Dawn to Dusk




Angel Ascending


Quietly she slips into view

Over the hump of her sister’s hips at rest

Initially just her aura

Lighting the sky in hues of gold


Jubilantly peeking her goldilocks

Out of cover of the night

Infusing all with a sense of wonder

Gilding the clouds

With a Midas-like sheen


Her cheerful face

Brightens the night to full-fledged day

In just a moment

The gold hues easing into bright blue



Daylight Fades



Blue tinged with golds and orange.

Blood red.

Purples easing to blues fading into black.



The stars twinkling in the deepening heavens

Lady Moon, white-faced and open,

Shining brightly o’er the darkened scape.



Nocturne creatures appear to feed, to commune.

Freedom of movement hidden within shadows.

Daylight fades, opening the world to night.







Coming out of the gray

Of day-to-day reality

Basking in the warmth

Of your sunbeam

That bright happy spot

Where everything is safe

Time stands still


Diamond dust motes

Glittering in the air

Before my closed eyes

Dreamily drifting

Into a comfortable cozy

Where everything is safe

Time stands still


Sunshine and shadows

Exposure of hidden fears and worries

Falling tears

Clouding my vision

Longingly wishing for the sunbeam

The hopes and dreams

Where everything is safe

Time stands still

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument



Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the Keresan language which is the traditional language of Cochiti Pueblo. This park which is operated by the BLM as a national park is beautiful in a stark surreal way.  The cone shaped formations are volcanic hoodoos. They were formed by volcanic eruptions from the Jemez volcanic complex  6-7 million years ago.



Many of the “tents” are topped by boulder caps which protect the softer pumice below.  The ones which have lost their boulder caps are rapidly disintegrating.









There are several trails around the park, ranging from very easy and wheelchair accessible to moderate with a 621 foot climb in elevation. We went around the Cave Trail which was a fairly easy 1.2 mile hike.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks is an easy drive from Albuquerque or Santa Fe. It is well worth the trip!

Breakfast Burritos



Breakfast Burritos

1 pound breakfast sausage crumbled and browned

1/2 cup green chile

2 cup tater tots

garlic and salt to taste

8 eggs

1 cup grated cheese

6 tortillas


1. Combine browned sausage crumbles, green chile, garlic and salt. Heat through.

2. Add tater tots. Cover and cook until tater tots are heated. Using a spoon, smash them a little.

3. Add eggs and mix until all ingredients are coated with the egg. Cover and cook until eggs are fully cooked.

4. Top with grated cheese and cover until cheese is melted.

5. Put a cup or so of the egg mixture into a warmed tortilla and roll up.











The heat shimmered off the highway creating a haze which muted the stark landscape. A hawk circled in the cloudless sky. The throbbing of the motorcycle beneath her increased the surreal nature of the scenery. She sped up and leaned into the curve.


“Where is he?” she thought as she scanned the road ahead of her. There was no sign of anyone anywhere out here. It just didn’t seem possible that he was so far ahead, always out of reach.


She rounded a bend in the road. The scenery was breathtaking. The sun was setting coloring the sandstone cliffs in a dizzying array of reds and oranges. The shadows were just deepening to purples. A herd of wild horses turned their heads towards her and then ran. The hawk, still circling, let out a shrill cry.


Suddenly her head hit the table. She grumbled and sat up and realized she was still sitting at her desk. Looking over at the alarm clock, she groaned. It was 3 a.m. That made four nights in a row.   She took her coffee cup into the kitchen to reheat. As she put her it into the microwave, she wondered if she would ever find her nameless, faceless mystery man — the man who rocked her not so gently to sleep every night.

Vapor Trails


Vapor Trails

The rattle and hum of the war machine

Jet maneuvers

Shake loose my memories of you

Never really mine

Separated by marriage

Separated by death.

When you left

Did you expect that

Despite the separation of years

The sound of your desperation

The knowledge of the bullet

Would still rock me to my core?

The war is upon us again

Reminding me of your pain

Of the memories you had

Of the same war, a decade ago

That ultimately killed you

After you got home.

But if you were never mine

Why do I hear your voice

In the roar of afterburners

See your face in vapor trails?

Shawn Graybeal

Jemez Road Trip




One of my favorite place to go when I just want to drive is Jemez. Part of it is proximity…I can be in the trees in less than an hour from home. But the main reason is that it is beautiful-in a variety of ways-from red sandstone cliffs to tall pines.

Yesterday, feeling kind of sick and tired, I decided to take a trip. When I got to Hwy 550, there was an accident to the right, so I turned left and headed to Jemez.

The first building on the right once you turn onto Hwy 4 is the San Ysidro Catholic Church. 


From there, you head up the hill to Jemez Pueblo.

Jemez Pueblo is one of 19 remaining pueblo cultures in New Mexico. The Jemez people settled the are in the 13th century and by 1541, when the Spanish came, there were close to 30,000 inhabitants. In 1598, under the direction of Fr. Alonzo de Lugo, the first Spanish church was built at Jemez, near the modern day location of the Jemez State Monument in Jemez Springs. Today, most Jemez people live in the town of Walatowa off Hwy 4. Jemez is known for their arts and crafts, especially pottery.

The red sandstone cliiffs are across from the pueblo and often bustle with tourists who stop to buy baked goods from one of the stands.



Just north of Jemez is the cut-off for Hwy 485. This highway winds up through the mountains on a road that starts off as a 2 lanes but ends up and a very narrow one lane. It goes through farms and rocks before reaching Gilman Tunnels and National Forest land.



The Gilman Tunnels were built as part of a rail line that was used to bring out timber from the Jemez Mountains to the railhead in Bernalillo. In 1924, after a lot of legal wrangling, the rail line was built. When they got to the end of the Guadalupe Box Canyon, engineers decided to blast through the rock walls,creating two tunnels. When they were finished the 5/8ths mile stretch through the tunnels cost more than half of the cost of the line.

Several disasters:engine explosions, the Stock Market Crash, and the movement of the logging camp spelled the end of the line for the rail line. In the late 40s, the railbed was converted to road bed to accommodate logging trucks. Eventually, when the logging in Jemez stopped, the roadway was set up for car traffic. 

The Gilman Tunnels have been used as a backdrop for western movies, such as 3:10 to Yuma and The Lone Ranger in recent years.


Heading back to Hwy 4, I decided to go ahead and drive to Fenton Lake…which is one my absolute favorite camping spots.So I took my new Jeep up its first mountain and onto dirt roads:)


There were a few people enjoying the beauty. The lake was frozen over. You could see burned trees up on the hillside showing just how close last year’s Thompson Ridge fire came to the campground.


My favorite Fenton Lake story is from the very first camping trip I ever took up there. It was April, we were tent camping, and it was COLD! My son and one of his friends had their toy guns and were patrolling the river. In and out of the water until they got cold. Then they came back to camp and changed into dry clothes. And went back into the river. When they came back, there were no dry clothes to change into, so we bundled them up in blankets around the campfire. Crazy boys were back in the water before breakfast the next morning!

My final stop on the way back home was in Jemez Springs. They run a bathhouse and gift shop. I stopped and looked at the gift shop briefly and then walked down  to the river.


Beautiful trip. I came home refreshed and relaxed.







Breaking out of the chrysalis

Feeling the sunlight

Warming the soul

And igniting a fire

Unfurling wings for the very first time

Reaching for a breath of wind

Hoping to find

A bit of freedom

Leaping into the unknown

Soaring on the current

Making choices just because

Not because he said so

Dancing along the Milky Way

Stretching for the stars

Looking for the courage

To go further than ever before

Following the dreams

Looking for new adventures

The new life rising

Like phoenix from the old

Ghosts in the Shadows

Ghosts in the Shadows
Walking down by the river
Deep in the underbrush
I found you
Hidden in the shadows.

Memories flood my mind
Like unshed tears
As I realize
Those memories aren’t memories at all
Rather manufactured dreams
Dreams of how we could have been together
If we had stayed together
Ghosts of a past
That never really existed

How can I hold you if you were never real to start with
How can I look the real you in the eye
Knowing that my remembrances
Over all these years
Have been altered to fit my ideals
You have been changed

Watching the mist change with the rising sun
I see the ethereal vision of you
Fade into the mystical magical
And know that the dream will remain
Even if you never reappear.


Shawn Graybeal

May 28, 2006

All a Girl Needs is a Fast Horse and a Pair of Boots


When I was a horse-crazy kid, I had an imaginary life as a cowgirl. In my dreams, I had a fast black horse. I rode him everywhere. When we went on trips, after I buckled into the car, I saddled my pony and we rode alongside the car. He was FAST – I mean, he could keep up with the car mile after mile!

We made the trip across Texas many times, between Colorado and Louisiana. We never went through Dallas, which was good because my horse didn’t like freeway overpasses. Instead, We took Hwy 82 out of Wichita Falls to Sherman where we headed south out Hwy 11.

Hwy 82 runs through Nocona, Texas. Nocona is important to me because that is where the Nocona Boot factory is. When we went through Nocona, my imaginary self always stopped for a new pair of boots. I mean, really, who could resist those cool ads in Western Horseman???


So we would stop so I could get boots and then ran fast to catch up with the car before Sherman. Told you my pony was fast!

The last time I went through Nocona, Texas in the daylight was in 1982, heading back to Colorado after a year in Alabama. I graduated high school in 1983 and moved on with my life. Three children and two divorces later, I made my first long-distance solo road trip to Louisiana at New Years. I was disappointed to see the boot factory abandoned.


So I started wondering what happened. What I found was a story of an amazing woman, Enid Justin, who despite losing her child and two marriages,  managed to create and run Nocona Boots for more than a half century.

 ImageEnid Mae Justin (1894-1990)


Herman Joseph Justin was a boot maker who settled in Nocona, TX in 1889. He and his wife Annie had seven children who grew up learning the boot making business. In 1910, the named the company H.J Justin & Sons.  They sold boots in 26 states and several countries with production increasing up to “Daddy Joe’s” death in 1918.

In 1925, John and Earl Justin decided to move the company to Fort Worth. Enid knew her father would have wanted the company to stay in Nocona, so she started Nocona Boots. Her brothers told her she would be broke in 6 months. The discovery of oil in 1926 brought business to Nocona and the company prospered despite the Depression and World War II. 

One of the more interesting things Enid Justin did was to organize a re-enactment of the Pony Express. This competition would involve riders starting in Nocona and following the Overland Mail Trail through El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, Yuma, Los Angeles and then up the coast to San Francisco. This was a distance of over 2000 miles. Each rider would have 2 horses and a truck and trailer. Horses were exchanged every 25 miles. The participant had to finish with the same horses they started with.

Forty-two people signed up for the race, but on race day, only seventeen riders lined up. There were sixteen men and a sixteen year old girl from Nocona, Vennie Greenwood. Miss Greenwood dropped out of the race on the second day, but continued in one of the trucks to the finish. On March 24, 1939, Shannon Davidson, a 22 year old cowboy from Matador, TX won the race. He finished the race is 23 days. Enid Justin traveled to San Francisco to award the prize of 750 silver dollars to him. Shannon Davidson acted in a few western movies after the race. He died a few years later in a farming accident.

In 1945, sales were close to a half million dollars and it was decided to build a new factory. They chose a location on Hwy 82. The 30,000 square foot  plant opened in 1948.

Enid Justin was known as an honest businesswoman and a character. She fought to keep her company running, even going as far as suing her brothers and Justin Industries. They became one of the top five boot companies in the country.  In 1981, she merged Nocona with Justin Industries in order to keep it in the family. She passed away in 1990 at the age of 96. In 1999, Justin Industries consolidated all boot making operations to El Paso, TX and Cassville, MO. They closed the Nocona factory as well as the Ft. Worth factory.