It’s A New Dawn, it’s a New Day….

Warning: Political Post Ahead. If that sort of thing offends you, I understand. Either scroll through and just look at the photos and captions of the amazing Catwalk Recreation Area in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness, or pass altogether. But this is my personal blog, meant to be a personal account of what I am feeling at any given moment. And today, Inauguration Day, January 20th, 2021, as the song goes, “I’m feelin’ good.”

One of my last stops in my counter-clockwise circuit through New Mexico last fall was Catwalk Recreation Area in Whitewater Canyon, located in the Gila Wilderness.

Whitewater Creek runs through the narrow gorge.

This steel causeway known as “the catwalk” follows two pipelines which supplied water and water power to the old town of Graham where gold and silver were milled in the 1890’s.

This modern-day catwalk winds through a narrow canyon alongside Whitewater Creek in the Gila National Forest where the original catwalk was once suspended.

I’ve been up since 5:00am today, watching history in the making. It feels like such a promise of hope. While waiting on the “virtual parade,” I have been happily cleaning house. The windows are open, and the birds are chirping. Three little birds. Upon my doorstep. I swept out the Winnie, cleaned the bathroom, and burned a little desert sage I saved back from my last visit in the great Southwest. It feels good to have a clean house. A fresh start.

I knew I had a lot of anxiety surrounding this day, but it wasn’t until the final walk to the White House that I realized just how much. I feel worn out. So much relief after observing four years of abuse, lies, xenophobia, and racist behaviors that have caused me to feel shame for what has become of my own country. Tears throughout the day have felt cathartic. I took live screenshots this morning as he left the White House for what I pray is the last time.

I’ve waited, no, make that “longed” for this day since November 8th, 2016 when I sat up all night in the Watchman Campground in Zion National Park watching the votes come in, nervously counting to 270. And then I cried. Not just for Hillary’s loss, but for the win of a man I knew to be a grifter. A gadfly. A garish egomaniac. But it turned out to be even worse than I could have imagined.

About 1889, gold and silver deposits were discovered in the mountains above Whitewater Canyon. Several mines were developed in the area with ore being hauled in wagons to the small town of Graham located at the mouth of the canyon.

Water required to operate the electric generator at the mill, as well as meet the needs of the 200 townspeople was obtained by constructing a 4 inch pipeline.

This pipeline reached about 3 miles up the canyon. In 1897, additional water was required, so a larger 18 inch pipe was constructed.

Maintenance workers called the narrow pipeline supports the Catwalk, because walking on the then wooden planks required cat-like balancing skills.

The mill, built in 1893 had the capacity to produce 75 tons of ore per day. The mill operated until 1913. Work continued in the mines until 1942.

The Catwalk is now a tourist attraction with interpretive placards along the path.

Though the new catwalk now serves a recreational purpose only, timbers, bolts, and cables that supported the pipeline can still be seen hanging from the canyon walls.

Men from the local Civilian Conservation Corps camp transformed the pipeline into a wooden recreation trail back in the 1930’s.

The U.S. Forest Service replaced the wooden trail with metal grating in the 1960’s. Half a mile was made wheelchair accessible in 2003.

I’ve had distain for the Orange Stain since my 10 years of living in New York. My office in the Financial District was on the 12th floor of the historic, 71 story building at 40 Wall Street. We just called it “Forty Wall.” While I often complained about trying to get to meetings navigating through a crowded tourist destination adjacent to the New York Stock Exchange, I loved working on Wall Street. And I loved working in that historical old building. What I didn’t love, however, was it’s official name, “The Trump Building.” Huge, ostentatious gold letters spelling out that name of shame loomed over the doorway where I entered daily.

On September 11th, 2001, after returning on my bicycle from the banks of the Hudson River where I stood watching the World Trade Center towers collapse while coming to grips with the loss of over 2,000 lives, I distinctly remember watching the TV coverage throughout the night. Replaying was the interview of Donald Trump, leaseholder boasting, “40 Wall Street was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan before the World Trade Center. And now it’s the tallest.” Since that day, it’s felt personal.

One thing I did have the privilege of experiencing during my years at 40 Wall Street working for the big “blue box,” was what it means to have strong leadership at the helm. Compassion. Inclusiveness. Humility. Honesty. Accountability. And most of all…Integrity. Oh, how I have missed those competencies over the past four years, and oh how good it feels to get a whiff of that once again today.

In 2012, a flood following the Mt Baldy fire destroyed most of the Catwalk. While much of it has been rebuilt, the famous suspension bridge is no longer there, and only about half of the original loop has been restored.

The “swimming hole” is now the end of the trail. Traveling beyond this point means scrambling over room-sized boulders lining the creek.

There are a couple of water crossings along the new trail.

This water crossing must be navigated across wet and slippery logs. One foot stayed dry.

Fall is an excellent time to visit the Catwalk Recreation Area due to the beautiful fall colors of the turning leaves.

An early morning mid-week visit means very light traffic. I saw only half a dozen people along the path.

The bridge along this section was made of fiberglass.

While much of the original loop is under construction, it’s still possible to choose from two different routes. I took the more difficult path out, and the easy trail back.

The Catwalk” is located on the western edge of New Mexico’s Mogollon Mountains

At the trailhead is a lovely picnic area shaded by some magnificent Sycamore trees.

The hashtag, “ETTD” (Everything trump touches dies) seems to hold true. Trump University, Trump Vodka, Trump Steaks, Trump neckties, Trump Airlines/Shuttle, Trump mortgage. Even his Atlantic City casino, Trump Plaza, is scheduled to be blown up on 29th January, auctioned to the highest bidder for the pleasure of pushing the demolition button, with the proceeds going to Boys & Girls Club. I just hope the second impeachment is the final wooden stake through the vampire’s heart before democracy also falls victim.

I am not so naive as to think that seeing trump leave “the people’s house” will solve the nation’s problems any more than I think a cleaning job will last. The stains run deep. But for today, it’s a new day, it’s a new dawn….and I’m feelin’ good. Really, really good.

“Two million a hundred two thousand four hundred minutes.” ~Seasons of Trump, Randy Rainbow

Waiting, Waiting on the World to Change

So.  Here we are at last.  December 31st, the day I’ve been waiting to roll around for the better part of 2020.  There are so many words to be said about the passage of this year, yet I wonder if attaching such significance to a date on the calendar is a good thing.

I look back to New Years Eve 2019 as a published a post from the United Airlines departure lounge on my way to Khartoum. I shutter to look back on those words I wrote that night, setting my intentions for the coming year. “…the promise of a new decade in the year 2020 feels like a great step toward restoring some balance to our lives. As a Libra who needs everything to balance, I can’t think of a better year to offer the promise of hope than “2020!”

Wow. What a statement. Who could have ever dreamed what lay ahead. So I dare not Continue reading

View from the Flight Deck

Despite the fact that I have two avid “birders” in my family, I have never been able to drum up much interest in birds beyond marveling at nature’s creative palette pertaining to their feathers. I have long joked that my bird “life list” includes black birds, brown birds, white birds, red birds, yellow birds, etc. I would travel out of my way to see a bird Continue reading

ABQ: How Low Can You Go?

After 7 glorious days of near-perfect weather, I left the Bisti Badlands sooner than I would have liked. There was a cold front on the way, and temps were predicted to drop below freezing. The Winnie was not winterized, and since this appeared to be a fast moving front with temps returning to the 70’s on the back end, I didn’t want to go to the trouble and inconvenience of emptying the tanks and blowing out the lines for just a Continue reading

Aliens in the Ah-shi-sle-pah Wilderness

As I mentioned in my previous post, the only time I ran into another person at the “Egg Hatchery” was when I encountered a photographer in the area at sunset. I had recorded the most direct route as a track on my Gaia GPS app to be certain I could retrace my steps. And I had timed the two mile journey on more than one occasion to maximize my “golden hour” time at the eggs, while still having plenty of time to return to the parking lot with enough light to see the terrain. In addition, I loaded my backpack with all sorts of Continue reading

Bisti Badlands Bewilderness

I’ve never been one to ask the question, “What can possibly go wrong next??” as I often find that as soon as I ask the question, I am shown the answer. The year 2020 has turned out to be one of the worst of my lifetime, second only to 2015 when I lost both my youngest brother and my Dad within 3 months of each other. Still overall, I am reminded its been a good life.

But when thinking about bad news, which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Does bad stuff keep happening because I have written off this entire year to suck? Or is it a bad year because bad stuff keeps happening? In other words, can a “year” have a self-fulfilling prophecy? Continue reading

Facing Ghosts at Ghost Ranch

When I visited northern New Mexico last summer, I was in a hurry. I had tickets to the Santa Fe Opera in mid August, and reservations in Port Townsend for the end of August. That’s was a lot of miles to cover in a little over two weeks. So I just hit the highlights, covering all the “must visit” stops.

Still feeling enamored after the opera tribute to Georgia O’Keeffe, “Letters from Georgia,” I wanted to visit her home and studio in Abiquiu, hike in some of the areas such as Plaza Blanca where she found inspiration for her paintings, and take a tour of Continue reading

There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills!

I stayed way past my limit in Cloudcroft. Even with confirmation from the Ranger that the Forest Service was taking a bit of a “who’s counting?” approach during COVID, coupled with the fact that I did move around a bit, I didn’t want to wear out my welcome.

I had hoped I could stay long enough to see the large stand of aspens at the top of the hill in my favorite meadow turn gold. It was my favorite hiking destination, as it was behind a hiker’s gate restricting vehicular traffic, and with the exception of Labor Day when they opened the gate, I rarely saw anyone up there. The wild horses from the Continue reading

VIA Rail Canada: “The Canadian”

Thanks for all the great comments on Part One of my rail journey through Canada. I hope you enjoy the second half as much as I did. If I had to choose one or the other, well, for a train lover, Part Two is the “real deal.”

While the Rocky Mountaineer was everything I hoped it would be, from stunning scenery to pampered luxury, let’s face it, it is a tourist attraction. While I wasn’t sure what to expect from the next leg of my journey on VIA Canada’s “The Canadian” I was pretty certain it would feel a lot more like an authentic train journey offering the true Continue reading