High Desert Highway

High desert for miles around.
A highway cuts through it from horizon to horizon
with a town every 100 miles or so.
To some, it seems desolate.
To others, it is beautiful like no other place.
Storms to the rear have already doused the earth
with a cleansing rain, and the sweet smell of wet
sage brush fills the air to be taken in and savored.
It is the lonely road, the loneliest highway
that exposes you to this beauty.

Brent

Thank you, Andie MacDowell

Sometimes, you just need a good kick in the butt to restart something. In my case, I decided the University of New Mexico Writer’s Workshop at Santa Fe was just the ticket to get my writing juices rejuvenated.

And, it was. The instructor, Stephen Benz, was very good at helping us focus on our writing voices, and my classmates were helpful with their comments and feedback. That’s how a writer’s workshop is supposed to work, and the Santa Fe workshop was well worth the time and effort.

But there are other opportunities for rejuvenation, and mine came on a 15 second ride on the elevator.

I like to rise early, get a cup of coffee and do a little writing and checking e-mail and Facebook. I had done that, and was ready for more coffee and some breakfast. I walked to the Drury Inn elevator, and pushed the down button.

The doors open. There are three people going down—two men and a woman, and it does not appear that any of them are together. It’s the way they are standing and riding the elevator—like strangers giving each other distance. I step aboard, and say to the woman who is standing at the controls and say, “Second floor, please.” I watch her smile, turn and press the button. She looks very familiar. She is lovely, even in her sweats and t-shirt. Jammies?

It took me about five seconds to think, “This is Andy MacDowell the actress.” In that moment, I think I slopped some coffee because I felt it on my hand, and looked down to make sure I didn’t slop coffee on me.

We arrive at the 2nd Floor, and we all walk off the elevator to the breakfast area. She walks to the coffee bar, grabs a cup and fills it, then disappears back to the elevator.

It’s not often that a guy from the Midwest meets a celebrity. Such a chance encounter is unheard of, and frankly, I wanted another glimpse to see if my first guess was correct.

This moment at the writer’s workshop fueled my passion for writing again, writing about this encounter, writing about all my other adventures. It became my muse. She became my muse.

Through the day, while passing through the hotel to my class or back to my room, I’d glance around, hoping for another encounter, but it was not to be. I thought about what I might say to this woman, but there was no sighting. I would have to settle for that brief moment in the elevator.

So, if it was you, Andie MacDowell, the lovely and talented actress, thank you for that smile and brief encounter on the elevator. And if it was not you, but someone who could have been your twin, I was at least half right. Just lovely. Thank you.

Brent

Plain Folk Café, Ohio SR 132

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How many times have you traveled down a two-lane highway, passing through a small town, and come upon a place on the side of the road that looks so inviting? You stop, or maybe pass by saying, ‘I’ll stop next time.’

The Plain Folk Café in Pleasant Plain, Ohio, is one of those places. Giving rebirth to the two-room school house, built in 1913, the café serves up coffee, meals and music.

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The walls, lined with album covers and musical venues, remind one of the former days when patrons wore tie-dyed shirts and drove VW vans. It’s a little bit of nostalgia, and a little bit modern with the free wifi. About half of those album covers are very familiar, for they reside at my home protecting the vinyl LPs inside.

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After passing by so many times, thinking I will stop next time, today was the day I stopped. I’m glad I did. I’ll be back.

Brent

Sunday Morning in Santa Fe

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Blue sky with whiffs of feather-like clouds.
Church bells ringing from the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
People milling about in the courtyard waiting for the doors to open and Sunday Mass to begin.
Parking attendants with hi-viz vests direct church-going families in their cars to empty parking spaces.
The crowd in the courtyard grows larger then moves inside.
The view from the hotel balcony is peaceful and solemn.

DBrent

Buckeye Station, US 52, Ohio

Are you one of those drivers who will pull over to read an historical marker along the highway? I am. And, that’s how I found the marker for Buckeye Station.

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Buckeye Station was built in 1797, and is the oldest documented structure built in the Northwest Territory of Ohio. Built by General Nathaniel Massie, who founded the first town of Manchester, and a dozen or so more towns including Chillicothe, the first capital of the state of Ohio. Buckeye Station was so named because it was built with the timber from Buckeye trees. Massie was a surveyor and politician.

Buckeye Station sits on the top of the bluff over looking the Ohio River on private property.

Brent