Congressional Bill Includes Protection for Greater Chaco
Congress took action last week to protect Chaco Culture National Historical Park from oil and gas drilling. The appropriations bill ensures that there will be no more leasing on federal lands within ten miles of the park, pending needed studies and consultation with tribal communities. The ten-mile zone around the park is particularly important, as it includes more than a dozen Chacoan great house communities, ancient roads, and thousands of other significant cultural resources. Thank you, Senator Udall, Congressman Lujàn, and the entire New Mexico congressional delegation for securing these important protections.
Thank all of you for your support to help make this happen. A good note to end the year on.
The clock is ticking. It has been almost exactly six months since Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt agreed to halt oil and gas lease sales within a ten-mile buffer zone surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park for one year. That means we are halfway to the end of Interior’s temporary ban on new developments near the park, and the fate of the Greater Chaco Landscape remains in limbo. Chaco is like no other place on earth. It is a living cultural landscape with significant architecture, pictographs and petroglyphs, and other resources that are reminders of the economic, agricultural, and ceremonial hub. http://bit.ly/36lgQ2W– By Paul Reed, Archaeology Southwest Please take a moment to follow the link to learn more. The Greater Chaco Landscape connects the people of the American Southwest to our shared heritage, and it must be granted official federal protections before it is lost forever. be strong, be safe, Carlan
Over twenty years ago I was wandering around out in the Greater Chaco Landscape of New Mexico. Nancy and I were living in Seattle. A conversation with a friend had led to me making a trip to New Mexico and spending some time in his family's cabin near Cuba, NM. Driving north from Albuquerque Cabezon loomed large on the horizon. Over the next week I explored dirt roads leading out into a stunning landscape. Stopping often to make photographs, it was a photographer's holiday. Meeting a local rancher, he asked "are you looking for the old Indian ruins"? He pointed me in the direction along the mesas by the river. I found Guadalupe. Much has changed over those twenty years. The site was discovered in the early 1970's. Located on BLM land it is the responsibility of the BLM for the stewardship of this sacred site. Nancy and I have returned numerous times to this very special place. We have seen many changes. Most not for the better. Once a location found as it was when the Ancestral Chacoans left, today the BLM has desecrated the site with metal roofs placed on sacred kivas, cemented walls, and the removal of most of the signs of the Pueblo People. Last week I flew the site to document and record the site conditions. My heart was saddened by what I saw.
On May 30, 2019, the National Trust announced its annual list of 11 most endangered places. America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Placesis a list of places in the United Statesthat the National Trust for Historic Preservationconsiders the most endangered. It aims to inspire Americans to preserve examples of cultural heritage that could be "relegated to the dustbins of history" without intervention. At the top of the list is Ancestral and Sacred Sites of Southeast Utah. This includes Bears Ears, Combs Ridge, and Hovenweep. Since taking office, the Trump administration has offered almost 19 million acres of public land for oil and gas leasing—an area larger than the entire state of West Virginia. All this is being done at the same time the administration is revising the management plans for more than 24 million acres of public land and proposing to slash conservation protections by 80%. Help us as we strive to document and preserve cultural, sacred sites, and endangered landscape in the Southwest. To learn how you can help visit Question of Power. be strong, be safe, Carlan
Since the beginning of 2018 the BLM has leased 112,000 acres of Public Lands in Southeast Utah. This is all part of the Greater Chaco Landscape. In many cases as little as 2% of the recently leased land has been surveyed for cultural and sacred sites. There are 1700 known sacred sites in three recent lease sales. The Trump administration immediately targeted this region for development by reducing the size of Bears Ears National Monument by nearly 85% and leaving that previously protected landscape open to mineral, oil and gas development. Last week I spent time in part of the Bears Ears previously protected landscape, an area called Valley of the Gods. Standing under a brilliant blue sky surrounded by red sandstone mesas, buttes, and towers, all remnants of an ancient landscape, it was a time and place to renew my soul. Difficult to imagine the long term effects of opening up this and the surrounding landscape for oil and gas industrialization now that protection for the areas has been removed.
Conservation and tribal groups are criticizing the Bureau of Land Management for its latest oil and gas lease sale of more than 70,000 acres of public land in Utah. The sale, which occurred this week, brought in around $1.63 million, according to the BLM, more than half of which came from 32,027 acres in San Juan County. The sale is the third since March 2018 to include land between Bears Ears and Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, much of which conservation groups say should not be leased. “This area has more archaeological sites than any other area open to oil and gas drilling in the United States,” said Josh Ewing, director of Bluff-based conservation group Friends of Cedar Mesa. The All Pueblo Council of Governors; San Juan County Commission; the Navajo Utah Commission; the Town of Bluff and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) were among those that sent letters to the BLM and Utah Governor Herbert, asking them to stop the leases near Hovenweep National Monument from advancing.
Final day traveling the Great Northern. Filled Ol' Sport with the last tank of high test. Filled me with a big breakfast and several cups of steaming hot coffee. Heading into Tumwater Canyon HWY 2 sweeps through the evergreen conifer forests winding along the raging Wenatchee River. Rolled on the throttle, leaned and pressed into the turns...WOW...What a Ride! Shadows on the road filled with cold air. Couldn't help but think of the past two weeks on the road with O'l Sport. Didn't want it to end. Maybe we could just keep going down the road together forever.
At the crest of the Cascades the road climbs up and over 4,061 foot Steven Pass. The highest and northern most Cascade pass. A popular ski area, Stevens Pass dishes out grand views of the surrounding peaks. Stopped to take it all in. Didn't want the moment to end.
From Stevens Pass it is a downhill run to the end of HWY 2 in Everett. A few miles down the narrow curving asphalt a small pull-off provides access to one of the regions prettiest and most powerful cascades of bone-chilling snowmelt. Deception Falls is the perfect example of a classic roaring waterfall.
Far too quickly I was out of the tranquility of the Cascades and on the final leg of my 2800 mile journey. Pulling into Emerald City Harley-Davidson to drop off Ol' Sport I was met by my two beautiful granddaughters and family. The perfect ending. My daughter made a special dinner of fresh caught local salmon tonight. As we sat around the table talking and laughing about some of my road stories, it became clear what I had experienced the past two weeks on the road. I had experienced America. The land, the places, the people that make up our great country. America the Beautiful. O'l Sport and me. Just a couple of cool dudes traveling light and simple down that ribbon of highway which connects us all together. Gonna really miss O'l Sport. Handed over his key with a misty eye. Had a hard time walking away. Stopped and took one final look back. Put a big smile on my face. O'l Sport and me. What a time together. A favorite Hunter Thompson quote keeps running over and over in my head tonight..."Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!" WOW...What a Ride! Kickstand down western end of HWY 2 - 136 miles. Missing having' O'l Sport's key tonight hangin' on my belt loop. be strong, be safe, Carlan
Peaceful sleep last night in Wilbur. Hope they get the relaxation bed fixed before my next visit. The Columbia Basin has been the centerpiece of massive project dams and reclamation projects. Beginning in 1934 Grand Coulee Dam is one of the civil engineering wonders of the world. At the southern end of the dam project HWY 2 crosses Grand Coulee. A big body of beautiful blue water. The area is a popular spot for boaters and anglers.
One of the last of eastern Wahington's unirrigated landscapes is the Moses Coulee. The Coulee is an 800-foot deep gorge bounded by vertical walls of brown and black volcanic basalt.
From the rolling plains above, HWY 2 cuts down into the coulee, then back up the other side, passing through some of the Columbia River Basin's sole remaining sagebrush and giving a strong sense of how profoundly irrigation has change the region.
Standing at the center of fertile wheat fields 10 miles east of the Columbia River backed off the throttle entering Waterville. The town was built in 1886 with a population of 1162 strong individuals today. Stopped for gas, but the pumps weren't working.
On the road for eleven days now. Rhythm of the road is deep in my soul. Been missing some good fresh fruit. Feil Orchard...The Good Fruit People. Two brothers growing some of the best peaches, apples, and pears in the greater Wenatchee area since 1906.
Pulled to a stop. Put the kickstand down, had one of the sweetest, run down your arm juicy as you bite into it, peaches I have ever eaten. Size of an apple, absolutely melted in my mouth. Could go on but I won't. Wenatchee is the commercial center of the Wenatchee Valley, and one of the world's most productive apple growing regions in the world. Not to mention peaches!
With the rugged Cascade Range on the horizon HWY 2 left the lower plains and headed directly into forest covered hills and glacier carved peaks. Stopped in Cashmere tonight. World famous for Applets and Cotlets. Visited the factory. Ate my way through the sample room. Highly suggested when you are in the area. Hard to think about putting the kickstand down on Ol' Sport tomorrow at the end of HWY 2. Actually...don't want to even think about it yet... Kickstand down Cashmere, WA. 162 Miles. be strong, be safe, Talon
How many cords, chargers, batteries, memory cards...list goes on and on...does it take to be a photographer in this current age of technology. Biggest challenge on the road is to make sure each morning everything is rounded up, coiled up, packaged up, and loaded up before you saddle up. Let's see, sure don't want to miss any ups. Sweep the room. Triple check all the outlets for devices.
Light rain this morning gave me a reason to delay taking off early. Chance to do some laundry in the room. Conair works as a good dryer while sipping coffee.
Stopped in at AJ's Cafe in Priest for some breakfast. All the 6 AM regulars have their own coffee cup with name in this three calendar cafe. Reminded me of my grandfather's barber shop in Arizona where every regular customer had their own shaving mug. Nice to know these kinds of communities are still part of our country today.
The past two weeks have seen and stopped in a lot of small towns along HWY 2. Some are deserted, some just holding on, some striving to be renewed. Good to see a breath of new life along the way. Hope would be for the renewal not to be one which loses the original character which build the foundations of these communities. Time will tell.
Leaving Idaho HWY 2 becomes 150 miles of rolling farmland east of the Cascades. Dark spots suddenly appear from the side of the road. Ol' Sport and me sweep quick to the left and then to the right. It's a flock of wild turkeys deciding to cross the highway. A blip of the throttle and Ol' Sport has those turkeys rushing back into the wheat fields where they belong. Good thing. Wrong time of year for a Thanksgiving dinner.
Small-scale framing limped along here for over a century. The region underwent a wholesale change after WW II. Irrigation water from reclamation projects turned sagebrush plains into the proverbial amber waves of grain spreading to the horizon against an (almost) always blue sky filled with never ending clouds.
Handlebars straight. Not a curve in sight. Directly across the heart of this sparsely populated, nearly treeless region to Wilbur, WA. where an old service station has been brought back to life as a drive-by expresso stand. Must be getting close to Seattle.
Hoping for some relaxation after 10 days on the road...disappointed in Wilbur tonight. Kickstand down Wilbur, WA - 165 windy miles (that's headwind windy miles) be strong, be safe, Carlan
This morning in Kalispell I was searching for a good breakfast. Hungry...ready eat. Eating across Montana has has been an interesting experience. Whenever the word "interesting" is used the actual meaning may be up in the air. Sometimes Goggle or Trip Advisor works...sometime not. Took a chance. Plugged in The Knead Cafe in Google Maps. Rode up and stopped in front of a nondescript building. Open? Not Open? Tried the door. Sure happy I did. Alissa met me with a smile, filled a cup with local brewed coffee, and served up the best carrot scone I have ever eaten. She also shared local information on some places down the road not to miss.
Ordered up a mouth watering breakfast that did not disappoint. Now maybe I am carrying on a bit about a breakfast. Here are the facts: been on the road for 10 days, almost forgotten what great food tastes like. To tell the truth couldn't eat it all. Eyes bigger than my stomach. Wrapped up that tasty scone and enjoyed it down the road a ways.
HWY 2 west of Kalispell was a perfect two laner. Hardly another car, smooth road, enough twistys to satisfy any biker, scenery out of this world. Doesn't get any better. Took a break at McGregor Lake to take it all in and finish that incredible carrot scone.
How big is Montana? It stretches for over 650 miles east to west. HWY 2 takes you all the way across. The state covers an area larger than New England and New York put together, but has a total population small the that of Hartford, Connecticut.
Between Libby and Troy the Kootenai River weaves it's course along the road. It hits it's lowest point at Troy which is nearly the state's lowest elevation - 1,892 feet above sea level.
A popular stopping point is called the Kootenai Swinging Bridge. The rickety old swinging bridge sways from cables suspended 50 feet above the green water of the river. Walked out to make a photograph from the middle the bridge. It never stopped swinging...and swaying.
Crossing into Idaho roughly five miles east of the Washington border, Priest River is a busy lumber town with two huge Louisiana Pacific mills dominating the local economy. Watering the logs to keep them cool. Has to be done. Prevents instant combustion from the heat generated from stacking the logs together.
So many bugs on my leathers. Ol' Sport is covered from headlight to taillight with them. Have to stop every few miles to clean my dark glasses. Even the bears in the area know that "Bikers Taste Like Bugs". Makes you feel much safer knowing a bear might rather eat a bug than a biker...maybe. Kickstand down Priest River, ID 210 Miles. be strong, be safe, Carlan
Met Anthony and Alex this morning as I was saddling up in Shelby. Black Barons from South Africa. Harley riders.
They had picked up rental bikes in San Francisco. Ridden up the coast. Headed east on HWY 2. Were on their way to Sturgis and points beyond for the next three weeks. Shared road stories. Even touched on world politics. The world is a small place these days. New brothers together.
Air was cool and fresh. So cool it felt good wearing most of the clothing I had packed for the trip. Cut Bank is popularly known as the coldest city in the US...mostly thanks to the presence of a US Weather Service monitoring station. But then again...who is to question a 27 foot-tall pengiun making a weather statement.
Twenty-two miles west of Cut Bank, a much abused monument along HWY 2 points out the most northerly point reached by Lewis and Clark on their cross-country expedition. On July 23, 1806 Lewis searching for the headwaters of the Marias River made it to this spot he called Camp Disappointment before turning back because of bad weather. Couldn't help but think how Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce had saved the lives of Lewis and Clark's entire expedition during one long winter when they were without food and shelter.
It's hard heading west on HWY 2 to believe that, despite having covered nearly 2,000 miles of undulating Pine and Prairie Plains I was yet to see and reach the mountains. Cresting a hill suddenly there they were...the rugged Rocky Mountains.
Parking my trusty Sportster took a moment to breathe in the fresh mountain air. A major realization hit me hard right between the eyes. All bikers name their motorcycles. Why was I still calling my bike a Sportster? How impersonal. Had I not the past few days experienced some difficult road conditions...yet handled them with confidence and style on the Sportster. This bike has to be one of the funnest Harley's I have ever ridden. Not named yet? What have I been thinking? Suddenly standing along the road it came to me. Ol' Sport. Yes, it's a friendly term of endearment used between equals, like buddy or the decidedly more modern... dude. Ol' Sport and me from this moment on heading down the road together...just a couple of cool dudes.
HWY 2 runs along the southern border of Glacier National Park. Traffic turning into the Park was congested and bumper to bumper. But Ol' Sport and I spent the rest of the day pressing and leaning into the twisty turns along the Flathead River on HWY 2. A beautiful ride together into Kalispell, MT. Kickstand down Kalispell, MT 210 Miles. Be strong, be safe, Talon and Ol' Sport
Stopped at the Hitchin' Post Cafe in Malta this morning lookin' for a two calendar breakfast. Steph welcomed me in, greeted me with a smile, served up a real road trip breakfast, and kept my coffee cup full. Place just simply put a big smile on my face. Real Montana small town folks.
Out on HWY 2 had a light wind from the east gently pushing me down the road. Sun warming my back, smooth road. Outside of Harlem, on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation made a quick u-turn as an old abandon boarded up pink church caught my eye. In 1840, a wandering Jesuit priest named Pierre-Jean DeSmet arrived at the Three Forks of the Missouri River and was greeted by bands of Salish, Nez Perce and Shoshoni people. The St. Mary Mission was constructed. The church was commonly recognized as the first permanent European settlement in Montana. A 128-year history of The Pink Church at Fort Belknap concluded in 2015.
At Chinook detoured south on HWY 240 called the Nez Perce trail for 18 miles. Headed to Bear Paw Battlefield. In September of 1877 Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce was striving to lead his people to Canada to escape and keep their freedom. In a surprise attack at dawn on September 30, 400 US Army troops laid siege to the Nez Perce camp.
Bear Paw was still and quiet when I arrived. The area has not changed since that fateful day. Written on a plaque overlooking the battlefield... "Far from our beautiful homeland, upon this quiet terrain of our Earth Mother, the spirits now forever bear silent witness to our people's painful and tragic encounter with Manifest Destiny. This is a place of mourning, not just for memorializing a past, but as a place for letting go of what might have been. Nations consecrate other battlefields in memory of lives lost, so too, may each of us now consecrate this place on behalf of our ancestors' exhausted bid for freedom."
After five days of battle, at 2 PM on October 5 Chief Joseph declared to the Nez Perce Camp his decision to end the fighting is to save his people. Handing over his rife at this rock he stated briefly and simply. "Our chiefs are dead, the little children are freezing to death. My people have no blankets, no food...I want to have time to look for my children and see how many I can find...Hear me, my chiefs, I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more, forever." This date in history effectively marked the end of the Indian Wars of the Plains.
Back on HWY 2 three distinctive buttes on the horizon are called collectively the Sweet Grass Hills. West Butte, the closest and highest, rises 3,000 feet above the plains. Together these three buttes make this range the most prominent in north central Montana. Some of Blackfeet’s oldest stories and traditions involve these hills. According to Blackfeet tradition, Old Man made the Sweet Grass Hills with rocks he carried with him after creating the earth.
Needed an ice cream. East of Shelby found a real "hand dipped" double scoop ice cream cone. The cone was filled all the way to the bottom with cold, creamy smooth, chocolate ice cream. Making sure to put the "Sugar Shack Diner" on my list of places to return to.
Just west of Williston this morning atop the banks at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers stopped at the Fort Union Trading Post. The trading post was once the largest and busiest outpost on the upper Missouri River.
In 1804, Lewis and Clark visited the site, which they called "a judicious position for the purpose of trade". Twenty-five years later John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company established an outpost here. Linked by steamboat with St Louis some 1,800 miles away, the trading post reigned over the northern plains. The post was abandoned as the fur trade declined in the 1850's.
Leaving the trading post and heading west the Fort Peck Reservation stretches for nearly 100 mile along HWY 2. Today it is home to 6.800 Assiniboine and Yanktonai Sioux, but much of the area is owned by non-natives as a result of the unscrupulous land dealings encouraged by the 1887 Dawes Act. The landscape here becomes gentle rolling hills with horses standing proud.
Suddenly rising up over a low hill ancient creatures appeared along the highway. Looking again, more appeared.
Grazing, rising on rocks, roaming and controlling the landscape. It was a sudden blur along the road. There...then gone. Maybe it was a glare off my handle bars...I dared to turn around and check. Maybe too many bumps in the road had shaken my imagination.
HWY 2 through the Milk River Valley today was the two laner you always dream of riding. No wind, no traffic, blue skies, two lanes smooth as silk.
The highway unfolded under my tires carrying me across the landscape to a never ending horizon. Two other riders pass by taking in the moment of the road. Just doesn't get any better on two wheels.
Stopped at Sleeping Buffalo Rock ten miles west of Saco. A nearby wind-swept ridge overlooking the Cree Crossing on the Milk River was the original resting place of this ancient weather-worn effigy. There the boulder sat as the leader of a herd of reclining buffalo envisioned in an outcrop of granite. Incised markings made in the distant past define its horns, eyes, backbone, and ribs. Since late prehistoric times, native peoples of the Northern Plains have revered the Sleeping Buffalo’s spiritual power. Oral traditions reveal that it was well known to the Cree, Chippewa, Sioux, Assiniboine, and Gros Ventre as well as the more distant Blackfeet, Crow, and Northern Cheyenne. Stories passed from generation to generation tell how the “herd” fooled more than one buffalo-hunting party.
I gently placed an offering of tobacco in the ancient incised horns of the buffalo. This timeless rock continues to figure prominently in traditional Native ceremonies. It provides a link to ancestral peoples of the high plains and the long ago time when, as one elder put it, “The power of the prairie was the buffalo.”
I thanked the Grandfathers for a safe journey. For a life filled with joy and peace. Kickstand down Malta, MT 270 Miles. be strong, be safe, Talon