Return from Mojave, Day 2

Washoe County, NV to Lava Beds National Monument

Start: 87040 miles

Act I

Looking back to the International Space Development Conference from last week, I believe that I've made a fundamental leap in self-confidence. This is thanks in large part to Loretta Hidalgo, who is one of the most wonderful people I've had the fortune to meet. Thank you, Loretta.

Thanks are also due to Peter Diamandis and Bob Richards, whose audacity and ingenuity just knocks me over. After talking with these two, I am fully convinced that I can induce a lasting improvement and change in this world. Damn, what was stopping me before? The first indication I had that I was limiting myself came during the 2004 SEDS-USA National Conference at MIT. At the pub for social hour on Friday of the event, I mentioned something to Brian Feeney of the Da Vinci Project that made him call me out for my negativism. To paraphrase, he told me to stop worrying about what I think that I can't do. That is, by my attitude he got the vibe that I was selling myself short.

And Josh Neubert, again one of the most wonderful folks I've been fotunate to know, has no similar problem with confidence. He is go, go, go, go. Well, buddy, I'm finally ready to go with you.

As a concluding note before driving away to my next destination, I'll state here for the record that I understand my capacity for enacting change and being a leader of movement of motivated men and women. Leaders are not a dime a dozen. Leaders are in short supply and I am happy to wear the mantle of leader, including all of the responsibilities and discipline.

Act II

Lava Beds National Monument is another subtle beauty in the National Park system. From here at the fine lookout on Schonchin Butte, the majority of the park is laid out in all four directions under the setting sun.

To the north there are visible remnants of lava flows right on the surface. From left to right, there is a clear trail such that one can imagine what the physical act of the lava flow must have looked like. In the background, the oldest formation in the park creates a shelf over this flow and the bed of Tule Lake. Craters, ripples, trenches, and buttes -- reminders of an active adolescent Earth.

Shifting gaze to the west, the most striking feature is Mt. Shasta, dominating the surrounding landscape with relief thousands of feet greater than its neighbors. The rippled sea of solid lava continues off to the west and south, gathering trees as it moves towards what must surely be its origin to the south, the Medicine Lake shield volcano. Ah, but Mt. Shasta, conical, white with snow.

The east begins to receive the shadow of Schonchin Butte, as well as the shadows of numerous other buttes and cinder cones. The effect of the lengthening sunlight creates a world of texture on the volcanic ripples. Trees separate from the surroundings, their west faces burn bright as a contrast to their deep shadow behind. Texture and color, brightness and contrast. Journey and reason, light and meaning. Look out, see within.


A brief return to an old observation -- the confluence of personal interest in space, education, and wilderness. Previous conclusions are, in fact, mularkey.

A new conclusion: exploring space is a dream through which I can lead civilization to new heights, to the next step, to an advanced stage as a culture. Education is the manifestation of my interest in space on earth. That is, I can use my skills and leadership as I reach upward to effect great positive change now. Wilderness is the temple in which I occasionally seek the solitude to find within myself the trail for the next step in my life.

This is good.

Act IV

Shasta draped in purple and orange
Craters become personalities
Textures so deep that they have souls
Relief becomes full in the moment before sol crosses the horizon
Relief in elevation
Relief in body
Both are full
If this is life, this is a good life
A mountain shadow stretches
Like a smile

Act V

Metaphorically and literally, there are features of the distant landscape that cannot be captured in a photo. The experience, however, is not affected.


Gas: Chevron, Alturas, CA
$19.64, $2.599/gal, 7.588 gal
250.3/87257 miles, 33.12 mpg
Coffee, $1.06

Groceries, Four Corners Market, Alturas, CA, $32.60

Indian Well Campground, Lava Beds National Monument, $20 for 2 nights

LBNM Visitor Center, $8.94 for postcards and patch, $3.94 for bump helmet, $6.44 for 4 D-batteries

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