When in Portland, Eat Elk

 

Three years later, I am still thinking about this elk burger (with avocado instead of cheese) I enjoyed at the taproom of Deschutes Brewery in Portland.

I just checked. The restaurant made it through COVID, is still open, and the elk burger is still on the menu.

I’m thinking “road trip.”

Ghost Songs on the Gila

I was early on the day I visited, a mid-winter weekday after the holidays. It was in the low 40s with a brisk wind. Apart from a ranger and a docent trying really hard to stay warm, I was alone. I walked the site slowly, almost tiptoeing, to sustain the quiet.

The wind freshened as it shifted a few degrees, and I heard a low keening come from the ruin. I froze in place, listening intently, turning my head. I was in the center of the site, and it was one of those moments when you feel like you, like Billy Pilgrim, have become unstuck in time.

The interaction of the wind, the ruin, and the rafters of the shelter were interacting to play tricks on me, I rationalized. It’s nothing.

As I looked back toward the ruin, I saw a jackrabbit close by. He was on his haunches, regarding me. I regarded him back. We continued this for about a minute. Then I lost the contest, turning to look again at the ruin, but when I turned back toward the jackrabbit, he had vanished, and the keening stopped.

I heard a car door slam, and a family, bundled against the cold, began walking my way. The spell broken, I headed into the gift shop to warm my ears and buy the postcard in the photo.

Watch Over the Butterfield

Located in a remote and picturesque vale in the Chiricahua Mountains in Southern Arizona, Fort Bowie is an overlooked treasure among the National Park system. It’s all about the history here, but there is so much natural beauty you could turn your back on the fort and just enjoy the site for the feeling of being in a protected mountain stronghold.

Casa Grande

I lived in Arizona for nearly two years, and though I consider myself more attuned to local history than your average bloke, I never understood what “Hohokam” meant.

In a few hours at Casa Grande, mercifully unburdened by children or other distractions, I walked through a door into a culture that had for centuries irrigated and cultivated the Gila and Salt River basins. The day was clear but icy cold, keeping the numbers of visitors down.

Overhaul

In the waiting room at Nissan while my baby gets a checkup. Air, oil, filters, fluids, rotation, alignment, and a full diagnostic. I don’t know what we’ll encounter on the road, but we’ll both be healthy when we begin.

Mugology: Got Kicks?

Item #232 on my Bucket List is a trip on Route 66 from Michigan Drive in downtown Chicago to the pier in Santa Monica, sticking as closely as possible to the original routing.

Clearly, this is a drive I will not be taking in Winter.

I reckon it is still a year or two off. I am staying off the road until the nation has worked out its collective post-COVID cabin-fever. You don’t take a road trip to find yourself in traffic, and since I am now in a position to travel mid-week and off season, I am dodging all of that.

In the meantime, I have my mug.

Texas Road

I halt along a Texas road
To pause and look about
To feel the ground and watch the sky
Pretending I’m a scout.

I hear the rustle of the birds
A-nesting in the brush
And lose myself with ants in grass,
No longer in a rush.

The wind blows through my thinning hair
And sings a gentle koan
That says “absorb this moment, son
And make your life your own.”

— October 26, 2021, Callahan County, Texas

Mugology: Road Buddy

The thrill of the refill. Twenty-four ounces of Scoutmaster juice.

This one is from Love’s Truck Stops. I’ve been using it now for probably six years, but will probably stop buying these for fear of eventually putting more plastic into a landfill. Something steel, like a Hydro Flask, will replace this. 

 

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