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I suppose it’s more of a ghost community than a ghost town.
It was right on the side of the road, up a small hill, with a great view.
Window frames seem to stand the test of time.
This table didn’t fare quite as well.
This looks like the sort of door I might have made.
Remarkably, the only graffiti in the town.
Leftover.
The sunroom.
As I stood before this doorway, I heard a sound. It sounded like a long, low, gentle bray, like a distant donkey. There was no wind. I surveyed the landscape and saw no beasties. I’ve decided it was a ghost donkey, just letting me know it was there. Otherwise, I got no vibes of the past from the little community.
In the shade.
But with a view.
I loved exploring this place. Admittedly, It was a little dicey, as many of the places I walked were clearly above rooms dug into the hillside. I knew there was a risk of falling through. But what’s life without a little risk? The only thing missing from this part of the adventure was K. She’d have loved it.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • What aspen leaves look like when they start to bud
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Robins

Today is Jacques Cousteau’s birthday.  The undersea explorer/environmentalist would have been 100 years old today.  My favorite (as you know) TV channel, Turner Classic Movies – a.k.a. The Bonnet Channel – has departed from its customary old movie programming for the day and is showing some of the 120+ documentaries that Cousteau filmed.  The line-up has included discovery of the Britannic (the Titanic sister ship, which sank in Greek waters in 1916 when it hit a mine); diving for Roman bronze statuary – some of which was discovered by sponge divers in the 1920s in a site off the Italian coast; the ecology of the Mediterranean; and exploration of the waters around Easter Island.

In these segments, Cousteau comes across as a man who has realized his passion in life, one whose mission on the planet is to explore, enjoy and enlighten.  He seems happy – like someone you whose company you would very much enjoy.  His boat Calypso, immortalized in the John Denver song and rammed and sunk by a barge in a Singapore harbor in 1996, was his companion in adventure for many years.

In the Britannic episode, he helicoptered in a spunky little 86-year old lady from Edinburgh who was one of the few remaining survivors of the wreck, having been a nurse aboard ship at the time of the disaster.  She provided the eyewitness account of the explosion and rescue, which, along with Cousteau’s narrative of his dive into the corpse of the ship at a depth of 354 feet beneath the sea, takes the footage from educational to emotional.  Before she is whisked away again, his crew takes her down in a submersible to view the remains herself.  What a marvelous experience for her – and for us as viewers.  I can only assume that Cousteau wrote his own descriptions of his dives, as well as the rest of the script for the documentaries – his words are evocative and heartfelt.

Where, you may ask, do childhood memories enter into the picture?  It’s not like I knew Jacques Cousteau, or played with his kids on a North Carolina beach.  No, my memories are still tied into the same documentaries I watched today.  They would air on Sunday nights from time to time during my growing-up years, and I found them frustrating.  Looking back on that feeling, I was partly bored and partly envious.  The boredom came from too many words and not enough action, in my 8-year old opinion.  But the envy came from watching Cousteau’s travels above, on and under the sea, to all those places that I wanted to go.

My Mother absolutely adored Cousteau, his mission and those shows.  She had a similar love of nature and a similar wanderlust – similar to both Cousteau and to me.  She would sit, rapt with attention, on the couch, not wanting to miss a minute of the tales of his travels, but patiently answering my numerous whiney questions about what we were watching.  I think she had a secret hope that one of us would become an environmentalist.  She’d have been pleased about my learning to dive.

Cousteau’s legacy lives on in his grandson Phillipe, who continues the family’s environmental work, and is currently in Grand Isle, Louisiana, exploring the horrendous impact of the BP oil spill.  You can read his findings, and see footage of his dive of the spill, which was broadcast on Good Morning America, on his website, www.philippecousteau.com.

And so, happy birthday, Capitaine.  The best gift we can give you is to honor and protect the sea – her past, present and future.

Today in 1985, Maybell, Colorado, reached a record low temperature of -61 degrees.  You may not think this is overly noteworthy, but Maybell, Colorado, holds a special place in my heart, and since this is, after all, my blog, it’s noteworthy to me. 

A long time ago, in what right now does seem to be a galaxy far, far away, when Pat and I had only been together for about three years, we took off over the fourth of July to escape the heat.   We headed towards Dinosaur National Monument, which means we were really running TO the heat, as opposed to running AWAY from the heat, but that wasn’t our intent.  We always liked to take the backroads when we did driving trips, and didn’t really plan a detailed route, just took whatever turns looked inviting, and stopped at whatever little roadside motels looked cozy.  On this particular trip, we took a long (perhaps 12-mile) dirt road that stretched from Maybell to Meeker.  That road was iconic in our minds, and forever after, if either of us saw something that made us think of it, we could say to the other “Like that road!” and the other would know exactly what was being referred to.

The road seemed like it went on forever.  It was a gentle dirt road for the most part, just a few washboard spots here and there.  The day had been hot and dry and in the late afternoon, the sun turned everything a rich shade of gold and green.  We stopped and walked into a field of waving wheat and let it stroke our skin.  We caught sight of a mountain lion chasing something through the tall grass off the side of the road.  A herd of elk patiently wended its way down a grassy hillside.  The roadside stream would cascade into unexpected little waterfalls.  Aspens rustled in the breeze.  A creature the size of a pterodactyl flew directly over the roof of the truck encasing us in a massive shadow, and we turned to each other and said “What the HELL was that?”, but couldn’t find it when we stuck our heads out the windows.  We agreed that it was as if we had passed into another dimension, another world, another universe.  Time slowed down to a luscious crawl and we luxuriantly dreamed through it, trying to hold onto it, savor it, live only in that feeling, that moment, endlessly.

Ah, the road.  That’s why Maybell has made my history book. 

But back to business.  For you more practical, less romantic history buffs, here’s the further scoop on today.

It’s Clark Gable’s 109th birthday. 

Of course, he’s dead NOW, but he would be 109 if he were still alive.  While not one of my favorite actors, he is responsible for one of my favorite movie scenes – the hitchhiking scene in “It Happened One Night”.  Catch it if you can.  

He’s most famous for his role as Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind.”  We GRITS have all been able to forgive him for not having a southern accent when he played the role.  But Vivian Leigh complained about his bad breath during their kissing scenes, which detracts from his charming image. 

Gable was devastated by the death of Carole Lombard, his third wife, in a plane crash after three years of marriage.  Though he married twice more, he never really recovered, and is buried by her side at Forest Lawn.

It’s also Boris Yeltsin’s birthday – he would have been 79.  Since I rarely choose to get political here, I will just say that he was my favorite drunken, dancing world leader.  Not my favorite world leader, mind you, just my favorite drunken, dancing one.  How can you not retain a trace of affection for someone who once played wooden spoons on the balding head of Askar Akayev, the president of ex-Soviet state Kyrgyzstan?

Skippy Peanut Butter was also born on this day in 1933.  What the Skippy website doesn’t tell you in its history timeline, is that in 2008, they deceptively resized their standard-sized jars by adding a large dimple in the bottom of the jar, while keeping all other dimensions the same, so the trusting consumer, looking at what appears to be the same jar they’ve bought for years, was actually getting 1.7 oz. less for their money.  Not the peanut butter’s fault, but still just not cricket.

Today is the 90th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or “Mounties”, known for always getting their man. 

Also known internally as “The Force”, they are immortalized in modern-day cartoon culture by Dudley Do Right from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, one of my childhood favorites,

and in modern-day film by Nelson Eddy, who had a propensity to sing to Jeanette MacDonald when he was in Mountie mode.

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the day the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry after its 27th mission, killing all seven astronauts aboard.  I remember the day.  I wept.

Rest in peace.

On a lighter note, today is Hula in the Coola Day, a day for those of us who have been too long away from the warmth of the sun and the sound of the waves to cast off the trappings of winter, wrap ourselves in sarongs and roast pigs and have a luau.  I can do the sarong with no problem.  I am awaiting delivery of the roast pig, but I think it’s going to take a while.

And finally (though in a way, not unrelated to the previous holiday), today is Robinson Crusoe Day, a day, according to Chase’s Calendar of Events, to be adventurous and self-reliant.  I firmly feel that every day in the years to come is Robinson Crusoe Day for me.


Thus endeth the history lesson.  Hope you feel slightly enlightened.

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