Once again I am in Colorado. And I drove all the way here by myself! 7 hours of driving took a toll on me, but I'm alive. Saw a lightning strike fire (?) on the Ute and felt anxious- would it spread to town? A Chinkook (?) helicopter flew by us after checking out the fire. Surreal.
Had dinner with my family (we haven't been together in a very long time) and it felt amazing. We tried to eat outside, but it started thundering and raining. We laughed as we scurried inside before the grilled chicken could get wet. Large dramatic raindrops and perfect weather ...I couldn't ask for a more beautiful night. I think the rain put out the Ute fire too.
Planning on using the poor internet connection to my advantage and brainstorming AG ideas, will probably unplug from social media for a while, too.
I want to stay here for a while...I need to be in nature, fuck just anywhere except Hell Zone AZ. I need my feet to touch grass
and I need to smoke some too
. Planning on hitting up some local antique stores. I need some vintage dresses and lead lined motorcycle gloves.
I MADE IT HOME!!!! AAA!!! Will put pics on my Los Alamos
page sometime soon
(apologies for spelling errors, im super tired. will spell check laterrrrrrr) (edit: i will not spellcheck this. apologies in advance).
Drove from Taos to
Drove along the Rio Grande, dipped my hand in the water, and carried on. Somehow didn't die while driving in the intense rain. It hailed so hard it piled up like snow. Crazy lightning too. Stopped in Los Alamos on the way to Santa Fe (sorry dad) and visited the Fuller Lodge and museum again. Peed at the main gate (the sign is a replica fixed above public restrooms).
Drove onto lab property again (you have to go past the lab gates to get to the nearby national parks) and they didn't even check my ID this time?? Weak.
A roadrunner came up to me in the hotel parking lot???? Like it full on looked at me and stomped its feet?? It had a scruffy shoulder (cute ;;;) and darted across the parking lot after I stared at it confused. I'm convinced that little guy came to me because I've been a-strugglin. ;-;
Went to another airplane museum (Colorado Springs WW2 Airplane museum). Yeah, I'm predictable. This was a super cool museum-all planes in their collection are fully operational. The tour guide was very friendly (and used to work in a Titan II missile silo-the very one I've visited in Tucson, AZ!!) Like a nerd, I showed him my pen dosimeter that I bought at that silo. I didn't have the chance to berrade him with questions (I also didn't want to embarrass him-the silo is a museum now and he said that makes him feel old). But he did mention that the "warhead guys" were very secretive about maintenence. "Oh, what are you working on?" and they would answer something vauge. I'm assuming he was just in the control center or some other ground crew- he didn't actually work on the missile.
I felt very silly but...amused? Being the only visitor under the age of like 45. Also the only uh... """girl""". The docents loved me. It must've been the cute little boy scout uniform I was wearing and the excited questions. Mr. Titan II asked why I had suck a grin on my face, and I said "I just really love planes" which is 100% true. I told him I was an artist and I love drawing planes (paritally true-I cant draw planes for shit). He suggested I join the Air Force and I was like uhhhhhmmm no thank you sir but I am flattered. Honestly? This exchange was very sweet.
Museum highlights were the 3D printed Norton Bombsight, the only fully functioning ww2 airplane trainer, and P36 lightning. I bought a lil toy of it because i used to have one as a little kid-it was my favorite toy plane. Ate lunch in a Boeing KC-97 (the Airplane Resturant down the street). Very cool!!! They let you sit in the cockpit.
Drove through very scary rainy weather in southern colorado and finally made it to Taos. It was a beautiful drive. Exhausted. Staying in a kinda shitty lodge but it has hot water and a microwave so I'm set. Gonna try and think about Dan and Victor kissing tonight and pass tf out.
Okay, so the only cool thing about Wyoming is its trains. They got this famous one named "Big Boy" that I think I'm in love with. Walked around downtown Cheyenne and ducked into some cluttered antique stores. Bought the coolest belt buckle from a little pawn shop. It has a truck on it (so its a belt.......truckle.) Passed through Denver (I wish I could stay longer hrrngg) and saw the insanely cool 80s toy store "Fifty Two 80s". Nextdoor is a vintage clothing store called "Real Vintage" that was run by some friendly LGBT lads :)!! I bought a boy scout uniform for $8 (I wear my other ones so often, they fall apart) and some vintage Ultraman buttons. Def gonna come back with my pals and give the city a proper visit!!
Staying in Colorado Springs tonight. IHop for dinner and will (hopefully) go downstairs to drink a Modelo. Oh, and our hotel is right across from this. Love thinking about my beloved EverGiven. Watched Star Trek and a cheesey 50s monster movie "The Fiend without a Face" about "atomic monsters". Very epic. Drew Dan and Victor n passed out.
Today was mostly driving. Did you know that there is nothing in Wyoming? We drove along the south border and visited 3 of its largest cities (the biggest had a Walmart!). Now, I'll romanticize anything. I'll be like "ohhh look how beautiful the hills and run-down barns are!" but some of these towns were very scrappy. Most of Evanston's historic downtown was unoccupied (so many broken windows...). Rawlins's residential area was full of the most beautiful victorian houses, but many were falling apart-they looked seriously haunted! I guess I'm getting the best midwest (?) gothic experience. The countryside though? Beautiful...pronghorns and wild horses and dramatic rain. Had a much needed dinner at McDonalds.
On our way from Evanston to Rawlins we stopped at Fort Bridger. I was expecting a ghost town or commemorative marker or something semi boring, but the place was a full on fort established in 1842! They had a walking tour and 30 or so different buildings you can explore. Some buildings were originals and others were replicas, but the whole area was beautiful with birch trees and the most dramatic clouds. Wyoming's sky does not disapoint.
Boy do my dad and I love old fucking buildings. This trip has been like 70% old buildings and 30% cheap hotels.
Sadly, I don't think we'll be able to see the Minuteman missile silo this time around. Howeverrrrr I can try and convince my dad to drive by the Fort St. Vrain (Colorado's first and only nuclear power plant) visitor center building?
The nuclear plant was decommissioned
in the 80s, and the site is now a gas plant. I think there's still a visitor center? Gonna read this article
on the plant's 'failure', but for now I really need a shower.
OKAY today was a lot better. Saw the Transcontinental Railroad at the Golden Spike National Historic park! Located in northern Utah, the park covers 2,735 acres of land preserving the area of the original Transcontinental Railroad and the place where the east and west ends met in 1869. They have reenactments of the CPRR Jupiter and Union Pacific 119 trains meeting in the middle (they're very loud!!!) I ran all over the tracks and of course touched the trains. Also drove on the original railway ground (the tracks were removed during WWII to salvage the steel.) On the route we found a little arch... called the "Chinese Arch" to honor the Chinese laborers of the western part of the railroad.
We also went to the Hill Aerospace Museum located near a Northrop Grumman
building (?) and Hill Airforce Base. This museum was HUGE and we were pooped by the time we saw everything. Notable planes were their B-17 and B-29 bombers, and their hugeass Douglas Globemaster. Of course I really loved their two Douglas Skytrains. They also had a 'flying banana, H-21B manufactured by Piasecki Helicopter Corporation, one of my favorite choppers.
They were in the middle of remodeling parts of the museum-including a Minuteman ICBM console display. I took pics anyway, but I couldn't get close enough to take detail shots (and touch all the buttons). Still, good refrence pics for my comic. They had a replica of The Gadget used in an Oppenheimer documentary (?) in the 80s also on display. And a TON of inert Raytheon and Texas Instruments missiles. Around this time I started to feel sick.
The excitement of "ooo cool planes!!" starts to wear off once you realize how much you also hate the United States Military Industrial Complex.
Spent the evening in a seedy bar in rural Wyoming, of course full of maskless ppl. Felt pretty out of place as a transmasc lad but I really needed a drink. Their fries were very good.
Tomorrow: explore Rock Springs and head to Denver (YAAAYYY LIBERALS AND WEED!!!!)
God I'm absolutely exhausted. Road trips are already tiring, but add anxiety on top of that? Oof.
Drove around 5ish hours from Moab, Utah to Box Elder, Utah. Arches National Park was unfortunately full so we couldn't drive through the park. We /did/ see some cool rock formations, and the drive around that area is always beautiful. The superfun site next to the Colorado River is still there. Had some Dad bonding time by listening to Kraftwerk and other (newer) edm artists. My dad likes Knife Party I guess? That's hilarious to me for some reason. Staying in Box Elder tonight (thank fucking god for Hampton Inn, this shit is paradise compared to the cheap hotels in Moab).
Oh- we also passed by a fort? Fuck what was it called. It was a Mormon settler fort but all the buildings were faithful replicas built recently. The welcome center was uhhhh very churchy propaganda? Mormon-y propaganda? They played us a movie and the cheese levels were off the walls. Like, children singing and friendship and "no one died" :) "we were best friends with the natives" :) etc etc. The whole experience felt so curated and fake. Life as a settler was pain and death and dysentery!!! Not singing and sunshine!!! My dad and I did
have a good laugh, though.
Finally made it to Moab. On the way up we detoured to the old Mi Vida Mine, a good 20 minutes off from the main road. It was definitely rocky and a little scary driving in such a rural landscape, but god it was beautiful. A guy in a huge dirty (gas?) truck passed us and asked if we were looking for the mine, we both shouted 'yes' and he gave us direcitons. The mine itself can't be accessed from the road we took (maybe there's another route?) so we had to look from a distance. Still very cool. For dinner we ate at Charlie Steen's house (now called the Sunset Grill). The resturant was decorated with pictures from his life and artifacts from the various mines. Of course there were dozens of dosimeters! Will update site with pics later.
Had a bit of an anxiety episode while there, but I'm trying to move on. This trip has been very difficult for me but I still want to stick it out.
Revamping this blog!! Will add prettier CSS in a bit. For now here is my travel barf:
Going on a roadtrip with my dad, mostly because he hasn't seen me in a long time and we both have our shots now. He wanted to take a 8 (or so) day roadtrip up through Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, then back down through Colorado and AZ. Our destinations will probably change, but for now we are heading to Moab (which he hasn't seen). I will be 100% honest, I wanna see Moab because it was an old Uranium mining town and I actually want to stop and see a mine or maybe those Potash Ponds
Most challenging part of this trip will be navigation, as both my dad and I have a horrible sense of direciton!! I'm going to try not to get frustrated...after all I wanna use this trip to soul search a little. Oh and...""relax"" whatever that means.
Not to disclose my mental health issues on ye world wide web but I've had pretty bad anxiety since the beginning of quarentine (I mean I've had GAD my whole life but-)
I /need/ to actually force myself to not overthink, to let go and not worry. To at least understand I /can't/ be in control and that's ok.
We made it up to Flagstaff tonight, will head to Moab tomorrow. Staying in the historic Monte Vista hotel, established in 1926 I belive. Also it's haunted!!!! I got a San Tan Devil's IPA and drank it looking wistfully out the bar window. I love old bathrooms, you know with those little white hexagon tiles?? The shower was very nice, I really love hotel showers/tubs for some reason.
TODAY we drove through Capitol Reef National Park-and gee whiz Utah is back at it again with uranium mines and beautiful red rocks!!! Yes, once again my parents had to listen to me excitedly talk about uranium deposits.
In my humble opinion, Capitol Reef pales in comparison to Arches National Monument, but the drive was definitely worth it.
We visited Arches National Monument in Utah today! We did just a quick drive through at sunset (the optimal time to visit). The scenery is Biblical; the windy drive through towering red rocks (while listening to FLeetwood Mac mind you!!!) made me cry big baby tears. We did a short hike around North Window (where you can see the moon rise through an eye shaped hole, and Turret Arch, where the sun sets through the adjacent Windows. Being in the middle of these two monuments, the moon rising through one hole, and the sun setting through another, was a very beautiful experience.
Anyway, long story short I'm a huge nerd
and was excited to learn there's a superfun site right at the entrace of the park!!!!! Specifically an old uranium tailings pond
left over from the 1950s-1970s when mining operations were in full swing for the Atlas Missile program. Driving through downtown Moab (just 5 minutes from the park), makes it clear this was once an atomic town (We saw a few 'Atomic' named resturants and other businesses. I had to run across the street to take a pic of a this building??? *insert pic here*)
As quoted from this lovely site-
"In 1952 Charles Augustus Steen, an unemployed oil geologist from Texas, effectively proved there was significant uranium ore on the Colorado Plateau. Settling his wife and four young sons in a tarpaper shack near Cisco, he took off alone to seek the precious mineral. Unable to afford a geiger counter, he took a broken down drill rig into the back-country, ignored standard uranium-seeking technology, and used oil exploration geology to locate the Mi Vida mine in the Shinarump conglomerate of an area the AEC had deemed barren of ore. What had been ridiculed as "Steen's Folly" resulted in the nation's first big uranium strike in the Big Indian Wash of Lisbon Valley southeast of Moab."
"Steen's find triggered more. Vernon Pick claimed the Delta Mine northwest of Hanksville, later selling it to international financier Floyd Odlum for nine million dollars and an airplane. Pratt Seegmiller staked the lucrative Freedom and Prospector claims near Marysvale. Joe Cooper and Fletcher Bronson discovered uranium in their played-out Happy Jack copper mine near Monticello and netted over $25 million. Between 1946 and 1959, 309,380 claims were filed in four Utah counties. A center of activity, the once sleepy farming town of Moab became known as "The Uranium Capitol of the World.""
Wow!!! My poor parents had to listen to me excitedly ramble about this tailings pond that is most likely leaking into the Colorado River ("Greaaaat" My mom said).
ALSO fun fact-the ghost town of Cisco (mentioned above) is currently resided by a couple of cool queer lads- I believe they still do artist residencies there? This Vice documentary
is a few years old but last time we drove through, it looked like there were still cars parked nearby. You bet your ass I want to make art there someday!!
Unrelated-but when walking back to our hotel we saw a guy dancing with fire, like with fire on a stick? Whatever that is called? It was also 20 degrees outside. Sick.