Joined March 2017
  • Day157

    Austin Hitchin'

    September 2 in the United States

    At a gathering of the extended Camarata-Bohrer and McCann-McCleary clans Robyn and Doug were hitched. The highlight of the wedding procession (besides Doug and Robyn) was to be their English bulldog. Alas, he was recovering from surgery and couldn't make it. So Brendan carried our grandson Elliot down the aisle. The other missing highlights were the wedding rings. They turned up an hour after the ceremony. Question is, are they still legally married?

    Anyway, it was great fun. We especially enjoyed meeting the new extended Bohrer family and getting together with all of our relatives and out-of-town friends for a weekend of revelry.
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  • Day155

    South by Southeast [NM & TX]

    August 31 in the United States

    Hit the road yesterday, headed for Austin and Robyn and Doug's wedding. Of course, we couldn't resist detours to see anything with National Monument in it's name.

    First stop, Capulin NM in Northeast New Mexico. While it's not particularly striking in appearance it offers a nice lesson in volcanology. Great views, too.

    Also took a ranger-led hike at Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument near Amarillo, Texas. This highly desirable flint of dozens of colors, was traded by Native Americans as far away as Tierra del Fuego.Read more

  • Day140

    Coronado Historic Site [Albuquerque]

    August 16 in the United States

    Francisco Coronado. Not exactly a patron saint of Native Americans. But the first park we visited today, an ancient Pueblo that predated the Spanish, was named after him. Despite the misnomer Coronado Historic Site is all about the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo. This site's claim to fame are the amazingly preserved murals from a 14th century kiva. Alas, photos are not allowed of the original walls but they were indeed remarkable images mostly dealing with various rain-making deities. One of them was even peeing rain.

    Then it was on to Jemez Historic Site, an unfortunate reminder of what the early Catholic church did to native American culture centuries ago. There was a restored kiva but most early Indian structures were, not surprisingly, buried by a nearby road. The church walls had been restored by the CCC in the 30s.
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  • Day139

    Petroglyph Nat'l Meh [Albuquerque]

    August 15 in the United States

    The morning began at the Zia Pueblo north of Albuquerque where we watched a hundred dancers in native costumes celebrating some Catholic saint. Which seems odd considering what the church did to their ancestors hundreds of years ago.

    Then it was on to Petroglyph National Monument which touts the highest concentration of rock art in the Western hemisphere. Tens of thousands spread over several square miles. The first site leads you on a roughly paved trail up a steep slope where you get up close and personal with dozens of glyphs.

    Alas, this was all a tease. The next site in the park is a sandy trail that over two miles reveals exactly zero petroglyphs. Oh, we could have brought binoculars but the thrill was gone. The Monument was a meh.
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  • Day107

    Shark Tooth Pass [CO]

    July 14 in the United States

    We've been hiking once or twice a week since moving in last month. Sometimes they've been group hikes with Seniors Outdoors or the San Juan Mountains Organization. The best ones have been just the two of us or with Pam and Michael Stillman.

    Last month we hiked with the Stillmans up to Shark Tooth Pass in the nearby La Plata Mountains. The drive was thrilling as we four-wheeled over sharp-edged boulders the size of basketballs. The reward was a moderate hike to a pass with grand vistas.

    Yesterday the two of us headed out the front door to climb Animas Mountain City Park. Don't let the name fool you. It was the most difficult hike we've done in months. Seven miles round trip but it was a 1600-foot climb of ankle-challenging loose rock. Again, however, the views were spectacular.
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  • Day105

    Chimney Rock NM [CO]

    July 12 in the United States

    Having joined the San Juan Basin Archaeology Society this spring we are now completely entranced by all things Anasazi. In addition to monthly presentations by area archaeologists we also participate in guided field trips to nearby ruins.

    Our most recent field trip was to Chimney Rock National Monument located about an hour east of Durango. The volunteer docent leading the trip was a new friend of ours in the area, Michael Stillman.

    Chimney Rock is particularly interesting because as an "outlier" it displays many characteristics of it's "parent," Chaco Canyon, but also exhibits additional ceremonial features such lunar calendars.
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  • Day93

    Pioneers [KS]

    June 30 in the United States

    Kansas. Home to such extremists as Kris Kobach, John Brown (well, not so much), and the Koch brothers. But as we were set straight again by the Park Service, Kansas was also fertile ground for advances by African Americans.

    Brown v Board, Topeka, KS. Legal short hand for the Supreme Court decision that technically abolished separate but equal accommodations. Practically, what it did was push racism underground; until the current administration.

    The small town of Nicodemus, KS was established by former slaves fleeing post-Civil War oppression in Kentucky. It's a heartening story of generations of African Americans overcoming a harsh environment and thriving. Unfortunately, as with many rural towns it withered as young people left for better jobs.
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  • Day92

    Manifest Apropriation [IN, MO, NE]

    June 29 in the United States

    As we worked our way west from Virginia the predominant theme at the first few stops was westward expansion. The battlefield at Vincennes, IN celebrated a victory by George Rogers Clark and his Patriots over the British in 1779. The dramatic century-old murals at the monument, however, portrayed the victory as pivotal to securing a foothold for westward expansion.

    In St Louis we visited the newest National Park-- Gateway Arch NP. This park tries to balance celebrating how the west was won with the cost to Native Americans.

    The final stop in this triptych was Homestead National Monument of America. This site celebrated the rugged individualism of pioneers who staked their future on land grants of 160 acres.
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  • Day91

    Decency [IN, MO]

    June 28 in the United States

    We began the year with George Washington's call for tolerance for all religions in his letter to a Jewish synagogue in Newport, RI. On our trip back west we visited the homes of three US presidents who exemplified decency-- something so bereft in our current president that we are sometimes embarrassed to call ourselves Americans.

    Lincoln lived only twelve years at this farm in Indiana and not much from his days there survives but its formative influences are clear. He learned empathy from his mother who tended to ailing neighbors until she herself died of milk fever. There are also the other well-known trademarks-- learning to read by candlelight, spin yarns, perseverance and the value of hard work.

    Grant's "home" outside St. Louis was actually owned by his slave-holding father-in-law. Grant lived there in the 1850s, witnessing the horrors of slavery and frequently engaging in heated arguments with his wife's father. During this period Grant also freed his only slave.

    Truman's "home" also belonged originally to his in-laws but he called it home almost his entire adult life. One of Truman's favorite aphorisms was “I tried never to forget who I was and where I came from, and where I was going back to.” Maybe humility and decency come from living with your in-laws.
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  • Day75

    Catchup [KS, MO]

    June 12 in the United States

    We've been far more disconnected than usual of late. Our sprint east included three historical stops in one day: Fort Scott, known mostly as an important outpost for travelers headed toward the Santa Fe trail. [But remembered indelibly by us as the the scene of a lynching witnessed by a young George Washington Carver.]

    Then it was on to George Washington Carver's boyhood home, just across the Kansas border into Missouri. While Carver is well known for his peanut work it's the formative influences growing up orphaned and in extreme poverty that are most remarkable.

    Final stop of the day was another battlefield-- Wilson's Creek. This site south of the Missouri state capital witnessed yet another bloody defeat by the Union early in the war.
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