December 30 – February 5

We are our choices.

Jean-Paul Sartre

I neglected this creative space. Day after day it became easier to put it off. Procrastination people… it steals your mojo. What happened? I started over thinking, it was New Years and I was reflecting on the intentions I wanted to set for myself, how I wanted to shape my voice going forth. And then all the thoughts, the choices, overwhelmed my decision tree and I sat immobile, staring deep into oncoming headlights, unable to decide how to proceed. Here I am a month and a half later with unresolved conflicting creative ideas. I started these entries as a way to tell the stories behind the photographs I shared on social media. Then I decided to use these Road Journal entries to disseminate more of my images and pull back from Instagram and/or Facebook.

I’ll leave it there for now, tell you what I have been up to and push all thoughts of change off to the horizon.

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Kurt and I spent New years in our cozy nest of blankets, boon-docking in the Bulldog Canyon OHV area. We pulled in on a friday. I woke up the first night to the noise of a storm rocking the camper, helecopters, planes, fireworks, bangs, sirens, and coyotes… Plus one biscuit making, neck snuggling kitten on a timer for 3:00 am and 5:00 am.
The blitz let off after the weekend and we found ourselves lucky to have mellow and friendly neighbors. We could hear them from time to time playing banjo or other various instruments. Then abruptly they packed up stood facing the desert playing a flute and then left. I was sad to see them leave.

The site didn’t stay empty.

I knew I was going to be annoyed when it was occupied by half a dozen cars and trucks with no tents. They unloaded their ORVs, cranked the country music and cracked the beers. I peeked out to see one guy strutting around shirtless, all voice and bravado… a windbag beer toting cliche.

Before you exclaim, ”Taryn, why do you have to be so judgmental!” know they had a run in with a volunteer of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and they used their colorful language. Shirtless “told her” and “who was she to tell him” because that “b****” wasn’t an official. I overhear that and more ranting for his audience.

We came to the Bulldog Canyon area to photograph the Salt River Wild Horses (again). We were not having the same luck as last year. No bands casually walking up the road by our campsite. Did not catch them in the evening by the river, but once. Kurt and I didn’t happen upon them while driving for supplies. He didn’t see them on his walks. There are around 400 feral horses in this area, running in small bands. Odds are decent of a sighting.

Kurt booked us at Organ Pipe National Monument for a few days. I forget how spectacular the borderlands are. Memory hushes the vibrancy to a murmur, but then you get there. You want to drink each spectacular sunset. Texture. Creature. Rock. Shape. Shadow. Cactus.
Along with the beauty is the reality. This is a stretch of Sonoran Desert that faced the brutal building needs of The Wall. The desert all along the build was scarred by the building process. Despite the grand gesture we saw a few groups of people detained in the desert and signs of others passing through.

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We left the borderlands to spend long stretches of time with no one near us at all. Not a person in view. We camped on an old lava flow near where the Oatman Family Massacre occurred. Kurt spent his days photographing birds and I focused on art.

… Before I knew it we were three seasons deep into a true crime podcast about serial killers and the camper was festooned in art paraphernalia. I lost days.

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Then a leaf spring broke on the camper. And the solar panels were blown over in the night, smashing one. My website nearly crashed.(Did crash?) I had to use an emergency login provided by my host’s brains to uninstall a thing. And then I proceeded to accidentally delete content with my giant exuberant Tom Robbins thumb. (Really its shorter than it should be, It’s called a club thumb, serious.) I made myself some unnecessary work. If, for fun, you want to delete a page… don’t make it your homepage. The phone company had to fix our cellphone hotspot capability, it was wrongly removed. Kurt spent hours with tech support. Being transferred to disconnected tech support numbers. Losing tech support chats, and agents abruptly exiting chats before the problem was resolved.

I wanted to check out Quartzite (I was wrong to want this). I heard so much about it. In some ways it was exactly what i expected. In others, no. The shoulder of the road heading into Quartzite was littered, peppered evenly in shredded tire debris. The town appeared little more than a bloated grimy fair ground, the main road lined with barn type buildings housing businesses.

And that is where my interest hopped off the bus. Expectation: people selling their goods flee-market style. Reality: cheap flags, leather, rocks and camping goods. If there was more it didn’t rise above the clatter of junk stalls. I did not want to camp anywhere near that fermenting knot of fiberglass and aluminum chaos.

Back to the lava field for more days filled with solitude and desert sunsets▪️

1 thought on “Road Journal: Dog Days of Winter

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Taryn Okesson: Visual Artist
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