May 21, 1999
Study Butte, Texas, USA

9:46am. A small lizard is clawing at the hillside next to me. Flies enjoy the soggy granola in my cup. I’m in the shade, on a small ledge near the summit of Maverick Mountain, across the road from Richard’s apartment-- where I’m crash’n.

Directly before me, a dozen miles as the vulture flies, stands the mouth of the Santa Elena Canyon, were Randy and I went on a trip up river yesterday afternoon. We picked up a ducky-- an inflatable kayak, at Desert Sports( to visit the Desert Sports web site, click here), a local outfitting and rental shop. The water was low, so we had to drag the boat a lot, but it was still a good time.

Entering Santa Elena Canyon, at the west end, from the desert floor, felt I was walking into a mountain. The canyon walls, golden in the defused afternoon light, rose straight up a thousand feet from the snake-like river. We paddled and waded against the flow, until it was dark, then drifted back down by moon light and head lamp. There was a big splash between the boat and the bank, that Randy swears was a gator. I’m not so sure, although I’m told the rafting guides often see a gator up river.

I met Randy last night at the Starlight Theater-- where Anne waits tables. Anne and Richard introduced me. I met Anne in Mazatlan. We lived in a large palapa on the beach with a dozen other travelers-- like a commune, a big family. Anne and I met Richard on a short side trip to the Copper Canyon-- a several hour bus ride, and 8 hour train ride north-west of Mazatlan. He came back to Mazatlan with us. Anne and a couple of the others departed Mazatlan with Richard, to hang with him here in the Big Bend. Anne and Richard are now a couple. The others split.

10:30am. My ass is numb. Yesterday morning I started reading excerpts from Jack Kerouac’s adventures, On the Road.

Two vultures are soaring blow me, rising effortlessly on the warm air currents. A cricket is creating a high-pitched buzz. I don’t know how something so small can be so loud. Maybe it is amplified by the mountain’s acoustics.


It echoed several times.


I "yeaped" loud, with a high pitch, 20 times or more-- listening closely for the echoes. No matter what direction I ’yeap...!!!", the first sound bounces back form my right, then wraps around left.

The sun has stolen my shade. I will descend soon, before the heat dries my mouth and soaks my shirt.

8:47pm. I’m sitting on the Terlingua store porch next to "Old man" Gene. He told me "when you shake a man’s hand... ya gotta look’em in the eye!" He also advised, "Never let anyone tell ya what to do, or tell ya what ya can and can’t do."

The water I’m drinking feels like the best thing that has ever passed my lips.