Travel Diamond – One Home run and One Strikeout. Part 1.

Last week it was a joy to have my brother Neil visiting Albuquerque from Australia. He is a world-class water engineer and an expert in desalination.

Plus Mary Ann and Kim drove in from Kansas. Kim has become a dedicated rock-hounder. Whether it’s fire-agates in Arizona or quartz crystals in Arkansas, she has been there and collected them.

Mary Ann is over 80 but looks ten years younger than her age. She is sharp and talks enthusiastically about hiking and rocks. She was a masterful hiker in her younger days.

Among many delightful travel experiences last week were two rare episodes that are kinda unique. Both of these affected me deeply. One was a clear winner but the other one knocked me on my face.

The mystery biker.
Kim took Neil to hike and explore a canyon in the San Ysidro area about 30 miles from Albuquerque. Mary Ann and I set up our comfy chairs in the shade of a pinyon pine tree and breathed in the fresh pine scent.

A little girl, aged about 7, wandered up to say hello. Her friendliness in such an isolated area surprised me. Then, just as suddenly, she wandered off.

We heard the put-put sound of a trailbike starting up, and a mystery woman, dressed as a full biker with helmet and leathers, or whatever trail bikers call their gear, rode up and stopped just a few yards away from us.

Smiling, she introduced herself as April, and greeted us warmly. Said she rode almost every weekend and had been doing this for many years. She added that the little girl belonged to her. April said she just wanted to meet and greet hikers and let them know there would be bikers on the trails.

April was slim, in her forties and had three children, all of whom rode trailbikes. She was a great conversationalist, and asked what we did in our lives. Then she showed us how there was no seat on her bike, because you ride the bike while standing up. That was news to us!

When we asked, April said she owned two hotels in Albuquerque. I had been to one of these when a folk-singing group that I knew called Holy Water and Whiskey put on a performance. I love folk music.

One mom’s plan to de-influence her kids from social media.
Then came the big surprise. She said she was old-school and her family didn’t own a television. I couldn’t believe this. Yes, she said, after dinner the family goes outside and tosses around a football.

This was a shock to me, as the last person that I knew who refused to own a TV was my PhD instructor at the University of Adelaide in the late 1960s.

She also said the children didn’t have smart phones like iPhones or any other devices with screens.

I asked her son, aged 11, who had just shown up, whether he was criticized or laughed at or bullied by his schoolmates about this. Nope, he said. His mother pointed to the boy’s shoulder-length hair and laughingly remarked that he was pretty popular.

For me, it’s hard to imagine living without TV. And even harder without iPhone screens. And yet many in the US, including government, are concerned with how secure our data is when we post info on Facebook or Snapchat.

And now, finally, it is recognized that teenage girls see the “perfect” body images displayed on social media and are affected in negative ways when they compare with their own body image. It’s a self-esteem thing that is crucial to all teenagers. I worried for several years that my turned-up nose would make me unattractive to potential girlfriends.

Then there is the “influence” that TV and movies can have on unstable men who go out and buy a rapid-fire AR-15 semi-assault rifle that can kill 20 people in 5 minutes. Perhaps these killers want to model themselves on movie heroes such as in the recent popular movie called Extraction. In this movie, hundreds of enemy police and soldiers are mowed down by just a single military-trained hero who also happens to be Australian. All the shooters appeared to have AR-15 rifles.

In New Mexico, we had our own mass killing last week on May 15, 2023, in Farmington, where 3 people were killed and several injured by a shooter with an AR-15 style rifle. As reported in the New York Times:

An 18-year-old gunman fired indiscriminately at houses and vehicles while roaming a residential street in Farmington, N.M., on Monday morning, killing three people — including a 97-year-old woman and her daughter — before the police arrived and killed the suspect in a firefight, the authorities said. Six other people, including two officers, were injured.

The police identified the suspect as Beau Wilson, a student at Farmington High School who went on the rampage with three firearms, including an assault-style rifle. More than 100 rounds were fired between the suspect and police, with at least three officers rushing to the scene without body armor because the shooting started when they were on their way to lunch, the authorities said…

Chief Hebbe said that the gunman used at least three different weapons, including an “AR-style rifle,” a gun commonly used in mass shootings, as he roamed through the neighborhood, randomly firing “at whatever entered his head to shoot at” including at least six houses and three cars. The suspect turned 18 in October and legally purchased the assault rifle in November, Chief Dowdy said at the news conference Tuesday. The other weapons he used belonged to a family member.

The trail biker woman April, mother of three, is a successful business woman and a skilled thoughtful conversationalist. How did she come up with such a radical idea of no TV and iPhones? And where did she find the courage to train herself and her kids to stand up to popular TV and game show and movie images that tend to suck children and adults in — screen images that are dubious in the sense they can be unhealthy to our minds and bodies?

Kim and Neil returned from their hike. One of their objectives was to find thunder eggs, and they succeeded. Here is a picture of the inside of a thunder egg that Kim found showing irregular deposits of very fine crystals.

If you are imaginative, you can make out an ocean scene with a seal, a hammerhead shark, a great white shark, and other smaller fish cavorting about.

Part 2 — The Strikeout — I will deal with this in my next blog.
BLOG TOPICS: I write in-depth blogs about a mix of topics: Health and Hiking, and Science and Energy, and Inspiration and Hope.
The Gray Nomad ….. How does a discerning person come up with the discipline that refuses the dubious diet of popular culture?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians, chapter 4).

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1 year ago

Ian enjoyed your adventure. Glad to know where Mary is, I have missed her.

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