Tuesday, 16 December 2003
Pix Of The Day: Every Desolation Row Has Inmates
CREDIT: © Michael Morse/'Crazy Guy On A Bike' journal
WHERE: the Rocky Mountains. WHAT: the US Continental Divide on a bicycle.
MAP: GDMBR: Great Divide MtB Route. Thumbnail clicks pop-up source image pages.
One of the seminal experiences of travel is trying to make sense of the unfamiliar, and sometimes the inexplicable. Bicycling provides many metaphors for life. Reinhold Aman's 'Maledicta', the International Journal of Verbal Aggression, is said to contain an almost untranslatable Italian imprecation, "Dio scapa da letto in bicicletta!" (God escaped from bed by bicycle!) The inexplicable is usually inarguable, too.
This selection of four pictures may make everything clear if you read the appropriate journal entries that are linked to them on the source web pages. On the other hand you may only become more confused: sometimes that is the price we have to pay in our search for understanding. Left to right (and again, not in journey order) are:  Aspen Meadows Bicycle Hostel;  Separ, New Mexico;  Cumbres & Toltec Railroad; and  Silver City, New Mexico.
The first picture is connected to journal entry for a day when the intrepid travellers stumbled across a haven full of bonhomie and support. Reading travellers tales, it seems that nearly all significant journeys contain at least one such episode. It always seems to happen when the traveller has the least expectations: not the lowest, mark you, but the least. Now there is a metaphor for living, if ever we fashioned one.
One might imagine that a journey on unpaved roads, following the Continental Divide, might be lonely, pastoral when not threading between a rock and a hard place, and untouched by industrial society. Obviously parts of the journey are like that: however, when contact is made with the world that is more normally experienced, the senses are even more highly attuned to register the nuances. What more potent symbols of industrialization than trains, both old and new, as shown here? The best travellers tales always communicate this sense of being there with the teller.
The building shown in the last pictures was the only one left standing when the town of Silver City, New Mexico, was all but destroyed by a flood. What was once the main street of the town is now a creek bed. In the middle of a desert, the town has high kerbs against the possibility of another flood. William Boney, a.k.a. Billy the Kid, and Judge Roy Bean were formerly associated with the town. This traveller's tales are beginning to make 'Alice in Wonderland' seem rather prosaic.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)