Thursday, 14 July 2011


I MAY BE THE WORLD'S FORMOST DRIFTER---30 plus years experience. Here's how I would distinguish a drifter from a traveler.

A TRAVELER has a destination, an agenda, time constraints, enjoys PASSING scenery but usually cannot spontaneously stay the night with it.

A DRIFTER has direction (i.e. North), interests (in place of agenda), no time constraints, can sit with the scenery, even camp with it till he's had his fill. ----As I have poetized in these concluding verses of "A FULL SET OF STUFF":

Down back roads by lazy brooks

I take a nap or read my books;

Chase the wind, drift and roam:

let night overtake me everywhere home.

Live my life in a thousand places;

Share myself with a thousand faces;

drink in life till I've had enough,

Thanks to my rig and a full set of stuff.

To make my point I have selected a day in my life and will share my mental and physical experience. I will pick up my adventures where I left off before my long opine about the meaning of life.

Motorcyclist entering the parking lot of White Sands, National Monument---see the sands in the distance? I motorcycled for years and can tell you that they are not the freedom machines they are touted to be----because they lack the essential element of comfort. I see these glory boys checking into a $60 motel at days end---do the math in my head---and feel sorry for them. A far better solution for the serious traveler is to engineer a high mileage car for sleeping.
With a companion, I took a long walk in these dunes---so seemingly similar but radically different from sand dunes. We were told that there's no place like this in the world---so I decided to get the story.
It was a blustery day, but Luke loved the dunes--romping all over them. Here's their million year story in a nutshell---WITH A VERY SURPRISING ENDING. An ancient sea covered this land--laying down layers of this stuff---the land rose to a tilt--rains dissolved the gypsum and carried it to a low point---lake lucero. When the water evaporated it left crystals of the stuff (sometimes 3 ft). Winds break off grains and blow them into dunes. The dunes slowly move like waves on the ocean across the land. Then (here comes the drama that only a drifter learns) at the edge of the dune field (comprising a total 275 sq miles) THE STUFF DISAPPEARS. Yes you heard me right---it disappears. Here's why: gypsum grains are soft (# 2 on the hardness scale---your fingernail is 2.5) and as they move northeast (prevailing wind) in dunes, they erode, becoming smaller and smaller---till at the end of their journey---they become dust particles and blow away.

Leaving White sands, going east, I saw this patch of rich green beside the road and recognized it as SACRED DATURA----sometimes known as witches' weed or loco weed or Jimson weed ( from the song: " where the lonesome cattle feed on the lowly jimson weed")---stopped to get this picture. This plant intrigues me like rattlesnakes do---it is equally deadly and probably kills more victims. read about it:

Moving on to Alamorgordo, (remember-closest city to the first atom bomb test) I opt to stay at Oliver Lee Memorial St Park--south of town.

Settled in on the mountainside, I survey the valley that Oliver Lee controlled. Got some of the story from the visitor center: He came to this frontier situation and by hook or crook rose to the top of the local power pyramid. An eccentric hermit named Frenchy lived at the mouth of Dog canyon, raising cattle and fruit trees---using the only reliable, year-round water supply. Lee wanted the water and after Frenchy was mysteriously murdered one night---got it.----I decide to go walk up the famous canyon.

But on my way there, I hear my named called out. These two friendly people recognize me----from reading this blog---a pleasant surprise--second time this month its happened. Meet Victor and Debbie, two super free spirits who live in that trailer and travel the roads of America--earning a living as traders on the internet.

I walk up the beautiful canyon a mile or so and photograph Luke in his Rin Tin Tin pose. Then As we rested by a pool---who should walk up but a historian---specializing in this area. He took the time to answer my questions. At days end we met a friendly astronomer with a big telescope who showed us lots of famous stars and galaxies. Thus ended one day of drifting.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I think drifting is an art requiring three essentials:

COMFORTS----A reasonable set of them---food, clothing, shelter--so you can linger anywhere.

CURIOSITY----About nearly everything--plants, animals, people, history, architecture, art etc.

COURAGE------to go, to ask, engage, research, challenge.

If either of these are missing then movement becomes meaningless. Combined, they will surely polish your being----which is your real gift to the world.

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