the Ordovician Period. Then, in the Silurian Period about 420 million years ago the land dried up again. The sea went back and forth several more times until we approach more modern times a mere 100 million years ago during the Mid-Cretaceous Period when the Western Interior Seaway covered the entire central portion of the United States, including all of New Mexico. This is the period in which these nodules most likely formed.

It was a warm, tropical sea. We know that by the widespread carbonate deposition and calcareous algae. There were times when the seafloor went through periods of anoxia, devoid of oxygen. At the end of the Cretaceous the Laramide Orogeny (uplift; mountain building event) lifted silt and sandstone which we walk on today called the Laramie Formation.

So, if you ever wondered how fossils of flora and fauna that lived in the ocean could be found in the dry southwestern desert, now you know. When you visit the lakes or dry ancient sea beds of the central United States look carefully, you never know what might be at your feet.

(Has anyone found a contact lens? My girlfriend dropped one. Some paleontologist will probably find it in a million years and declare there were creatures with glass eyes living in the Cenozoic era.)

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GYPSIES OF THE MODERN WORLD

GYPSIES OF THE MODERN WORLD

It has been suggested that the word ‘gypsy’ has its origin in Egypt and that Egyptians were the first gypsies. Romanians and Hungarians might take acceptation to that and claim that their ancestors were the original gypsies. In fact, when gypsies first appeared in Europe in the 16th century the French, wrongly believing they were from Egypt, called them ‘gyptiens.’ To many Romani people ‘gypsy’ is an offensive term, which outsiders rarely understand. In her heyday Cher recorded a hit song, “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” which speaks directly to the offensive nature of the word and is definitely not a glowing endorsement of their character. And it might interest you to know, if you do not, that there is a Gypsy, West Virginia with a thriving population of 328 people whom I doubt drive wooden, arched top wagons, read tarot cards or have had any experience with werewolves.
Long before I knew any real facts my concept of gypsies was that of a colorful bunch of wandering, fun-loving people who were clever, resourceful and altogether unaffected by social pressures to conform. That could easily describe me as well. My first CB ‘handle’ was Gypsy and it was the name of my dog. I have always been attracted to the idealistic notion that the term gypsy invents in my mind, which usually involves a dark-haired woman wearing brightly colored clothing and lots of jewelry.
It is with that in mind that my reference to gypsies is a very positive, romantic one. I like them. Traveling as I do I occasionally meet people who fit my concept of “gypsy.” They are interesting, colorful, rather shy folks who live on the fringe of modern civilization. As Carly Simon once put it, ‘they dance to their own rhythm.’
These are not people one would not meet in the city lunching at the most trendy bistro or perusing department stores named for designers. Modern appliances and electronics are no more a part of their life as a squirrel rifle and buck skinning knife is to most people today. Okay, bad analogy. I own both as do many of you, but the point is, American gypsies are real people who live in the real world and that world is their own. They are not influenced by social pressures, which may be the most important factor about who they are.
A friend of mine living in Arizona who was on his second ‘tablet’ in less than a year travelled to California and upon seeing that a new ‘tablet’ had emerged that was a must-buy for most everyone there jumped in the cattle line and bought a another new one. A true gypsy does not own a ‘tablet’ or even know how to operate one because he has no need for one. My friend who felt he had a crucial need for the latest one complained later that he had great difficulty operating it. Life is funny that way.
Imagine life without the latest electronics. Now take a deep breath, it was only a suggestion. Breathe and release, life is not about to play such a harsh trick on you. To slip even farther into the past, imagine life without electricity at all, and no running water. We take these things for granted and cannot conceive of life without them, yet there are people who choose to live without what most people consider basic necessities. Why, and how?
First, picture yourself living in a 6 x 10 foot space with no television, computer, central heat or cooling system and no, God forbid, dishwasher. Would life even be possible? Of course it would, although not terribly desirable to most people. We tend to think of anyone living in such conditions as impoverished and unfortunate. A great many of them would agree and wish fervently to better their situation, but not all of them. To some people this is a chosen way of life. They are true gypsies; people of self-reliance who dare to live for the simple enjoyment of being.
When asked “why,” one answer resonates time and time again, “freedom.” “The freedom is addictive,” said one of the first gypsies I ever met. “I work the boats (tourist day fishing) when I need money, then go up in the mountains and kick back for a couple weeks. I go where I want and do what I want. That would be real f—ing hard to give up, man.”
One of the few single women I have met doing the gypsy life said that after 7 years she rented an apartment and tried to conform to ‘normal’ life. It lasted 4 months. She said the noise of the city along with the throngs of people made it too uncomfortable for her to remain there.
An Apache medicine woman who has become a friend tells me that she finds it amusing when people are confounded by her gypsy lifestyle. She cannot understand how they could be so dependent on modern conveniences and considers it a weakness. Her life, she says, is about living with nature rather than living in contrast to it.
But what about the hardships of not having modern conveniences? How does one manage a daily routine of cooking and cleaning without something as basic as running water? Most of these folks travel between public campgrounds where water is available. It really is quite simple. You put water in a container and carry it to your campsite. An outdoor stove or campfire heats the water for washing and is used for cooking. In the evening there are oil lamps, candles and battery or gas powered lanterns for light. Without television or a stereo system for entertainment why have light at all? Well, you just might want to be able to see the person you are talking to. That is an ancient art called conversation which is done verbally rather than with a key pad. If you have not tried it recently it might amaze you how much fun it can be.
Oddly enough, entertainment is not something these folks are lacking. Most are voracious readers. They almost literally inhale books. This appetite for reading also makes them good conversationalists. Music is normally a big part of gypsy life. When music does not come out of a box it is necessary to make it yourself, so guitars, fiddles, banjos and flutes are commonly found at the evening’s campfire. And then there are handicrafts of all sorts. Working with leather, jewelry, carving, painting and weaving are among the favorites.
From the outside looking in it might appear that gypsy life is unappealing, but as with most everything it is all a matter of perspective. There are very few people cut out for gypsy life. Those who are do not apologize or make excuses for the life they have chosen. In fact, they care little what mainstream society thinks of them. If clocking in and out, mowing the lawn on Saturday and fetching the morning newspaper in your jammies just as the sprinklers go on is your Shangri-La, be happy about that, but also be happy for people who have found enjoyment in other ways of living.
My latest gypsy encounter was with the wonderful couple in the photos, Dan and Cherokee. I feel very privileged to be allowed to bring them to you. Cherokee, who is an American Cherokee Indian, had never before allowed a photograph of her to be taken. They live in this converted horse trailer with only one modern convenience, a battery powered radio. Dan spent his youth cowboying in Nevada and Colorado. Cherokee’s past is as mysterious as her dark, enchanting eyes. They have little of the modern world in their life, but the things they do have are worth much more, love and contentment.

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