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Rio Grande at Santa Elena Canyon - US to the left, Mexico to the right

The Big Bend Country is one of my favorite places to visit but few have the disposition and fortitude to call it home. I’m not one of those few. The Chihuahua desert at night is the quietest place I have ever been. And after the moon sets at night, the darkest as well. Even a brief experience here can be illuminating, even transforming.

The first morning at Wildhorse Station I rose at about 4:30, made some coffee and decided to wander out a few steps beyond the porch with a chair and take in the sky show. With all of the lights out in the cabin, I could not even see the porch rail from the door. So, after using a flashlight to move my chair out in the open, I settled in. In less than a minute I realized how noisy and bright my life is. There are sounds that are so woven into the fabric of daily existence that I don’t even notice them. The hum of a/c units and pool motors, traffic in the distance, yard maintenance equipment. When it’s gone, when the birds are still roosting, when the moon is beyond the horizon, it’s very quiet and it’s very dark. All senses become heightened and it’s a bit unsettling. Who am I kidding, I was completely unnerved for a while.

I thought of how primitive people and even modern rural people, especially before the era of rural electrification and modern roads, took this experience for granted. It’s difficult to describe but I sense that it’s the difference between participating in nature and viewing it as a spectator. Viewing nature is uplifting and often awe-inspiring but actively participating in nature has a profound effect on the human spirit. Within an hour of my active participation (just by sitting in that chair in darkness and silence, watching the starry sky and the occasional meteor flash by) I came to understand how humans developed the narratives that ultimately became religions and various spiritual traditions.

In modern, urban/suburban and even most rural areas in the U.S. we have utterly displaced this connection with nature with our technology. And it seems to be more so with each technological advance. Now, I like my modern existence and fully embrace technology and the creature comforts that it brings, but everything has a price. And the price that modern life demands may very well be the ability to connect with nature in a way that is necessary for the well-being of the human spirit.

Sunset at Wildhorse Station

Home Base at Wildhorse Station with Porch for Guitar Picking and Beer Drinking

View from the Porch at Sunrise

Last month I spent a week out in the Big Bend Country of far West Texas. If you have never been there, this remote section of Texas is stark, quiet and stunningly beautiful. While there are modern conveniences to be had, a few hardy souls live off of the grid out here. One in particular, John Wells, is doing some very fine experimentation in sustainable living at his place known as The Field Lab. Please visit his blog for excellent daily posts on the subject.

So, a little quiet time and stargazing got me to thinking. Those Wrangler jean sure were comfortable. The boots crunching against the limestone rock paths and clean, dry air filling my lungs made me smile. I could live with this on a regular basis. Maybe that townhouse in the city is not my best option. And so, life’s rich tapestry unfolds…..

…and I’m sitting in bed eating home made ice cream, writing on this blog and watching a lightweight title boxing match between a Mexican from Guadalajara (Vasquez) and a Korean from Seoul (Kim). Looks like Vasquez is in total control of this one.

Good way to end a vacation. Reality resumes tomorrow.

This week the Skepticalwalrus has been attending a work related conference in sunny (and much cooler than Houston) San Diego, California. What he learned during the week long extravaganza:

1. Technology is cool, as long as someone else is in charge of making it work on a large scale.

2. The Skepticalwalrus does not play well with corporate types, their policies and procedures, schemes that amount to little more than shell games and in general, all of the collected asshattery (sp?) that passes for doing something productive in the corporate world. Frankly, a person who mixes a first-rate Bloody Mary and produces a perfectly baked artichoke, fontina and roma tomato pizza is the one society should hold up as an ideal. At least they made something! Which bring me to my final point.

3. Tending bar in a Costa Rican beach community becomes a more attractive career option with each passing day.

Going to San Diego is a lot like going to an upscale strip club. There’s some pretty cool stuff to look at but it’s gonna cost you a lot of money before you get out of the place. Be on an expense account if you can swing it. Still, it’s a nice break from Houston in July and a recommended place for a four day weekend of exploring historical nautical themed venues, catching a Padres game at Petco park and enjoying a bowl of first-rate ciapino down by the yacht marina.