A Benediction for Times to Come

A Benediction for Times
To Come

So the journey ends at a
Place that we must call:
The beginning. A

Start to things we must not
Finish or find in hidden, far-
Away places that we thought to
Go to when once we played
Drums and trombones in
Quiet coffee bars in
Rainy Denver days. It

Must be a winding path that comes
Out at us as we think
Of sunshine and men on
Cliff-sides and days we whistle
And whisper of times and places we

Knew little of except the thought
That the beginning is an
End, as well…

Winter Ways

untitled Used with permission. Kanzensakura all rights reserved.

The way the snow fell we knew the trail would be covered. But we pressed on, past the meadows we’d once see full of life in autumn, now dead. Buried. Then, somewhere in the distance, a lone bird (I couldn’t place its name by its call) cried. Wanting food? Searching? We didn’t know, but we pressed on. I, at times, covered my eyes with my hands to save my sight.

Towards night, we entered the dark, somber wood, the trees speaking and whispering among themselves. Somewhere, again, a bird call, but this time farther away. Leaving us. I turned around and said, “Now it’s time to press on. The cabin is maybe another 20 minutes that way.” I pointed towards a pathless field of white. The trees still talking, creaking, and, somewhere, that bird again, calling. “Let’s go.” I moved forward and wiped the snow from my eyes.

Tall quiet trees stand
In winter white while a lone
Bird mourns through the leaves.

Hiking Chimney Rock

Today was a nice day, mainly because it made me think about so many places I’ve been. Small moments that brought back some memory. I think this was mainly because all I ever seem to go to are ancient ruins and sites that are usually perched somewhere on a distant mountainside. I thought about Macchu Picchu today, Mystras, a small town in Greece, and Delphi. All of these places are remote, and resemble a mountain landscape that looks like this:

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And like this:

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Both of these pictures are near the Chimney Rock National Monument outside of Pagosa Springs. The actual Monument is between Pagosa Springs and Durango, and you hike up to it along a ridge, where you get closer and closer to two giant rocks that dominate the landscape.

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I loved this because it made me realize that human beings have pretty much always been attracted to unusual features in the landscape, and living on remote mountain tops. I’ve seen this all over the world. Along the way you also see the actual ruins, which get more impressive the higher you climb.

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Until you finally reach the top, right next to the rocks, where you have the great pueblo.

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What I found most interesting about this, besides the similarities between this place and others that I’ve been to, is how these people lived underground, in their pit houses and kivas. I like this because it seems to suggest that they found comfort in an underground setting – which usually is the opposite. The underground is a terrifying place for most cultures, since it’s full of irrational and uncontrollable things. But, here, I feel like this is the opposite. The upper world, the normal world, is the terrifying place. It’s like they tried to get back deeper into the earth, rather than rising above it. Which seems to make sense, since that’s where we all came from in the first place.

After seeing Chimney Rock for most of the day I spent some time in Durango, where I hung out at the Strater Hotel, and walked around town.

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Pagosa Thoughts

I’m traveling again, and I most importantly don’t want to create a boring travel blog. One where you list where you were, what you saw, and on and on. A waste of time.

San Juan School House

My main goal is to recreate and breathe new life into the travel narrative, especially by viewing it as a type of ongoing, endless book – where each day and new spot is a type of new chapter. Or maybe just a small paragraph in a chapter. It depends on the day, I guess; how long moments in a trip deserve. This, then, is my first goal… to make a trip an ongoing, twisting odyssey. Where the journey becomes a symbol for something, and the people in a trip living and breathing characters in a book that is always unfolding. Never-ending.

My second goal is specific to this unique trip. Its main purpose is to explore ancient history in Colorado, specifically within the Southwest corner of the state. I want to understand something about the Utes and the Ancestral Puebloan people. What their culture was about and not about, how they lived and understood life, and, I think maybe most importantly, how we interact with this history today, and if we can even find it anymore. A common theme pretty much everywhere that I’ve ever been is that tourism tends to put a nice, charming sheen on things, and we’re shown a purified, flawless version of the past. Or the past that we want to see. In a sense, you could argue that the past is just a creation of us in the present. And, in the ultimate irony, we travel to see the past, but actually don’t see it at all. We see ourselves and we are happy about this.

So, with these goals laid out, what did I learn today about the early people of Colorado? As seen through my first trip south, right through the San Luis Valley, and to Pagosa Springs?

Pagosa Hot Springs

By far the main thing I was thinking about is that, basically, people are pretty much exactly the same no matter who they are, and what time period they live in. I say this because "Pagosa," in Ute, means healing. This is a place that people have always been coming to in order to heal in some way. And what I like the most about this healing theme is that people do not necessarily heal in the hot springs. This is just the most obvious example of healing. Healing I think more so relates to the pilgrimage aspect of travel. Or the healing the occurs through the voyage. Through the trip to get here. In the end, the actual spot is the least important thing. Or at least that's what I was thinking about at the hot springs, looking out on the San Juan River. For hundreds of years people have been drawn here… to heal.

San Juan River