In the southwestern New York, we came across an emerald gem. It has a grey bedrock channel through it. In some places it sparkles like tiny diamonds. It’s called Skinny-dip Falls. It’s a canyon gorge with a nude area about a mile long. Some sources say that it is designated, but it appears to speak for itself.
We have been having a peaceful R&R morning in Shawneee State Park, Ohio. It is mid- week, Tuesday, and we are nearly alone. I count just five occupied spaces out of the many in our area.
I take to the asphalt, walking down to the ranger station to square up and ask about hiking in the area. There are park maps pulled out, as I inquire. Not seeing what I am looking for, I mention that we have been a way from eastern forested areas like this and we would like solitude, maybe some meditation.
There is a trail up the road. Suspiciously, it doesn’t sound quite right, but there is little else to go on.
A short trip up the road through the canyon is a boat launch and dam. A lower parking lot is empty. Nobody is around. We get our light gear and follow a sign, walking across the road over to a hole in the foliage. It soon becomes apparent, that this trail is all our own.
Just a few feet in, we confidently strip off. I toss my clothing into the pack and out of the way.
Lawn mowers are everywhere, everyone has a big green lawn. Dorothy, we’re not in Arizona anymore!
We begin with a slow easy start, meandering through the back country roads of Missouri, smelling the cool morning breeze as it wraps around our bodies.
There is a beautiful bridge that we use to pass over to “east of the Mississippi” a sort of demarcation dividing the USA in half. Western Americans know this concept as if pioneers embarking “out west.” We anticipate a change. Oddly, on the other side of bustling Cape Girardeau, sits a strip bar and gas station, surprisingly nothing else, just some fields and trees and the road.
We’re going across five states today, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and landing somewhere in the Ohio River Valley. I’ve checked the nudity laws. They vary from state to state, some more threatening than others. It is best to just use our regular carnuding strategies. We’ll be on Interstate highways mostly. Not much concern, but of the view of a bored truck driver who might awaken from his driving tedium.
I pull over for cell phone reception at a rest stop to make a telephonic doctor’s appointment. With that out of the way, we decide on lunch on one of the picnic tables and have a break from is longer day of driving.
The place seems odd to me. Each tree is perfect and uniform in shape and size. These clones have been here many years and manicured, probably planted at the same time. It reminds me of a Jetson’s cartoon that I saw years ago, where in the future, the trees are all gone. Their replacements are actually metal and uniform. I wander off to the edge of this park in fascination. I find much wild biodiversity attempting to creep in the empty space and take over. It is barely contained by perimeter fences.
As we sit and eat, we people watch. I contemplate that there is a defining identification regionally about clothing. Redneck chic is a big thing. Western outfits began to be replaced more by baseball caps with logos and tee shirts, as we have made our way eastward. Illinois seems more urban with paler skin from lack of sun. Indiana has the redneck look down pat. It seems like a tribal thing. My wrap around kilt, a convenient individuality, gets second glances. If only we would spend our summers dressed as human beings. There is much to do about really nothing. Continue reading →
…Missouri welcomes, as does every state. A long expanse of trees covers the countryside. There are national and state lands preserved for the future, bringing back the heritage that has been logged away. I had set up for some camping and hiking exploration in the Mark Twain National Forest, but hearing the voices of old friends on the phone, changed my mind. Follow the heart.
We stop for ice cream and gas along the highway. In the parking lot, there is a young man with the lid up on his old pickup truck, sitting with car trouble. Five Amish men in their traditional dress, black suspenders, gather around him watching. After a while, I see a black horse carriage trotting away down the highway. No motor troubles.
We turn off of the Interstate as the shadows begin to get longer. The two lane road winds through forest and farmland.
We are feeling refreshed from our dip in the natural bathtub. We are comfortably barefoot, head to toe, road ready. We leave Dog Canyon, passing through Alamogordo, New Mexico, continuing our journey.
I’ve used the word “carnude”, or “carnuding” several times lately. Just to do some housekeeping, it is a contraction of “car” and “nude” that several of us came up with several years ago. It was a takeoff of the contraction “canuding” meaning canoeing nude. It simply means traveling by car without clothing. Here is a complete Carnuding Handbook, which explains the how to’s that we employ to safely carnude:
We slow through the quiet town of Tularosa. I have been through here numerous times over my lifetime, but never have taken true notice. I spot a large neighborhood of dressed up older homes. They are what I’d call New Mexico styles. They have much in common with the popular Santa Fe style, but are less restricted to the boxy pueblo look.
We wake up in our cozy tent, looking out of the net, hungry. That huge mountain rises up above us with its sense of beyond. There is more hidden up there, lots more, eventually there is a National Forest filled with pines and lush life.
Stepping out of our nest is like stepping into adventure. The view is spectacular. The valley is now its normal self, under a big turquoise New Mexico sky. We are on vacation. Breakfast comes, as I tear down the tent. I carefully tuck each component of our campsite in its assigned place in the small car.
The plan was to be out somewhere in the Lincoln National Forest, this morning, somewhere near Capitan, New Mexico. Yesterday, we altered that in a moment and visited White Sands National Monument instead. We then stayed here, just a few miles away.
So, we’re hours from that original goal, in no particular hurry and about to alter our plans again. Like I said, “We’re on vacation,” But what I haven’t said is that this is an open ended trip. We can stay on the road as long as we like. Just that, feels mighty liberating.
I pull out my notes and check our parameters. What can we do today? There is a compelling notion of a hike up a spectacular looking canyon that we have been curiously viewing from our breakfast table.
We are on our first day of our epic road trip. We have been enjoying the threat and turbulence from a storm menacing the Tularosa Valley of New Mexico. We just left my childhood stomping grounds and the White Sands National Monument, but now, we need to find a shelter.
We pass by Holloman Air Force Base and more memories are triggered. Before space was deemed safe for men, it was here that chimpanzees were trained to be sent out into orbit. These earliest astronauts were trained with the positive reinforcement of banana pills. My dad, an Army Lieutenant Colonel had toured the training facility and brought some of the “top secret” pills back home to me. He joked about using them to train me like a monkey. Those pills were absolutely the essence of banana, delicious and I did want more.
Things have changed, this was once the world where Billy the Kid camped out under the stars of the big sky. Today, as we approach Alamogordo, I am searching for the National Weather Service on my smart phone. Do we go for a tent site up in the foothills of the Lincoln National Forest, or hunker down safely in a stuffy motel?
I look to the forecast and the evolving satellite weather map. I look out at the storm across the vast valley from here, ground level. I figure odds are that the storm will pass west and south of the mountain range. We’re feeling hopeful. We drive off to investigate the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park.
After dropping our camping permit papers into a small box, we’re watching rain and storms all across the great valley. We’ll pitch our tent in the evening sun.
There are numerous adobe picnic shelters spaced across this hillside. I find a space under one that is just big enough for the tent. If my weather research is proved wrong, this will be an additional insurance.
As we set up camp and dinner. The sun peeks out from under the clouds and illuminates the massive hillside to our east. It is bright, a sharp golden spectacle. I think of Pizzaro and his army wandering in search of tales of mountains of gold. The natives along the way all concur that there are mountains of gold. His resolve increases and his thirst salivates, but his lust is never quenched on the fool’s errand.
Tularosa bats come by from mountainous shelters for their evening meals. We welcome them and wonder if they may be headed north to Colorado and the cave next to the Orient Land Trust hot springs.
We inspect the car that we started out with. It is coated with fine white powder, spotted like a Dalmatian by the large rain drops that found their way to us in the sandy storm, earlier in the day, at White Sands National Monument. It isn’t a sand blast, but more like flour dust stuck to the metal and paint. Oh, well….
We’re off on an ADVENTURE! We haven’t done a long road trip in…decades. DF has retired and we can have an open-ended vacation across America…naked.
We wake up with the Alarm? Dang, DF forgot to stop the reoccurring setting on her phone. She rolls over, first confused and then angrily she starts to peck at the screen.
The peace and well-being intruder is off for good now, unless we choose so. Now, our excitement is getting in the way of our slumber. We begin in a casual series of stretches and exercises, a little yoga, just enough. We’re going to be doing a lot of sitting in a car, best to have our bodies ready.
This exercise establishes a good pace for us. We hug and acknowledge that we’re okay. DF produces “The Daily Word” a small book of spiritual wisdom that we read each morning. Today its daily advise is spot on. It talks about adventure. We feel in like we’re in sync with the world.
We have been loading and final prepping for over a week. Everything that we need has been tucked into the little good on gas Honda Civic. Each piece placed more at the ready in its rank of usage. In the trunk tent/bedding out front, kitchen front and center. Clothing minimized, we just have the space in the rear driver’s side door for access. Food goes behind the passenger’s seat on the floor and the cooler is packed and placed on that seat. Doodads, this and that is placed in available nooks and crannies. It’s all ready.
After a quick breakfast, we walk naked through the garage and into our trip.