J R's Images & Ideas
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 Of Whirligigs & Other People's Magic
© 2001 by J R Compton

Except hat my car's air conditioner died somewhere south of Amarillo on the way up — not so noticeable in New Mexico and Colorado, but much missed across West Texas and back here in Dallas — my journey to Denver to get my little brother Dale married was pretty wonderful.

My main goal — besides getting Dale and Clare wed — was to be cold at night. I'm not much for staying in motels and had replaced the back seat of my silver Toyota with a futon. I usually car camped in National Forests, where it and me were free.

Red-Tailed Hawk feathers, beads, crystals and Myo Silver's dashboard

I was careful not to get caught near dark in the deserts driving. When the sun went down I headed up, and I was rewarded with major cold almost every night. It was delicious.

As I travel, I keep a trip journal to hold my new understandings. It's one of the reasons I go slow on the ground instead of flying. Another is there's so much more to photograph down here. The main reason, of course, is that I'm cheap. One of my friends calls me "a minimalist." I seriously resemble that remark.

The text below comes from pages in that trip's Journal. I'm so tired of explaining pictures...


surrounded by snow-capped mountains and massive, green rolling foothills


I'm parked down a dusty road at a downhill site that's been campfired before, but probably not on a Weddy night in early June. Tall trees with dense canopies of leaves hide the sky, and I haven't seen another car or person since I arrived... Thanks, Universe.


  a vivid turquoise blue metal double-seated glider against an adobe colored garage door


The loudest thing all night was the electric clock. Why does an electric clock tick? I had trouble discerning my stomach gurlgling from some giant, four-legged creature stomping around in the night. I think it's around seven o'clock here time. It might be some other, quieter planet.


A dead end with a zillion lights near Union Station in Downtown Denver, having only the essence of itself being a road to do with the text below it


Riverside 114
Pamale Gulch Road

          Remotion — the act of being remote
20 & 180
Cash & Ponder River
Pingree park
Grandpa's Bride
10,276 feet
Jackson County Road 27
Common Chord

          The fine art of raising the window just enough
          so the wind isn't terribly loud and the reverb
          doesn't drown out the music or conversation.
High Meadow

Watson & Edge — Malcom Watson wears
 a white tux and fiddles barefooted

Continental Divide — Two miles up
Bill Frissell
Black Cherry
Willow Creek Pass
Golden Eagle Pass
Wimpy Wall
Stillwater Pass
60 million years

          DPitMotR - Dead Pelt in the Middle of the Road.
          Something furry. And flat.
Source of the Colorado River
Arapaho National Forest

          The flautist for Focus who had a hit
          in the 70s called Hocus Pocus
Willow Creek Bar & Grill — A great place not to eat
Colorado River
Willow Creek
Lake Granby
Big Ray - Worst Food, Warmest Beer
a whirligiggery of Six Flags rollercoastersCalifornia Guitar Trio
Trail Ridge Road
Green Mountain Trailhead
Coyote Valley Trail
Never Summer Ranch
Timber Creek Campground
Fairview Creek
Miller Pass
A Fragile World
          It's downhill from here
Vertical Struggularity
Post Continental Drift
Hidden Valley
Old Fall River Road
Bear Lake
Tempting the Fates
          Amazing Native Costume of the Week - fat lady in
          glo in the night light, lava lamp purple, red dress
Upper Beaver Meadows
Beaver Meadow
Slow Entrance Station
      TO FEED OR
Estes Park
Mary Lake
Trout Haven
The Warming House
Uff Da
The Vickery Inn


Dick's Rocks
River Reprise
Maggie Mae
          Ippibium — Pib is no substitute for DP, says the
          DP Kid — some hero in a Greek tragedy
green whitewater splashing through dark river rocksPoppy's Pizza & Grille
peaked with peaks
Twin Owls Motor Lodge
Urgent Cave
Eagle View
Pink Knoll Apartments
Saddle & Surry
Carriage Hills
Indian Peaks Wilderness Area
          If I lived up here,
          would all  this grandeur
          become commonplace?

Lilly Lake
Twin Sisters Trailhead
Wind River Ranch
The Aspen Lodge
Long's Peak Inn
High Park Camp
Covenant Heights
Boulder County
Saint Malo's Church
Mt. Meeker
Wild Basin
          Joshua Bell — Short Trip Home - lotta
          contrapuntal acoustic country strings.
          Some of the flavor of Penguin Cafe Orchestra...
Olive Ridge
an urban flagpersonFern Cliff
Swan Soup
Hilltop Guild
Peaceful Valley
Millsite Inn
Brainard Lake
Synchronized Sunning
Gold Hill
University of Cold Mountain Research Station
Peakview Road
Sundance Lodge
Rollins Pass
          a lot less snow last winter
Stage Stop
Rollinsville Yacht Club
Fritz Peak Observatory
High Country
O'Brien State Canyon
Gilpin County
Black Hawk
Golden Gate Park
          picket fence phone pole insulator collection grows unseen,
          an informal translucence museum
Bear Paw
Sierra Nicole
          down and darker
Golden Gate Canyon Road
Loaf 'n Jug
Snowshoes on the wall of their utility shedWatch for Rocks on Road
Colorado School of Mines
          Denver lights
          on the horizon
High Plateau Truss
Armadillo Unique Mall
          back to what they call civilization
Kipling Street
Ft. Morgan
Pecon St.
Accessories Apparel A...
Ft. Collins
Water World
Beds, Beds & Beds
Mountain View Garage
          home, sweet borrowed home


Thanks, Cryspian, Lynn,
Dale, Clare,
John, Jackson, Julie,
Cindy, Yodel &,
of course, Myo Silver.


Arcs and angles in the foyer of a major downtown Denver hotel


Freight train breezes in scattered clumps all night long...


White lace curtains yielding a view of mountains just across the street


It's getting colder — Yum! — There's a strum of guitar and singalongs in the distance, some birds squawking, and a breeze like a waterfall sluicing through the campground. Wonder where my duct tape is?


the fence, the highway out of sight in the gully and the mountains trees illuminated by the last slants of late afternoon light high in the mountains outside of Denver


Driving all over the desert and mountains is all very fine and good, but watching and overlistening to John and Jackson standing in their garden, watering or just sitting here in the dining room is the sweetest part of minimalist travel.


Wooden Catadioptric Border Telescope by Jom M Compton

Just being in someone's home feeling pretty much like they do. My laundry tumbling dry in the next room; a lone cricket mating calls in the back yard, beyond the cool breeze from the kitchen window. The J's coming back in, gently conversing in partial sentences, repeating words, learning nouns and pronunciation. Bursts of child language making not much sense, but with recognizable words interspersed. Wah-yer = water. Coughing, then immediate patting on the back after Jackson drinks too fast...

After three conciliatory visits explaining the inevitability of his incipient nap, Jackson is finally quiet, if not entirely out...


Refurbishing St. Francis church in Rancho de Tejas, New Mexico

John and I have in common the constant loss of things. I shared this fact with him, saying I don't know about normal people, since I've never been one, but I am constantly and consistently burdened by losing whatever the hell I most need at any given moment in time. Yester, it was spoon, today bowl. It's always something...

Accompanying exotic FM is the splashing of a small, rasp-like handsaw, as John smoothes, creates, or learns to create, or times the creation of yet another small part for his big beautiful wooden telescopes out here in the warm-cool, always dry air of this desert oasis lost in the slow rolling hills west of the Santa Fe - Albuquerque axis.  



Finally, Jackson is out, like a light, fully immersed in the sleep he fought like an obsessed trooper for nearly an hour. Later, we'll go somewhere interesting to the trouper, maybe even hit that trading post John mentioned earlier. I'd love to find some magical little gem of Indian craft.


Gaudy whirligigs in the Indian-free Mall


Something I'm still fascinated with is what I'm calling a Spirit Bag, which is a very personal item, with restrained beads and natural tan leather, pouch of faintly yellow corn pollen John got in nearly pawn. At the store today in the Indian mall, they were called Shaman Bags and cost $100 and up.

This one has straggly fringe, thin, possibly deer skin, folded up with the long, beaded thong tying it all together. It looks like a flattish, vaguely liquid mass about the size of a pack of cigarettes, only tan the color of flimsy, much-worn leather, with beads protruding.


  Little purple flowers in the weeds high in the mountains



John thinks it probably did not belong to the man who sold it here. Julie agrees it feels very personal. There is magic about it, but not entirely pleasant, a little jarring.

Not a likely gift — too many difficult vibrations, but enticing enough that I've wanted to handle it several times, and I've even been wanting to sketch it - bad drawer I am - and probably photograph it soon, before the sun fades.

Kokapelli starring in the display window in the hotel store in downtown Denver

I'm so much better a photographer than draftsperson, so I've just shot it with the digicam on a rough board. I want it, and I am repelled by it. It's magic and I need to capture its soul.

John says some other Indian friends have wanted the corn pollen it is nearly full of. I moved the barely there, mossy stuff slightly with my finger. I like the bag for its person-ness, its simple, quietly blue and white beads dangling. But there's something about it that is discordant.  


St. Malo's church near Estes Park

I kept thinking such a bundle is something I should make for myself, if I really wanted one, and I will begin to research the concept now. I cherish the small, feathered bag of polished stones Rhys made for me that swings under Silver's rearview with crystals, Red-tailed hawk feathers from Iron Eyes and the Eagle Clan, charms and bright baubles.

$110 was a bit much for a fringed, leather bag. This choice of beads and material means something to someone. I bet they miss it. I like the idea of it, but this is not mine, nor is it for me or me to give to anyone else. It's kinda like not being able to photograph the Indians in the pueblo today, "Somebody Else's Magic."


Informal Communistic Translucense Museum


Sun slanting now, setting the space behind the back yard fence afire with bright, blazing light, fairly glowing with the last bits of today's glorious energies.


John, Julie & Jackson's side yard


Ten-something. Finally got to look through John's telescope - at Mars, some clusters, and just swinging it around to look at the panoply of stars all around. I kinda wanted to see some neighbors, but we're not high enough off the ground.


Difficult Spirit Bag of corn pollen


The blazing gold ball of setting sun's been dogging my left ear and both mirrors the last forty miles. I keep thinking soon... soon, it'll drop out of sight and let the temperature fall maybe ten, fifteen degrees. But it's still back there hovering forever, clinging to the western horizon like a two-year-old, tired, so very tired, but refusing to lay his sleepy head on the pillow and close his dimming eyes.