Ghost Adventure

I try to drive once a week to keep my car running and to prevent today’s low quality gas from rotting the fuel lines. Mostly on my driving day, I’ve been heading to the bigger town to get items I can’t get around here, and to pick up the groceries too heavy or bulky to carry when I’m on foot, but today, I didn’t need enough to warrant an errand trip. So I went adventuring.

I’ve been wanting to go hiking in the the state wildlife area that’s just a few miles from here, but when I finally found the area, I was only able to drive about a quarter of a mile on those washboard roads before I gave up. Such roads rattle my poor old car, and I always worry I will end up like one of those jalopies in comic strips, where the hero hits a bump, and that old car falls to pieces.

I drove very carefully back out to the paved road, and headed toward a nearby historic area with a ghost town. Many of the buildings had been washed away in a long ago flood, but the ones that remain are in good shape and house  a museum of sorts.

This ghost town is on the Santa Fe trail — a ghost trail for real. Those travelers who didn’t die on the trail have been settled in graveyards for a century or more.

After walking the few feet of trail that’s in the historic region, I moseyed along the ghost river. This river bed was once a raging river, though in it’s current incarnation, it’s a placid creek about a half mile away from this river bed. (Though when the rains come, it reverts back to it’s wild youth, or so I’ve been told.)

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for taking photos and wandering the grassy trails. The only downside of the trip (well, besides not getting to hike in the state wildlife area) was plaque honoring the women who’d once lived there. Not that I object to the mention of the women. It was the story attached to one Indian woman that haunts me. She was married to a white man, and the lands she got as reparation for the Sand Creek Massacre helped build his empire. It just struck me as so wrong that the same sort of folks who destroyed the native peoples were in any way allowed to benefit. The cynic in me wonders how many men, married to Indian women, were instrumental in getting the reparations.

But they, too, are ghosts now — the man and his property-bearing wife. And anyway, my own ancestors were starving in a country far away across the ocean when all this happened, so it’s not as if I bear any personal responsibility. I will let it go and just remember the gorgeous day and my ghost walk under the lovely blue Colorado skies.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

No Ghosts in Swansea

My friend in Quartzsite and went on an adventure to search out the ghost town, Swansea, that once grew around a working copper mine. Abandoned in 1943, it didn’t really capture my imagination. Nor was my friend impressed witb the few ruins that comprise the so-called ghost of a town. (Apparently she didn’t know that many ghost towns are nothing but empty ground, with not even a ruin to mark the spot.)

Making the town more disappointing than it should have been, I skidded on the scree and skinned my knee quite badly. Luckily, I was wearing long pants, and even luckilier, I was wearing my fanny pack complete with first aid kit, so real harm done. This episode taught me two things — always bring my walking sticks (on purpose, I didn’t) and don’t be lazy — always wear some sort of pack complete with emergency supplies. (By accident, I did.)

The real joy of the trip (next, of course, to being able to spend time with my online-now-offline friend Holly), was the trip. Gorgeous scenery. A huge laugh when fifteen miles down a dirt road where we had seen no traffic, we had to stop at a stop sign. Admittedly, we were at a crossroads where we intersected another dirt road with no traffic for miles either way, but ludicrous for all that. (Holly took a photo of the stop sign. I didn’t, figuring we all know what a stop sign looks like.)

And wow, did she impress me when we came to ruts cutting across the road with no way around. These ditches (they were deep enough to drown my poor bug, so no way does “rut” give you an idea of how deep they were; if I were walking, I could not have negotiated them) had been cut by off-road vehicles, and seemed impassable. I thought we might have had to try to fill in the ditches so we could cross (we couldn’t turn back because we had already crossed an uncrossible patch of road, and besides, Holly is as stubborn as I am about backtracking) but Holly just studied those two parallel ditches, calculated the angle she would need to go to cross them, then put her car in gear and drove across as if those ditches were pinstripes in the road. Oh, my.

As interesting as that particular adventure was, I think I’ll stick to highways.

See you on down the road.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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