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Are we there yet? On being ghosted by a town

Updated: Feb 3


In the previous post I delt with arriving in Terlingua thus “I found the dot on the map, navigated a way there and spent three nights in Terlingua.” It wasn’t actually that simple. Up close, the dot turned out to be a smudge. A blur. Something mercurial.

I had a street address. I had plotted a course of highways and secondary roads, from the hacienda to Terlingua, on the maps app on my phone. I figured that I would just arrive at the town, then find the street, then find the number and I would be there. That’s what one does, right?

Finding “the town” proved to be a problem. Terlingua is a ghost town in a desert landscape. The more I tried to grasp it, the more it slipped away. Like picking up spilled mercury. Like gathering the sky on a fingertip. Like finding home.

To a stranger, it is hard to know when one has arrived in Terlingua town properly. It took me a while to get to my reserved bivouac, but it was an interesting adventure.

Way before I saw habitation, I started noticing mutilated canoes, more than the anticipated old rusting vehicles, scattered across the landscape in an unsettling way: tossed on the rocks by what wave? Split in two by what catastrophe? Cue ominous music.

Oh! A Coyote Crossing.

That explains it. Trickster is mayor here too.

A desert road from vegas to nowhere, Some place better than where you've been. A coffee machine that needs some fixing In a little café just around the bend.

I am calling you. Can't you hear me? I am calling you.…

(written by Bob Telson, recorded by Jevetta Steele sound track for the 1987movie Baghdad Cafe)


A real life Texas version Bagdad Cafe. I wonder if the Coke machine works.

Trickster would also account for the strange not-a-camel sailing ship in the desert, just hanging out. Waiting for wind. To pass.

Drifting into a wonderful life, or blown a long way off course from home waters of Lake Charles, Louisiana, (by that passing wind) this not-a-camel showed signs of human habitation and can be reserved on *that* short stay accommodation app. But was I there yet?

Obviously this was a road not to be taken, as well as a sign of more heretical mutilation, or expedient upcycling, of paddle equipment. Paddling the Rio Grande, the southern border with Mexico, is what one comes to this remote desert outpost for, after all. The lure which reeled me in.

And sometimes all I could see was more minimalist desert beauty.

Dinosaur yoga. Is this it? Am I home?

Nope, but good try.

I didn’t reserve a lotus tent, but could have. They were easier to find than my reservation for Electric Ladyland in the travel trailer encampment.

The community garden was having some shut eye, but gave me a point to get my bearings.

Luckily I wasn’t traveling with a dog. The general store has some feelings around dogs.

Other feelings expressed in other places.

Eventually, just like that, I stumbled, quite by accident, on my accommodation, and set about settling in, as shown in previous post.

Easy street, indeed.

Terlingua certainly led me a fine ghost town dance.

I had not allowed nearly enough time to get to know the place. The weather was also decidedly gloomy much of my stay: winter stormy, windy and cold. A spilled mercury sky to gather me home.

The rest of my few days were spent exploring Big Bend National Park, getting real close to Mexico in a watery way: toeing the line, literally. In posts to follow.

We will dance again, the far west Texas ghost town and I.

Celestial navigation, finding that lone star to steer by, brings the canoe home.



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