Montana Wolf

Friday, March 29, 2013

Gassing Up and Getting Down... Alive



My Taos departure was a mix... I was deeply tethered to the work I had accomplished over the winter and
humbled by the community response. Friends, old and new, had formed a fun and stimulating network.  Leaving was made easier by the fact that two close friends were on the road; our weekly meetings cancelled. The final week my walks were met with fierce headwinds blowing out of the SW, making photography difficult. I was literally caught with my pants down (peeing off trail) by a stealth biker who appeared from the thick sage around a corner. Say good bye to the sweet little hens and hit the road, Christina.

I wasn't but a few miles out of Taos. I'd completed "the Horseshoe," blew the gorge a kiss and headed down the long decline towards Pilar when my nose was assaulted by a stringent burn. Within seconds my lungs were overtaken and I could hardly breathe. My brain ker-chunked and struggled ascertain, as I held my breath. My fingers instinctively reached for the window button. I poked my head outside as far as I could reach and still keep the truck and trailer on the road. I didn't know what poison had hit me, but it was bad. Was I dying?




I reached the rafting store at the Pilar turnoff and jumped out of the truck with Teak. A hiss emanated from the back of the cab. Somewhere. I tore that baby apart and found nothing. I was perplexed and by this time, foggy headed, proven by the fact that I got back in the truck and continued to drive. Came to my senses, pulled over and did another search. It took four tries to find the grizzly bear spray canister I had taken out of my pack when I departed Montana six months ago. I don't know why exploded. Once I saw the brown goo in the bottom of a storage container I couldn't get rid of it fast enough, in no mood to research cause.

Right about this time my phone rang. It was Joe, my friend who had given me the bear spray in Montana. Did someone say synchronicity? Wipe everything down in the cab, he instructed. Every time you touch something it will burn. Keep calling me, he said, check in and to let me know you're okay.

Lungs afire, I continued down the road in a haze. Made my way through Albuq and south on I-25 stopping only for gas. And subsequently wiping out gas. I kept talking to Teak to make sure she was okay. Thank heavens Hobo was in the trailer. I exited the San Antonio turnoff for the Bosque del Apache. There was an RV park by the boundary but as I hit the ramp I saw a gravel road that looked promising for a boondock. I cranked it right and found a beautiful desert spot. Kept visualizing clean lungs and sharp thinking. That's when I started to spit up blood.

The Bosque was my medicine. The stars were gone -- 100K snow geese and cranes had long since winged their way north. I phoned Kevin the manager, whom I had interviewed for an earlier article, and took him up on his offer for a tour of those gated roads I'd dreamed of exploring for years. The day garnered three bobcat, large herds of mule deer and 50-plus wild turkeys. We stood on the edge of the Rio Grande as he pointed out the salt cedar eradication progress. The cottonwood bosque was alive with birdsong and raptor silhouettes as cranes called from on high, passing over from their winter in Mexico.  A lone coyote skulked across a field, trailing a very plump skunk.

Some snow geese remained and the mirrored waters were broken by dabbler ripples. Without the grand display of mass ascension the brain and body settled in on other messages, like seasonal movement,  migration and those left behind.





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Drive Me Wild: A Western Odyssey, also in paper and ebook. 

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3 comments:

  1. Yikes! What the heck kind of departure from Taos was that? Sure hope the healing begins at the Bosque.n Blessings for this spiritual Sunday. P

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  2. That's a lot of adventure! I hope you are in a space of deep and good breathing now.
    Beautiful photos. Love the full circle reflection.
    Nance

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  3. I thank you for all of the emails and feedback. The caring. And the revelations that bear spray is, itself, a dangerous animal. Many of you wrote to say you had no idea this could happen, and you have a new respect for the powerful repellent. If anything good came of this it that this experience has saved many lungs and perhaps lives. Blessings, Christina

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