Desert Solitare 2012

The wind is whipping around Flagstaff in uneven gusts and breaths, soothing my fair skin that was not adapted for the constant sun. A huge part of my heart lies in the American Southwest and I am not sure why, but I am drawn here. Once a year doesn’t quite fill the cup, but I’ll take what I can get. I am sitting on the porch of my friend’s parent’s house; all are off to work and I am waiting for the sun to leave the eastern sky so we won’t be staring at each other on my drive.

Some highlights from the trip so far:

Sand Mountain is where I took my last drink. Shivering and stupid on a 20 degree night, blundering around, banging away at that figurative door that seemed locked like I had been doing for the last few years, I climbed up the huge frosty dune, sat on the crest, and watched the sun come up. I hadn’t planned on it being my last drink (and can’t promise it’ll stay the last drink, but I can work for it), but that is often how it goes. About an hour an some change east of Fallon NV and on my way, I figured it was a good time for a check in. I climbed it again, a bit less painful (and cold) that it was last time, and contemplated my five months of clean time.

A spooky busted down house complete with crumbling basement stairs which I had no choice but to peer into.. outside of Austin NV. I then took a right and headed south on a new road – the endless mountain ranges of Nevada all run north-south, and I have been waiting for an opportune trip to experience the full legendary length of Nevada’s valleys. I took a long bike ride along 375, not a soul around, and found the best little ramshackle lean-to out on a dry lake bed (of which I have no picture… some things you just have to keep in your mind). Those are the things that fill my cup.

A few miles back down the road though, I went to Tonopah’s Central Nevada Museum… a rust junkie’s paradise..








One of the quieter campsites of the trip (God bless the BLM) and an example of an evening meal – beets, zucchini, and hummus. We have entered the land of red dirt.








The views in Utah are really beyond capturing, especially with an iphone, so all I have for you are… more ramshackle houses, “lean-to’s” against the wind-swept sandstone boulders near the Vermillion Cliffs.

Then I was off to Page AZ by the bizarre man-made Lake Powell (I wonder what he would have thought of them flooding the amazing canyon he was the first white dude to see) and had a great time with other sober drunks. Many sunburns, jumps from high cliffs into the water, and meetings around the camp fire. I have been loitering around Flagstaff for parts of days, I played a sweet little show in Sedona, and now I am ready to go back out into nowhere for a few days before I hit Tucson.


These days I am happy enough, feeling like I am where I am supposed to be. In frequent blue moments however, I have a deep urge to be fully on the tracks of my life, functioning smoothly and efficiently, making a difference in the world and making it a bit more beautiful. Yet I feel still without sure footing, without much experience beneath me to spring from. I feel a little like I am still in the hospital laid up with casts on, gazing out the window and wanting deeply to be running and swimming and dancing and climbing on things outside – which is precisely how a woman in a meeting last night described me, metaphor and all. She said it really takes a good year to get your head on straight, amends made, and new patterns established. I felt a little disheartened at that moment, but at least there is a way to it and I am almost half way there. I feel a little like I felt in my first year of transition – incredibly impatient for this thing I had wanted for so long that would also help me carry on with my life, only to be dismayed that no amount of wishing could make my wimpy little chin hairs grow any faster. I just had to wait. And I suppose if it’s any consolation, look at me now. Six years later I have more chin hairs that I know what to do with. So wait I shall, and recuperate, and practice.


12 thoughts on “Desert Solitare 2012

  1. Maybe it can be less about trying to be fully on the tracks of your life and more about trying to figure out how to drive the new train. Truth is, you may change trains a half dozen times. Best of luck on your continued journey Joe. Looking forward to crossing paths with you again soon.

  2. “So wait I shall, and recuperate, and practice.”….Sounds like a most excellent, thoughtful plan Joe. Make it so! xoxo

  3. Thank you for sharing, Joe. Both in photos, and photo’s of the mind & heart. What you are seeking, is even now seeking you. Keep on keepin on.

  4. I know what you can do with those chin hairs you have so many of: just look in the mirror to help yourself remember that anything is possible, and that you are well on your way!

    Thanks for sharing the road pics – been itching for a desert trip myself, but can’t go anywhere right now, so it’s great to see those uniquely beautfiul places through your eyes. Hope the solo shows are doing you good, too. And thanks for sharing your journey, as Jay above says with “Both in photos, and photo’s of the mind & heart.”

  5. The best part of visiting the desert is being able to leave! Some of us are unfortunate enough to live in it. Nice pictures, glad you enjoyed the visit! One day, I’ll be a tourist again!

  6. You make your world a better place, you make the world a better place, so maybe you don’t have to wait at all, that’s a crazy enjoyable life you got (well on paper at least). And as good old Ghandi said, don’t change the world, be the change you want to see in the world. and i swear that is the only quote I know apart from “you made me missed” in American Werewolf in London and “tis very like a whale” from Hamlet and neither of them apply here so I won’t use them. So yeah keep on trucking and playing that guitar, I love your guitar,I thank you for your guitar, so see love and thanks, bringing that into the world is a cool thing my friend. And thanks for the travelling, I am anticipating some good songs from it x

  7. You make your world a better place, you make the world a better place, so maybe you haven’t got to wait that long, as that seems a crazy and enjoyablelife adventure you got here. And as good old Ghandi said, don’t change the world, be the change you want to see in the world, and I swear that is the only quote I know, apart from “you made me missed” from American Werewolf in London and “tis very much like a whale” from Hamlet and they don’t apply here so I wont’ use them. So yeah keep on trucking and playing that guitar. I love your guitar and I thank you for your guitar and so bringing love and thanks into the world because you doing something that sets your heart on fire, well show me a more perfect life than that I would like to see. And thank you for the travelling, i anticipate some desert, shack songs – mmmm mmmmm x

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