Go Back   Heroscapers > Blogs > chas

Rate this Entry

This Sacred Land

Posted December 17th, 2010 at 09:56 AM by chas
Updated December 17th, 2010 at 11:44 AM by chas
"This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
To the New York island
From the redwood forests
To the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me"

--Woody Guthrie
American Depression Era folksinger

Bear awoke in the womb of the earth, where the silence took over whenever the tour guide stopped talking, which was often. Because the Earth was the tour, and the Park Ranger wanted us to experience her. The empty darkness went on forever outside of our flashlights, which made a tiny island of light, deep underground in Carlsbad Caverns, N.M. Bear sniffed the air, as they walked from the main chamber into small passages, past amazing rock sculptures made by Mama Earth from stalagmites, stalactites, and plain old big rocks. Rocks everywhere, with a flow of water here and there. And the air was not musty, but alive with currents drifting through the entire maze universe of caverns and tunnels. Mother was breathing! Gaia is alive.

"You can get anything you want
at Alice's Restaurant"
--Arlo Guthrie (son of Woody)
American Baby Boomer Folksinger
and recently Annual King of Brooklyn

As a college intern Park Ranger back in the Seventies, I used to go early in the morning in the work boat to Liberty Island, NY, where I'd change into uniform and run the Stars and Stripes up its pole. After a few other daily opening details were performed, I took a break to whip out my SL5 key and considered making my sacred ritual passage up the Statch's arm to the Torch. Its dangerous--there's only a simple stepladder going up the arm, which is why its not open to the public. No one talks about doing it; its not allowed, technically. So no one ever does it, of course... At the top, there is only a small circular platform between you and death. Where the view from the head is restricted (as a public visitor, you're much better off walking around the platform at the top of the base, where you can see 360 degrees in any direction). The view from the Torch is equally good--or so I'm told--and some people even use their key to carve their initials into the torch. Although after the Bicentennial refurbishing, those marks from generations of Rangers are probably all gone now. But at one time, my initials would have been there, if I had made the trip.

"Be true to your school!"
--Sha Na Na, NY Rock Band

For me, college was Beloit College in Beloit, WI. This is the southernmost tip of the state--
South Beloit is in Illinois. Beloit is the least known famous school in the country. For example, Roy Chapman Andrews, today billed as 'the real Indiana Jones, who led ground breaking fossil hunting expeditions in China to find the first dinosaur eggs (Protoceratops Andrewsii) for the American Museum of Natural History in New York during the 1930s, was a Beloit graduate. Geology 100 was the only course I ever flunked. Maybe it had something to do with being able to be alone for long periods with my first serious girl friend. 'The Midwest Farmers Daughters really make you feel alright.' The second time I took it I got a 'C,' and was very proud of that C. Actually, I loved the course. During the second time around, my family was visiting for their only trip out from home, and my little sister came on the Field Trip, which took us up north to the old glacier fields. We were hunting Recepticulites (sp?), a fossil plant that had grown up and been covered by the glacier. Lab assistants lectured us on what it would look like, and all about it. We studiously took notes. Once off the bus, the professor made suggestions as we brilliant proto rock hunters looked around all over in vain. Then my baby sister tugged on his jacket, and held up a rock to him. "That's it," said the learned man. All of us trying to look cool out in The Field, and she found it. Ha ha ha. Who'd bother to pay attention to her, or the area where the silly little girl was looking? I still have a piece of it, somewhere. Like Mary Anning, finding the first fossils in 19th Century England, it all rested on a kid sister. And a little child shall lead them. Go figure!

"The business of America is business."
--Calvin 'Silent Cal' Coolidge
President of the United States

"Americans are free to conform."
--Gore Vidal, Hollywood

"They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a brand new hotel
A mall and a swinging night spot
Don't it always go to show
That you don't know what you've got
Till its gone?"
Joni Mitchell, They Paved Paradise

In college, I shared an apartment with a fellow who just needed to see his girl friend back home. He invited me along during a vacation between semesters to his home in Kansas City, MO. This is a guy so enthusiastic that he would drive his orange Volkswagon backwards at full speed. 'You have to understand if you come, that I'm only going to make two stops on the whole trip--one for food and once for gas.' Jeez. We're talking a long trip here from southern Wisconsin to the Great Plains. Ice on his car when we started out had melted by the time we got there. Luckily, we later took on another passenger to drop off at St. Louis, so we got a nice extra stop on the way. Now Kansas City, KS is the smaller town, But 'KCMO' is the biggest city around. Beautiful houses and the best burgers in the world. But the absurdity of the Gilded Age is right up front. One of the major tourist sites is a river that was paved over, so that Tom Prendergast's cronys could make more money. They were in concrete. So is the river.

There's an ice storm out there, the first one we've ever had. And from the number of accident reports we're getting today, you folks don't really know how to steer into a skid."
--Atlanta New RadioTraffic Report
Mid Seventies

After college, I followed another girl friend down to Atlanta, GA. Although everything eventually failed on this trip of several months, from the relationship to my attempt to find employment, the gaming hobby continued to sustain me. As I walked the streets all around the city, bumping into historical markers like "Here (wicked tongued) Ambrose Bierce led his Union unit in the Civil War siege," I found an apartment in Decatur, GA, a suburb. It later turned out that in hundreds of miles around, the only war game club met right down the street. Saved!

"We are a band of brothers
And native to the soil"
--The Bonnie Blue Flag
Confederate War Song

At Antietam aka Sharpsburg, MD, in the proper season, the corn in The Corn Field grows high, as it was on the single bloodiest day of the American Civil War. On one side of the road was a plaque to General Hood's Texas Brigade, Robert E. Lee's "Imperial Guard:" the wildest of the wild southern soldiers. Across from it was the plague to the 14th Brooklyn, a militia unit who refused to give up its local number or colorful early war French Chasseur pattern uniforms. You can see them briefly in the film Gettysburg, and in the veterans museum in Saratoga, NY along with some of the other 'ethnic' NYC regiments. I got out of the car, climbed up on the bottom rail of the fence, and all alone in the Fall landscape, yelled at the top of my lungs: "Brook-lyn! Brook-lyn! Hurrah!" How could I not?

"Ask not what your country can do for you,
But what you can do for your country!"
John F. Kennedy
President of the United States

It gets very cold in winter in (Undisclosed Location), MT. So because I couldn't do much to help build log cabins in this survivalist colony, I sang to the rest of my work team, who were busy chinking logs and insulating roofs. I sang songs from the Fifties and Sixties and Seventies, for a couple of hours or so in the crisp air, clumping along in the deep Montana snow to keep warm. I actually had the workers humming along with my strong baritone, as it rang out over the sounds of their carpentry. Well, I had to do something to help out, and I weren't no carpenter.

"If I say I love you
I want you to know
Its not only just the moonlight; although Moonlight becomes you so."
--Bing Crosby, singing 'Moonlight Becomes You.'
in the film Road to Morocco

I was on the road to Spokane, WA, to visit one of the two old college girl friends many years later. I stayed in touch with both for many years. The other was now living in Germany. Since I'm from and still living in New York City, I used to joke that after a girl went out with me, she wanted to keep a continent or an ocean between us at all times. Spokane is where Bing Crosby graduated college, and I saw his Oscar in a little museum room they maintain. The Native Americans are into Salmon in the Pacific Northwest like the plains Indians are into Buffalo. Both make good eating, which I've tried out, now that both are being conserved.

--Steve Martin
American comedian

My cousin and I were vacationing in (preHurricane) New Orleans, LA when we got the bad news. There had been a severe storm that washed out many roads leading to Vicksburg, MS, where we had planned to drive in a rented car. So we could struggle and maybe never reach our goal, or just sit sipping drinks out here by the pool in our motel, and spend a couple of days more in this sybaritic Caribbean-American city. Being in New Orleans was about the Zen of Comfort with good food, good music, and good times. Did we want to break the mood? Was it braver to push on to a place we might never have a chance to see again, after having carefully gotten to a great destination from which it could be reached? We asked ourselves this question, as we had another round and thought it over. Damn, we were having a good time.
Did we want to make the effort for the much anticipated side trip (we're history buffs)?
When we were younger, we would have done it. Now we looked at each other, and the word came out by itself. Did we want to suffer and strive at this moment of supreme delight and peace? "Naaahhh!" An older and wiser man knows his limitations, and knows how to seize even a rare period of True Relaxation.

"But there's booze in the blender
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction
That lets me hang on."
--Jimmy Buffet
Wasting Away Again In Margaritaville

Smoke and mirrors; nowhere is magic played with so much as in writing. In Key West, FL you can see Ernest Hemingway's house. His odd toed mutant tribe of cats still prowl the grounds. But don't be fooled; writing is hard work. And writers are showmen. So Hemingway, like may other authors, carefully trashed all his painful drafts, so you couldn't see the effort and the mistakes; only the final product. If you want to become a writer, one way to be shamanic, be prepared to throw away the first thousand pages, my friend.

"I've been all around this big old world,
and I've seen all kinds of girls."
--California Girls, The Beach Boys

The Point Reyes, CA lighthouse signals from the westernmost point on the Continent. US 101, the Pacific Coast Highway, winds its way south from San Francisco right along the coast. This is the edge of the USA. On one side of the car is the American Experience, on the other side, the Pacific Ocean. Last call, everyone! Human being are 98% water, and there's Big Mama Ocean, waving to you; tides courtesy of the Moon--often portrayed mythologically as the epitome of the Female Deity in Her cycles. Breathing in, and breathing out. Breathing in, and breathing out. Bear smiles.
Total Comments 2


Sherman Davies's Avatar
You've had a very well-traveled life, my friend.
Posted December 17th, 2010 at 09:11 PM by Sherman Davies Sherman Davies is offline
Taeblewalker's Avatar
I've heard many of these stories in person, and greater detail, and they're all fascinating.
Posted December 18th, 2010 at 11:02 AM by Taeblewalker Taeblewalker is online now
Recent Blog Entries by chas

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:35 AM.

Heroscape background footer

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2023 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.