Saturday, June 13, 2009

Highlands of the Mind

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.

Oh well.

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.


  1. Wow!! That's a big turkey (not counting Barney Frank). And that's a spot to remember for recharging the old batteries. I'm glad for you, that you got to spend some time there with such agreeable company.

  2. Yeah, he almost covers my whole body, and I'm not a small person.
    Thanks for stopping by...

  3. Do yourself a big favour and skip LA lol. Has that van got a fly gear?

  4. Yes, the desert is a special place that not everyone enjoys. I lived in Tucson for 5 years and loved the stark beauty of the desert that surrounds it. I'm looking forward to spending this winter in southern New Mexico.
    Hope the remainder of your trip goes well.

  5. It sounds as if all is going well for you. I'm glad that you got to spend a little time with the brother and make a little music together...

    The mountains are beautiful and an excellent place to recharge...but all places have their own beauty, don't you think?

  6. Nice shot with that 10-22. They are tack drivers. Wild game just tastes so gooood.

    You are a lucky person to be living the wonderful life you live.

    My van heads out for who knows where August first. Waited 68 years to do this.

    See ya

  7. Girl, I FELT that post.... I could feel that breeze, smell those lilacs, and taste that turkey. Even heard the CRACK from that 10/22! You got it, you ARE free! It feels wonderful. I felt it from this post. Thank you.

  8. You are a pretty good shot - 110 yards?
    I've gotta get some practice with mine.
    Hope all is well with the gardening and preps. And life!

  9. Sheilanagig - I wish she could fly. She doesn't like hills too much though, so that's why the LA route. It wasn't so bad. I only got stuck in traffic for 1 1/2 hours.... :{

    TJ, the desert has it's own stark beauty, which I can appreciate when I visit. New Mexico was pretty cool. If you pass Lordsburg, say hi to Bilbo Baggins at Smith Ford for me....
    I don't think I could live there, but to each his own. Plenty of people can't live in Louisiana or Seattle.

    Hermit Jim, you're absolutely right. How fortunate I am to be able to follow spring across our gorgeous, diverse country.

    Did it MY way, thanks. It was tasty. I'd rather eat something that had a chance to live a wild, natural life instead of something that lives in a fear filled, drugged, caged, tormented existence.

    Anybody can have this life if they just throw off their shackles and DO IT.
    Happy travels in your adventure. Just roll with the changes, and you'll have a good time no matter what.

    Mayberry, you're welcome. Now I can tell all those people who thought I was nuts for leaving everything that it really IS better on the other side.
    (I think they're kinda pissed that I'm so happy)

    Publius, I went to the range pretty frequently in Louisiana. I'm good with the 22 at 70 yards or more, but I need to practice closer shots. It's sighted in for 100 yards, so I tend to shoot high under about 50yds.
    I saw two deer in the yard today, and was thinking I need more practice with the shotgun. It kinda kicks my ass, so I haven't shot it a lot. I got it mostly for close range defense anyway, but I doubt the 22 would take a deer at 100 yards unless I was good enough to get 'im in the eye.

    Things are going pretty well. Busy. Getting ready for a visit to the bug out locations, and trying to get Mom's house ready to sell. (I hate pressure washing..)

    Hopefully Obama and CONgress can keep the unicorn shitting jellybeans for another few months, just long enough to dupe someone into buying the house before hyperinflation sets in.
    Hope thing are well for you.

    Thanks for stopping by, y'all.
    I can finally comment on my own Blog again...YAY!

  10. Very inspiring site. I really feel in touch with what you have to say. Especially about the old ways. What I wouldnt give to live in a working village. I would love to live in an area with like minded people who get the whole picture. So many around me are in a haze. When you try to clear it for them, you just get that funny little look they give you,and you know that you are on your own.

    Look forward to returning!

  11. Thanks for visiting, Jen. Glad my words strike a chord with you.
    Us like minded people ARE out there...most of us are still searching. I get the feeling that we are like cheese; a bunch of curds drifting around in a sea of whey, but soon we will start to congeal into a few big tasty blobs....

    Weird analogy, I know, but hey, I like cheese.

    I look forward to returning also. I hope you find your tribe. Maybe I'll see you out there.