This is a wild place. It’s not something that can be described or explained, really, to people who don’t understand. Wild isn’t a cerebral concept. It’s something you feel in your bones and the depth of your animal mind, when you find it.

There are places humans rule, and places we do not–and Arizona has been tamed by time and technology, but not broken. The soul of this place is steeped in wild fury we are at once privileged to experience, and endangered by.

Vagabond.Guide will not go on hiatus.

Life is just a chain of moments, and you’ll find, if you let your attention wander, they’ll pass by a bit quickly. Somehow, it’s been a month since I’ve posted, here, and I don’t want that to be the way of things on this blog.

However, life is life. October and September were spent focusing on bringing in work, plus I managed to catch not one but two colds in October. Rent must be paid, bodies must be allowed to recover, and time is not infinite. Sometimes adventures must be placed on hold.

Still, I am determined that I not let to many of these moments slip by; that’s part of why this blog was created.

The Scale of the Storms

So, I’ve not been idle in November. At the beginning of the month, I managed to catch a second haboob rolling into town. I thought maybe the feeling of awe that accompanied the first one I captured on film a couple months ago might fade or ebb with exposure.


That was not so. To watch a great duststorm roll in is to have your senses of perception continuously challenged and undercut. At first, your eyes will see the racing, roiling, mass and they will tell you, because it is moving so fast and fluidly, it is this size, and that size is large, but . . . then they will see the little dots being swallowed by the cloud, and they will tell you it is ten times as large as you had imagined–but then they will be drawn back to the depthless motion of the growing wall, and say, no, it can’t be that big, it’s moving too fast. 

And all the while the calm air around you will begin to shiver, and you’ll see the flashes of the lightning in the heart of the storm, awaiting the arrival. Then that first touch of wet air. This time, it was not warm, but frigid, and the oncoming wave of air made visible by the dark earth it had torn from the ground hit me so hard I stumbled.

That the moment all the lies your eyes have told you reconcile, and you understand the truth: In the face of a desert storm, you are also a grain of sand.


On the way home from Prescott, Wanda and I decided to go on an adventure:


This was not a wildfire. This was prescribed burn. A fire set to prevent a true wildfire.

If you’ve never been close to a real wildfire, I recommend it as something that should go on your bucket list–just don’t get in the way of the people fighting the blaze, and don’t endanger yourself unduly.

And yet, there is also this: There’s no way to be near a true Western Wildfire and not be in danger. They don’t move like fire across logs, or coals, or grass; they jump. The trees at the edge get hot enough that their sap vaporize, and they explode into funeral pyres. Faster than you can run, more powerful than your mind can truly grasp. You have not lived completely until you have watched a wall of flame rising twice the height of the hundred foot trees it feeds upon, racing over a ridgeline, beneath an orange sun and ash like falling snow. I’ve been near enough one to feel the heat, and, let me tell you, that was much farther than I’d have thought.

Seizing the Chance

These are some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken (I owe plenty of credit for that to my sister, who let me borrow her DSLR camera), and I wouldn’t have taken any of them if I hadn’t taken an unplanned detour.

A smudge on the horizon, smoke down a side road, these are the little hints of adventure–there are million such hints–and we can follow them or ignore them. And never have I regretted taking the chance.

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