Oh, sweet desert rain. That smell of water evaporating off of sagebrush is intoxicating. They say that scent can evoke deeply ingrained emotional memories and, standing at the rim of the Rio Grande Gorge, the sweet mist swirls around me in the stillness and silence, conjuring what I can only describe as love. I know this response is nostalgic; some of the best times of my life have been spent in the high deserts of this country with the people I love most in this world. Central Oregon, Eastern Utah, Northern New Mexico… desert rain on sagebrush brings it all back.
Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, like many New Mexico destinations, is a hidden gem. The Rio Grande, here still wild and relatively unrestricted, cuts a deep gorge through basalt and the desert plateau, plunging almost a thousand feet below the rim. The Red River joins its flow in this gorge, creating a peninsula-like mesa above. We were fortunate to have the place to ourselves this week, with no other campers in the entire campground, and only one group of hikers and llamas on the Arsenic Springs trail for a couple hours. Other than that, our two days in the monument were still and silent, with dramatic storm clouds racing across an expansive sky.
Between intermittent thunderstorms, we hiked down into the gorge and to the Rio itself. The Rio Grande holds some sort of sacred place in my heart that I cannot describe; plunging my hands into her milky chocolate-colored spring flow felt like a pilgrimage. I pressed the red clay beneath my feet, closed my eyes as the sun came out, and listened to the lonely calls of ravens and desert songbirds. And there was that smell again. Just like that, I was home.
I am so happy to report that Ramey will be back on the road this summer.
After a long cycle of surgeries and recovery, I am now ambulatory and feeling pretty good. I still won’t be backpacking or climbing much this summer, but I will be traveling quite a bit. I wanted to give you all a sneak peek at what’s on the docket for May through August:
May: A 2-week road trip through Wyoming and Montana again with my best friend Jessica Kilroy, collecting video, audio, and stories from the places we find ourselves in and the people we meet along the way. We’ll also be headed down to Telluride, Colorado at the end of the month for the MountainFilm Festival.
June: I will be spending 3 weeks in the Northeast, including NYC, Boston, midcoast Maine, and a week in upstate New York for the Flaherty Film Seminar (I have been selected as a fellow this year).
July-August: Western road trip time! My partner, Ben, and I will be driving an extended loop to and from Portland, Oregon. We’re hoping to hit Banff (Alberta), Glacier National Park, and a few other places along our route. Exact details TBD.
Sometime in the summer months, we’ll squeeze in a trip down to Southern NM to check on our property and get a dose of desert love. I so miss the New Mexico deserts.
As a last hurrah before launching into graduate school, I took a two-week road trip in August with a dear friend, Jessica Kilroy. I met her in northeast Utah as she finished a five-day rafting trip on the Green River and, after a much-needed night’s rest, we packed up the RV and my three dogs and hit the road for north central Montana. Our destination: The American Prairie Reserve, where Jessica is participating in an intermittent yearlong artist residency (she is a recording artist).
I could tell many a hilarious tale about our journey, and perhaps I will elaborate in the near future. Suffice it to say that our trip was full of laughter, biker gangs (thanks to Sturgis), ghost stories, shockingly racist small town folk, gracious dog-loving ranchers, terrible books, incessant snacking, plagues of mosquitoes, welcome respite in unlikely places, intentional detours, awe-inspiring storms, and plenty of wide open spaces.
For now, please enjoy this video I made with footage from our trip. The music is by Jessica, composed using sounds she recorded on the prairie during her spring visit.
At times it is folly to hasten; at other times, to delay. The wise do everything in its proper time. – Ovid
More than six months have passed since we moved to Colorado and, regrettably, since I last wrote here. My extended silence has certainly not been for lack of inspiration; here we are surrounded by indescribable beauty, settled in the eastern shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Endless jagged peaks rise to the west as a seemingly impenetrable fortress of granite, snow, and ice. Aspen groves scatter like boneyards, their golden leaves long abandoned by the frigid night. Rivers, half frozen, wind tortuously through hidden valleys and intimidating gorges. From these mountains, the eastern landscape spills forth almost as an afterthought. Foothills kicking at flatlands. Waist-high grasses rolling in the wind like waves on a golden ocean. The eastern horizon interminably flat and unremarkable, save for a jumble of urban monoliths protesting the impending monotony. Beyond, innumerable fields of sunflowers, wheat, corn, and soy, waiting patiently for spring. The Great Plains, expansive and uninviting like the southwest deserts from whence we came. Continue reading →
It has been quite a while since my last post. While I could enumerate the reasons for this, it’s unnecessary. The gist of it is: plans change.
It’s amazing how fluid life can be if you let it. One can easily lose sight of the peripherary when the blinders are on; make plans, lock them in, and stay the course no matter what might arise. This, in my view, is a difficult way to exist, always in opposition to the continual shifts in our surroundings, our options, and our future.
Every one of us has a sacred place somewhere. I believe there is a physical place on this earth that occupies an unsullied space in each of our lives, where we retreat when we are in need of respite. This is not a “happy place” per se; it is instead a powerful place, forcing us into a state of retrospection, introspection, and an openness of spirit.
For me, that place is the canyon country of southeastern Utah.
There is something about the mesas, towers, and gaping expanses of this place that speaks to me, draws me in and holds me willing captive. We go there on the pretense of climbing, but what I feel is far more than the cold sandstone against my skin, the hollow breeze whispering in my ear, or the echoing cries of coyotes in the night wind.
My memories of this place stack on top of one another in a multifaceted tapestry of joy, sadness, triumph, pain, curiosity, fear and healing. There is a rawness here that envelops me, leaves me exposed to both memory and discovery. This place has its own voice, and it calls to me from open country. Continue reading →
Sometimes things just fall into place without much effort. Not always, but sometimes.
It might sound cheesy or a little too new-age hippie, but I do believe we can manifest good things in our lives. My brief 30 years of experience on this planet has demonstrated that when we approach the world with kindness, positivity and gratitude, we are blessed with abundance. Granted, our definition of abundance and our expectations play a large role in that. If I expected to be a millionaire by now, I would be sorely disappointed and would not feel at all abundant. Fortunately, millionaire status is not my goal.
I’m not saying that bad things don’t happen to good people. I’ve had my share of bad luck for sure, and I know some very good people who have had some very bad things happen to them. But for myself, I find the negative events to be less memorable and less impactful than the good ones. And when I look at those good people around me who have had some serious bad luck, they come away from those things stronger, and good things inevitably come back around to them. They do not wallow in their misfortune, and their kindness, positivity and gratitude remain intact. That is the strength of the human spirit.
All of this is to say that good fortune has come our way again. While I’m not surprised, I am very grateful. Continue reading →