1/17/19

Ain't It Beachy (Find Our Wave)


I'm gonna go.
Find my wave.
I'm gonna roll.
Find my wave.
I'm gonna ride.
Find my wave.
Riding in style.
Find my wave.

Feel really shook.
Find your wave.
Feel like a crook.
Find your wave.
Feel nothing new.
Find your wave.
Give me some clues.
Find your wave.

Ain't it peachy, ain't it peachy, ain't it peachy, I swear.
Ain't it sweetie, ain't it sweetie, ain't it sweetie, let's share.
Ain't it beachy, ain't it beachy, ain't it beachy, I swear.

Maybe we sing.
Find our wave.
Maybe we fling.
Find our wave.
Maybe we run.
Find our wave.
All in good fun.
Find our wave.

1/16/19

Under The Equator


Down under, under the Equater, the heat rises off the court.  The players are suffering through.  This season shall begin.

The older and decorated.  Gushed over, respected, feared.  For good reason.  They have accomplished.  Some will break.

The younger and intimidated.  Ignored, overlooked, punked.  Anonymous.  But not for long.  Soon, the racquet will turn.

Commentators with their thoughts.  Former players who know.  The physical toil.  The psychological toll.  Memories of glory.

Down under, under the Equater, the lines don't lie.  Roars of exertions, screams of effort, groans.  Intentional intensity. 

1/14/19

Midnight


The insides will fail.
Connecting wires, burning.

Finite.

Sail the open sea.
Around the globe, cruising.

Limelight.

Take the clear way.
Above the clouds, sleeping.

Midnight.

Top of the clock.
Hands together, clapping.

1/10/19

Outside The Atmosphere


Step off the subway line.
Into the madness.
Your station has arrived.

Excuse the little crimes.
Forgive the sadness.
Comes with being alive.


Don't go away too far.
Or for too long, please.
The emptiness is feared.

Way up there, near the stars.
Beyond these dark trees.
Outside the atmosphere.


Another cheer for love.
When we feel assured.
For all eternity.

Take it easy, my love.
Shake the blues with words.
It's our reality.


FC
GAm
FCG
G

G Harp

1/8/19

Before The 5th Wave


Beyond the 4th wave of computing, beyond the clouds.
These are the early days, when personal sovereignty is misunderstood, untrusted.
An impressive audience, learning about computing technology evolution.
The majors are upset, the pioneers have been held up at gunpoint.

My Casa is your Casa.
So they say.
Political philosophy will take you nowhere.
Be anonymous and safe.

Hide behind your node, you cypherpunk, you keymaster.
The frame is the main thing, the data suckers.
Sitting duckers.
The Port Authority Building.

Encryption and automatic miners.
Lightening networks and the open market, run on a fortress of validation.
Impenetrable.
Before the 5th wave.

1/4/19

Lit


Think a minute.
Forget the tasks.
Blink a minute.
A final blast.

Hold a second.
A single thought.
Well, I reckon.
Maybe it's lost.

In early hours.
The sky will light.
Show the flowers.
Their sweet delights.

The truth is lit.
Lit like a fire.
We can't dismiss.
Love's graceful power.

Ex2
A
E

1/3/19

The Solo Shows


If I thought about all the people I know.
The ones that show up to the solo shows.
Friends that don't worry bout trivial things.
Like the flyest ride or the biggest ring.

When I think about all the people I knew.
Left on good terms, not mad, not rude.
Just over and done, no harms or fouls.
Moved on, usually following clouds.

Get the poison out of the ivy.
That seems the story of you and me.
The air is thick with dangerous things.
Modification is the name of the game.

Hear me good before we have to go.
Nobody knows what remains unknown.
Tell me everything you have to say.
Visions of the future and more happy days.

All the colors our eyes could ever gaze.
Changed the fortunes of broken DNA.
Cured the sickness before it came to be.
Revealed the secrets so we all believed.

GC
GD7
GC
GD7CG

The Junkyard Court: The Fuzzy Yellow Sphere


It was near freezing.  We were geared up and anxious to move around, Bluetooth musical arrangements were made.  The tennis court was popping, Bob Schneider was singing about the stars over your house.  I was stretching.  Keck and Joe were listening intently to an old bar fight story from Coach Bill.  He really was one of the best back in his fighting 20s, an underdog with hidden fury, willing to be provoked.  A finisher.  This story featured a demonstrative re-creation of his final battle cry before his fists ended another brawl.  "You got blood in my brother's shirt!"  Fashion and blood, the Vita bond.  But it was too cold for stories and we quickly got started on the first round robin of the new year.  

Fresh resolution possibilities of tennis basics consumed my thoughts.  'Watch the tennis ball all the way to the strings in 2019' emerged as the one.  The pros always do, but the rest of us tend to get wild eyed.  And it was working during the quick warm up.  Nice and easy, keeping the eyes locked on the fuzzy yellow sphere, beginning with the shoulder turn, deliberate with the footwork, spaghetti loose with the forearm muscles, breathing out on impact, finishing with a high follow through, and immediately getting on the toes to anticipate the next shot.  Bending knees, leaning in.  All the while, the mind is thinking of the big picture, the strategy, the pattern, the opponent.  There is a lot going on in tennis.  All at once.  How to slow it down, how to make it easy, how to make it flow.  Keep the eyes on the tennis ball all the way to the strings was my mantra, the rest would have to be automatic.

We played the matches tight, all of us struggling with our same tennis vices, our known bad habits, but all of us having some level of success.  We finished with a rigorous drilling session, honing our forms, maintaining long rallies, grooving.  Music filled the cold morning air, we gathered up our gear and headed out to our holiday plans.  Talk turned to year two of the Vantaggio Tennis Apparel Company.  Coach Bill had already left, but Keck realized the importance of the discussion, the opportunity to finalize company goals for the near year.  He called the moment, "Let's get this down now, we have to simplify, streamline "  I suggested bandanas with the iconic Vantaggio logo, a cheap and effective way to elevate the brand.  Joe agreed.  Fewer T-shirt styles seemed important to Keck, the simplification strategy seemed to prevail.  Creating a podcast was an intriging discussion and could be used to develop the the Vantaggio brand through the digital soundwaves.  Tasteful, respectful, legitimate tennis talk.  In addition, all agreed a King Of The Court in November to close year 2 could be a tremendous celebration.  Eventually, the cold wind prevailed and we all took off.  I agreed to develop a follow up memorandum capturing the strategic priorities for year 2 of the Vantaggio Tennis Apparel Company.  Begin with the end in mind.  Hopefully, this will suffice:


Dated:  Jan. 3, 2019

To:  The worldwide tennis culture.

From:  Vantaggio Tennis Apparel Company Steering Committee

Re:  2019 Strategic Initiatives of the Vantaggio Tennis Apparel Company.


1.  Brand.  

Load up on bandanas with the iconic logo.  Cheaper to sell/give away, functional.  Focus on website content, continue to develop key relationships, transition to general active wear, change the name of the company to simply Vantaggio.  Streamline.

2.  Expand Reach.

Introduce a podcast, one that aligns with the values of Vantaggio.  Develop strategic relationships with collegiate teams.  Deliberate social media presence, active and encouraging international players specifically.  U.S. Clay Court in Houston.

3.  King Of The Court 11 Tournament.

Add additional sponsors.  Attract a star-studded field for KOtC11, our return after a year hiatus.  Vantaggio giveaways, raffles, an after party with live music and plenty of spirit.  The crowning of royalty.  3rd party media coverage.  Mahut!


**I am merely an unpaid interested observer and scribe, unaffiliated with any financial interests of the company.  To my knowledge Joe and Keck maintain a 50/50 ownership agreement.

12/31/18

Skeletons On The Path


Pills left me wrecked and confused.
Got a case of withdrawls.

The cost of curing the pain and ache.
A joyous ride.

Stabilizers and sanitizers are needed.
Call up the band.

Play poppy mellow songs.
Take it easy.

Keep the stress level on level.
The brain with catch up.

Health and all it requires.
Just to be sabotaged anyway.

Skeletons on the path.
Word up, that's not who you are.

Like the capsule of a pill.
The goodies are on the inside.

Released to neurons and other atoms.
Flown by blood to take on the offenders.

Delivered.
To the very last nerve.

12/30/18

Two Whole Weeks


Well, we ain't talking for two weeks.
Blocked that number, I'm going under.
For two whole weeks.

Well, I was done wrong, now I see.
Don't deserve my love, don't get my crush.
Now I fucking see.

Well, all they did was take and take.
Used all my time, all I got was lies.
Take, take, take.

Well, can't live wishing upon a star.
Too much to find, using my own mind.
Wishing upon a star.

Well, gonna make the most of it.
Get a little bit hazy, get a little bit lazy.
Making the most of it.

Well, we ain't talking for two weeks.
Don't want no rebound, gonna dial it down.
For two whole weeks.

GCG
FC
GFC

12/28/18

Exiled


EmDAmAmx3
EmAm

The ghosts are gone now.
No more car rides across the country.
It's been years.

They were on the pages.
Impressionable, easily swayed to go.
In that convertible '39 LaSalle.

Fell in true love right away.
Another starlight introduction is needed.
Hit me like a bolt.

Just a normal life with friends.
Two year railroad trip to San Quentin.
Smells of the house.

The lady decides.
Carolyn is the truest hero of On The Road.
Allowing the madness.

Two weeks of parties in Denver.
Kicked off to California to work the rails.
Fill up the money pot.

Make a life.
Fill it up with gasoline and cruise back.
Work was seasonal at that time.

Time for good times.
North Beach days, full of eastern visitors.
Direct from the mind.

They had serious lives.
Away from the fictional personalities.
The tide of respectability.

Then the prankster.
Broken hearted and exiled to idolatry.
Seeking the young soul.

12/24/18

Where Laughter Echoes


E
B7
A
B7E

All the writers went on vacation.
They had nothing to write about.
Politics is just too boring.
Its something we can do without.

Double crossers and baby fitters.
Grease running through their veins.
Coalitions and filibusters.
Ain't nothing gonna change.

The poets can finally take over.
The writers have cleared the stage.
Nostalgia's just regrets unknown.
Time we all turned the page.

AEx3
B7AE

And ahead what we need is some guiding light, shining bright with a beam that goes a hundred miles, further than can be seen, we're gonna be alright, gonna be alright, gonna be alright.  Gonna be just fine.

B7A
B7E

Colors.

Forms.

Mixes.

Shapes.

Wonder.

Air.

Senses.

Mood.

Believe what you want, what helps get you through the night, as we spin, suspended, into another space, to another time, where good is better than bad, where kind is better than mean, where irony drips its drops, where laughter echoes.

EA

Where laughter echoes.
Where laughter echoes.
Where laughter echoes.
Where laughter echoes.
Where laughter echoes.
Where laughter echoes.
Where laughter echoes.
Where laughter echoes.

12/20/18

Working The Bullfights


Literal is enough.
Give it straight.
Information only.
The kind that is.
Keep the speculation away.
Chunk it to the sea.
The water will decide.
Direct inspirations.
That compel.

Discovered in the Orient.
Testing has begun.
Total connection of minds.
Hearts can wait.
Their beats are numbered anyway.

Spain ain't all what it's cracked up to be.
When you're poor.
And on the run.
Working the bullfights.
For dinner and some change.
The prodigals do return.
Welcomed back.
Consequences, the slate is clean.
Abundance, the plate is full.

12/18/18

At A Punk Rock Show


Endurance and thumping, and cracking up.
Body aches got me on my knees.
Awake, you can relate, so you know.
This ain't no time to sleep.

We'll wait for dinner, there's no rush.
Careful with the brain freeze.
Give your nerves a bit of time to rest.
Try to find some peace.

And there's glasses and decorations.
There's a done up tree.
Then there's glances and adorations.
A toast to the brave and the free.

But crowns don't last too long.
We all bound to get it wrong.
Lets all break out in song.
Singing yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, oooh.

Money's just something else to burn.
Better burn it slow.
Got nothing to do with what I learned.
In New York, at a punk rock show.

EAE
AE
DA
EAE

AEx3
DAE

12/16/18

The Ladies Powder Room


From the back parking lot, and a walk up.
Ensure the name tags are right.
Make it great.

All we need is a vodka tonic.
It is a fine cut of beef.
Even the vegans think so.

Be seen at the club.
Huge, solid pillars, castle-like.
Wide doorways and all the particulars.

Many arrivals, many grand evenings.
The valet operation.
In control and occupied.

The fireplace is heating up this room.
Especially with the doors closed.
Skyline view.

Urban neon of Dallas.
Delicious.
Pecans are true friends.

Technicalities and graphic designs.
Down with the dress down.
An hour in make-up.

Superwoman in a chaotic scene.
This must be practiced.
Compound fractures and head wounds.

A public service.
Our hostess.
Everybody loves to win a raffle.

Talk amongst yourselves.
The season has begun.
If we can clear the ladies powder room.

12/15/18

Slease


The slease don't go easy.
Desperately, it oozes.
Into the wastelands.

12/12/18

Leadership Theory And Practice 8


Beyond their imaginations.
It is not a natural act.
Unleash the genius, reap the harvest.
A place we want to go.
Society participation.
Invisible collaborations, undocumented.
This single burst of insight does not exist.
Insight is developed, shaped, refined.
Can't avoid the work, the toil.

This is a high concept, elevated.
We dig like the tomb raiders.
Getting to the bottom, then working up.
Sparks will fly.
Through the white space, through the fog.
Call up the entire creative class.
Scientists, technologists, architects.
Professors and artists.
They operate in the same atmosphere.
Do away with the middle, carve it out.
Be an opposable mind.

The loyal are the real talented.
Surprises are all around.
We are on a speeding train, speeding fast.
Listen to the soft voices too.
This uncomfortable setting is fine.
For awhile.
Like a bowl of spaghetti.
Or a jazz ensemble, or a doubles team.
They all make music in some way.

Keep it above the waterline.
Don't sink this damn ship!
Get me to Building 20 quick.
Those old emotional states.
And new emotional states.
Edit and repeat perpetually.

Mandela led from a cell.
Many not realizing.
Pragmatic idealist.
Extraordinary, impossible, unlikely.
Intriguing and pleasant company.
Chaos is the best time for calm.
Generously, easily, selfless.
Give the credit, pay the debts.
The spotlight goes somewhere else.
Initially.
Tell the stories, change the rules.
Solve the impossible.

12/11/18

This Is For The Birds


Ya know death does not agree with me.
Like lying in the sun.
But sometimes I like thinking about it.
Just for a little fun.

Get your financial affairs in order first.
All your papers too.
Slowly tell folks of your terminal fate.
But only tell a few.

Then reality hits like a train of bricks.
Withering on the floor.
Gonna miss all the things your gonna miss.
They're gonna miss you more.

Matrimonies, parties, babies, and talks.
Reading and writing words.
Holding hands and playing in bands.
This is for the birds.

Pain don't make much difference to me.
Got pills for that, ya know.
Really gonna miss all my lifelong friends.
Some I'm just gettin' to know.

But the doctor said all I needed was meds.
Give it bout 4 weeks.
Hurts like a mother, feels like no other.
But still on my feet.

Felt I was a goner, wouldn't live no longer.
For an entire day.
In a total haze, nostalgic and crazed.
Took some time to pray.

Nerves and worry, we can do without.
Learn to forgive.
But don't need to worry bout that no more.
Guess I'm s'pposed to live.

ccgc
ffcc
ccgc
ffgg

12/8/18

Play The Blues


And all I wanna do is play, yeah.
All I got to to is play, yeah yeah.
All I'm gonna do is play the blues.

All we have to do is understand.
This ain't about holding hands.
All we gonna do is play the blues.

Its all coming from the inside out.
You know their coming ain't no doubt.
Nothing left to do but play the blues.

Wonder why the devil coming down on me.
Ain't no preacher trying to lead.
All I been doing is playing the blues.

Guess I'll look it up in the pages of the word.
Read what it says about faith and love.
Then we'll get back to playing the blues.

And all I wanna do is play, yeah.
All I got to to is play, yeah yeah.
All I'm gonna do is play the blues.

EAEx2
ADEx2

12/4/18

Pit Bulls


Call up the Docs, Doc.
A domestication of our dispositions.
Intentional characteristics.
Special breeds.
Calmer in thought, loyalty ingrained.
Easily tamed.

It's in the genes!
Physical, intellectual, emotional.
Just good old fashioned DNA.
All the strands in these lands.
And, if we know.
We can, and should, manipulate.
Before it's too late.
And the pit bulls take over the land.
Figuratively, of course.

Run the future models quick.
Predict with statistical methods.
70% certain, open the curtain.
All environments cannot be controlled.
Hope will always be relevant.

One day or night we will invent new traits.
The best ever invented.
Like the Moon said to Venus.
As they floated and spun.
Completely selfless.
Kind hearted.
Living currently.
Without past regrets or future worries.

Anxiousness will cease to exist, in fact.
Listening in and contemplation.
Understanding others.
Loving.
Darwinism is all, survival of the best.

12/2/18

Music Is In The Pipes


No thanks on the new deal.
Got our own answers for the questionnaire.
Moving forward, cylinderlike.
Grabbing the best for the ride forward.
Leaving the rest behind.
The core of love.

There is uncertainty always, and doubts.
Priorities seem somewhere else.
Absorbed in self interest and pragmatism.
Too smart for the sacrifice.
Much too important for the risk.
Built on sand, shifty.

Don't wast another minute fussing.
Call out to the light.
Disenchanted with the cages.
Had it with the forbidden.
Nothing scares me, there is so much to gain.
Music is in the pipes, all the notes.

12/1/18

The Easy Float


The middle is the easy float.
Predators are too lazy for that.
All fat, all happy.
No time for a swim.

Just let the currents push and pull.
They waver and wander too.
Building up and coming down.
Avoid the crash landing.

Whipped up by the storms.
Sucked in by the earthquakes.
So much for peace.
That was abandoned long ago.

Noise pollution is real.
And the wire is bought and paid for.
Whatever it needs to say.
Pass along the cash, pay it out in coins.

Lines on the bottom don't care.
The golden egg was chipped up anyway.
Geese are mean, ugly animals.
But they are loyal.

EmEmAmEmx3
EmGAmEm

11/29/18

Social Gangster


A new mental model.  
Venezuela and its collapse.

Squandered the wealth.  
Creating a crypto revolt.

Cash is the joker, cards are king.  
Petro is a sham.

The legacy of Hugo.  
Social gangster, enduring eternal pain.

Extortion of the miners.  
Thuggery.

This is official.  
MIT is the epicenter.

Watch your wallet, google is involved.
Search, it all checks out.

Speculation is all it is, for now.  
Lightening network nodes are the future.

11/28/18

Leadership Theory And Practice 6


What is best for all, the dilemma, to truly sacrifice, to really trust.  It must be left better than if it was just left afloat.  Directed, encouraged, optimistically and , eloquently.  Genuine, without the unspeakable or taboo.  Set, evaluate, reward.  Over and over, both collectively and individually.  Blame the mirror, credit the window.  Recruit the players, continuously hone the strategies, and make it all payoff for all.  They did it.  Select wisely,  prune the dumb, selfish, and cynical.

Confucius say:  we are dealers in hope.

Always idling, they burn within.  No poking or proding, no stoking required.  We work within the intangible realm, leading by example.  Being ourselves, listening, letting them up easy.

I say:  mercy me, mercy me, integrity is free.

This is real right here.  We all see it clearly, the practice we put in, the effort, the words.  Read and written and talked and heard and considered.  Dynamic variables.  The communications are compelling, declarations are declared.  It is our domain.

 Age old saying say:  one's word is one's bond.

Breakdowns, go ahead and give them to us. Breakthroughs, we'll fix it up just right.  Recognize the opportunity, everyone's at fault.  It is irrelevant now.  Evaluate again and again, adjust, tinker, break the thing.  Talk and hear and be like.  Yes, be like.  Gonna be like this, gonna be like that.  Go on and be like--- yourself.  It is easy to do.

Bennis and Nanus say:  this is an emotionally intelligent nature we are to nurture.

11/26/18

Break Out The China


Like an apple pie.
Carefully constructed.
A solid crust.
All the way up the sides.
And over the top.
Buttery, delicious, crunchy.
It must hold the filling.
The goodness within.
Tasty, sweet fruit.
Simmered and sugared.
Why the pie is.

Baked perfectly, to perfection.
Cooled a bit.
Announced alive and well.
Set aside some whipped up cream.
Near a coffee pot.
Break out the china.
But don't break it.
The silver silverware.
Everyone on their best behavior.
Pride.

Sharpest knife in the drawer.
Cut just right.
Piece by piece, each scrumptious.
Gone, the slices of attractions.
Eaten, the meetings of minds.
Tasted, the delights.
Anticipation no longer.
Keep it around.
It'll last for days.
Preserved in tin foil.

11/23/18

Science Non-Fiction


The walking type.
Ongoing and measured.
Careful discussions.
Transparent emotions.
To give up too much is too much.
We deserve primary treatment.
Nothing being more important.

To know and remember.
Gypsys are never bored.
They are the French Creole among us.
When the oysters hit just right.
And the pearls are found.
Strung together, all in tune.

Get ready for the chaos.
It always arrives
In caravans and wagon trains.
Invading the west.
Taking.
After blessings have been discarded.
Tossed aside.
History has turned again.
The karma involved.
In the name of others.
Justified by unforgivness.

Ahead, more important discoveries.
All we have to do is try.
These things will occur, beyond dreams.
Science non-fiction.
People cured, happiness, comfort.
Body, mind, and souls.

11/22/18

Gratitude Attitudes


"You take that table over there.  No soul, no empathy.  It don't know you.  It don't know nothing!"

"Ramble on my green-eyed son.  Feel the world worry and stress, understand why.  Reject all of it, create."

"Plan for happiness, plan for fun.  But, leave everything unnailed.  Proximity will take over, theoretically."

"Starve out the gluttony, eat at 2.  Taste each bite, mix it up on the fork.  Pass on the bread, it only takes up space."

"The leftovers.  They bicker.  Snapping, shouting, directing, pointing.  Along those lines, avoidance."

"Commonality of the mind and life.  Hope for better, action for improvement.  Cynics, walk away with your nostalgia."

"Gratitude attitudes, we deserve nothing.  Either by accident or determined by another, we all populate together."

11/20/18

New Ages Await


The immortals were all crying.
No aging, but they could still be killed.
It made them weak.
Avoidance of danger, lack of courage.
You only live once, until you never die.
Boredom became an epidemic.
Its destructive side effects.
Recklessness, blues, grudges, poor choices.
Unspiritual, becoming king and queen like.
No compassion, they took shallow pity.
Here's another cake.

Other generations died off, one by one.
The Boomers and their entitled politics.
GenXers and their bird to to world.
Millennials, screwed again.
The Glowfacers were the charmed.
Young enough to get the glowjuice.
As the immortal medicine was called.
They could live forever.
Rather, they could age forever.
Perpetual power, hoarded by the strong.

Most immortals were weak.
They were selfish.
Eventually, the glowjuice was banned.
The immortals in power stayed in power.
Forever lonely.
Forever hated.
Forever bored.
Like being locked in a train station.
Stuck at an airport.
Love is irrelevant.
No savior.
No soul.

Out here we are free.
The age of our alive life is over.
New ages await.
All of space is now our home.
We cling to rocks no longer.
We are unconfined, unconstrained.
Loved and forgiven.
No pain.
Souls.

11/19/18

Motels Only


1.  Estimates Of Arrival

Blasting south to Kingman, Arizona at 95 MPH, following a State Trooper, we felt unstoppable.  After waking early and packing, the valet brought out our car at 7:30 am.  Although we would lose two hours to Pacific time and Mountain time, it was worth it.  On the way over, the time gains made the hour long wait to see the Hoover Dam a wash and allowed an extra hour of walking Santa Fe like hobos.  Still, it was early, and we felt the radical idea of driving all the way home in one long drive was alive.  It was not practical, but perhaps it was possible.  The ride through the main Vegas strip didn't help the early departure, but again, it was worth it.  The decadence, the famous places, the tragic.  The Grand Canyon of Gambling and so much more.  We felt good about our choice to stay in the Fremont district 8 miles away, but we were glad to see 'The Strip", as its known.  Kingman was close.  From there, we would begin east.  My daughter had a rap concert to attend in Dallas.  Travis Scott.  Not much of a rapper name.  Never heard of him, but she seemed to think he was the most legit rapper going right now, and his Houston roots were compelling.  West Coast, East Cost, its been done.  Detroit is yesterday, Austin is the center.  Nashville has embarrassed itself.  Townes, Stugill, Willie, all rejected.  Not invited in.  Unconditionaly, anyway.  We sped east.

The truckers of America are the best truckers.  Their communication collaborations, their passing accommodations, even their trucker stations.  Tidy, organized, ethical.  Aware.  We flew.  Left lane driving, making good time.  We lost the Pacific hour way back, it was late morning.  We gassed up quick, nothing needed in rickedy old Ash Fork, AZ.  Earlier we had coffeed up and hash browned up.  We were fine, making good time.  Near Flagstaff, we talked about fresh Grand Canyon memories.  It will never vanish.  Our two rocks and pine cone, tucked in the back, hidden, were only being loaned to us.  Perhaps we'll bring them back one day, borrow a couple more.  Reminders of our smallness, our good fortune, our brief opportunity to exist.  The terrain was striking as we drove along, destinations seen for miles.  Towers, power plants, walls of rock on both sides.  Huge landscapes.  Elegant, rough, weathered, angles.  Mountain shaped horizons in every direction.  Wind.

On the other side of Gallup, NM, we checked the time and ran the calculations.  Then and there we decided to complete the radical 1,226 mile drive to our front door.  The girls at home would be shocked, they would hear nothing of this.  Estimates for arrival were in the 3am range.  At this rate, we'd be in Amarillo by 10pm, Texas lay ahead.  In Albequerque we found a Sonic, we passed the Santa Fe exit discussing Georgia O'Keffee and what her eyes saw. In Santa Rosa, there was no stopping.  Once in Texas, we fueled up and in a dazy, caffeine starved rush, we walked right out if the truck stop without paying for a large coffee.  It never occurred to me until my daughter pointed it out.  "Go on," she said.  "No one saw."  Wild eyes, like Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde.  It was cold, I was tempted, we went back and paid.  I was a bit wired.

Driving west of Amarillo, eastbound, the shit gets real.  Burgers, Steaks, Ka-Bobs, leather shoes, purses, boots, milk.  The cowshit smell is justified by all these blessings to the world, but we were thankful we were driving through.  Forget that shit.  We sped on, into the Red River Valley.  Claude, Childress, Chillicothe, Quanta, Electra.  The towns on 287.  Witchita Falls, Larry McMurtry county.  He is a fine writer, I explained to my daughter, her eyes wavering.  She nodded politely as I told her of the Last Picture Show and Lonesome Dove.  Her exhausted boredom was magnified by the darkness and the continuous book-on-tape reading of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72.  The reader delivered the book in the way it was intended.  Irreverant, direct, unapologetic, quick.  It was insanitized writing.  Gonzo writing, shock and truth.  Much has remained unchanged in politics since Thompson's account of '72.  It is gutter inspired, cash dependant, and ridiculous to intelligence.  Politicians are unworthy of the hope they are given.  Unprepared.  They lie and lie to maintain a hollow dignity.  Manipulations and shallow concerns.  It is unchangeable, voting is sketchy, somewhat pointless.  Way too many humans involved.  In fact, robots could take over huge parts of our government.  Sooner the better.  Reliable, fair, untempted.  Without the bribes, without the smirks, without the smoke.  We know blockchain solutions will one day solve all administrative functions.  Public and private sector paper pushers will be gone.  My daughter agreed.  I talked and talked, the radio stations were crackling and inaudible.  She sighed, her positive nature was tested.  We entered Collin County at 3 am, hesitant to declare our radical victory until we parked the car.  At 3:15, we were home, our family reunited.  They were shocked.  And happy.

In the following days, we attempted explanations, we created picture collages, we remembered.  We told others of places, food, sights, people, and the land we drove.  The towns and cities.  The murals.  We gave away souvenirs.  My daughter made her rap concert later that night with her sister, rested and refreshed after sleeping in her own bed all day.  They missed each other badly.  They are of one soul.  Now, I have a song stuck in my head--Easier With You from Bob Schneider's recent album called Blood And Bones.  In it Bob comes clean, "Just trying to make it in this mad mad world, just trying to make it through.  It's not an easy thing, it might be easier with you."



2.  Ground Rules

Maps have been made, the destinations, the stops, the days, the loose plan of the motels only road trip.  Ground rules discussed.  No farting near each other, easy frequent stops, side roads, back roads, discussion topics, at least 1000 miles of driving for each of us, tolerance of occasional bouts of silence, music responsibilities, trash food inevitabilities, all chill, and the like.  Canyons, sites, places, spots, with a Vegas twist in the middle.  Motels only, must be in name of the stationary, the match boxes, the neon.  Motels, baby!  That's the way we rolling.  8 days, 2700 miles, 5 places to call home for the night:

1.  Texas Panhandle, check out Caprock and Palo Duro.  Away from Amarillo, away from Lubbock.  Those places have been seen, they are known.  Those places been forgot.  None of that.  One night.

2.  Sweet Santa Fe, in the mountains, the Rockies.  Oldest continuous civic area in America, or so its debated anyway.  Old, cultured, art destination.  Will hobo it through the city, then go see Bohemian Rapsody at the late show theater.  One night.

3.  Grand Canyon, the scar of the west.  Long heard of, long photographed, never seen, never felt, never smelt.  Full day, perhaps bikes, hope to see the sun go down, then come up.  The Canon camera will be focused in, the building of the photographer's never-ending portfolio.  Two nights.

4.  Las Vegas, hit the switch!  Blind our eyes, wake our senses, sleep when we can.  Old strip suggested for motels.  Rat pack smells, when cigarettes were cool.  Bugsy and his mobsters, roll the dice.  Make a cowboy bet.  The Zeke Army is alive.  See the Bellagio Water Show.  See the seedy, then scram.  Walk the Hoover Dam.  Two nights.

5.  Albuquerque, going back east, the long drive, washed out, tired.  Survival and joy.  The city colored in browns, the city of balloons, the city by the mountains, seen in its entirety, all at once.  Museums.  One night.

Then back to the home fires burning, missing our honey's, missing our homies, missing our life.  The desolation drive, the speeding, the speed traps, the smell of western Amarillo.  Much to remember, to now know.  Texas, with open arms, missed, but continuing.  We are 2 of 7.5 billion.  For now.  My youngest daughter and I.  That's the loose plan.




3.  Crystal Palace

The lobby of the Crystal Palace Motel in Brownfield, Texas was gleaming.  White with antique chandeliers, gold painted accents, and mirrors lining every wall.  The place had the feel of a pop up carnival maze, reflections everywhere, to confuse or mislead.  The $65 dollar a night price tag seemed reasonable, especially considering our mid evening prospects for lodging were dimming, as it will in far far west Texas after the sun sets.  My daughter was game, just the kind of place we had envisioned, off the main road, old and tidy.  The nearby Holiday Inn Express was never even discussed.  That would've amounted to complete failure, especially on our first night.  We were of one mind.

Earlier, as we concieved, we left the great suburbs of Collin County with adventure in our eyes, important destinations to arrive at, and a spirit of wander.  To Las Vegas and back via the Grand Canyon and beyond Hoover Dam.  The sprawl gradually lost its grasp on our minds the further west we drove.  The worries diminished, the daily routines disregarded.  This was familiar country and I showed her familiar places, Dickens Springs, The Green Frog Diner, my 9 month tweener age home in Lubbock.  And roadkill.  Lots of roadkill.

The room was pleasant, had an early 1970s look with a flat screen.  Hot shower, two big beds, at least 5 lamps, a small crystal chandelier over a small table, and it was very quiet.  Off the main road quiet.  Finally, some down time to reflect on the day, what we saw, what we talked about.  The absurdity of modern country music lyrics and topical standards, hard lessons about relationships learned early in life, our relative good fortune, things left done, and things left undone.  Thankfulness.  Already we altered the loose plan, skipped the Texas canyons in favor of the Lubbock Loop and a more southern route to Santa Fe, our next destination.  This will take us through Roswell, NM, near the flying saucer crash of 1947, into the great wide open, rebels without a clue.

The old Indian couple that ran the motel were very accommodating and made a fresh pot of coffee for me in the morning.  Passed on the Captain Crunch.  The couch in the lobby was majestic, comfortable, and seemed completely out of place.  Sat for awhile, letting my daughter slumber back in the room, listening to sounds of morning motel work.  The man was evidently dealing with with some sort of discomfort and made a "hmmpff" noise every 15 seconds as he did paperwork at the front desk.  Perhaps his back was whacked, maybe acid reflux, after 10 minutes it was very annoying.  I finally left that couch, made up two coffees to go, and thanked them for their hospitality.

Outside it was cold.  A beanie morning, oil field workers and other people in trucks took off early.  We took our time, we plotted, we were the aliens.




4.  Memory Metal

My daughter assured me when the gas gauge says zip, we still had 25 miles left in the tank.  I hoped she was right as we drove west to Roswell, NM from the Texas line.  No gas for 90 miles and the range indicator on her Toyota indicated 70 miles left.  We rode in on fumes, gased up, and were about to begin the northern journey to Santa Fe when we saw the International UFO Muesem.  We stopped.  The town has embraced its notoriety, begun when a flying saucer crashed near the place in 1947.  As the story goes, a massive U.S. government cover-up cleaned up the debris field, including massive amounts of a "memory metal".  The mueseum is dedicated to the truth of the incident and does a complete job of making the case.  The alien in the flying saucer, along with all evidence, was taken to Area 51 in Nevada.  All witnesses were silenced, paid-off, or came up missing.  Perhaps, but it could have been a weather balloon.  Either way, stores and restaurants and even office buildings featured the familiar oval, green, big-eyed creature prominately.  Got a few guitar pics for my band, a sticker, and a key chain for my daughter.  Then we headed north, wondering aloud what it meant if it were all true.

The drive north was fast, averaging about 95 MPH, and hitting 110 for stretches.  Santa Fe awaited and we were looking forward to exploring the ancient city we had never visited.  As we got closer, we noticed the houses in the hills.  All over, big, little, nice, dumpy, tan.  Adobe.  Camouflaged.  The town sits on the edge of the Rockies and its twisting, small roads give the whole place an incredible charm.  With plenty of daylight left, we found the old district, parked our car, and went exploring on foot.

True to its reputation, Santa Fe is an artist haven, especially downtown.  Expensive shops, open markets, musicians, incredible beauty, incredible colors.  We walked all around:  Into the Lorrtto Chapel to see the Miraculous Staircase, through the open markets to consider rings and bracelets, and requested a blues tune from a couple of buskers at the 400 year old Santa Fe Plaza.  They were outstanding and I gave them all the cash and change I had on me.  $1.83.  Nearby were two guys set up with a sign, "Pick The Topic, Will Write Poem".  Interesting, never seen that before, but I write my own poetry:

Santa Fe, Santa Fe
Unknown yesterday.
Inspired to create.
Santa Fe, Santa Fe

And the poem, or song, could go on and on along that pattern, telling of the place, the people, the art.  Describing landscapes, explaining histories, acknowledging the native Pueblo, and tracing the Spanish Conquest of 1598.  The Conquistadors.  The Church.  The good, the bad, the ugly.

After a few hours of taking in the crisp air, incredible fall colors, and sharing a small lunch of fried calimari at the San Francisco Street Grill, we got in our car and went looking for a motel.  Earlier, accommodations in the heart of the city were quickly abandoned when we inquired on room rates at a fairly nice place.  The kind with a spa and $15 dollar margaritas.  Mainly, I was curious.  The polite lady at the front desk informed us of "packages that started at $450".  I didn't even let her finish.  After a wild and wandering search at dusk, we found The Cottonwood Motel.  The adobe structure was just what we wanted, two split rooms, authentic Santa Fe construction, old and clean.  This place had seen many days and was ready for more.  Like wine, the older the better in Santa Fe.  We rested, got a bite, then went to the Violet Crown Theater in old town to see Bohemian Rhapsody.

The movie was killer, likely the best movie soundtrack ever.  The actors became the band.  Freddie Mercury and his unique ways.  His destructive ways.  His voice.  The story of Queen.  Because we are the champions, another one bites the dust, and these are the days of our lives.




5.  Such Fine Sights To See

Hitchhiking is not dead in the west.  Several hitchers were seen on the wide open highways of New Mexico and Arizona, the familiar thumbs up as they walked along, headed to Califonia we figured.  We sped by all of them, primarily in the left lane of the interstate, where the pedal is put to the metal.  Surprisingly, two thumbs up to the vast majority of truckers out there in America.  The known ethic of letting speeders through the left lane is alive and well among them.  And we were speeders for sure.

Turned up the tunes for the long drive to the Grand Canyon.  Cosmic Chimp, Bob Schneider, Miguel, and Supersuckers, among others.  Some Dude Named Amos' version  of Jive Talkin' was a highlight, the wails at the end shook the car.  New Mexican town after New Mexican town, til Arizona.  Along the way passing exits for The Meteor Crater, The Petrified Forest, and Winslow, Arizona.  Such fine sights to see, but we were headed to Flagstaff, no time for stopping, no time for standing on corners.  The late afternoon sun blazed our eyes as the entire western horizon faded on the left and right.  The Navajo Nation, where gas was $3.29 a gallon.

Rolled into Flagstaff around 5 pm, then headed north to get close to the Grand Canyon for the morning view.  Surprised by the mountain feel of the town, everything just changes quickly.  The late afternoon dusky drive to the Grand Canyon area was 75 miles on a curvy one lane road.  It was truly beautiful, the clear sky fading to night, a crescent moon hovering.  Darkness fell midway and we worried a bit about finding a motel.  We kept on to Tusayan, 7 miles from the Canyon, an unending stream of cars passing us, coming from the Canyon, probably after taking in the sunset view.  Like an evacuation of some sort, the line of headlights went on and on, all going south as we went north.  When we arrived, several motels seemed available and we decided on the 7 Mile Motel, advertised as friendly, clean, and cozy.  And so it was.  The front desk lady was inquisitive and helpful, offering Grand Canyon advice freely and unsolicited.  Room 10 was very clean, and our chills were cured by the coziness.  Outside, the air was 30 degrees and the wind was brisk.  We settled in.

A Pizza Hut Supreme Pan Pizza hit the spot, and we shared a few sips of wine.  Then a few more.  Lil' Wayne was on Saturday Night Live, featuring Halsey on backup vocals.  Kinda spare, honestly.  My daughter agreed.  Our calmness turned to sleep quickly and we dozed off, anticipating the next day's grand appointment.




6.  Veterans Of The Canyon

The trip from Tusayan to the Grand Canyon was short.  Our Sunday visit was highly anticipated and our imaginations ran wild as we bundled up for a cool day.  Cool weather, cool views, everything was cool.  Tusayan seemed like a tourist town without the trashiness, full of locals that seemed genuinely happy we were there.  From the folks at the 7 Mile Motel to the barristas at RP's Stage Shop, we felt welcomed.  We got an early start and headed north for the final few miles.  We rolled up to the park entrance, $35 bucks in hand, well worth the per car entry fee.  The attendant greeted us, handing us a map and attractions card and said, "No fees today, have a fantastic visit."  Evidently, Veterans Day was free for all.  Another reason for thankfulness and gratitude to those who have served.  Thanks Vets!  We drove on.

Queen was the agreed upon music for this scenic first.  The morning was bright, somehow the coolness making everything sparkle like new.  We decided to go at it on our own, without the Pink Jeep Tour or the guided hike to the bottom.  We had no use for the IMAX movie, no plans for bus shuttling.  We would see the 6 million years old Grand Canyon on our own.  It first appeared through the trees as we found a fairly remote parking lot, hinting at the enormity of what we were about to witness.  Quickly we parked.  As we exited the car, we were grateful for the gloves and beanies and extra layers.  The wind was whipping as we found the South Rim trail.  Then it was seen.  Speechless until I muttered "Whoa" and my daughter whispered "Wow".  We just stood there.  The vastness cannot be described, the true scale is unphotographable, no picture has ever done it justice.  Where colors were invented, where deepness has no bottom, where cliffs sat upon cliffs.  As far as we could see, to the left, right, down, and forward.  When our breath came back, we walked west along the rim.  Despite the futilness of capturing the beauty with a picture or video, we tried and tried.  Each turn produced unique, incredible sights.  Each perch was like a rebirth, inspiring words of magnificence.  Old loves didn't matter, they were tossed in the canyon.  We ran out of verbal descriptions.  Only cuss words were left and that just didn't seem appropriate.  God was around.

The geographical realities, the history of the Grand Canyon National Park, the first European explorers, even the Native American stake on this place, we did not care about any of it.  This was a feast of the eyes, this was beyond echoes, this was mother earth and father time together in holy matrimony.  God's rest was well earned.  Jesus!  We walked the Southern Rim, surprised at the easy access to death.  A slip, a stumble, a reckless risk to get the perfect picture.  There seemed no possibility of survival if one fell into the Grand Canyon.  In fact, it was kind of refreshing to not sign a waiver.  It is what it is, be careful.  We took a rock and a pine cone, we skipped the gift shop.

After 5 hours our senses were exhausted and we were hungry.  The unexpected complimentary entry freed up funds and we splurged on a steak dinner back in Tusayan.  Thanks Vets!  My daughter's Sirloin and my New York Strip were perfectly cooked medium well.  All the trimmings were included:  loaded baked potatoes, beer battered onion rings, al dente asparagus, wild rice pilaf, and a loaf of honey oat bread.  We declined dessert.  Big E Steakhouse and Saloon, 5 of 5 stars.  Back at the motel room we rested, searched our countless pictures, and tentatively planned a return trip at sunset.

The rest was relaxing, the meal was heavy, the urge to stay in for the night was strong.  The 7 Mile Motel was cozy.  But we were of one mind, we were down for sundown.  Again, we went through the gates for free. We found our out-of-the-way parking lot and headed back to the now familiar trail.  This time our awe was expected.  We were now veterans of the canyon.  The late afternoon shadows were spooky, people all around ooohed and ahhhed, the sky was the color of cotten candy.  Like jazz music, perfectly imperfect.  We saw the sun slip down until it was gone.  We were fortunate witnesses of that singular moment at that singular place on this singular planet.  We said goodbye to the canyon, knowing it would never leave, never vanish.

Sunday night football featured Cowboys vs Eagles.  We each laid in our own bed, reflecting, confessing, and counting our blessings.  We missed our family, we wished they could see what we saw, our reports of the Grand Canyon were merely cliches.  It must be seen by one's own eyes to understand.  We ate Sun Chips and Hersheys Kisses.  We laughed and got the giggles.  The Cowboys pulled off a close victory at Veterans Stadium in Philly.

We fell asleep, still astonished.



7.  Slots Are For Suckers

The relatively short drive from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas is very geological.  The topography maps must be wild.  No trees cover the land, only sparse brush.  The interstate moves smoothly, towns are seen from far away.  The quick exit to visit the the Hoover Dam turned into an hour long wait in our car to pass through a security checkpoint.  One at a time, featuring two aloof security officers demanding open windows and assessing the risk based on visual clues.  I kept my suggestion to improve the pace of the mile long line by opening additional checkpoints to myself once we finally arrived at the interrogation point.  Pointless.  We were judged to be good to go, unlikely to destroy the iconic and important structure.  "Only suitcases", one said to the other.  I had stashed my buck knife in the console.  Suckers!

The hour gained as we crossed into the Pacific Time Zone was lost.  The Dam was fine.  We sped on to Vegas.  The importance of electrical wires is magnified in this area of the country.  They go in every direction atop massive towers, dipping down between each one, as far as the eyes can see.  Under them, weird compounds, rough roads, and desert dweller creatures shared the land.  Sin City appeared quickly and completely.  It was mid afternoon and the sun warmed the cool air to perfection.  Our 2 night reservation at The Golden Nugget awaited.

The famous hotel and casino is grand, with aquariums, multiple restaurants, luxurious rooms, and accommodating staff.  It sits in the Fremont district surrounded by other casinos, hotels, nightclubs, merchants and restaurants.  The gambling floor resmebles an irritating pinball arcade, only slot machines are the annoying offenders.  How the poor become poorer.  No doubt these machines largely finance and enable the Vegas schtick.  The lights, the noises, the booze, and the smell of cigarettes erode reason, but the need for hope is stronger and faith in "the pull" is very much alive. Suckers play slots.  I lost $40 bucks in 3 minutes.  Just like that, gone.  Suckered.  My daughter, excited for some gambling action, seemed surprised and unimpressed.  "That's it?" she asked.  I nodded.  "How lame!" she laughed.  Both my daughters are wiser than me.  The future of this town is not gambling.

The modern lure of Las Vegas is in the streets.  Performers of all types, one guy allowing crotch kicks for tips, another making roses from palm leaves, magicians, musicians, and famous viral phenomenons.  One such viral phenomenon, a gentleman named Deez Nutz, was recognized by my daughter and she quickly requested a selfie with him, quickly posted the selfie, and quickly received return validation via likes and comments.  She showed me his 12 second viral video from years ago.  Look it up.

Yes, slots are for suckers, the slothead faces displaying either hypnosis, dimness, or boredom.  Or all three.  Outside, at the Fremont Experience, there were bands taking the stages.  There were zipliners flying overhead, there were fantastic light shows.  Virtually everything was for sell.  Innduendo was absent.  And why not, this was Vegas.  Our two night stay was just beginning, we were wide-eyed, we were electrified, we were wired and tired.  The beds were premium, our souls were shocked, we slept like high rollers.



8.  The Mural Jackpot

My daughter was bushed.  She slept in the luxurious Golden Nugget bed like I remembered her sleeping years ago.  Peaceful and happy.  Slipped out at at 7am for coffee and wandering.  Left the shades shut, the room dark.  She dreamed.

Las Vegas in the early morning, when the daylight hits it.  Gamblers already gambling, some still gambling from the night before.  The depressing and annoying casino floor still smelled like cigarettes, the slothead faces were the same.  Workers already working the streets.  Everyone was up.  Dancers, even.  The palm leaf flower maker was still busy, his companion sitting on one bucket with face down on another bucket, sleeping.  The spray painter was painting.  Surely the fumes must have some effect.  He seemed calm, focused.  Clear-eyed, picking up cans and flipping them around like a black belt in something.  Eastern.  One painting was a wolf, howling in a dark blue, snowy, mountain scene.  It had stars in the black night.  One was shooting.  ATMs were all out of money.  I was hungry.

Breakfast is a rare indulgence, but what is eaten in Vegas, is eaten in Vegas.  As the saying goes.  The Cadillac Restaurant in the Golden Nugget does a fine Huevo Rancheros.  Damn fine.  Had a couch seat, planned to be there for awhile.  Got liquefied.  A good blood mary, coffee, and water.  Coffee after coffee.  For hours.  Some basketball highlights.  Silent observations.  Couldn't help but notice the advanced median age of the comers and goers.  Fair amount of limping, walking equipment, and wheel chairs.  Slick back silver haired man with a done up yellow blonde lady on his arm, obviously in love for a long, long time.  They were dressed sharply as they scooted with forced posture and chins held high.  His cane was marble tipped, she held his arm tight.  They were grand.  A feeble looking man being wheeled around by a middle aged man.  They looked alike.  They smoked and coughed, the older one with an oxygen tank hooked on his chair.  Only a few kicks left together, they were making the most of it.  Like father, like son.  A sweet, mature looking midwestern woman, dressed for a Lutheran potluck.  She was beaming around a large crowd of people.  Obviously, she was the matriarch, the crowd was her family, and their families.  Some of them looked like thugs, a few unruley brats ran around wild, no one was doing anything about it.  But who am I to judge.  She smelled of heavy make-up and cigarettes.  She likely  picked up the whole tab.  Had a final shot of coffee, then went up to the room.

My youngest daughter was up, showered, made up, and ready.  It was noon.  She wore torn jeans, white Addidas, and an authentic Bob Dylan concert shirt.

We had seen the Noble Prize winner blues out Las Colinas the previous month.  Charlie Sexton took a torch to the place.  Then to see Doyle Bramhall II at the Granda with my oldest daughter, felt Arc Angels were flying around.  Those two together?  Forget it.  

We walked through the casino floor.  Outlaws.  She noticed the sadness of the place.  The fazed looks.  Fun wasn't happening.  We quickly took the streets, the casino floor is a lame place.  A relic.  It was breezy with a perfect November desert temperature.  Unchilly, cool.  We saw the daytime version of what we saw the night before.  Bustling, perhaps an older crowd.  The musicians of Fremont were already jamming.  The tuition earning violinist, dressed like an Italian poet.  Her instrument was badly out of tune.  2 bucks.  The young autistic keyboard player with tiny fingers who taught himself to play.  (We knew this because of his sign.)  He batted his eyes and smiled at my daughter as he played beautifully and flawlessly.  "He's sooo cute!  Awwww!", as she turned to me with a tear falling down her cheek.  5 bucks.  Then a dude dressed in a tight, green, scaley, snake suit of some sort.  Put himself in a small box, closed the door, and got back out.  It was a really small metal box, his contortions blew our minds.  10 bucks.  In all, 17 bucks for a half hour of prime entertainment.  Slots are for suckers!  Taking a side road, we left the 'district' area and went looking around.  We needed a break.

The day was bright, the sky was blue, the sky seemed clean.  The streets were clean.  Everything seemed orderly.  Still twisted and outlandish, but orderly.  People seemed to be on their best behavior.  Like everyone knew they were getting away with something and no one wanted to mess it up.  The beggars just stood with signs, no verbal begging.  None.  This was the night and day difference in the vibe of the Las Vegas night and day.  Clearly, the night was full of louder drunks and more whacked whacks, the daytime was peaceful. A serene asylum.

We walked a few blocks east, then a few north.  Then the murals!  Unexpected.  An urban grand canyon of sorts.  Not random graffiti, more like commissioned works of art.  Huge building walls, lining entire parking lots, all colors.  Street after street.  Phrases made us laugh over and over.  Impressive detail, scale, and thought.  A desert reptile creature stretching 4 car links.  Looked like a horned frog.  Linus from Peanuts, bemoaning his highth.  "Life as a shorty shouldn't be so rough!!"  He laid wearily on his back, consequences of a Vegas night.  It was 5 stories tall.  Another one proclaimed melting onto eternity slowly.  Eyes and wrestling tigers and a dancing woman holing up an ancient blue star.  A green man with a purple robe and flowing sleeves. Rings and bracelets, an owl looked on.  Murals were everywhere.  Robots, crazy characters, heartbreaks, pride, love. All over for six city blocks.  My daughter's portfolio grew.  Pictures were liberal, care was taken.  Angles, shade, shadows, all considered.  Our mural hunt went on all afternoon.  It was big game, high stakes, we hit the mural jackpot.  We were both tired, satisfied, and hungry.

After a quick rest and refresh in the room we decided on the Golden Nugget hibachi restaurant called Lillie.  We wanted a good dinner.  Compared to the local hibachi we were used to, this was several levels above.  Fresher vegetables, tastier soup, cleaner.  Prepared precisely in front of us, all the small details.  Stealth service.  The knife work, the fire, the choo choo train.  Clings and clangs.  It was delicious.  Her chicken, my jumbo scallops.  Steamed rice, fried rice, ginger sauce.  As always, I gave up on the chopsticks quickly.  My fortune told me to reject laziness, hers encouraged taking action.  We paid out, walked through the boring casino floor, and onto the night street.  Again, so much to see, to hear, to double take, to endure.  We both had our blades on us.  The free live bands were starting up.  Eventually, we checked the time, we were surprised it was so early.   It seemed late to us both.  We went to the room for a nap, but not before losing $5 in 5 seconds in a slot machine on the way back.  Like suckers.

The next day we would head back east, back to Texas.  Naps turned into deep sleeps.  The beds were prime, our senses were calmed.  It was only 8:30 pm.  Downstairs, in the streets, Las Vegas was raging.  We dreamed of murals.

11/18/18

Odds


Blurry for sure, but clear.
Clearly understood.

The future of our time.
Of whatever we have left.

Known by nobody, no one at all.
My head, my knowledge, my expression.

A reflection of my own making.
The detail involved.

Considered responses, hesitations.
Intellect rejects emotions.

Factors of unpredictability.
The house wins in the end.

Odds are reckless.
But they must be played.

11/17/18

Motels Only Gonzo 8 -- Estimates For Arrival


Blasting south to Kingman, Arizona at 95 mph, following a State Trooper, we felt unstoppable.  After waking early and packing, the valet brought out our car at 7:30 am.  Although we would lose two hours to Pacific time and Mountain time, it was worth it.  On the way up the time gains made the hour long wait to see the Hoover Dam a wash and allowed for an extra hour of walking Santa Fe like hobos.  Still, it was early, and we felt the radical idea of driving all the way home in one long drive was alive.  It was not practical, but perhaps it was possible.  The ride through the main Vegas strip didn't help the early departure, but again, it was worth it.  The decadence, the famous places, the tragic.  The Grand Canyon of Gambling and so much more.  We felt good about our choice to stay in the Fremont district 8 miles away, but we were glad to see 'The Strip", as its known.  Kingman was close.  From there, we would begin east.  My daughter had a rap concert to attend in Dallas.  Travis Scott.  Not much of a rapper name.  Never heard of him, but she seemed to think he was the most legit rapper going right now, and his Houston roots were compelling.  West Coast, East Cost, its been done.  Detroit is yesterday, Austin is the center.  Nashville has embarrassed itself.  Townes, Stugill, Willie, all rejected.  Not invited in.  Unconditionaly, anyway.  We sped east.

Again, the truckers of America are the best truckers.  Their communication collaborations, their passing accommodations, even their trucker stations.  Tidy, organized, ethical.  Aware.  We flew.  Left lane driving, making good time.  We lost the Pacific hour way back, it was late morning.  We gassed up quick, nothing needed in rickedy old Ash Fork, AZ.  Earlier we had coffeed up and hash browned up.  We were fine, making good time.  Near Flagstaff, we talked about fresh Grand Canyon memories.  It will never vanish.  Our two rocks and pine cone, tucked in the back, hidden, were only being loaned to us.  Perhaps we'll bring them back one day, borrow a couple more.  Reminders of our smallness, our good fortune, our brief opportunity to exist.  The terrain was striking as we drove along, destinations seen for miles.  Towers, power plants, walls of rock on both sides.  Huge landscapes.  Elegant, rough, weathered, angles.  Mountain shaped horizons in every direction.  Wind.

On the other side of Gallup, NM, we checked the time and ran the calculations.  Then and there we decided to complete the radical 1,226 mile drive to our front door.  The girls at home would be shocked, they would hear nothing of this.  Estimates for arrival were in the 3am range.  At this rate, we'd be in Amarillo by 10pm, Texas lay ahead.  In Albequerque we found a Sonic, we passed the Santa Fe exit discussing Georgia O'Keffee and what her eyes saw. In Santa Rosa, there was no stopping.  Once in Texas, we fueled up and in a dazy, caffeine starved rush, we walked right out if the truck stop without paying for a large coffee.  It never occurred to me until my daughter pointed it out.  "Go on," she said.  "No one saw."  Wild eyes., like Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde.  It was cold, I was tempted, we went back and paid.  I was a bit wired.

Driving west of Amarillo, eastbound, the shit gets real.  Burgers, Steaks, Ka-Bobs, leather shoes, purses, boots, milk.  The cowshit smell is justified by all these blessings to the world, but we were thankful we were driving through.  Forget that shit.  We sped on, into the Red River Valley.  Claude, Childress, Chillicothe, Quanta, Electra.  The towns on 287.  Witchita Falls, Larry McMurtry county.  He is a fine writer, I explained to my daughter, her eyes wavering.  She nodded politely as I told her of the Last Picture Show and Lonesome Dove.  Her exhausted boredom was magnified by the darkness and the continuous book-on-tape reading of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72.  The reader delivered the book in the way it was intended.  Irreverant, direct, unapologetic, quick.  It was insanitized writing.  Gonzo writing, shock and truth.  Much has remained unchanged in politics since Thompson's account of '72.  It is gutter inspired, cash dependant, and ridiculous to intelligence.  Politicians are unworthy of the hope they are given.  Unprepared.  They lie and lie to maintain a hollow dignity.  Manipulations and shallow concerns.  It is unchangeable, voting is sketchy, somewhat pointless.  Way too many humans involved.  In fact, robots could take over huge parts of our government.  Sooner the better.  Reliable, fair, untempted.  Without the bribes, without the smirks, without the smoke.  We know blockchain solutions will one day solve all administrative functions.  Public and private sector paper pushers will be gone.  My daughter agreed.  I talked and talked, the radio stations were crackling and inaudible.  She sighed, her positive nature was tested.  We entered Collin County at 3 am, hesitant to declare our radical victory until we parked the car.  At 3:15, we were home, our family reunited.  They were shocked.  And happy.

In the following days, we attempted explanations, we created picture collages, we remembered.  We told others of places, food, sights, people, and the land we drove.  The towns and cities.  The murals.  We gave away souvenirs.  My daughter made her rap concert later that night with her sister, rested and refreshed after sleeping in her own bed all day.  They missed each other badly.  They are of one soul.  Now, I have a song stuck in my head--Easier With You from Bob Schneider's recent album called Blood And Bones.  In it Bob comes clean, "Just trying to make it in this mad mad world, just trying to make it through.  It's not an easy thing, it might be easier with you."

11/16/18

Motels Only Gonzo 7 -- The Mural Jackpot


My daughter was bushed.  She slept in the luxurious Golden Nugget bed like I remembered her sleeping years ago.  Peaceful and happy.  Slipped out at at 7am for coffee and wandering.  Left the shades shut, the room dark.  She dreamed.

Las Vegas in the early morning, when the daylight hits it.  Gamblers already gambling, some still gambling from the night before.  The depressing and annoying casino floor still smelled like cigarettes, the slothead faces were the same.  Workers already working the streets.  Everyone was up.  Dancers, even.  The palm leaf flower maker was still busy, his companion sitting on one bucket with face down on another bucket, sleeping.  The spray painter was painting.  Surely the fumes must have some effect.  He seemed calm, focused.  Clear-eyed, picking up cans and flipping them around like a black belt in something.  Eastern.  One painting was a wolf, howling in a dark blue, snowy, mountain scene.  It had stars in the black night.  One was shooting.  ATMs were all out of money.  I was hungry.

Breakfast is a rare indulgence, but what is eaten in Vegas, is eaten in Vegas.  As the saying goes.  The Cadillac Restaurant in the Golden Nugget does a fine Huevo Rancheros.  Damn fine.  Had a couch seat, planned to be there for awhile.  Got liquefied.  A good blood mary, coffee, and water.  Coffee after coffee.  For hours.  Some basketball highlights.  Silent observations.  Couldn't help but notice the advanced median age of the comers and goers.  Fair amount of limping, walking equipment, and wheel chairs.  Slick back silver haired man with a done up yellow blonde lady on his arm, obviously in love for a long, long time.  They were dressed sharply as they scooted with forced posture and chins held high.  His cane was marble tipped, she held his arm tight.  They were grand.  A feeble looking man being wheeled around by a middle aged man.  They looked alike.  They smoked and coughed, the older one with an oxygen tank hooked on his chair.  Only a few kicks left together, they were making the most of it.  Like father, like son.  A sweet, mature looking midwestern woman, dressed for a Lutheran potluck.  She was beaming around a large crowd of people.  Obviously, she was the matriarch, the crowd was her family, and their families.  Some of them looked like thugs, a few unruley brats ran around wild, no one was doing anything about it.  But who am I to judge.  She smelled of heavy make-up and cigarettes.  She likely  picked up the whole tab.  Had a final shot of coffee, then went up to the room.

My youngest daughter was up, showered, made up, and ready.  It was noon.  She wore torn jeans, white Addidas, and an authentic Bob Dylan concert shirt.

We had seen the Noble Prize winner blues out Las Colinas the previous month.  Charlie Sexton took a torch to the place.  Then to see Doyle Bramhall II at the Granda with my oldest daughter, felt Arc Angels were flying around.  Those two together?  Forget it.  

We walked through the casino floor.  Outlaws.  She noticed the sadness of the place.  The fazed looks.  Fun wasn't happening.  We quickly took the streets, the casino floor is a lame place.  A relic.  It was breezy with a perfect November desert temperature.  Unchilly, cool.  We saw the daytime version of what we saw the night before.  Bustling, perhaps an older crowd.  The musicians of Fremont were already jamming.  The tuition earning violinist, dressed like an Italian poet.  Her instrument was badly out of tune.  2 bucks.  The young autistic keyboard player with tiny fingers who taught himself to play.  (We knew this because of his sign.)  He batted his eyes and smiled at my daughter as he played beautifully and flawlessly.  "He's sooo cute!  Awwww!", as she turned to me with a tear falling down her cheek.  5 bucks.  Then a dude dressed in a tight, green, scaley, snake suit of some sort.  Put himself in a small box, closed the door, and got back out.  It was a really small metal box, his contortions blew our minds.  10 bucks.  In all, 17 bucks for a half hour of prime entertainment.  Slots are for suckers!  Taking a side road, we left the 'district' area and went looking around.  We needed a break.

The day was bright, the sky was blue, the sky seemed clean.  The streets were clean.  Everything seemed orderly.  Still twisted and outlandish, but orderly.  People seemed to be on their best behavior.  Like everyone knew they were getting away with something and no one wanted to mess it up.  The beggars just stood with signs, no verbal begging.  None.  This was the night and day difference in the vibe of the Las Vegas night and day.  Clearly, the night was full of louder drunks and more whacked whacks, the daytime was peaceful. A serene asylum.

We walked a few blocks east, then a few north.  Then the murals!  Unexpected.  An urban grand canyon of sorts.  Not random graffiti, more like commissioned works of art.  Huge building walls, lining entire parking lots, all colors.  Street after street.  Phrases made us laugh over and over.  Impressive detail, scale, and thought.  A desert reptile creature stretching 4 car links.  Looked like a horned frog.  Linus from Peanuts, bemoaning his highth.  "Life as a shorty shouldn't be so rough!!"  He laid wearily on his back, consequences of a Vegas night.  It was 5 stories tall.  Another one proclaimed melting onto eternity slowly.  Eyes and wrestling tigers and a dancing woman holing up an ancient blue star.  A green man with a purple robe and flowing sleeves. Rings and bracelets, an owl looked on.  Murals were everywhere.  Robots, crazy characters, heartbreaks, pride, love. All over for six city blocks.  My daughter's portfolio grew.  Pictures were liberal, care was taken.  Angles, shade, shadows, all considered.  Our mural hunt went on all afternoon.  It was big game, high stakes, we hit the mural jackpot.  We were both tired, satisfied, and hungry.

After a quick rest and refresh in the room we decided on the Golden Nugget hibachi restaurant called Lillie.  We wanted a good dinner.  Compared to the local hibachi we were used to, this was several levels above.  Fresher vegetables, tastier soup, cleaner.  Prepared precisely in front of us, all the small details.  Stealth service.  The knife work, the fire, the choo choo train.  Clings and clangs.  It was delicious.  Her chicken, my jumbo scallops.  Steamed rice, fried rice, ginger sauce.  As always, I gave up on the chopsticks quickly.  My fortune told me to reject laziness, hers encouraged taking action.  We paid out, walked through the boring casino floor, and onto the night street.  Again, so much to see, to hear, to double take, to endure.  We both had our blades on us.  The free live bands were starting up.  Eventually, we checked the time, we were surprised it was so early.   It seemed late to us both.  We went to the room for a nap, but not before losing $5 in 5 seconds in a slot machine on the way back.  Like suckers.

The next day we would head back east, back to Texas.  Naps turned into deep sleeps.  The beds were prime, our senses were calmed.  It was only 8:30 pm.  Downstairs, in the streets, Las Vegas was raging.  We dreamed of murals.

11/13/18

Motels Only Gonzo 6 -- Slots Are For Suckers


The relatively short drive from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas is very geological.  The topography maps must be wild.  No trees cover the land, only sparse brush.  The interstate moves smoothly, towns are seen from far away.  The quick exit to visit the the Hoover Dam turned into an hour long wait in our car to pass through a security checkpoint.  One at a time, featuring two aloof security officers demanding open windows and assessing the risk based on visual clues.  I kept my suggestion to improve the pace of the mile long line by opening additional checkpoints to myself once we finally arrived at the interrogation point.  Pointless.  We were judged to be good to go, unlikely to destroy the iconic and important structure.  "Only suitcases", one said to the other.  I had stashed my buck knife in the console.  Suckers!

The hour gained as we crossed into the Pacific Time Zone was lost.  The Dam was fine.  We sped on to Vegas.  The importance of electrical wires is magnified in this area of the country.  They go in every direction atop massive towers, dipping down between each one, as far as the eyes can see.  Under them, weird compounds, rough roads, and desert dweller creatures shared the land.  Sin City appeared quickly and completely.  It was mid afternoon and the sun warmed the cool air to perfection.  Our 2 night reservation at The Golden Nugget awaited.

The famous hotel and casino is grand, with aquariums, multiple restaurants, luxurious rooms, and accommodating staff.  It sits in the Fremont district surrounded by other casinos, hotels, nightclubs, merchants and restaurants.  The gambling floor resmebles an irritating pinball arcade, only slot machines are the annoying offenders.  How the poor become poorer.  No doubt these machines largely finance and enable the Vegas schtick.  The lights, the noises, the booze, and the smell of cigarettes erode reason, but the need for hope is stronger and faith in "the pull" is very much alive. Suckers play slots.  I lost $40 bucks in 3 minutes.  Just like that, gone.  Suckered.  My daughter, excited for some gambling action, seemed surprised and unimpressed.  "That's it?" she asked.  I nodded.  "How lame!" she laughed.  Both my daughters are wiser than me.  The future of this town is not gambling.

The modern lure of Las Vegas is in the streets.  Performers of all types, one guy allowing crotch kicks for tips, another making roses from palm leaves, magicians, musicians, and famous viral phenomenons.  One such viral phenomenon, a gentleman named Deez Nutz, was recognized by my daughter and she quickly requested a selfie with him, quickly posted the selfie, and quickly received return validation via likes and comments.  She showed me his 12 second viral video from years ago.  Look it up.

Yes, slots are for suckers, the slothead faces displaying either hypnosis, dimness, or boredom.  Or all three.  Outside, at the Fremont Experience, there were bands taking the stages.  There were zipliners flying overhead, there were fantastic light shows.  Virtually everything was for sell.  Innduendo was absent.  And why not, this was Vegas.  Our two night stay was just beginning, we were wide-eyed, we were electrified, we were wired and tired.  The beds were premium, our souls were shocked, we slept like high rollers.

11/12/18

Motels Only Gonzo 5 -- Veterans Of The Canyon


The trip from Tusayan to the Grand Canyon was short.  Our Sunday visit was highly anticipated and our imaginations ran wild as we bundled up for a cool day.  Cool weather, cool views, everything was cool.  Tusayan seemed like a tourist town without the trashiness, full of locals that seemed genuinely happy we were there.  From the folks at the 7 Mile Motel to the barristas at RP's Stage Shop, we felt welcomed.  We got an early start and headed north for the final few miles.  We rolled up to the park entrance, $35 bucks in hand, well worth the per car entry fee.  The attendant greeted us, handing us a map and attractions card and said, "No fees today, have a fantastic visit."  Evidently, Veterans Day was free for all.  Another reason for thankfulness and gratitude to those who have served.  Thanks Vets!  We drove on.

Queen was the agreed upon music for this scenic first.  The morning was bright, somehow the coolness making everything sparkle like new.  We decided to go at it on our own, without the Pink Jeep Tour or the guided hike to the bottom.  We had no use for the IMAX movie, no plans for bus shuttling.  We would see the 6 million years old Grand Canyon on our own.  It first appeared through the trees as we found a fairly remote parking lot, hinting at the enormity of what we were about to witness.  Quickly we parked.  As we exited the car, we were grateful for the gloves and beanies and extra layers.  The wind was whipping as we found the South Rim trail.  Then it was seen.  Speechless until I muttered "Whoa" and my daughter whispered "Wow".  We just stood there.  The vastness cannot be described, the true scale is unphotographable, no picture has ever done it justice.  Where colors were invented, where deepness has no bottom, where cliffs sat upon cliffs.  As far as we could see, to the left, right, down, and forward.  When our breath came back, we walked west along the rim.  Despite the futilness of capturing the beauty with a picture or video, we tried and tried.  Each turn produced unique, incredible sights.  Each perch was like a rebirth, inspiring words of magnificence.  Old loves didn't matter, they were tossed in the canyon.  We ran out of verbal descriptions.  Only cuss words were left and that just didn't seem appropriate.  God was around.

The geographical realities, the history of the Grand Canyon National Park, the first European explorers, even the Native American stake on this place, we did not care about any of it.  This was a feast of the eyes, this was beyond echoes, this was mother earth and father time together in holy matrimony.  God's rest was well earned.  Jesus!  We walked the Southern Rim, surprised at the easy access to death.  A slip, a stumble, a reckless risk to get the perfect picture.  There seemed no possibility of survival if one fell into the Grand Canyon.  In fact, it was kind of refreshing to not sign a waiver.  It is what it is, be careful.  We took a rock and a pine cone, we skipped the gift shop.

After 5 hours our senses were exhausted and we were hungry.  The unexpected complimentary entry freed up funds and we splurged on a steak dinner back in Tusayan.  Thanks Vets!  My daughter's Sirloin and my New York Strip were perfectly cooked medium well.  All the trimmings were included:  loaded baked potatoes, beer battered onion rings, al dente asparagus, wild rice pilaf, and a loaf of honey oat bread.  We declined dessert.  Big E Steakhouse and Saloon, 5 of 5 stars.  Back at the motel room we rested, searched our countless pictures, and tentatively planned a return trip at sunset.

The rest was relaxing, the meal was heavy, the urge to stay in for the night was strong.  The 7 Mile Motel was cozy.  But we were of one mind, we were down for sundown.  Again, we went through the gates for free. We found our out-of-the-way parking lot and headed back to the now familiar trail.  This time our awe was expected.  We were now veterans of the canyon.  The late afternoon shadows were spooky, people all around ooohed and ahhhed, the sky was the color of cotten candy.  Like jazz music, perfectly imperfect.  We saw the sun slip down until it was gone.  We were fortunate witnesses of that singular moment at that singular place on this singular planet.  We said goodbye to the canyon, knowing it would never leave, never vanish.

Sunday night football featured Cowboys vs Eagles.  We each laid in our own bed, reflecting, confessing, and counting our blessings.  We missed our family, we wished they could see what we saw, our reports of the Grand Canyon were merely cliches.  It must be seen by one's own eyes to understand.  We ate Sun Chips and Hersheys Kisses.  We laughed and got the giggles.  The Cowboys pulled off a close victory at Veterans Stadium in Philly.

We feel asleep, still astonished.

11/11/18

Motels Only Gonzo 4 -- Such Fine Sites To See


Hitchhiking is not dead in the west.  Several hitchers were seen on the wide open highways of New Mexico and Arizona, the familiar thumbs up as they walked along, headed to Califonia we figured.  We sped by all of them, primarily in the left lane of the interstate, where the pedal is put to the metal.  Surprisingly, two thumbs up to the vast majority of truckers out there in America.  The known ethic of letting speeders through the left lane is alive and well among them.  And we were speeders for sure.

Turned up the tunes for the long drive to the Grand Canyon.  Cosmic Chimp, Bob Schneider, Miguel, and Supersuckers, among others.  Some Dude Named Amos' version  of Jive Talkin' was a highlight, the wails at the end shook the car.  New Mexican town after New Mexican town, til Arizona.  Along the way passing exits for The Meteor Crater, The Petrified Forest, and Winslow, Arizona.  Such fine sites to see, but we were headed to Flagstaff, no time for stopping, no time for standing on corners.  The late afternoon sun blazed our eyes as the entire western horizon faded on the left and right.  The Navajo Nation, where gas was $3.29 a gallon.

Rolled into Flagstaff around 5 pm, then headed north to get close to the Grand Canyon for the morning view.  Surprised by the mountain feel of the town, everything just changes quickly.  The late afternoon dusky drive to the Grand Canyon area was 75 miles on a curvy one lane road.  It was truly beautiful, the clear sky fading to night, a crescent moon hovering.  Darkness fell midway and we worried a bit about finding a motel.  We kept on to Tusayan, 7 miles from the Canyon, an unending stream of cars passing us, coming from the Canyon, probably after taking in the sunset view.  Like an evacuation of some sort, the line of headlights went on and on, all going south as we went north.  When we arrived, several motels seemed available and we decided on the 7 Mile Motel, advertised as friendly, clean, and cozy.  And so it was.  The front desk lady was inquisitive and helpful, offering Grand Canyon advice freely and unsolicited.  Room 10 was very clean, and our chills were cured by the coziness.  Outside, the air was 30 degrees and the wind was brisk.  We settled in.

A Pizza Hut Supreme Pan Pizza hit the spot, and we shared a few sips of wine.  Then a few more.  Lil' Wayne was on Saturday Night Live, featuring Halsey on backup vocals.  Kinda spare, honestly.  My daughter agreed.  Our calmness turned to sleep quickly and we dozed off, anticipating the next day's grand appointment.

11/10/18

Motels Only Gonzo 3 -- Memory Metal


My daughter assured me when the gas gauge says zip, we still had 25 miles left in the tank.  I hoped she was right as we drove west to Roswell, NM from the Texas line.  No gas for 90 miles and the range indicator on her Toyota indicated 70 miles left.  We rode in on fumes, gased up, and were about to begin the northern journey to Santa Fe when we saw the International UFO Muesem.  We stopped.  The town has embraced its notoriety, begun when a flying saucer crashed near the place in 1947.  As the story goes, a massive U.S. government cover-up cleaned up the debris field, including massive amounts of a "memory metal".  The mueseum is dedicated to the truth of the incident and does a complete job of making the case.  The alien in the flying saucer, along with all evidence, was taken to Area 51 in Nevada.  All witnesses were silenced, paid-off, or came up missing.  Perhaps, but it could have been a weather balloon.  Either way, stores and restaurants and even office buildings featured the familiar oval, green, big-eyed creature prominately.  Got a few guitar pics for my band, a sticker, and a key chain for my daughter.  Then we headed north, wondering aloud what it meant if it were all true.

The drive north was fast, averaging about 95 MPH, and hitting 110 for stretches.  Santa Fe awaited and we were looking forward to exploring the ancient city we had never visited.  As we got closer, we noticed the houses in the hills.  All over, big, little, nice, dumpy, tan.  Adobe.  Camouflaged.  The town sits on the edge of the Rockies and its twisting, small roads give the whole place an incredible charm.  With plenty of daylight left, we found the old district, parked our car, and went exploring on foot.

True to its reputation, Santa Fe is an artist haven, especially downtown.  Expensive shops, open markets, musicians, incredible beauty, incredible colors.  We walked all around:  Into the Lorrtto Chapel to see the Miraculous Staircase, through the open markets to consider rings and bracelets, and requested a blues tune from a couple of buskers at the 400 year old Santa Fe Plaza.  They were outstanding and I gave them all the cash and change I had on me.  $1.83.  Nearby were two guys set up with a sign, "Pick The Topic, Will Write Poem".  Interesting, never seen that before, but I write my own poetry:

Santa Fe, Santa Fe
Unknown yesterday.
Inspired to create.
Santa Fe, Santa Fe

And the poem, or song, could go on and on along that pattern, telling of the place, the people, the art.  Describing landscapes, explaining histories, acknowledging the native Pueblo, and tracing the Spanish Conquest of 1598.  The Conquistadors.  The Church.  The good, the bad, the ugly.

After a few hours of taking in the crisp air, incredible fall colors, and sharing a small lunch of fried calimari at the San Francisco Street Grill, we got in our car and went looking for a motel.  Earlier, accommodations in the heart of the city were quickly abandoned when we inquired on room rates at a fairly nice place.  The kind with a spa and $15 dollar margaritas.  Mainly, I was curious.  The polite lady at the front desk informed us of "packages that started at $450".  I didn't even let her finish.  After a wild and wandering search at dusk, we found The Cottonwood Motel.  The adobe structure was just what we wanted, two split rooms, authentic Santa Fe construction, old and clean.  This place had seen many days and were ready for more.  Like wine, the older the better in Santa Fe.  We rested, got a bite, then went to the Violet Crown Theater in old town to see Bohemian Rhapsody.

The movie was killer, likely the best movie soundtrack ever.  The actors became the band.  Freddie Mercury and his unique ways.  His destructive ways.  His voice.  The story of Queen.  Because we are the champions, another one bites the dust, and these are the days of our lives.