Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weeks 30 & 31: Chicago, Columbia, Kansas City, Oklahoma, and Texas

Crossing the Mississippi
As you can see by the title of this blog, we covered a lot of ground in the last two weeks. We left Wisconsin's three feet of snow and drove South to spend a quick night in Chicago, where our friends Kendra and Kapil took us to Devon Street for some great Indian food. After a great visit with Kendra and Kapil (and their dog Chester), we left early the next morning and headed to Columbia, Missouri. Larry got to watch opening day of baseball season, and his team, the Giants, with a fellow Giant fan and relocated San Franciscan, Sean, in Columbia. It was an exciting game, and the Giants came back from way behind. After a great breakfast and a quick tour of downtown Columbia, Larry and Sean got caught up and I went to meet a poetry and spiritual mentor, Scott Cairns, for lunch. I hadn't seen Scott since New Year's Day 2005, but his feedback on my poetry has meant a lot to my growth as a poet. More importantly, his book, A Short Trip to the Edge, about his own spiritual journey to Christian Orthodoxy, and his responses to my questions and his faith, finally led me to convert to Christian Orthodoxy in 2010.

New Orthodox Church in Alpine, Texas
It was too short of a visit to Columbia, but we had a lot of ground to cover, so we headed on in the early afternoon, and drove through to Kansas City, to a small town just across the Missouri border, Prairie Village, in Kansas, to visit with my best friend from junior high school, Matthew and his partner, Brian. I hadn't seen Matthew and Brian since around 2000, but we picked up like no time had passed, talking about our work as educators, and theater artists (Matthew's a scenic designer).

After another too-quick visit, we spent the day driving through Kansas and Oklahoma, staying the night in Wichita Falls, Texas.

From Wichita Falls, we drove straight to Alpine, Texas. I'd lived for four years in Marfa, Texas, a town 26 miles from Alpine. My aunt lives in Alpine and I worked and went to school at the state university in Alpine. This was an amazing trip, full of reunions with old friends, family, and a chance to explore the gorgeous high desert landscape.

Results of Puppet-making party in Alpine, Texas with friends Chris and Ellen Ruggia
Even though I left Marfa in 2006, the sky and landscape and quality of friendships have stayed with me. I often write about my time there with great longing and fondness. We hope to come back soon, to spend more time with my beloved friends there.

In the Bluebonnets with friends, Alpine, Texas
Even though we spent a packed six days in West Texas, which included a day trip to Big Bend National Park, the time was too short. However, we are on a mission to get back to San Francisco after this long journey, and had to say our goodbyes. . .
Road to Fort Davis
Alpine Mural
Alpine Mural
Ocotillo in bloom, Big Bend
Yucca, Big Bend
Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend
Big Bend
In the Basin, Big Bend National Park
Window Trail View, Big Bend National Park
Pronghorn on the road from Big Bend to Marathon

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