Dry bed just south of the Rio Puerco.
North of Abiquiu, New Mexico.
The bumpy little dirt road beside this creek bed is one of my favorite explorations. As you leave the highway and wind down the hillside beside this dry gulch, the road hugs a one-story rock cliff on the right. Chamisa, junipers and the odd chollo grow thick along the creek bed. The road, clearly defined by cliff and dried vegetation, is just wide enough for my car!
Early one Sunday morning along this road, I paused to watch a large red-tailed hawk hunting on the mesa. In that instant, a cougar leaped off the rock cliff into the road bed just in front of my car. She paused just long enough to make eye contact with me (a sign of no fear!) and gracefully loped through the grasses and up the creek bed.
That small instance of being so close to her, having her acknowledge my existence on the planet, and watching her disappear into the landscape again — that tiny instance of time is the most vivid and wonderful memory! Every time I return to Northern New Mexico, I head for this little road and pause at the spot of our encounter, calling, “Here, kitty kitty!” Waiting. Watching. Hoping. Waiting some more.
Always I see her foot prints in the soft sand of the dry creek. About six-inches across the span. The same shape as my own cats’ prints on the windshield of my car. Big kitty.
I was on this very track.
From Montreal to Quebec City. From Lamy to Santa Fe. From Atlanta to Washington, DC. From London to Edinburgh. From Denver to Omaha. From Paris to Chartres. From Inverness to London.
This very track took me past slums and office parks — over rivers and through the desert.
Into the dark of night and still on after dawn.
A train ride is a very selfish way to see the country. Someone else drives. Someone serves up the food and drinks. Someone makes the berths for us to sleep in. We are pampered and looked after as we watch the world go by outside the windows. It’s heavenly.
I once rode a good distance across Canada with my nose pressed against the train window to see a moose. In Scotland, I tried to see into the pre-dawn blackness for a view of the train crossing the Culloden Viaduct (in vain). In France, I rode through the most magnificent tulip and lavender fields. In New Mexico, I searched the chamisa clumps for Indians or Outlaws. On the trip to Washington, DC, I slept blissfully while the train clattered along its historic route all night. On the track to Edinburgh, I saw a castle built more than 1200 years ago — and too many golf courses to count! All across Scotland there were fields and fields of “paintball sheep” with colored rumps. From Denver, our train meandered along the Platt River past historic forts and the remains of wagon trails west.
I can’t wait for the next adventure on the rails.
Perhaps Ireland again … from Dublin to Shannon.
One gets a much better sense of geography when on the ground in a foreign country. Sailing east from England and Scotland, there’s a clear shot to the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Tiny roads that hug the coastline are dotted with old bunkers and abandoned airfields of the WWI/WWII vintage. Their locations seem so remote and lonely. It’s easy to slip back into the frames of an old movie with the Home Guard pedaling these small roads on their bicycles, watching for enemy intruders … remembering the crackle of radio communications, the buzz of small planes, and (always) the patriotic music of the times.
Fat gulls enjoy singularly these little perches in the chimney pots.
Roadside fields are heavily populated with pheasant feeding. This one was awarded a blue ribbon?
These are cormorants drying themselves on the beach where the Lossie River meets the North Sea in Moray, Scotland. They have been enjoying a Sunday morning fishing expedition.
Near Kildrummy Castle in the Highlands of Scotland.