White Shaman and Other Mysteries

The drive to Seminole Canyon Historic State Park was uneventful once I pulled yet another screw out of a tire, the left front to be precise. No loss of air and everything was just fine. We arrived just before the office closed and after paying found our way to the campsite which, as we remembered, is situated on top of a rise subject to whatever breeze or wind may blow. Gee 2 is clearly visible for miles around, from US 90, from the visitor center and seemingly whenever we look in that direction. There is no digital phone service, no NPR and for some reason my satellite dish will not lock into satellite 119 so no news.

We came here first, a couple of years ago because it is as far as one would choose to drive in a day from Falcon SP. We stopped here for lunch last year, but did not tarry. We had heard that there were wonderful pictograms to be seen in a cave that is only accessible by guided tour, to protect the art from vandals and graffiti creeps. I guess that each of the last times we were here the tours were being given on some other day and we had reasons to move on. This year was to be different. Tours are twice a day Wednesday through Sunday at 10 AM and 3 PM, we got here on Thursday afternoon. Friday morning found us walking the mile from the campsite to the visitor center to join the tour, $5 per person. Eight or ten of us set out to follow Dean, the volunteer guide, into the canyon where we were enlightened about the possible sources of the pictograms and the natives who scratched a living from the desert as hunter gatherers. I have many pictures of this art, but the images are faint from exposure to the air and stress of water perking through the limestone substrate for the past 3,000 years give or take, so here a just a couple to whet your appetite. I have used some digital magic to make the images visible without distorting the color any more than necessary. As you can imagine the color changes with the light from minute to minute in any event.

As Dean talked he mentioned another cave with drawing not very far away that is protected by a private foundation. The images are reputed to be more vivid and the descent to the cave more difficult, ah ha a greater challenge for Carol’s wonderful new hip. We drove to Langtry. TX about 20 miles west of here, to see the site of the home, Saloon and office of Judge Roy Bean, “The Law West of the Pecos.” LawWestofPecos I will leave you to dig up the many stories of his antics if you wish. He had no jail so his only punishments were hanging or fines. He is said to have used both liberally. On the drive back from Langtry I spotted a sign for White Shaman Tours and pulled into the gate to get the phone number. There was no response, but during Happy Hour with Gary and Vicky Shrope aboard Gee 2 we learned that they were going and the tour was every Saturday at 12:30. We agreed to meet at noon and go together.

If you have any interest in the prehistory of this land, if you have any curiosity about the lives of the Indians of the lower Pecos, if you just want to see great rock art, go out of your way to visit this area. The art in this one cave is enough reason to come here. Combined with the art in Fate Bell the trip is worthwhile. It is just around the corner by Texas standards, Greg, the tour guide at White Shaman, and co founder of the foundation, drives in weekly from San Antonio, only five hours away he says. There are other caves and tours available and we will be returning to see them in the future.

For now here are just a few pictures of the art in White Shaman.

shaman1This is the route to the shelter


This last is the White Shaman

Wrapping up our stay in Falcon State Park

We have not rolled a wheel on Gee 2 in 14 days. Other than storage, this is the longest that Gee 2 has stayed in one place since we got it in June 2004. We never stayed anyplace longer than a week with Goliath either. We are learning to relax and take our time. Of course we have had so many things to do that relax hardly describes our average day. Carol is working on her seminar when she isn’t writing or struggling to get online. It’s that Mac thing; it won’t play nice with my PC and share my WiFi nicely.

A quick report on the tire issue that I started with in the last journal: The tire repair truck finally arrived and they spread out their tools, like a surgeon preparing for surgery. The leader marked the area of the bolt head in the tire and then extracted it with a pliers, here it is: bolt it was all very anticlimactic, there was no whoosh of escaping air and it appears that the only result is an additional hole in the tread surface and no penetration of the tire body.

I will not bore you with a recitation of all the birds we have seen, it is well over 50 species. Here are pictures of a couple, the Green Jay green jays and the Chachalacka. chachalakas That is not a typo. Both of these birds are not seen more than a few miles north of the border with Mexico and not in many places along that border.

In addition to the javalina (peccary) wandering through the sites we have seen deer deer and tonight as I was reading email I looked out the window and saw a bobcat run from under Gee 2 to the Winnebago across the street, no photo, I could barely get the words out and it was gone.

We will most certainly come back here in the years to come. For now we are packing stuff away in preparation for a reasonably early departure. We plan to travel US 83 to TX 227 to US 90 in a northwesterly direction through Laredo and Del Rio and spend tomorrow night in Seminole Canyon State Historic Park on the bluff above the Pecos River.

Birding, Biking and Boating

That was the easy part. We have done a fair amount of birding and we are seeing many birds that have ranges that include this sliver of land north of the Rio Grande River and don’t extend more than a few miles into the USA. The most prominent are the Great Kiskidee, the Brown Jay and the Green Jay. There is a couple that has a motorhome on a piece of land next to Salineno National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). They have been feeding birds and welcoming visitors there for 22 years. We have been there twice and have added several birds to our life list of birds we have never seen before. We have also seen many beautiful birds that we know quite well. I actually thought about biking over there today, but with the temperature in the high 80’s an eight mile one way trip did not seen prudent.

As I write I am waiting for a tire road service truck to arrive. This morning as I was working around the camp site I happened to see something like a stone on the outside passenger side dual tire. I went to pick it off and noticed that is the hex head of a bolt with the thread extended directly into the tread. Not pretty! The tire is holding its normal pressure so it may not have pierced the belts. I am unwilling to attempt to extract it myself as the tore is carrying 88 psi at the moment (pushed up 3 psi or so by solar heating. Since we have been sitting still for a week and plan to sit here for another week I am not feeling urgent about the repair, but hope to have it resolved before I finish writing this.

Yesterday, Wednesday February 1, we took a rather long bike ride in the afternoon. There is a small town just across the reservoir from us, Guerro (well the name is longer than that, but it will suffice), and we wanted to see what it had to offer. We could not take a vehicle across as we have no Mexican insurance and there is no public transportation over this bridge so we road across, five miles to the dam (the same ride we took several days ago), two miles across the dam (at least) and then 2 kilometers to the edge of town (I know I changed measurement, that happens when you leave this quaint country of ours). The town has some lovely homes and public buildings. It does not have any people at 4 in the afternoon. There was no traffic and the only people we saw were a couple of construction workers and a pharmacist in her store.Bike in Gerro We biked on back and collapsed I was dehydrated and short on energy even though I have drunk a quart of water on the ride. The air is dry here.

Have I mentioned poverty yet? Much of this part of Texas would consider poverty an improvement on their lot. The housing is ramshackle, the roads verge on impassable and many times we have thought we had driven across the border by mistake. It feels like the worst of any Mexican border area we have visited. The only thing lacking is the broken bottle wall tops we have seen further south in Latin America around the houses of the well off.

Ah boating! As you faithful readers know we bought an inflatable kayak last summer. It has been riding around in the belly of Gee 2 until our arrival here. It is now in the back of the car and we have had it out on Falcon Reservoir a couple of days ago. As usual it was ten minutes from the car to the water. Then we paddled out into the reservoir and saw the many water birds and even more motor boats dotting the surface of the lake. This is an active fishing area and many people put out in every kind of imaginable small boat to catch fish. I cannot imagine backing a trailer down the very long boat launch ramp. The water is at the middle of its range which makes it 16 feet or so below its high. On our first visit here the water was below the end of the ramp.

Our entertainment has included Pickin’ and Grinnin’ at the recreation lodge, Carol sat in with her new mandolin with a group of mixed musicians playing country and folk. CarolPickin We have also had happy hour of one sort or another each evening and have gotten o meet several new people. I will especially note Daniel Markham who is on his own with a dog in a Ford Econoline and just headed out for San Miguel . . . about six hundred miles south of the border to see if he wants to settle there. We wish him a satisfactory and safe trip. Kay and Doug are just down the line from us in their Super Sport four wheel drive conversion van and many more to numerous to mention. Kay and Doug sold a large sailboat they had lived on in Florida and decided to try dry land for the time being. All in all we are having our usual fine time collecting sights, experiences and people. Speaking of collecting people, we just heard from the Hoggs and have may arrangements to meet them again at Gilbert Ray Park in Tucson mid February.

We have CNN on the satellite dish, wish we didn’t. We don’t have NPR down here, not sure whether I am happy or not, miss it, but what we see/hear on CNN is so disturbing that decent analysis might make me even more depressed about this great country I love so much. I am able to see more than I want about the uncertainty in the Middle East. The internet is available and I want to spend less time being absorbed, but I find it hard to let go. I will go to the JDC meetings in NYC in March and maybe I will come away with a better understanding, somehow I doubt it. The materiel everyone is sending is wonderful, but there are no tolerable answers in the offing, just more trouble. I shall turn my thoughts to the birds, the javalina and howling coyotes and try to let the greater world take care of itself since nothing I can do is likely to change anything anyhow.