September 19, 2019
by David Ryan

Looking for Tied Houses in the Midwest

A major tenet from The Gentle Art of Wandering is that, no matter where you are, you can always find something interesting. On a recent trip to the Midwest, my dog Petey and I wandered around looking for old Tied Houses.

Tied houses were taverns owned by a large or local brewery. The tavern was tied to the brewery for the beer they sold. Tied houses were very common at the turn of the last century and obviously went dark in 1920 with the coming of Prohibition. One of the provisions of Repeal at the end of 1933 was to eliminate the practice of tied houses. Breweries were now required to sell their product to a distributor who in turn sold the beer to a tavern or retailer. This three-tier distribution system is still in place today. A notable exemption from the three-tier system are brewpubs and craft breweries.

Continue Reading →

June 29, 2019
by David Ryan

Wandering to a Gallina Tower

Taking advantage of a very cool day for late June, the dogs and I decided to wander to a very remote parcel of BLM land (public land) north of Cuba, New Mexico, in the heart of what was once home to the “Gallina Culture.”

The Gallina were an isolated people living in very remote and rugged fortified locations north and west of the Jemez Mountains. Some of their fortifications resemble towers. The Gallina were more or less contemporaneous with the nearby Ancestral Puebloan cultures of Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. They disappeared almost 750 years ago.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that their disappearance was not pretty. Many if not most Gallina sites show signs of extreme violence. Some group, for some reason or another, had it in for the Gallina, and they either killed, chased, or scared them out of the region. It is unknown if the Gallina died out or were assimilated into another group.

The BLM parcel that we intended to visit has several Gallina sites including a tower. I had been there before, but it has probably been 15 years since my last visit.

After two hours of driving we finally reached our destination. Unfortunately, the road providing the easiest access to the BLM land had a locked gate and was posted with No Trespassing signs. Luckily we were able to find a nearby oil well pad that was not posted with No Trespassing signs. So we parked the car and started walking.

If you are an outdoor explorer, it is helpful to know your state’s rules on trespass. In New Mexico, fences, gates, and the like must be posted with No Trespassing signs to enforce laws prohibiting trespass on your land. If a location is not posted, it is legal for you to park your car and start walking. With that being said, it is always best to keep your expeditions as close to or on public land for as much as possible.

Because we were starting from an unfamiliar direction we had to pass through some rough and wooded country to reach our goal. If you’re interested in exploring an area without an established path or road, a good tip is to find a cow path or game trail heading in the general direction as your destination. You may have to dodge some branches along the way, but you’ll at least be following a route that takes advantage of the land’s natural folds and contours.

That trace of a path going off to the right is an elk run and is the easiest way to navigate through the woods.

Continue Reading →

May 18, 2019
by David Ryan

Wandering on a Road Trip to the Odessa Meteor Crater

Earlier this week Petey and I took advantage of some unusually cool weather for May to drive southeast to check out the meteor crater near Odessa, Texas. Although not nearly as dramatic as Meteor Crater in Arizona, the Odessa crater is the second largest meteor crater in the country!  I had seen the crater some time ago and thought a revisit would be a good excuse to check out the oil-rich Permian Basin.

The drive from Albuquerque includes a 90-plus mile stretch on U.S. Highway 285 (between Vaughn and Roswell) without any services what so ever. There is nothing that resembles a commercial enterprise and only other one paved road along the way. Except for a handful of ranches, a few scattered junipers, and some antelope, it is empty.

And then all of a sudden between mile markers 184 and 183 we saw on the horizon two ranchers on opposite sides of the very wide road arguing. Whoa! I immediately hit the brakes just in case  one of them decided to run across to the road to finish the fight.

From a further distance, my first reaction was that those were real people.

But then I noticed that they weren’t moving, and when I got closer I could see that they were two very large and very realistic full-color cutout profiles facing each other. One on each side of the road. Continue Reading →