Thunder Mountain Suicide

traveling, writing

Frank Van Zant doesn’t sound like the name of a famous Native American.

That’s because he wasn’t really a Native American. In reality, he was just a hippie. Living in the western US and taking road trips across the country like many Americans of his generation did.

Zant was a WW2 veteran from Oklahoma and his gift to the world amounts to an array of wild sculptures off a Highway in Nevada.  Many people drive past the artwork off Nevada’s highway unknowingly.

Between Winnemucca and Lovelock off I-80, about 120 miles east of Reno. Very close to the exit for a tiny town named Imlay with a pop. 200 lies Thunder Mountain.

During a late night click-fest on wikipedia, I learned of Thunder Mountain. The idea of it reminded me of a film I’ve loved for years called the Holy Mountain, so I wanted to check it out.

Why not, considering that I am 5 hours northeast of the junk Mecca.

Intended to be a shelter for the apocalypse after Frank Van Zant, aka Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder, had an epiphany.  It was constructed from concrete, old cars, typewriters, bottles, recycled metals and miscellaneous junk.

It was originally a series of homes created together on five acres off of Interstate 80 in Nevada.

What it looked like in its prime I can only imagine. The monument suffered for years as vandalism, arson, and abuse have worn it out. Then, in 1992 it was declared a historic site in Nevada and finally provided protection.

Thunder Mountain Suicide

In 1989, Frank Van Zant shot himself in the head. His legacy lives in the garden and fascinating “junk castle” dedicated to the life and abuse of Native Americans well into 2018.

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I drove from Central Florida to Central Oregon myself.

photography, photos, traveling, writing

I was asked a lot while I was stopping at  interstate gas stations in the middle of nowhere.

“You’re really alone? Thats awfully brave of you.” the clerk would say, knowing that I am obviously not from around there.

Watching the landscape change and hearing the accents evolve simultaneously. It was fascinating, and as I reached each clerk I asked them all to filler’ up. I drove through flat oak tree covered Florida, watched it get real swampy. Then the vastly dynamic landscapes of Texas until it started to get very red and rocky. Finally, further north I am in the mountains.

Leaving Florida was bittersweet for me.

I didn’t want to do it, but I knew deep down I had to.

The Mini Cooper I drive was filled to the very top, with just enough space to form an empty window that I can use for driving. Off I go. May 10th. Got to New Orleans, LA late that night and slept in a hotel room located in the heart of the city. It was very close to the beautiful French Quarter.

Adventures in New Orleans brought me into the window of a stranger’s van to hit a joint, and the stoop of a strangers home in the lower east side. They led me to get completely lost in circles, on a public bus and frantically searching for my car. I was in a huge city of which I have never lived and on a dying phone. I ended up buying beer for locals to help keep me safe as an act of self preservation.

This worked eventually and after 9 hours on my feet I finally found my Mini tucked away in a small parking area in the middle of the French Quarter and made my way Northwest towards and through Texas.

Texas took a very long time to drive though, it was vast and empty and beautiful.

I drove 100 MPH through a small stretch of highway near the New Mexico border. My heart was racing as I clutched onto my life at the steering wheel.  Feeling pleased at how happy my car was purring along the highway. It was made for this. I only speed up to 99-102 a few times during the trip, and for only a few seconds at most.

The roads were so empty for so long, and when you have over 3k miles left, you need to do something to keep yourself excited.

At least thats how I justified my dangerous speeds. The few days traveling from Florida to Colorado forced me to grow into myself. I had to stand tall and be defensive, strong and alone.

There’s something about the solitude that makes you feel so vulnerable in the world. Some days its clearer than others that my discomfort is because I am a woman more because I am a human.

Only in New Mexico for about 30 minutes while I traversed from Texas to Colorado when I got a speeding ticket. Thanks, New Mexico.

I got to Colorado City, CO the next day at 3am and slept in my car. This was uncomfortable to say the least. In front of an empty lot in a trailer park, I was unsure which was my dads. Defeated, I went back to my cramped car and nervously slept until dawn. The experience isn’t one I would suggest to anyone.

I woke up, of course as soon as the sun came up and met the handsome mountain across the street.

He had snow on top and was one of the many mountains surrounded this small town and the surrounding towns of Pueblo county. At an elevation of  ‎5,853 ft , I was way up high for a gal from Florida for the past few years of my life.

I stayed with my dad, who is a blues guitarist and musician and a retired pot dealer. I had a great time with him and we went to several gigs where I could see him play and have a few drinks and dance! He is playing with an amazing group called Sonrisa.

Traveling through the rest of Colorado, Wyoming and then spending the night in Twin Falls, Idaho was an adventure filled with the most amazing landscapes I’ve ever seen. I had to pay minimal attention the beauty surrounded me because I was also driving in the snowy mountains.

The rest of this journey, and a lot of my summer 2017 are kind of hard to think about, and especially to write about but I feel like with 2018 rapidly approaching, it’s about time I at least dance around it.

The truest description of this beautiful, crazy summer was just an explosion of very intense emotions that left me a little scared. Living in Eugene in nice and I have a nice bobcat brain on a shelf in my living room with a small tv and a couch and sure it’s a little cold outside and it will be for a while but I have someone to snuggle now and I have my cat and that’s the end result, then I’m ok with it.

I don’t know what I was really looking for when I left Florida.

But this seems alright. In 2018, I am opting to have less income and more time, for as long as is necessary to take something off the ground. What exactly? ///…

Traveling across the USA and waking up in the Pacific Northwest

traveling, writing

I’ve been traveling now for two months and it feels a lot more like six. It’s exhausting business and traveling has allowed me to notice some behavioral issues I am having. 

It’s frustrating, I notice myself when I continue falling upon patterns that ensure some kind of disaster. Does it take a while before that part of my brain kicks in to stop me, or is mine simply missing, or malfunctioning? I don’t know whats wrong with me. I’ll spend all day just disagreeing with my behavior. 

Sometimes, all the time, I fall in and out of love too easily.

It’s as easy as the ocean waves saying hello and goodbye on the beach. Despite my best efforts when I know my love is like some sort of an opiate, it comes with great consequences and I can tell it’s going to be explosive and a part of me is excited about all of that energy coming from out of nowhere, coming from our little human hearts.

After a lot of spirals and headaches and crying and silent concern and walking around breathing as carefully as possible and heart racing and a mental breakdown and a lot of other necessary but uncomfortable feelings and situations, I guess foresight is everything and I have my space back as much as I’d like to have it and someone somewhere has to start fresh at the beginning of a full circle. It’s like watching clouds. I’ll be in my own window littered living room in less than 3 weeks and I’ll have plans hanging up and cute rugs and art everywhere and thats all I’ve needed for months now.

Feist is singing, my throat is dry and my skin feels soft and textured. One lover out, one lover in, this is my world. Exploring love. I’m smiling in the sunshine every day and its nice but I am excited for the challenges of my first winter in the Pacific Northwest.

I feel like my desire to plan or strive is melting away but it’s ok because I’m happy and I’m doing fine.

There’s a theme of something going on out here. I went to a work related event in Vancouver, Canada and explored the city on foot. I drank at a bar with cowgirl table top dancers and laughed with large tables full of Italians. Did a dab with an editor and spoke honestly about art and emotion. I smiled, a lot, even though I hate my smile.

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Panorama of Vancouver, CA from Cambie Bridge

 

We’ll see how it goes. I’ve been painting again, and the results are bright and colorful. If you would like to see more of my travel photography, please check it out here!