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East & Next
Written By: OC Fotoguy
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 East & Next
 East & Next
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I decided after Mother Nature declined to allow me to kayak, that walking to Balanced Rock would be a good second choice.  I expected to have the rugged trail to myself, but as I got to the trail head after being jostled for miles on the washboard-like road, I found several cars were in the parking area.  As I was gathering my camera gear, another car pulled in, so I gave the people time to get well ahead of me.  I rarely see much wildlife when other people are around.  They’re just too noisy and never stop talking!  I took my time looking for anything unusual or something to move, but about all I saw were many little lizards scampering around.  It was after nine o’clock. There may be more foxes and other critters earlier in the morning, but I find that something really spectacular doesn’t play by the rules, just all of a sudden OMG there it is!  I didn’t see much, maybe there were just too many people, so I followed the trail of a couple miles to where being a mountain goat would be much easier than me clambering up the rocks and steep crude staircases.  I’d been here a couple years ago and remember the balanced rock could not be seen til I was almost right in front of it; then getting far enough away to get a well composed photo was difficult.  Then, there it was after I’d almost given up!  I got my photo.  On the way back I photographed the lizards; tried to get some of the tourists interested in observing them, but they were in too much of a hurry and thought I was nuts, I guess!
From there I headed for the megamart in Del Rio, Tx., for the night and then headed east towards Ocean City.  I had lots of hopes, but knew it’s all about the weather.  There’s a lot of Texas to drive through from Big Bend N.P. in the central southern most tip to the northeastern corner at Lake Sabine near where I’ll enter central western Louisiana and pass through Mississippi and Alabama, then cross into western North Carolina.  My path will only go through rural country with lots of small towns.  I’ll feel at home, hopefully I’ll get some good home cooking in the diners and maybe find some rusty gold as the American Pickers do on TV.  I’ll be passing through the Smokey Mountains entering them just east of Cleveland, Tn., with the hopes of enjoying several days on Ocracoke Island at the south end of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Little did I know that as I climbed into my truck cock pit at the end of my lizard trek, that Mother Nature was not going to cooperate with me again during this trip!  The highlites became finding a homemade coconut pie in San Augustine, Tx., at a big yard sale around the county court house and eating a smidgen of it to kick off each day til I got back to O.C., changing my own oil in megamart’s parking lot in Natchitoches La., and eating very good Tamale Pie at the Ajax Diner in the Court House Square section of Oxford, Alabama.  Changing the oil was personally rewarding since I couldn’t find a garage that my truck with a camper on would fit into, and the workers would not crawl under my truck to do it.  I did that, though and lucky I could get the oil filter and the oil pan drain screw to turn!
I’ve made these meanderings to the warm parts of our country for the last eighteen years and I’m ready to begin #X1X.  I’ve been many places and know where the good eats are.  I can rarely eat all I’m served, so the leftovers go into my nest’s freezer to be enjoyed in some remote place I’ll be later.  The last of these was mashed potatoes I made complimented by Yakisoba and Gyoza from the Noodle Bar in Key West - delicious!
What’re my plans for my Adventure XIX?  Of course more of the same; be warm when it’s snowing and the hawk from the north is howling in Ocean City.  What will be different?  I always like to include a major new place, sometimes it works and sometimes not.  Last Adventure I included Arnoldland’s (California) Sequoia trees.  It was too cold there in late March, so I only got cursory satisfaction from them.  I wanted to sleep amongst them and be amidst them at sunrise and sunset.  I would’ve froze!  I got there though!  This trip I want to go to all the places that have really been special, but I haven’t gotten back to, because driving there is difficult.  Plus, I want to stay a week or more in all the remote places where everything is working.  That may mean I’ll go to less places, that’s OK.  I don’t do the tourist thing of nineteen states in six days and they think they saw everything.  They didn’t see anything but tourist traps.  I never go to them!  Where will the special places be then?  On the top of the list is ToroWeap at the west end of the north rim of Grand Canyon which is above Lava Falls in the Colorado River at the end of 65 miles of almost unpassable, what the Bureau of Land Management calls Primitive Roads.  Primitive roads receive no maintenance.  I know from my last visit that the last two or three miles I will not drive.  The “road’s” last hill is slanted towards a cliff at about a 25-degree angle and so steep that when I drove my pickup truck down it I could not see the road surface in front of me and the truck rocked from side to side and front to rear at the same time and felt very unstable like it may slide towards the cliff at any time.  I’ll park and spend the nights before I get to that hill and walk the rest of the way to the Canyon. 
I also want to explore the Four Corners Area where Utah, Arizona, New Mexico & Colorado meet, a new place for me.  That’s American Indian Country, where their laws and customs rule and there are lots of restrictions.  There’re lots and lots of “John Wayne” western-like scenery and I want to see it.  I’ll follow all the posted rules and fuzniks requests, but I’m going to see it my way, no guided tours or escorts.  They never go at the time of the day for good photos or want to stay long enough.  Again it’s for the tourists - 19 places in four hours - No Thanks!  Not my style!  Other than that I’ll do what Mother Nature and the weather allows ... enjoy and be warm!
As for me, life goes on.  People wanting family photos on the beach are as rare as them needing a telephone booth, and my travel column, although as good as it ever was, isn’t a two way street of info anymore; so it’s time to move on from both.  Of course, I’ll still be traveling to all those nowhere places, taking photos, and writing about my adventures.  See ya on Fb, HH and in my NoWhereLands blog.
 
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
more photos @ picasaweb.google.com/o.c.fotoguy2009
& facebook.com/OCfotoguy
PHOTOSAsYouWantThem.biz
articles @ Coconuttimes.com
 
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