Being part of an interracial couple can be unnerving at times. Last night, we walked into a steakhouse; I sailed in first, as JC had held the door for me like a gentleman. I was confronted by a very long table of very white faces, many of them bearded, all of them looking directly at us.
All of them. Directly. At us.
Not one fork moved.
I fiddled with my jacket zipper for a moment, dithering in the doorway, decidedly nonplussed.
JC took a look around, stepped around me, and sailed in as if he had just bought the place. He twinkled at the waitress, said something jovial to one of the guys at the endless table, chose a booth, and we had a wonderful meal.
He told me later that he cased the men over my shoulder and saw that the biggest of them was very much out of shape. With nothing to worry about, he defaults to playfulness and easy-going charm, which has the effect of drawing any remaining fangs.
I’m learning a lot from this guy.
We noodled around Colorado Springs for a while. We were trying to find a museum which, he was told 20 years ago, would host an extraordinarily valuable archaeological find that he had made.
The museum had moved, with a great website but no address; and according to the website it had shifted its focus to post-World War I, while his find was Paleolithic.
We drove all over Fort Carson looking for the museum, called quite a few different phones with no clue, no answer, or an answering machine, and spoke to any number of very sweet people who had absolutely no idea that anything like a museum ever existed there… a museum that had been built less than 2 years ago — if it exists at all. I’m beginning to think the Mountain Post Historical Whatever exists only in print.
I have a couple of numbers to call, and if those don’t work out, I already have a plan C in place, which involves digging up the now-retired archaeologists in charge of the original excavation. Since his find saved their funding (and at least one doctoral thesis) after four fruitless years, I’m pretty sure somebody will remember.
I have a feeling there’s an interesting story that took place in the 20 years since that item was brought back to the light of day. It was very important to someone very important in his field, but it’s not important to the landlords who ostensibly own the right to it… And, at a market value of ~$10,000 at the time of its finding, that’s not a trivial issue.
It’s not unusual for great finds, like great works of art, to lie moldering in a museum basement because the present curator’s vision doesn’t include them. Even great curators have limits to their vision, and any curator who doesn’t dig Paleolithic craft is somewhat wanting, in my view.
But then, I am a bit of a throwback.
Speaking of being a throwback
We saw the Manitou cave dwellings. We were headed for the Manitou Springs, but I put the wrong thing into the Garmin. I first read about New World cave dwellers when I was five or six, and actually climbing around inside those wonderfully convoluted dwellings was a dream of 40 years’ standing. It was a totally unlooked-for gift.
JC kept saying, “there’s more…” And led me to further outdoor displays… the first floor of the gift shop… the second floor of the gift shop… the museum, with some stunning examples of work… and of course the bathrooms, which he knows I have to get to regularly.
We stopped in Trinidad for the night. The weather has been so odd – and so fraught – that the direct route over the Rockies, via Denver, was a little unnerving to me. Our route will bring us past more painted rock, and even some stunning canyon land. There’ll be a little bit of nostalgia for both of us, and there’s nothing to brighten a trip like telling each other stories.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to conduct long trips. I’m checking some ideas against JC’s horse sense, and will refine them further with my CRPS: Art & Spirit core group.
And then we’ll deal with the reality of funding.
This trip has been immensely valuable from the standpoint of researching how to make this kind of traveling feasible. The answers look nothing like anything I’d envisioned at the beginning, so this was an extremely useful endeavor.