ghost town goodbyes

The first time I visited Bodie, I was saying goodbye to a friend. Not an eternal sort of goodbye, just the sort of detaching and unravelling that has to happen when the emotional scales aren’t weighted equally, when one person is asking you if you have ever considered being the center of their universe, and you don’t know what that means.

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Bodie is an abandoned gold-mining town that once held 10,000 people, but it is also a historic state park, maintained in a state of arrested decay. It is reached by a thirteen mile road, off Highway 270 near the California and Nevada border, three of the miles little more than a dirt path.

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Nasi Lemak, and some other Malaysian foods

I feel weirdly self conscious about writing about my home country, because I’ve been gone for so long, even if I still visit every two-three years or so. Still, during my last visit a couple months ago, I did a batch of drawings of my most favourite foods.

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Nasi Lemak

When I was a kid, growing up in Malaysia, I ate nasi lemak in the most finicky way possible. I’d eat most of the rice, eat the peanuts and ikan bilis individually and save the cold cucumbers for last. I’d avoid everything spicy. I learned to love sambal and chicken curry in the Philippines, where my family and I were expats for six years, at a resort hotel restaurant that had a Malaysian chef that would make laksa for my dad, even though it wasn’t on the menu.

I still eat nasi lemak in a very finicky way, making sure each spoonful has the right balance of rice and sambal and curry. The ikan bilis and peanuts get eaten separately, still. The cucumbers are for when the spicy gets too spicy.

I’ve tried to cook the rice many times, and it hasn’t turned out right – the coconut milk affects the moisture and it sometimes ends up too dry or far too wet. I finally got it right with the recipe from the Lucky Peach cookbook(Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes), and being absolutely reliant on my rice cooker.

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Petrified Forest – Part 5 (Tour Buses)

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I really did meet some remarkable people during my stay at the Petrified Forest. I met most of the other people when I was doing my demonstration at the Rainbow Forest Museum, and I was very nice and polite to everyone. But, y’know, be nice to everyone…you never know when you might be talking to a cartoonist.

Desert Solitaire is a pretty great book, definitely one of the classics for “I’m out in the desert alone” reading, especially if you are into grumpy park ranger opinions(I am).

Petrified Forest National Park – Part 4 (Getting Lost)

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Even before I arrived at the Petrified Forest, I was pretty excited about the idea of getting to barrel out into the desert at night, and wander until I got lost enough to want to find my way back(or had gotten through ½ of my water). My friend Nathan came out to visit me for a couple days, and was a perfect “wandering out into the desert” companion, especially when he had to physically shove me up a cliff.

The Triassic critters pictured are a phytosaur, a metoposaurus and a chindesaurus. Out of the three, only the chindesaurus is a dinosaur, a fact that I was reminded of many times during my stay.

I’m pretty happy with the assortment of “getting lost” gear I’ve acquired over time. Here’s what some of them are:

      1. My trusty Nalgene bottle is more or less an extension of me, or at least my pants, since it’s clipped to me at all times.
      2. My adorable Black Diamond Moji Lantern has been my companion for many, many miles, and has come in useful on many occasions, whether helping me get lost, lighting my hammock, or making sure I don’t trip over people after a hostel’s light’s out. Aside from being granularly adjustable, which is really helpful, it’s also really, really cute.
      3. The Leatherman Skeletool is my everyday knife, and basically goes everywhere with me(assuming I didn’t have to fly to get where I am). I haven’t really figured out if I’m adding the dogtag knife(it’s the Spyderco Dog Tag Folding Knife) to my usual gear, but it was a crew gift from a project I enjoyed working on, and it’s a really cool little knife.
      4. Simple Squares‘ granola bars are basically the only sort of granola bar I find palatable. Hell, they’re even delicious, in that squishy “holy shit, this doesn’t taste like cardboard” way.

Petrified Forest National Park – Part 3 (Rocks)

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I’ve spent the past few days catching up on my other work, and goofing around in this beautiful park, but I’ve finally gotten a chance to sit down and…paint more rocks. 🙂

The geologic formations of the Painted Desert are primarily made up of the Chinle Formation, which you can read up about on the NPS website.

Petrified Forest National Park – Part 2 (Phytosaurs and Toads)

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I had a very science filled day at the Petrified Forest. It was pretty excellent, getting to poke at toads and listen to a lot of stories about fossils which are Not Dinosaurs.

I thought I’d be painting more rocks and beautiful landscapes here, which I’m sure I will(it’s been rainy; I haven’t gotten out much), but the thing I’ve been loving most about this place is meeting all these remarkable people that make the park run, who are so unabashedly enthusiastic about their jobs.

You can learn more about the Petrified Forest’s fossils on the NPS website, as well as about the various animals here.

Bearizona, Arizona

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Leslie and I went to Bearizona back in March, when we were roadtripping to Albuquerque. We got there the day after a huge Flagstaff snowstorm, so I got to be in way more snow than I could have anticipated. I LOVED IT (both the snow and Bearizona).

Because it was the day after the storm, and the park was largely abandoned, there were no shows scheduled, so we weren’t able to catch any of those, but having the entire place largely to ourselves was an excellent substitute.

I gotta to admit, most of my favourite animals there were not bears.

My actual pictures from Bearizona are in this blog post on Tumblr.

More about Bearizona on Roadtrippers, and on their own website.