I wrote this, sitting in my truck, camping high on an alluvial plain in the Owens Valley, Eastern Sierra, California. I am posting it from the Looney Bean Cafe in Bishop, where there are coffee drinks, bakery, friendly people and free WIFI. May the saints in heaven bless, preserve, and promote the prosperity of the Looney Bean cafe.
Since I am not yet sure why I have moved to the desert and what may constellate as my purpose here, I will begin simply with a diary of events on the way to this hillside:
Last week of April 2010 -- My landlady and I agreed that it would be better if I moved out early with a refund of the week's rent so she could set her contractor loose on plumbing issues before her new tenant arrives, without disturbing my already fragile composure. I hurriedly tossed way too much stuff into my Tacoma camper back (henceforth to be known as "he Crate", since it kinda looks like a giant white dog crate on the back of my pickup) and rolled over Richmond Bridge into the Olema Ranch RV Campground in West Marin.
I did not take it seriously when the weatherpersons predicted "showers" Monday and Tuesday. It stormed, I woke up in a bog. I had left the Crate sliding glass side window open, and I had put a too-large tarp under my new cheap nine-foot square nylon tent. Result: lakes formed under my tent floor and inside my Crate. A learning experience. The good news is that my tent's walls and roof did not leak. I spent the next few days getting everything washed, dried, re- sorted, re-packed.
This began the Saga of Stuff that is the physical expression of the psychic discombobulation of a big change in lifestyle, location, and circumstances.
My last night in the East Bay was spent in my dear friend Barbara's house, where she hosted a farewell dinner meeting of our writing group, The Silver Scriptors, who were extravagantly generous to me, buying paintings and copies of my hot off the press slim volume of poems, Holy Moly Poetry.
I was ruthless at the self-storage compound on my way over the mountains. I trimmed my Crate contents substantially, dumped them on top of all my household possessions already stashed there and slammed the door. Driving I-80 over the Sierra Nevada through Donner Pass area I followed dim red taillights through blowing snow, dropping out of mountain turbulence into Reno, and headed south on Highway 395. Spent the night cozy and lazy in a Super 8 Lodge in Nevada, got a room with a view of Topaz Lake and breakfast at the Topaz Lodge Casino that looks like the inside of a Vegas pinball machine mixed up with Trapper MGee's old timey bear hunter cabin; in my motel room there is a table lamp made of intertwined deer antlers. The skies have been spectacular all afternoon, great hanging drapes and boxcars of white and grey and deeper grey, night dark shadows and dazzling splashes of sunshine, glass green sage and always on my right, the Sierra escarpment.
May Day, Mary's Day -- Camping at Baker Creek Campground, east of Big Pine. Creekside in foxtails and stickery weeds. Big Gusty Winds have been blowing from the northeast. The first time I saw one wall of my tent bow to the ground inside (literally down on top of me in my sleeping bag on the floor) I was afraid it would crack all its poles and collapse, but it boinged upright again, like one of those punch-me inflated clown toys with the convex weighted bottom. My new cheap splashy imaginary camouflage pattern tent is proving to be fairly sturdy; in its first week of use it has survived a downpour in a redwood forest and held up against travel advisory gusts in the high desert.
I am disorganized and clumsy; when I tried to take a bucket bath in the dancing tent, I had to zip myself in and out of it several times before I had assembled all the necessary bits such as washcloth, clean underwear, soap, a towel, and warm water in the bucket.
Sunday I stuffed my Clown Tent with all the heavy objects in my truck, and left it to hold its ground as roamed around in my car and visited other towns and campgrounds in the area.
First week in May I checked into Browns Town RV Campground to spend some quality coin time at the showers for myself and my truck. Just south of Bishop and set between a golf course and a cow pasture. Both the golf course and the RV park setting require watering and power mowing every day, the cows bellow, the roads roar with SUVs and country-size work trucks -- and I get it: RV parks are nice places to park, not to hang out. However, residents and campers all very friendly, and again I emptied and re-loaded my Crate, tossing more stuff. I got a UPS mailbox in Bishop and found the Looney Bean.
More later ...