I left Arizona, and I was tired of the desert.
I like places where things are green.
I drove until I reached California, and breathed a deep sigh of relief to be back on the west coast. I spent the night at a rest area, with the scent of new mown alfalfa hay drifting into my dreams.
The next day I went to visit my brother in the mountains east of San Diego.
After the harsh monotony of the desert, the wild beauty of the mountains was a breath of fresh air.
I came to a valley at about 4,000 feet, and its untouched beauty took my breath away.
The prairie grass undulated gently in the wind, and in the distance a sweep of yellow wildflowers clothed the soft hills and drew my eye to the mountains beyond.
It was so beautiful, I had to pull over and stop to cry.
It finally dawned on me.
I was free.
No longer could I feel the pain and fear of the city. The sense of impending doom I had felt so strongly in Louisiana was finally gone.
These mountains were sparsely populated. They just felt empty and natural and free.
After a few deep breaths, I continued to my brother's place.
I stopped in the small town to ask directions, and smelled lilacs and dutch iris blooming for the first time in 10 years.
My brother has a pretty sweet deal. He lives off grid in a tiny hut, and works for an outdoor adventure camp where room and board are paid, and he gets $400 a week.
He eats fabulous organic food, most of it grown in the gardens on site.
Health care is 100% paid for.
I didn't know that still existed.
My Bro and I didn't talk for about 6 years. I thought he was an arrogant poser hippie and he thought I was a loser for abandoning my marriage and my schooling to live in Key West.
But things have a way of coming full circle, and over the years we came to the same conclusions about life and society, and share many philosophies and interests - prepping being one of those.
In true redneck fashion, we decided to hunt ground squirrels for dinner, since they frequented the compost pile.
He was a bit overeager and went tromping up to said pile, promptly scaring dinner back underground.
But as we were walking back, we saw a pair of turkeys in the valley below.
"Should I get 'em, Bro? I've got a shot."
The turkeys were about 80 yards off.
"Well, I don't know......."
The turkeys were moving farther away.
"Now or never dude!"
"I'm going for it."
At about 110 yards, I pegged the big turkey with my 10/22.
He flew up, we gave chase, and ended his life with respect and gratitude.
It was a huge tom turkey. Before cleaning he was easily 35 lbs.
I know, I had to haul his ass back up that hill.
After cleaning, he was still over 20lbs. It was the biggest turkey I had ever seen.
We brined him in a solution of sugar, salt, tarragon, rosemary, and pepper, then threw him on a smoker for about 6 hours.
It was the tenderest, tastiest, moistest turkey I've ever had.
My bro cleaned and salted the tail, and I took it as a trophy.
I stayed for a few days, having turkey quesadillas for Cinco de Mayo, and enjoying campfire circles with guitar, harmonica and song.
Making music together is something that connects us as human beings. It might not sound like the digitally mixed, pre-recorded everything of today, but it's got soul. It renews our connection.
Feeling entirely refreshed by the beautiful highland mountains, it was time to continue on my journey. My next and last big hurdle of the trip was looming ahead;
getting through the Babylon known as Los Angeles.
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