It’s a straight ride. Exit 89 off I-25 South, a few turns and another 15 miles. Sudden drop down into a lovely valley with touches of green and turning cottonwoods. You wouldn't know this was here, hidden between the plateau. I find the brown adobe wall Gray mentioned, next to a small white church. I’ve arrived to Apacheria. I pull up through weather worn wood gates and see Gray welcoming me with a hug. Wow! Last time I saw Gray was when he and Kristi came to visit me at the start of my journey in La Conner, Washington. He looks the same. Maybe a bigger smile and sparkle. The place oozes old western ranch. Low adobe walls. Large open parking area. Backed the RV into a good level spot. Joined Gray and Kristi in the house. This is not the Kristi I met in Washington. She's in her element.
Radiating warmth. They gave me a tour. The place is spotless. A large open room with thick adobe walls. Open beam ceiling slanting upward. Two good sized rooms in the back with a cozy shared area leading to comfy outdoor patio. Perfect place to relax and read a book.
The house is amazing. A warm welcome. We get caught up over a fab lunch by Kristi. Gray warned me; she’s a great cook. We discuss challenges and triumphs. They’ve been reading my blog and want to know all about the UFO experience.
Kristi tells of her own sighting from back porch one night. She and good friend both saw it. She believes me and is supportive. We talk all night getting caught up. She tells me about the highest technology in the world installed nearby. The Spaceport where people will be able to fly into space.
The Brit Branigan has invested heavily in this venture. There are other surprising things about this land of Enchantment I will learn on my visit.
We tour the land which extends ‘round back of the house and cabins. 3+ acres. They plan on buying this property and work it as destination for plein air painters and other groups seeking peace, quiet, and natural beauty. Kristi has more land outside Monticello to add horseback adventures and to use in shooting her movie projects. She has written a couple scripts; a love story from an Apache perspective. Gray and Kristi make a nice team: Gray a talented painter and Kristi a talented graphic designer and budding film-maker. Complimenting each other well, Kristi shows me the line of baby clothes she is designing using stylized southwest images painted by Gray. I’m able to give Kristi a crash course in Photoshop to help her tweak Apacheria Baby designs for printing. (Makes me feel useful!) Kristi makes a flaky crust yummy thing with soup for dinner. Flavors and appearance devine! I’m thrilled to be here at Apacheria.
I guess this ghost town of Placita has a population of 15 people. Off the grid, with no cell phone service. There is internet, but slow and intermittent. Monticello, another ghost town is three miles away with a population of 45 people, give or take a few.
Morning comes, cold and crisp. Gray and I discuss Accordion Craft business. Survival in midst of ghost town involves developing several possible revenue streams. Accordion Craft is a product Gray has been developing for many years. He holds patent on this idea. I am intrigued. He's offered me to become involved. As an investor, as a partner, as an artist adding designs to the folio. I am staying open to this opportunity. Would like to see some orders come in. We launched a web page and made an instruction video posted on UTube. Needs more polish, but it’s a good start. Check it out at: www.accordioncraft.weebly.com
Since marrying Kristi who's roots are Apache and Spanish, Gray has been accepted by local Apaches. Gray has Scot roots. He'll be attending an Apache sweat lodge in afternoon. I get to see the hut and fire pit where stones are heated. Hot stones are pitchforked into the hut where water is poured over the stones releasing steam. Kristi puts tobacco leaves on the fire and offers a traditional prayer for the sweat. Smoke is released upwards from the leaves. I notice a wood pole with eagle feather flapping around in the breeze. There are drums and mariachis. Chanting and singing are part of ritual. The women prepare a feast to follow the sweat. Kristi says the men make the food when the women have a sweat.
The hut looks small. These naked men must form a bond of some kind in there, as they clear their minds of stress, sing and chant ancient songs.
Kristi and I drive up to Luna Park. Dirt road is bumpy and winds up near the San Mateo Mountains. The road gets narrow and more rutted. I love my truck! Kristi points out Victorio Mountain, named after the great Apache Chief.
She shows me an Apache camp and lookout. Great open views of mountains and lay of the land. Kristi shares her knowledge of local plants. A snake bite remedy. It slows the spread of venom. She offers a drink of her special tea. Mint, lemon, and something else. A refreshing desert drink; a beautiful red. She points out a spiky cactus tree plant which Apaches used to torture enemies. They shoved it up their enemy porthole! This thought continues to haunt me every time I pass a charo cactus. We explore the main campsite. There’s a large shallow cave in the cliff with a black vertical streak about 10 feet wide. This is soot from decades of Apache campfires. She lets me discover a hand pictograph on the cave wall. Kristi is great at setting up these moments of surprise. We walk out on a ledge facing south with a great view of the land and Black Range.
Kristi points out several smooth holes in stone ledge. Apache women made these holes for grinding juniper berries, pinot pine nuts, corn, and other grains.
We meander up a somewhat steep trail. Kristi points out different Apache cook camps. She hands me a pottery chard and smiles. It's plain. No decoration. She explains the Apaches were always on the go and didn’t have time to decorate their pottery. She finds pottery chards by locating cook sites. Kristi smiles a lot and her dark eyes sparkle. This place has magic for her. She explains we are close to center of her peoples birthplace. A very spiritual place for her. I’m feeling it by osmosis.
I see Apache in her features. In her determination. In her strength. She points out a spot on this steep hill where she’s camped alone. I can see why Gray has fallen head over heels with Kristi. I spot a white chard. Thrilled to find a pottery shard with some painting decoration on it. Must be Pueblo. White with a black design. I’ll add it to my 'touch stone' collection.
Temperature drops along with a few rain drops. We head back the way we came.
We meet Gray back at sweat lodge and dish up food. I ask the German fellow who participated how the sweat went. “This was a very personal experience and I’d rather not talk about it” was his solemn response. Gray didn’t offer any insight.
The next day Kristi, Gray, me, and dogs drive into Truth or Consequences (known as TRC by locals) to pick up a check from gallery. Grays' work is for sale there.
We do some shopping at Walmart and head back to Apacheria.
I get Gray to visit Weebly and we start building a website for AccordionCraft. At the end of evening we have the bones down.
Kristi puts together a fine meal once again. A friend of hers comes by for a visit, Carol.
She is curious about my UFO sighting in Nine Mile Canyon. She is very knowledgeable about alien visitations and we discuss such mysteries of life. I express my dismay at not knowing where the body of mine came from. “ are these really your hands?” I ask. The ladies don’t seem to understand my point at first. Stars shine bright. I keep looking up, into the universe as she and Kristi talk on and on about protecting oneself with electrical shields, the spirit realm, and vibrations throughout all. Of course there is life elsewhere! Elsewhere is so vast. We’re seeing the light from stars that burned out 32 million years ago. We are from the ground and the ground from the stars. If the ground is stardust, then as Joni Mitchell pointed out in Woodstock, “We are stardust”.
Carol suggests the moon is a satellite, always facing the same way. She looked to be about to launch into a conspiricy theory. Being worn out, I decide to hit the hay. Dreams are coming fast and furious since I came to Apacheria.
Life is like a factory. Pumping out bodies. Bodies wear out and return to earth.
Clay animation is a great medium to illustrate this!
Kristi and Gray have invited me to be an equal partner here at Apacheria. We get along well with complimentary skills. I will seriously consider this offer. There are many legal implications to consider.
They show me some real estate available in the area. Some that need a lot of remodeling and others that are wonderful and ready to move in. Prices range from 20K to 180K. I will need to complete my year long journey before making long term choices. They want me to join them here and
that inspires me. For the heck of it, for amusement, I write a short story using wild west
theme. Gray and Kristi are egg me on, as they like it. We discuss how to take it further. So I’ve started this project with drawings and have an idea about offering it as product. Stay tuned! Wish I could show you.
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