Letter from the Lost Sea Expedition

A letter for you, straight from the Lost Sea Expedition wagon (Otero County, NM)

 

“Polly’s tied up in the wind to a road sign that says “Pinon Creek Rd” – a road that leads from dust to more wind.”

That’s how the letter started. I posted it from a gravel truck crossing Crow Flats instead of the post office.   Here’s a letter to the outside world from the Lost Sea Expedition wagon.

Traveling the ancient sea bed with my wagon, I kept in touch with friends largely through letters – occasionally a phone call.  Toward the end of my voyage,  crossing the parched expanses of the Chihuahua Desert,  sending these letters got tougher. There just weren’t any post offices in this land of choya, prickly pear and wind.

Day’s end. Here mule Polly and I knock off for the day. We’re camped way off the road in the New Mexican desert. That didn’t mean the filming stopped. On this particular evening, I broke out my dulcimer and serenaded mule Polly with a 3-string concert. Okay, it was one song. It was just good enough to include on the Lost Sea Expedition TV series. You can stream the series on  Amazon (free/w Prime) and Vimeo or buy the DVD here at the Lost Sea Expedition store.
Can you see my wagon? You may have to look reeealllly hard. It’s the yellow speck toward the middle of the picture just above the century plant, the aloe-looking plant with all the spines. This is where I wrote the letter you’re about to read.

These simple paper and pen missives reeked of wind, the dust and the alone-ness.

Here’s a letter I wrote to my dear friend M.  Looking back on it now, through the lens of all the electronic communications that’s grown over my eyes since that voyage, I like how it feels better than ever before.

From Crow Flats, New Mexico, I wrote:

Dear M,

Polly’s tied up in the wind to a road sign that say “Pinon Creek Rd” – a road that leads from dust to more wind. I haven’t been able to call for over a week now so decided to write you a note and have one of the road construction guys mail it on his way home.
In the past week we’ve climbed and rattled down 2,500 feet of elevation. More important, we haven’t heard from the outside world, the “crisis” having a way of filtering into our every day lives.

With 2+- weeks left in the voyage, I’m already looking forward to returning home to spring, complete with fingers digging in moist soil, making tiny bed holes for even smaller roots.


I must bring you something home from this desert, something that a little water and prosperity won’t kill. Oh, wait, that could be me…
Well, better run. The gravel truck is heading this way.
Now this letter’s adventure begins. Please note the postmark so we can see where it was mailed from.
See you soon! Give my regards to J and W.
Bernie
PS: Hope school’s going well. I couldn’t send you a cactus for your garden but I could draw one for your letter.

So that’s what I wrote. Now I just had to get that letter in to the US Postal system.

On board the Lost Sea Expedition wagon, I carried a few stamps. I stuck enough postage on my letter to carry it to its destination.  The only traffic I’d seen were the occasional gravel truck I’d mentioned in the letter. It got me thinking.

Then I just waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Waiting is a big part of wagon travel. I’m good at it, having had lots of practice. This is a skill that’s easily eroded by social media. That’s why I  regularly go offline. Just to keep my waiting skills honed.

Finally,  a cloud of dust on the gravel road I was traveling. A gravel truck.

The gravel truck that appeared out of the desert road dust cloud. It belongs to the Otero County Road Department (New Mexico)

I flagged down the driver. Gave him my letter. Asked him to post it when he got home.

The hand off. You can see by the grin on my face that I’m mighty happy to be seeing someone way out there in the desert. Thanks Otero County Road Department!

That night, alone in my wagon, I thought of the new journey my letter had begun. How that letter, entrusted to a flagged down stranger, would be making its way back to civilization. Outside, the desert wind blew. I felt a little less alone knowing word of my existence would reach the outside world.

Mule Polly and I are home now. Here’s how you can watch the entire Lost Sea Expedition series:

Public TV:

-Rocky Mountain PBS (Colorado)
June 7, 14, 28 and July 5 / 7p

Streaming:

– Amazon (free/w Prime) If you enjoyed the series, please leave a review on Amazon. These really help.

Vimeo

DVD:

– available at the Lost Sea Expedition store.

On a tangential note,  I have a hard wired need to mail folks letters and cards. Oh, and to pay for my travels as I go. To help finance my half-year journey around Tasmania on a $10 bike, there was the Postcard from Tasmania series.

Some post cards from Tasmania.

That series sold out but you can read about some of the cards I sent from:
– the southern-most pub in Australia.
-wallaby-thick “Flinders Island, Tasmania”:man-down-under/postcard-from-flinders-island-tasmania
Yes, I discovered you can even send a beer can postcard from Tasmania to anywhere in the world.

 

 

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