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City guide

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CREATIVE BONANZA | PORTLAND COWBOY CHRISTMAS | KANADA THE ULTIMATE DIVE BAR | ALASKA SKI ROAD TRIP | ROCKY MOUNTAINS PSYCHEDELIA LIVES ON | NEVADA AMERICANA | TEXAS PORTFOLIO

SOUTH STREET

philadelphia

WELCOME TO HIPPIE HEAVEN! PHILLY HAS MANY FACES, AND THE MOST BOHEMIAN OF THEM ARE FOUND ON SOUTH STREET. WE CHECK OUT THE MAGIC GARDENS AND PAINT WITH BROAD STROKES. UK £12. #8 | WINTER 2020 1

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KEEP ON SEEKING

It’s always dumping somewhere. Fun is always out there. It’s only last run ’til the next first chair. The Ikon Pass unlocks the most iconic mountains worldwide, so we can keep on seeking.


#ADVENTURERUNSDEEP

IKONPASS.COM


I'M A DOG AND YOU CAN READ ABOUT MY LUNCH HABITS ON PAGE 141! AND YOU CAN GET YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AT:

AMERICANTRAILSMAG.COM PAPER HEART PUBLISHING


The Answers Are Out There!

I

t’s the same every time: first, the trip makes us speechless, and then we begin to gather and formulate the stories we bring along on the road and in life. Ask any traveler or reader, of any age, gender, origin, or background, what the essence of travel is, and the answer you’re the most likely to receive will be “questing”. Questing for what, though? Questing for yourself, for experiences beyond those you’re accustomed to, for magnificent natural phenomena, magical encounters, places you never knew existed, or places that have been on your bucket list since forever. Questing for the stories you take with you. In this sense, every trip begins with a question: What’s going to happen this time? Where are the answers to my questions, and which of my questions will be answered? What will this trip end up meaning to me? The team here at American Trails may not have all the answers, but we love asking those questions each time we’re getting ready to go back on the road. We’re fully convinced that questing, curiosity, and a thirst for discovery are integral characteristics of all human beings, and that’s what makes the trip, the road, the encounters, and the unknown that’s waiting to be decoded and made graspable so alluring. In this issue, we tell you about the couple Julia and Isaiah Zagar, who have always searched for the answers to their questions on the road, particularly in Mexico. Their base, however, is in South Philadelphia (p. 42). We know there is at least one question for each of you readers, we know the answers you will receive will be as multifaceted as they are varied, and we know we will all interpret them differently depending on who we’ve been, who we are, and who we’re about to become. We know that we travel to look for the answers. We know that finding them will change us. Where and when we find them doesn’t matter much. We simply know we’re going to carry on traveling, because we’ve asked all those questions. And we know the answers are out there! Happy reading! Jonas Henningsson and Jonas Larsson P.S. Well, what do you know? We won the Publishing Prize for the second year running! Naturally, that has filled us with energy and intensified our desire todesire to write about back roads, people, and all the other stuff we find so fascinating about the North American continent.

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Oregon

PORTLAND, THE CRAFTS MECCA OF THE USA. THIS IS WHERE WE ALWAYS WISH WE WERE. PAGE 22.

Colorado

BOUNDARY-DEFYING SKI VAGABONDS THAT WE ARE, WE GO OFF PISTE IN STEAMBOAT, ASPEN, ARAPAHOE BASIN, AND SOME OTHER COOL PLACES. PAGE 56..

Nevada

VIRGINIA CITY: THE CITY WHERE PSYCHEDELIC ROCK WAS BORN. PAGE 128.

NOT ON THE MAP

Mexico

WE’RE TIPPED OFF ABOUT ZONA CENTRO, THE COOLEST NEIGHBORHOOD IN SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, GUANAJUATO, MEXICO. PAGE 40.

Canada

ALBERTA, BADLANDS, AND GOING TO THE RODEO–THOSE ARE THINGS THAT WE ADORE. PAGE 92.

California

WE CHAT WITH WILL LEAF III ABOUT CARS AND HOW VENICE HAS BEEN DEVELOPED OVER THE YEARS. PAGE 14.

Arizona

Alaska

ZACH, OUR FAVORITE SIERRA VISTA RANGER TALKS ABOUT CACTI. PAGES 72.

HENNINGSSON VISITED THE GRAND ULTIMATE DIVE BAR. PAGE 104

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Utah

WE START OUR ICONIC SKIING TRIP IN DEER VALLEY, BEFORE MOVING ON TO COLORADO. PAGE 56.


South Dakota

ONCE EACH YEAR, A RUGGED CROWD SETS OUT TO HERD THE BUFFALO. PAGE 138.

Pennsylvania

COME WITH US TO SOUTH STREET TO MEET THE ARTISTS OF PHILADELPHIA. PAGE 52.

Maryland

WE PLAYED WITH A MODEL RAILWAY AT WALT’S HOUSE IN BERLIN. PAGE 42.

Virginia

THE FLOYD COUNTRY STORE IS THE COOLEST GENERAL STORE WE’VE EVER VISITED. PAGE 140.

North Carolina

WE RETURN TO GLORIOUS ASHEVILLE. PAGE 18.

Florida

WE PRESENT A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO ALL THE TRULY GREAT PLACES IN MIAMI. PAGE 80..

Texas

THE GOING GETS TOUGH IN TEXAS. EMIL NORDIN SHOWS A GREAT PORTFOLIO OF PHOTOS FROM ONE OF HIS FAVORITE STATES. PAGE 112.

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EX T UN RA CO OR M DI M NA ON R Y GR S OU KIE N S. D. EYES ON THE SKIES. FEET ON THE GROUND. ENJOY IT ALL HERE. Discover hundreds of trails, from level loops to steep climbs gaining thousands of feet. Sierra Vista’s sky islands — ground like no other. Extraordinary skies showing daily. VisitSierraVista.com | 800-288-3861


FOTO:JONAS LARSSON

Contents

5. EDITORIAL | THE ANSWERS ARE OUT THERE

68. WALT, THE TRAIN GUY | BERLIN, MARYLAND

What will happen on this trip, and who will I meet? The questions that make traveling worthwhile.

“Walt’s train shop. America’s coolest.” ‘Nuff said.

6. MAP

For this issue, we’ve traveled to the East, the West, the North in Canada, and the South in Mexico.

Ranger Zach brings us out into the wilderness. We round the experience out with a foolhardy mountain biking adventure.

13. A TRIBE CALLED COLLABORATORS

80. CITY GUIDE | MIAMI

Say hi to four fine collaborators.

Here it is: the only city guide to Miami you’ll ever need.

72. SKY ISLANDS | SIERRA VISTA, ARIZONA

14. GARAGISTA | VENICE, LOS ANGELES

92. COWBOY CHRISTMAS | ALBERTA, CANADA

Will Leaf III runs the coolest car mechanic shop in Venice.

The Rodeo is like Christmas for cowboys and cowgirls.

16. POOLSIDE LIVING | MIAMI BEACH

104. TO DIVE FOR | KETCHIKAN, ALASKA

Jonas Henningsson soaks in the view!

When magazine editors want some peace and quiet, they head for a dive bar in the wilderness. Henningsson chugs a tankard at Hole In The Wall.

18. OPEN FOR BUSINESS | FLOYD, VIRGINIA

The Floyd Country Store is so much more than a general store. It’s also a legendary venue for folk music. 20. BEACHED| SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA

What could possibly beat the haze of a California beach in the morning? 22. CREATIVE BONANZA | PORTLAND, OREGON

112. PORTFOLIO, EMIL NORDIN | TEXAS

Photographer Emil Nordin shows us his favorite state. 128. THIS PSYCHEDELIC PAST | VIRGINIA CITY, NEVADA

Red Dog Saloon, use to be a hippie enclave. Today, Loren and Sue Pursel preserve its colorful history. 

The Portland brand of creativity is contagious. After a week in Portland, all Jonas Larsson wants to do is go home and whittle.

136. THE AMERICAN | KIMBALL, VIRGINIA

40. MY HOOD | ZONA CENTRO, MEXICO

A BBQ trailer, two dogs, a railroad and a hungry travel writer. What could go wrong?

Who could be a better city guide than a star chef ? Meet J.J. Castaneda. 42. SAVIORS OF SOUTH STREET | PHILADELPHIA

Isaiah and Julia Zagar have spent more than 50 years working on their artwork in Philly’s bohemian South Street. 56. SKI VAGABONDS | UTAH AND COLORADO

Five Swedes with a bad case of the ski bug bought an Ikon Pass each and went on a road trip through the Rockies.

Meet Arnold Hughes. A guy with a flat tire. 140. THE GREAT WIDE OPEN

142. WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM | SOUTH DAKOTA

Things get hairy in the Custer State Park. 144. UP IN THE BLUE| ASHEVILLE, VIRGINIA

Good vibes in the coolest Appalachian oasis for the arts.


DO YOU WANT YOUR OWN COPY? AVAILABLE FROM THESE WEBSITES AND STORES. AMERICANTRAILSMAG.COM TIDNINGSKUNGEN.SE PRESSBYRÅN – SWEDEN WHSMITH – UK BARNES&NOBLES – USA

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ROCOCO – 12 ELGIN CRESCENT, LONDON

LUNDELLS BOK OCH KONTOR – BYGATAN 15, LEKSAND

SHREEJI, 6 CHILTERN ST., LONDON

HOLYMOLY NORSGATAN 15B, LEKSAND

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IDEAS ON PAPER – FIRST FLOOR, 4B COBDEN CHAMBERS,

SECOND SUNRISE – KATARINA BANGATA 69, STOCKHOLM

PELHAM ST, NOTTINGHAM

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NEWS ON THE WHARF – SHOP 1, CABOT PLACE WEST,

RED WING SHOE STORE – GAMLA BROGATAN 23 D, STOCKHOLM

CANARY WHARF, LONDON

SKO UNO – GAMLA BROGATAN 34, STOCKHOLM

NEWS ON THE WHARF – SHOP 2, ONE CANADA SQUARE,

KONST-IG – ÅSÖGATAN 124, STOCKHOLM

CANARY WHARF, LONDON

PAPERCUT – ÅSÖGATAN 124, STOCKHOLM

NEWS ON THE WHARF – SHOP 5, CANADA PLACE, CANARY

PRESS STOP – FLEMINGGATAN 50, STOCKHOLM

WHARF, LONDON

PRESS STOP – GÖTGATAN 31, STOCKHOLM

NEWS ON THE WHARF – SHOP 8, JUBILEE PLACE, BANK ST.,

OFR – 20, RUE DUPETIT-THOUARS, PARIS

CANARY WHARF, LONDON

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YOUR STORE, GET IN TOUCH AT: INFO@AMTRAILSMAG.COM

MAGAZINE BRIGHTON LTD – 22 TRAFALGAR ST., BRIGHTON RED WING SHOE STORE – 17 NEWBURGH ST., LONDON BARBICAN NEWS – 34 GOSWELL ROAD, LONDON CHARLOTTE ST. NEWS – 66 CHARLOTTE ST., LONDON COMPTON NEWS – 48 OLD COMPTON ST., LONDON DIPTESH – 89 LEONARD ST., LONDON GOOD NEWS – 23 BERWICK ST., LONDON KENSONS NEWS & WINE – 3 BACK HILL, LONDON RAINBOW NEWS – 63 GOLDBORNE ROAD, LONDON REGENT NEWS – 45 BEAK ST., LONDON


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PHOTO: CHRIS HYTHA

a tribe called

Contributors Meet our amazing writers, translator and photographers.

ENGRID BARNETT, NEVADA, USA

Engrid Barnett is an award-winning cultural geographer, travel writer, and musician who explores America one ghost town, hiking trail, and eclectic bar at a time. In this issue of American Trails she writes about the Psychedelic rock scene at Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada. See page 128. Her work appears regularly in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Nevada Magazine.

American Trails EXPLORE WITH US

JONAS HENNINGSSON EDITOR IN CHIEF AND PUBLISHER HENNINGSSON@AMTRAILSMAG.COM

JONAS LARSSON CREATIVE DIRECTOR LARSSON@AMTRAILSMAG.COM

EMIL NORDIN, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Emil Nordin has been working as a freelance photographer for ten years, producing documentary stories and portraits for some of Sweden’s leading magazines and newspapers. Apart from his passion for visual storytelling, Emil is also a huge fan of the outdoors. When he’s not working, he’s usually trying to find a mountain to climb or some other excuse to leave the city. emilnordin.com

DONIVAN BERUBE MUSIC EDITOR BERUBE@AMTRAILSMAG.COM

LINDA GREN PHOTO EDITOR GREN@AMTRAILSMAG.COM

ANDERS BERGERSEN STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER BERGERSEN@AMTRAILSMAG.COM

JOHAN LETH PROJECT MANAGER/EDITOR LETH@AMTRAILSMAG.COM

JAN SALOMONSSON TRANSLATOR

JAN SALOMONSSON, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Jan Salomonsson is a translator, editor, and writer working out of Stockholm. He counts a variety of government agencies, art galleries, museums, and authors among his clients. When he’s not busy messing about with words, he plays board games or picks the banjo (he is the proud owner of three Buckeye banjos, see issue #1). He also enjoys a nice glass of Scotch and a good read.

JAN.SALOMONSSON@EXPRESSIVA.SE

ADVERTISING AND SPONSORSHIPS JONAS LARSSON LARSSON@AMTRAILSMAG.COM TEL: +46 70 76 01 720

OFFICE PAPER HEART PUBLISHING STORSKIFTESVÄGEN 40 141 39 HUDDINGE SWEDEN

SUBSCRIPTIONS INFO@AMTRAILSMAG.COM AMERICAN TRAILS MAGAZINE IS A QUARTERLY

CHRIS HYTHA, PHILADELPHIA, USA

Chris Hytha is a 22-year-old student, professional, and freelancer based in Philadelphia. While finishing his final years at Drexel university, and working at an architecture firm in Philadelphia, Chris finds time to pursue his passion of visual arts and photography. In this issue Chris shot the cover of Geno’s famous steak house. hythacg.com. Instagram @hytha.cg.

PUBLICATION AND AN ONLINE COMMUNITY, WHICH FOCUSES ON PEOPLE, PLACES, AND PASSIONS. WE DISTRIBUTE THE SWEDISH EDITION IN THE NORDIC COUNTRIES, AND THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION IN THE UK, USA, FRANCE AND IRELAND. WE DO NOT ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE LOSS OF UNSOLICITED MATERIALS. PERMISSION IS GRANTED TO QUOTE AND PRAISE US AS LONG AS THE SOURCE IS IDENTIFIED. FOR PERMISSION TO USE ANY OF OUR PHOTOS OR STORIES, PLEASE CONTACT THE EDITORS. ISSN 2002-7842

AMERICANTRAILSMAG.COM


Garagista

LEAF AUTOMOTIVE INC, VENICE, LOS ANGELES | CALIFORNIA WORDS AND PHOTO BY JONAS LARSSON

Two men stare down into the engine compartment of a deep-blue metallic Chevrolet Corvette from the early 60s. It’s a convertible. As for myself, I’m across the street with my pie hole wide open, almost jumping up and down with excitement. The combination of two (two!) early, mintcondition Corvettes, a Ford Mustang fastback, a Chevy Chevelle, and a garage this authentic and this cool makes me ride my bike back here the next day for a chat with William Leaf III, or simply “Will”. “I opened my first garage in Rockville, Maryland, where I grew up, at 21. It wasn’t exactly what my parents had in mind, but if you’re driving a 1932 T-Ford Hot Rod to school there’s not really much room for debate. But it didn’t go too well; I was better at fixing cars than getting paid. A lot of my customers were friends, too–you get the picture. I moved to Venice in the early 80s and founded this garage in 1984.” “Was this place different back then?” “Are you kidding me? You could get a house by the canals for 300,000 dollars–they cost ten times that now! But I guess I should point out that back then, gang warfare was factored into the price.” Will specializes in 60s cars. He personally drives two SS model Camaros, a 68 and a 69. We’re likely to see more of Will and his cars down the road. 745 ABBOT KINNEY BLVD, VENICE, CA


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Musings From a Rooftop Pool MIAMI BEACH | FLORIDA WORDS AND PHOTO BY JONAS HENNINGSSON

It’s the same every morning. I head up to the hotel’s roof before the haze of morning transitions into the blistering heat of day. I allow the water in the pool to bring me back to life while I gaze out over the quilt of palm trees and neat houses that is Miami Beach, and think about last night. The nights never end in this city, and last night was no exception. I didn’t leave my new-found friends until the light of dawn had taken hold of the streets. I peer out over the palm trees, towards my destination 16 for the day. Downtown Miami hangs over the horizon like a pulsing magnet. AMERICAN TRAILS VINTER | 2019


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Yes, we're open!

FLOYDS COUNTRY STORE, FLOYD | VIRGINIA WORDS AND PHOTO BY JONAS HENNINGSSON

Unexpectedly, we end up catching a lunchtime concert at Floyd’s Country Store in Floyd, Virginia. Each Saturday at mid-day, a new band takes the stage in this small wooden building which straddles the line between country store, coffee shop, and concert venue. The music you’ll hear here is varied to say the least, and ranges from traditional acoustic music to bluegrass and blues. Its origins could be in Africa or among the Native American peoples. Each of these styles reflects America in its own way. Lunchtime concerts are a great idea; locals and visitors to the area get to socialize, enjoy some food, and stomp their feet to the music. Between tunes, you can hear the chiming of the glasses and the plates, and we make small talk with the people at the next table– until the next tune captures our attention and we lose ourselves in the music. As the last note ebbs out, we head on down the winding highway towards the next stage of our journey through Virginia. FLOYDCOUNTRYSTORE.COM


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A Seashell for Your Thoughts SANTA BARBARA | CALIFORNIA WORDS AND PHOTO BY JONAS HENNINGSSON

The cool, pacific night transitions into the early light of dawn as I run along the majestic stretch of beach. The palm trees and mountains grow more defined by the minute. My thoughts are nourished by the fresh morning air. I’m thinking about the Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo (although he’s thought to have been Portuguese by some historians, so perhaps we should avoid controversy and call him “European”), who arrived at what we now know as the Santa Barbara Channel in 1542. I wonder what went through his mind when he stood on this beach? Maybe he was thinking about the people who had been here before him. Because surely, he must have realized that he wasn’t the first human to dig his toes into this silky sand and gaze out over the horizon? Much earlier, 13,000 years or so to be precise, there were settlements here, and at the time when the European explorer landed on this fine sand that I’m running on now, there were about 10,000 Chumash living here. They lived along the coast, in a string of settlements reaching from today’s Morro bay in the north to Malibu in the south. The word Malibu actually comes from Chumashan. The indigenous population were hunters, fishers, and gatherers. But they were also sophisticated. The Chumash invented and used currency–they used seashells to trade across huge areas along the coast, as well as further inland. The first permanent European settlements were founded by Spanish missionaries and soldiers at the close of the 18th century. That was also when the Santa Barbara mission, the tenth Californian mission along the coast, was founded by Spanish Franciscans. After that, modern Santa Barbara began to take shape. The same Santa Barbara that’s bathing in the sun’s full glare by the time I’ve finished my run.

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PORTLAND | OREGON

CONTAGIOUS CREATIVITY IN

PORTLAND

The creative scene in Portland is something quite exceptional. We’ve spoken to Lindsay, who makes jewelry out of recycled skateboards, the Martinez family, who have been making leatherwear by hand for four generations, and Mike, the fisherman’s son who makes amazing fashion inspired by 70s workwear. We hope you haven’t been inoculated, because the Portland state of mind is highly contagious! WORDS AND PHOTOS BY JONAS LARSSON 

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Lindsay Jo Holmes in her workshop. Here, she makes jewelry and accessories out of old skateboards.


T

he Burnside skate park is located just beneath the Burnside bridge. It’s an amazing place; sheltered from the elements, in an incredibly cool setting that looks like a movie set. It’s all very urban, with rough concrete surfaces. Lindsay Jo Holmes and Kenzie Moss are alone among all the concrete this morning; some pools of water have gathered here and there. I politely decline their offer to have a go–it’s been some years since I last stood on a skateboard, and it seems like a terrible idea. Lindsay and Kenzie, on the other hand, ride more or less every day, as they inform me over a cup of coffee at the nearby Cup and Bean. When they’re not riding their boards, they’re sawing other boards into little pieces to make fashion accessories for their brand MapleXO, one of the many creative businesses in Portland. “We love all things skateboard. The old boards are given new life as jewelry and accessories,” Lindsay explains. We’re standing in her workshop, which is littered with old, discarded skateboards and wheels. She’s worked here for over six years; the workshop is big, and she sublets parts of it to other craftspeople and artists. “We get the old boards and wheels from a supplier in San Francisco, but we also get leftovers from skateboard manufacturers in Tijuana, Mexico. That’s where most skateboards are made these days,” she informs me. “What kind of wood do they use for the boards?” I ask. “Almost all the wood comes from the Great Lakes area in Michigan, and it’s mostly maple. It’s a hard, durable wood, that’s also pretty flexible. It grows that way in the harsh climate there.” On the floor, there is six feet of concrete curb lying around. “Woah, what do you use that for?” “Well, this might sound a little weird, but when we get tired of working, we get our boards out and ride for a bit, and having a curbside around for that is great.” “Where did you get it? Did you just break it loose in the street and lug it back here?” “No way! We did stuff like that when we were kids, sure, but now that I’m an adult I can’t exactly be going out stealing sidewalks, ha ha. No, we got in touch with a local

concrete business here in Portland, and went there to ask to buy one. They asked us ‘You want one?’. They were a bit surprised–I don’t think too many people buy just one, I guess purchases are more often in the hundreds. But they were OK with it.” “What’s the going rate for a piece of curb these days?” “30 dollars.” “Good deal?” “Yeah, I reckon.” I GUESS I’M A HOARDER

Lindsay demonstrates how they glue the boards together, sand them, saw them, and cut the shapes out. It’s a laborious procedure that demands both precision and patience. “We’re always learning. I don’t know how many earrings the dust extractor swallowed in the first year, before I invented the guard that we’ve added to it now,” she laughs. “We try to use everything. When we’ve sawn out the circles from the center of the earrings, for example, we use that part for another piece of jewelry.” “We call these skeletons, what’s left over of the boards,” she says, holding up a board that’s full of holes, a bit like swiss cheese. “We try to be smart about it, and throw away as little as possible. I guess I’m a hoarder,” she smiles. “As a skateboarder, you form a close bond to your board, and to the material. It’s a piece of wood that you spend time with every day. When my boards were on their last legs, I couldn’t just throw them out; they were a part of me. They’re almost like journals with all those dents and scratches. I hung them on my wall, but there were quite a lot of them after a while, so I began painting on them and sawing pieces out. That’s when I saw these colors that the layers inside have, and I began to make earrings out of little pieces. Back then I worked as a waitress, and a customer saw my earrings and wanted some for herself– and before I knew it, I was running a business that makes jewelry out of skateboards! That was twelve years ago.” CRAFTY WONDERLAND

“We mostly sell to stores, but we also sell our wares online, and around the big holidays, customers come to our store. My favorite store is Crafty Wonderland in Portland. They started out by organizing a design fair at Dug Fir, the bar and restaurant of the Jupiter Hotel. I signed up to show 24

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Lindsay and Kenzie Moss at the Burnside skate park. A concrete paradise in Portland.

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Earrings made from recycled skateboards in the Maple XO store. Find out more at: maplexo.com


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There’s no creativity shortage at MapleXO, that’s for sure! Candle holders made from old skateboard wheels, anyone?

my earrings, it cost me 20 dollars to participate, and I sold 70 dollars’ worth of jewelry.” “I was ecstatic: wow, people want what I’m making! It was a big deal for me back then, but that was how it all began. They run a store up in Alberta now, but they still do the fairs. They draw crowds of 15,000 people every time, so they’re doing really well.” “Have you always been a skateboarder?” “Pretty much, but I guess I got more serious about it when I was about 16. I reckon I’m on my board every day, but I don’t skateboard to work anymore. But you need to keep at it every day, or you’ll soon lose your feel for it.” “I think it’s about 30 years since I rode a skateboard, so I think I’ll give it a pass,” I inform her. “We have a lot of skateparks in Portland, we have some that we call old man’s parks, they’re a little less challenging. You could try there, perhaps?” she smiles. Lindsay goes on to tell us that they make a bunch of different products, including earrings, beer openers, and candle holders made from old wheels. “If a wheel breaks, you have to replace all four, and that means we get a bunch of nice, new wheels to work on. Tag along and I’ll show you how I drill them out.”

She starts drilling into a wheel. As she works, the most amazingly long, beautiful ribbons of material emerge from the wheels. They look like works of art. She explains that she keeps that material, too, and uses it to weave different stuff. There’s no creativity shortage here, that’s for sure. OROX LEATHER GOODS

We head down to China Town, in the center of Portland, and walk through the front door of Orox Leather Goods. Walking in here makes you feel happy, that’s really all I can say. The scent is wonderful, and the store is packed with leather goods: bags, wallets, belts, and aprons. It’s also packed with members of the Martinez family, because this is a family business in every sense. Martin Martinez, the oldest Martinez brother, greets us with a big smile in the leather workshop, which shares the space with the store. Little brother Levi walks up to say hi, as do José, the father, mother Jackeline, and Jerome, who is an employee. They’re all focusing very intently on their work. “You sure you have time for this?” I ask. “Yeah, yeah, it’s no problem!” Martin responds. “We’re thrilled you want to come and check out what we do!” Martin is a cool character in a black bandana, a true ar28

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The Martinezes all together in the store/ workshop. Father JosĂŠ, mother Jackeline, little brother Levi, and Martin.


THE MARTINEZ FAMILY’S PASSION FOR LEATHER IS WAY MORE THAN SKIN DEEP. MARTIN, LEVI, AND KEVIN ARE FOURTH GENERATION LEATHERWORKERS. IT ALL BEGAN IN OAXACA, MEXICO IN 1933, WHEN DON FELIPE MARTINEZ AUDELO STARTED MAKING BASEBALL GLOVES AND BELTS FOR HIS TEAM IN LOS AUDELOS.

tistic spirit. His brother Levi is the archetypal kid brother: very attentive, lots of fun, and witty.

very environmental-minded, and they produce their own materials which leave a smaller environmental footprint. We’re trying to move in that same direction.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

The Martinez family’s passion for leather is way more than skin deep. Martin, Levi, and Kevin are fourth generation leatherworkers. It all began in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1933, when Don Felipe Martinez Audelo started making baseball gloves and belts for his team in Los Audelos. Don Felipe’s oldest son Pepe eventually took over the family business, and it grew as time went by. Pepe’s tenth son, José, started working for the company at the age of eight, and proved to have a special talent for design and leatherworking. José traveled around a lot, and on one of his trips, he met a couple of Japanese businessmen who liked what they saw. A deal was made, and José packed up his belongings and moved to Japan. He ended up staying there for six years, continuing to improve his skills and his leatherworking. After returning to Mexico, he took a break from the leather business. He had fallen in love with Japanese food, so he and his wife Jackeline opened a sushi restaurant, which they ran for the next eight years. “I moved to Portland to finish my economics degree, and I met my future wife here, and decided to stay,” Martin tells me. “I felt a desire to further our family tradition, so I called mom and dad and told them ‘you’re closing the sushi restaurant and coming to start a leather business with me in Portland.’ We’ve based the business on all the experience we have, good quality goods, sustainability, and making all the products by hand ourselves.” “That’s very Portland,” I insert. “Yeah, but it also matches well with the way our family has always viewed the craft. Quality and good design. We want the whole animal to be used, so our leather comes from animals that were slaughtered for meat, not just for their skin. But we’re also collaborating with the university here on trying to develop a material based on plant fibers. We want to work a little like Patagonia–they’re

FATHER JOSÉ

The atmosphere in here is very relaxed, and you can tell that this family really enjoys working with each other. Jackeline and José are a little on the quiet, humble side, maybe even shy. Their sons are the complete opposite, talking and laughing continuously. I’m curious to know more about how José spent six years in Japan and then returned home to open a sushi restaurant in Mexico. “How come you moved to Japan?” “I suppose I’ve always been someone who says ‘yes’ to stuff, and being a curious guy, I thought it sounded exciting.” José commands respect, and he radiates an inner security that makes me a little nervous. I sense that he has so many great stories–I really want to know more! But at the same time, I know that our time is short and that they have a lot to do, so my next question becomes… “Have you ever cut your fingers?” José flashes me his mild smile, and says, “many times.” He tells me about the design process. He always starts out by making a sketch of a new product by hand. After discussing the design, and refining it, templates are made, and then, production begins, right here, right now, all done by hand. One of the products that catches my eye is the apron that everyone in the family is wearing. It’s called the Tradesman apron, and looks really great. It’s like an updated version of a cobbler’s apron, with a breast pocket for tools. I don’t know what I’d use it for–my cell phone, or pen? Whatever, I totally need one. I also totally need a bunch of their bags and belts. There’s something about a product that was handmade by somebody who is passionate about their work that fills me with such a desire that I feel like I need it whether I really do or not. 30

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It’s the experienced José who makes the designs.

Martin and a duffel bag.

It’s all handmade in the store–very Portland!

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Mike has an unfailing sense of style. His clothes and accessories fetch their inspiration from the work wear of the 70s.

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Ship John make everything in-house, and the attention they pay to detail is impressive.

A great whittled detail on Mike’s hatchet, which he brings whenever he goes for a ride on his Harley.

As I begin to tell him of my runaway desires, Martin points out that these are products that last a lifetime, or could even be passed on to the next generation. “In Mexico, in my great grandfather’s days, you bought a good pair of shoes, and then you took care of them and mended them, and they lasted a very long time. We still have that mentality, to some extent. Orox (the name is a fusion of the family’s city of origin in Oaxaca and their current home in Oregon), is highly contemporary, and yet firmly rooted in crafts traditions, which makes them a very typical Portland business. But does Portland shape its craftspeople? Or do ambitious craftspeople with a strong moral compass simply gravitate to Portland? I’m leaning towards putting my money on the latter after speaking to so many craftspeople and entrepreneurs who have moved here. We say goodbye to the Martinezes, but not before I’ve dragged Levi out to the street to get a great photo of the coolest kid brother I’ve met in a long time.

the workshop when we come inside. Mike, who grew up in South New Jersey, is a self-taught designer and craftsman, who also found himself drawn to the creative ­atmosphere in Portland. It’s safe to say that Ship John is doing well; the waiting lines are long for the most popular garments, and they’re all made by hand in this old industrial facility in Northeast Portland. The designs are all inspired by western and working clothes from the 60s and 70s. “I like that era, a lot of people are inspired by the early 20th century right now, but I prefer that time. It was a little more modern, but the quality was still there. I don’t want a lot of extra material in the clothes. I want there to be room to move around, but nothing beyond what’s absolutely necessary.” “How did you start out?” I ask Mike. “13 years ago, I began making bicycle caps and building bicycles for a company called Vanilla Bikes. I made a whole bunch of bicycle bags with leather details, and then I moved on to wallets and other leather products, while also working as a stonemason and barman.” “This was my first garment,” he tells me, and shows me a work jacket made from waxed cotton. “It’s called the Wills jacket, named after Bob Wills, the country musi-

SHIP JOHN

Cap’n Mike Elias has the classic biker look: handlebar whiskers and long, dark hair. Of course, his Harley is in 33

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Ship John’s premises are as cool as their products.

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Efter morgonregnet på Porter Road.

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Attention to detail is the main priority whenever Mike does something.

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EVERYTHING IS MADE IN THIS RATHER SMALL WORKSHOP, AND THEN SOLD STRAIGHT TO CONSUMERS, EITHER IN THE STORE OR THROUGH THE ONLINE STORE. IT’S FASCINATING TO WITNESS THIS POLAR OPPOSITE OF THE CONSUMERIST ETHOS OF MOST STORES, WHICH ARE ALL ABOUT SELLING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, QUALITY BE DAMNED. THESE CRAFTSPEOPLE MAKE STUFF THAT COULD LAST FOR GENERATIONS.

cian. I name most of the products after country legends. I had made bags out of this material before, and when I was working as a stonemason, the wear on my clothes was unbelievable. I thought maybe I could make a jacket out of the same material as those bags, and that’s how I came up with it. It’s incredibly durable, and it’s made out of much thicker waxed cotton than other jackets.” “I do my own design work, but I’m not a pattern designer, so I had a friend of mine, Steven Heard, help out with that, and now, we’re partners in the business. The inspiration for the clothes comes either from good quality vintage clothing that you can’t get new, or from some need or other that makes me think of a design.” “I make sketches, and I show them to Steven, asking ‘can we make something out of this?’ He usually answers, ‘let’s put something together and see how it comes out.’ It works incredibly well. Steven has worked as a pattern designer for 30 years, so he knows what will work and what won’t.

details. It’s very interesting that it seems that no matter who we meet, they have other good craftspeople to ­recommend us, or some interesting collaboration or other to tell us about. That seems to play a significant part in the success of small and medium-sized crafts businesses in Portland. Which is cool. “I’m going to give you the Grand Tour!” Mike laughs as he shows us around the workshop. I’m truly inspired; the old machines and tools are so gorgeous! Again, the old stuff works, because it’s good quality. “Here’s my favorite knife–I use it every day for my leatherworking. It’s important to have good tools. I love this knife so much I even had it tattooed onto my arm!” Mike is definitely someone who forms close bonds to the things he loves. Everything is hung up in its right place. The workshop is very neat. Of course, the materials he uses are top quality. We give a few rolls of denim a feel. “This is from White Oak Mills in the US. They were the last real denim weavers, but sadly, they closed down. I buy a lot from Japan, simply because they make the best denim. Inside the front door, in just a few square feet, Ship John operates its only physical store. They stock their own jeans, and products from some selected suppliers. Among these is Wesco, who make every biker’s favorite boots in a small town called Scappoose, which is to the north of Portland. Of course, Ship John and Wesco have a collaboration going. This is Portland, after all. I try on a leather jacket that is absolutely divine, but I realize that I’ll need to make some more money first, and I’d kind of need to have a motorbike to be able to pull it off. Portland is a little like one of those Russian dolls: the more you discover, the more stuff appears. For each creative entrepreneur we meet, we are recommended at least two more. They all support each other, and it seems to work! Good job, Portland!  

NEW JERSEY

The brand name Ship John comes from a lighthouse in Delaware Bay, where Mike used to work on his father’s fishing boat when he was younger. “I always looked up at that lighthouse and thought how beautiful it was. It’s tattooed on my arm, to remind me of my home. So, when I was changing the name of the business, it just popped into my head, and I thought it sounded good.” Everything is made in this rather small workshop, and then sold straight to consumers, either in the store or through the online store. It’s fascinating to witness this polar opposite of the consumerist ethos of most stores, which are all about selling as much as possible, quality be damned. These craftspeople make stuff that could last for generations. Mike tells me he’s doing a collaboration with his old friends at Vanilla Bikes. Bags, handles, and other leather 38

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Mike has had his favorite knife tattooed on his arm.

Axe, Harley, gorgeous leather bag. Hmm, am 39 I forgetting anything? AMERICAN TRAILS WINTER HĂ–ST | 2019 | 2019


Zona Centro

Mexico is never more magical than in it its many small historical towns. And top of them all is San Miguel de Allende. Californian Chef J.J. Castaneda knew this and never hesitated when he got the opportunity to refine his cooking skills here. And he never hesitated when American Trails asked him to show us his favorite neighbourhood.

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WORDS AND PHOTO BY JONAS HENNINGSSON

eet J. J. Castaneda, the chef who I stay at Fatima here in Hotel Casa Blanca 7 where we fled California and ended up in have Ali Baba Night. It’s really fun, we get a good crowd, fairy tale town of San Miguel de hookahs (water pipes), belly dancers and kebabs. This only Allende in Mexico. J. J. runs the happens on Wednesdays. kitchen at amazThursday a bunch of us go to The Reing restaurant staraunt by Chef Donnie Masterton for Fatima at the sophisticated hotel Casa Burger night. They always have two difMY NEIGHBORHOOD Blanca 7. But he also has time to roam ferent djs playing and its always a good J. J. Castaneda the old historic cobble stoned streets of time! On Fridays I enjoy hanging with San Miguel. Here are some of his favormy other chef friends. We get out late ZONA CENTRO, ite picks from his neighbourhood. and hit a couple of cantinas, Bar Adelita SAN MIGUEL DE – I base my time away from work, and The Cantinaera and then TupinamALLENDE, GUANAJUATO which is somewhat infrequent, on the ba for some music. They are kinda old MEXICO days of the week. Certain cantinas, divey bars. restaurants and bars are sometimes Saturday is cool to go have dinner 16 JUNE, 4.35 PM. good, sometimes not so good, and some with a lady friend. I really enjoy eating at days not open. MI Vida, an Italian joint by Chef Greta. On Mondays I usually stay home and try to relax and On Sundays I really enjoy Campestre Mama Mia outside do nothing on my only day off, probably laundry  and of San Miguel, the chef used to work with Frances Malmsports on tv. Tuesdays I usually  go to El Manantial, a on. They always have great food, they have their own beer seafood restaurant that has a tostada ceviche special, two brewery and Pentanque, french bocce ball! for one tostadas, a hip crowd and good food. Wednesdays

WHERE TO GO

Zona Centro San Miguel de Allende

EL MANANTIAL | FACEBOOK.COM/CANTINAELMANANTIAL

TUPINAMBA | FACEBOOK.COM/ELTUPINAMBASANMIGUEL

FATIMA, HOTEL CASA BLANCA 7 | CASABLANCA7.COM

THE CANTINAERA | LIVEAQUA.COM

THE RESTAURANT | THERESTAURANTSANMIGUEL.COM

MI VIDA | MIVIDARESTAURANT.COM

BAR ADELITA | FACEBOOK –LA-ADELITA

CAMPESTRE MAMA MIA | HECHICERA.MX

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Saviors of

South Street PHILADELPHIA | PENNSYLVANIA

Isaiah and Julia Zagar aren’t just the most colorful couple in the South Street art scene. They also played a part in changing the history of Philadelphia, and the principles that guide US city planning.

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WORDS AND PHOTOS BY JONAS HENNINGSSON

hiladelphia’s South Street is slowly waking to a new day. Red, bleary eyes meet me in the street as I wander through the morning mist, navigating my way around the traces of last night, which have been strewn across the sidewalk. The eyes belong to the owner of a bar that stayed open until late last night. I know this, because I was there last night. Again. Until late. South Street rarely sleeps, and as a visitor passing through, it’s hard to avoid getting carried away and joining in. The man has returned to prepare for the next evening, the next night. Now, he’s sweeping up last night slowly, meditatively, as though he were reliving the events of last night in his mind as he worked. I eat my usual breakfast sandwich and study him through the windowpane. Now, he’s sweeping quicker, making more determined sounds. Perhaps he’s concluded that this evening will be better than the last. Whatever the reason, his verve and vigor are back.

South Street is a stretch of dive bars, sex shops, unusual restaurants, cool, contemporary galleries, and stores that are either zany or trendy. A diverse group of people populates this neighborhood. It’s not a place that tries too hard to be presentable; wherever you look, you’re served a dose of rough-and-ready charm. I fell head over heels for this place the first time I came here. This is exactly what a city should be, taste, smell, and act like! BOISTEROUS AND BOHEMIAN

South Street was originally named Cedar Street in William Penn’s scientifically designed grid of streets that subsequently became the city of Philadelphia. His was an overwhelmingly modern approach to city planning. He wanted it all to be neat, and orderly. But while Penn’s blueprints were pretty square, South Street is the very opposite of this. It would be more accurate to describe it as boisterous and bohemian, or even ballsy and bold. These blocks were never meant to conform to any plan. They grew organically, along with all the people who ever 42

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THERE’S NOTHING THAT BRINGS YOU BACK TO REALITY LIKE A PHILLY STEAK. MY BREAKFAST, A CHEESE STEAK WITH PROVOLONE AND STEAMING HOT COFFEE, WAKES ME RIGHT BACK UP, AND MY MIND WANDERS ON THROUGH HISTORY, LOOKING IN ON PRESENT TIMES, AND EVEN WONDERING WHAT THIS PART OF THE CITY IS GOING TO BE LIKE IN THE FUTURE.

walked these streets, I think to myself and take another big bite of my sandwich. There’s nothing that brings you back to reality like a Philly steak. My breakfast, a cheese steak with provolone and steaming hot coffee, wakes me right back up, and my mind wanders on through history, looking in on present times, and even wondering what this part of the city is going to be like in the future. I slip off of my bar stool and mosey over to the Magic Garden for my second visit in two days. I don’t want to miss a single part of this intricate universe created by the artist Isaiah Zagar. Self-portraits with added arms, a whole world of figurines, and stories told in cacophonies of color… You can find both personal and symbolic meanings in his idiosyncratic art. There’s no such thing as getting too much of Zagar’s art; there’s simply no way you can resist their frenzied expression. Zagar’s world is one you’ll never want to leave. All you want to do is delve way deeper into it until you lose yourself. Ever since the first time I ever heard of this wonderful, manic creation, which involved Isaiah adding his own touch and redesigning an entire residential area, the whole neighborhood, I’ve wanted to meet the artist who made it. And here he comes walking over to me with his wife Julia, holding each other’s hands. Museum director Emily Smith has informed me that the couple rarely agrees to meetings of this kind. Perhaps they simply find it heartwarming that a Scandinavian crossed the Atlantic on his own to find out more about the magnetic microcosm that they’ve created on this length of street in this region of the US.

there, there was nothing else going on in the city that could have meant more to them. “We had no more money, nothing in the bank–we had nothing! But we loved Mostel.” And they got each other as part of the bargain. In those days, they lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, “before anybody started calling it the East village,” they add in unison. Julia and Isaiah were both art students. Perhaps they could have stayed there, but they were both too curious about the world, and about life, to let themselves get bogged down. “When you start changing things around, opportunities arise, and things happen. If you stay in one place, nothing happens. You have to keep moving,” Julia explains. So, the couple left for Georgia, and Ossabaw Island. Ossabaw was once home to several large cotton plantations that were owned by four families who had made their fortunes off of slave labor. The woman who owns the island today found herself in some tax difficulties, so she turned the island into a kind of foundation for artists. When they arrived at Ossabaw, the Zagars were 22 and 23 years old, respectively. Many people who needed refuge came here, including a few Scandinavians. “I remember a little old Norwegian man who had escaped the Nazis with his sons. They crossed the mountains to Sweden on snowshoes, and then made it all the way to London, where he ended up becoming Radio Free Norway. His name was “Doctor Sommerfeldt,” Isaiah blurts out, smiling with an almost childish sense of glee when he realizes that the most overlooked nooks and crannies of your memory can occasionally be brought out into the light again.

THANKS, ZERO MOSTEL!

“So, it’s 56 years ago, not 55!” In 1963, they became an item, and Julia Zagar has a good brain for numbers. She met Isaiah in New York. They did some bookkeeping and realized that all in all, they had 45 dollars to their names. They used the money to go to a Zero Mostel show–“because we loved Zero Mostel”–and on that particular night, he was on fire. “He did a fantastic impersonation of a Greek vase,” Julia recalls, and Isaiah nods approvingly. Those 45 dollars were very well spent. Right then and

THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES

We all agree that it was a difficult, strange time back then, but then, our own time, which Isiah refers to as the “time of dictators”, is actually much the same. “But the changes happen imperceptibly, and we’ll soon see another shift– Obama came out of nowhere, too!” Isaiah explains. After Georgia, Julia and Isaiah went to Peru as Peace Corps volunteers The Peace Corps, which had been 44

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Beer, food, and fun. Tattooed Mom has everything you need!

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The Zagars and many others moved to South Street for the low rents. The rent they paid for their house was 75 dollars a month. They soon bought the house, because the landlord didn’t want to keep it. Maintaining it was too much trouble, and he wanted to get out debt. The couple and some of their new friends soon started to protest against the plans to demolish the neighborhood. “We learned how to protest in the Peace Corps–the government taught us how to stand up to these kinds of plans,” Julia laughs. They got organized, and carried out major protests and demonstrations in an effort to preserve the neighborhood. “But these were peaceful manifestations, art demonstrations,” Isaiah explains. Like planting trees. “Once, Isaiah rode naked through the neighborhood on a bull, so it wasn’t all that peaceful and well-behaved,” Julia suggests. “That was much later, Jul, and I was actually wearing swim trunks.” 46

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founded by president John F. Kennedy only a few years earlier, thought that they had sent the Zagars to the coldest, most inhospitable part of the country when they decided to transport the young artists to Altoplano and Lake Titicaca. But the couple loved it. The Peace Corps had no idea how much Julia and Isaiah love folk art. “The poorer people are, the more folk art you get. It was like paradise to us,” Julia remembers. “The people there were illiterate, but they were highly skilled craftsmen–they were artists! They made little dolls and ceramics, and beautiful tapestries.” “This was where we started out–‘can you change that like this and do this instead?’ We learned more and more about the craft,” Isaiah adds. One day, the couple thought they had been invited to dinner: “my mother has a fish for you, come over to our house and see!” a little boy told them. As they were getting ready for dinner, they were presented with the gift: a charming little fish knitted from orange yarns. “Today, you see these fine objects all over, and the families there are doing well. You see them in folk museums all around the world–and in Christmas trees,” Julia laughs. The Zagars stayed in Peru for three years. The Peace Corps helped them arrange transport for seven big crates of art and folk art so they could bring it all back home. The couple had collected the objects during their meetings with craftsmen and artists. They arrived on South Street in Philadelphia in 1968, and their plans for a gallery and an artistic practice began to gel. However, their route to success would be less than direct.

They got organized, and carried out major protests and demonstrations in an effort to preserve the neighborhood. “But these were peaceful manifestations, art demonstrations,” Isaiah explains. Like planting trees. “Once, Isaiah rode naked through the neighborhood on a bull, so it wasn’t all that peaceful and well-behaved,” Julia suggests. “That was much later, Jul, and I was actually wearing swim trunks.” DON’T GET THOSE HIPPIES INVOLVED!

A lot of people turned out to want to help prevent this plan from being carried out. The movement for the preservation of South Street received pro bono legal aid from local legal professionals. People realized that the plan was crazy. Why build another mall and another highway when people were thriving here, and the neighborhood was being developed in accordance with the needs of the local population. But other neighborhoods were resisting, too: people who lived all along the planned route of the highway were protesting and making themselves heard. “The plans were resisted on a federal level, on a state level, and on a local level, which made the legal aid invaluable, and there were some pretty big battles to be fought if you think about it,” Julia remembers. “Bob Sugarman, a lawyer, and the local activist Alice Lipscomb were important for our cause, and we helped each other out. I went to the premiere showing of a documentary about that whole thing, and Alice and Bob sat next to me. I remember thinking to myself that ‘here’s the group that saved South Street, and I’m in the middle!’ When we first met, Alice wanted me to join them, but Bob said, “Don’t get those hippies involved, they’ll be nothing but trouble!” Isaiah laughs.

A HIGHWAY THROUGH PEOPLE’S LIVING ROOMS

“These blocks don’t look much like they did back then now. The neighborhood has gone through every phase you could imagine over the years, with lots of ups and downs,” Julia clarifies. But when Julia and Isaiah first arrived, the whole place was slotted for demolition. Family’s homes were to be torn down. The highway would run right through people’s living rooms. The Zagars and many others moved to South Street for the low rents. The rent they paid for their house was 75 dollars a month. They soon bought the house, because the landlord didn’t want to keep it. Maintaining it was too much trouble, and he wanted to get out debt. The couple and some of their new friends soon started to protest against the plans to demolish the neighborhood. “We learned how to protest in the Peace Corps–the government taught us how to stand up to these kinds of plans,” Julia laughs.

MAKING MAGIC HAPPEN

During the early years of their little arts boutique on South Street, Isaiah’s ideas for the Magic Gardens began to take shape. Isaiah was a bit of a hermit, and he used to run off upstairs to hide when customers entered the store. He wanted to be left in peace in his studio to work. But Julia ran the boutique, which also became something of a logistical hub for the movement for the preservation of South Street and the nearby neighborhoods. These blocks were what is known as “red line areas,” which means that the banks wouldn’t lend you any money for renovations or other projects there. But that also meant that nobody really cared. The couple were able to buy their house for $10,000, and they could do whatever they wanted 47

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Magic Gardens, a three-dimensional art installation, is Isaiah’s life’s work.

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The Zagars outside the Eyes Gallery store on South Street.

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Philadelphia’s history as street art.

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The Eyes Gallery has been at the same address on South Street for over 50 years.

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SOUTH STREET WAS ORIGINALLY NAMED CEDAR STREET IN WILLIAM PENN’S SCIENTIFICALLY DESIGNED GRID OF STREETS THAT SUBSEQUENTLY BECAME THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA. HIS WAS AN OVERWHELMINGLY MODERN APPROACH TO CITY PLANNING.

to it. This freedom proved fertile ground for creative thinking and ideas. The timing was perfect for Isaiah. “It all came together at the right moment: I had the time to learn my craft and how I wanted to work.” They invested the money they’d saved during their years in the Peace Corps into the building. “We could have gone to New York, or anywhere really, but we chose Philadelphia, because Isaiah was born here, although he grew up in Brooklyn and on Coney Island,” Julia adds. That’s how this delightful couple speaks, I think to myself. One starts a sentence, and the other takes over and finishes the thought.

his creation. People soon began bringing him stuff, too; everybody has some extra pieces of mosaic or bottles in their home. The project just kept growing, with no end in sight, and the same was true of Isaiah’s creativity. “He worked at a furious, crazy pace for many years, but now we don’t do much besides collect stuff,” Julia laughs. “I made those figures with lots of arms because I was working all the time, and I wished I had more arms to do everything with. Now, I could use more legs instead,” Isaiah explains. BARBACOA, BABY!

We’ve been talking about food all day, and now that I’m packing my stuff up, Isaiah and Julia send me off in a very specific direction, refusing to accept no for an answer: South Philly Barbacoa. “Their chef is from the best barbacoa family in Toluca. You have to go! Philadelphia has turned into a real food town, it’s incredible. There’s another new place that’s really great: Cadence. It’s in a pretty bad neighborhood, and we had to step over three bodies to get there last time, but the food was oh so worth it!” Julia enthuses. When I leave the couple, assuring them we’ll soon meet again, perhaps in La Roma!, the rain has grown heavier over South Street. Outside the bar, the wet, newly swept tarmac is glistening, and the neon signs are mirroring themselves boldly in the water. Dusk falls, and the rain intensifies. A new night is beginning on South Street, which is rarely a pretty place, but which does sparkle with a certain confidence in the rain. I think to myself that these blocks are quite handsome, really–it’s as though they had become more self-assured somehow in the dim light of dusk. The barbacoa joint isn’t far from here, but the rain is persistent, and I know I’ll be soaked through before I get there.

MEXICO: A DECLARATION OF LOVE

Another customer enters, looks around until she finds what she wants, and then heads off again. Outside, a light drizzle of rain has begun to fall. Conversation moves on to Mexico, and the love we all shared for Mexico City, and for the La Roma district in particular. We end up talking about Cuaron’s masterful epic Roma, which takes place in 1972, a period when Julia and Isaiah lived there from time to time. “The movie tells its story so powerfully that once you’ve seen it, you’ll hear, see, and smell the neighborhood differently–isn’t that incredible?” Isaiah asks rhetorically. We talk about the sounds in the movie, the girl who comes along with her cart full of sweet potatoes, the scents. Mexico is a constant presence in the couple’s lives. Their 36-year-old son is a filmmaker who shot his first film in Oaxaca, which is in the southern part of the country. The same goes for the boutique, of course, which is filled to the brim with colorful folk art, ranging from small toys to amazing handmade masks and more exclusive collectibles. Julia and Isaiah return to Mexico several times a year to find more products for their store in the highlands that are scattered all around the country. Well, these days, they actually often send Emily, who loves the colorful country next door, in their stead. Much of the Magic Gardens was constructed out of objects from the store. Whenever something broke, Julia would send it over to Isaiah, who incorporated it into

Visit americantrailsmag.com for a guide to Philadelphia, and to read about museum director Emily Smith’s personal favorites on South Street! 54

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Their son Jeremiah is a filmmaker, and there is much more information about the artist’s life in the mosaic.


five Ski Vagabonds and a

ROAD TRIP After a few years of talking about it, five guys from Sweden made a reality of their shared dream of taking a ski trip in the Rockies. We grabbed an Ikon Pass, and hit five iconic ski resorts. And yes, we did find some champagne powder. BY JONAS LARSSON

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Arapahoe Basin. Steep slopes, a cool name, and some truly great skiing.

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e arrive in Salt Lake City on a warm day that shows all the hallmarks of a relaxing day in the spring, and none of the beginning of an amazing skiing adventure, but have no fear–that’s all about to change! The next morning, all five of us will be brushing a full, heavy foot of freshly fallen snow off of our enormous rental car. We’ve dreamed of going on this ski trip for ages. Sweden and Stockholm feel like they’re a world away, and we’re incredibly fired up and eager to get up on the mountain. As we head up to Deer Valley, with an Ikon Pass each in our pockets, we share plenty of laughs, and it’s almost hard to take in that we’re finally actually here, about to spend the next ten days skiing in some of the most legendary ski resorts in the US. How do you like the sound of Deer Valley, Arapahoe Basin, Aspen, Snowmass, and Steamboat? An important part of this adventure is the time we’re spending on the open road, driving along jaw-dropping mountain passes in the wonderful winter land of the Rockies. That’s one of the beauties of the Ikon Pass: a single pass grants you the freedom to ski in so many different resorts. We feel like true ski vagabonds.

out some of the movie folks, and then turn in early to save our strength for our first day of skiing. The next morning, we hit the slopes of Deer Valley early. There aren’t many people around, so the snow isn’t too broken up, and the pistes are long and smooth. The lift staff are very helpful, and give us their own suggestions for where to go. Naturally, we take the lift up to Bald Mountain, the highest peak–and the view is astounding! After some brief deliberations, we decide to take Stein’s Way down to Sultan Express–a little bit of blue to start with, to let us get a feel for our skis, and then black from that point on. “OK, follow me, and keep a little distance,” says Johan. I feel a brief tingle of anticipation, and then we’re off. The piste is brand new, our skis are great, and it feels terrific! We push on pretty fast, and stop right before the spot where Stein’s way turns black, and rather steep. “How do you feel?” Björn asks with a smile. He’s the only one of us who’s riding a snowboard, but he’s keeping up with the rest of us, who all went for these great rental skis. The response he receives to this is five expectant faces bursting into massive grins. “Come on, let’s go!” Johan 2 says, before he dances away down the slope. The rest of us give chase; it’s steep, but the piste is so well-maintained that we can just let go, and it’s hard to put how great it all feels into words. Deer Valley is a well-kept resort with a lot of variety on offer. The relaxing after-ski joints have a “champagne” vibe to them–this is where the elite from the film festival in Park City gathers, after all. The hotel bars are classy, and there is a great afternoon mood going around as we sip our vin chauds on the terrace of the St Regis Hotel. You can tell that the people here have come to see and be seen, but not in an annoying way–it feels more like a scene from a 70s Bond movie.

DEER VALLEY

Park City is just the kind of small town you hope to come across in the Rockies. The fact that we’ve timed our arrival to the Sundance Film Festival also comes with its own set of pros and cons. Pros: plenty of people in town, good vibes in the bars–and less crowded slopes! Cons: the traffic is crazy–fortunately, Park City has arranged free bus services! We grab a bite at the No Name Saloon & Grill and check

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Johan soars down the slopes.

A well-deserved craft beer after a day spent in the Aspen Highlands.

Deer Valley offers first-rate skiing and some high class after ski bars.

Johan scans the mountains from the gondola on his way up AMERICAN TRAILS VINTER | 2019to a Deer Valley peak.

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There’s no shortage of spectacular views. This one is from the Aspen Highlands.

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SUNSHINE PEAK IS 3,165 METERS ABOVE SEA LEVEL, AND NESTED BETWEEN THE THREE O’CLOCK AND TWO O’CLOCK SLOPES IS TWILIGHT - A PERFECT SLICE OF SKIER’S HEAVEN. WE SKI ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY OFF-PISTE; THE SNOW IS INCREDIBLE, AND IT’S ALL EVERYTHING WE DREAMED OF.

We spend a couple of days in Deer Valley in a state of absolute bliss. The slopes, the service, and the quality of the piste-side taverns and after-ski parties are all way beyond what we’re used to from Sweden, but all the same, we have to get back on the road. Colorado is calling us; it’s a six-hour drive to Steamboat, the next stop on our Ikon Pass tour. The time in the car is relaxing; an opportunity to digest your recent experiences. We enjoy lots of laughs, and time flies. Before long, we’re rolling into the legendary ski town.

powdery snow. When we arrive at Steamboat, a light rain is falling. Our spirits are low. “What do we do now?” It’s a good question. We decide to head over to the lifts to have a chat with whoever is working them. “Head on up, guys! It’s all fresh snow up there–powder!” Steve, who is working the lift, informs us. His words are like music to our ears. Our mood picks up quickly when we get up above the fog and see the snow fall gently at just over 3,000 meters above sea level. Steamboat’s most famous native son, Billy Kidd, an Olympic silver medalist and an American skier so iconic there’s even a statue of him in his Stetson hat over by the lifts, still loves to ski on the powder snow, and we’re right on his heels this morning. We may not be up to our waists in snow, exactly, but there are a good couple of feet, and we take swooping, quiet turns between the trees. Suddenly, somebody appears to the right, only to disappear off again, and then, Björn soars past just a few feet ahead of me. I kneel down into the snow, and enjoy the moment: this is exactly, exactly what I imagined it would be like to ski here. “Stop!” It’s Johan, who I’ve drifted a little too close to. He can’t stop in time, and sits down, laughing, in a little hollow in the snow. I manage to at least try to brake, but end up on my ass, with my back against a spruce, and we both laugh so hard at how incredible difficult it is for us to get back to our feet. Sunshine peak is 3,165 meters above sea level, and nested between the Three O’clock and Two O’clock slopes is Twilight - a perfect slice of skier’s heaven. We ski almost exclusively off-piste; the snow is incredible, and it’s all everything we dreamed of. In the end, we take the gondola back down. It’s still raining when we walk past the statue of Billy Kidd, and we all give the old ace a nod of

STEAMBOAT AND CHAMPAGNE POWDER

This is what we’ve been dreaming of for more than a year now. We started making plans over dinner, a little over twelve months ago. We talked about going skiing in the states–something none of us had done–and before we knew it, talk turned serious. Johan and Johan booked Ikon Passes and accommodations while I, Torbjörn, and Björn checked out ski rentals, air travel, and restaurants. We’re a group of old friends who have made similar journeys together in the past, so it all came together quite effortlessly. It didn’t take a lot of research for us to conclude that an Ikon Pass was our best option. The pass opens up 41 destination worldwide. All of these are included in both the Ikon Pass and the Ikon Base Pass, and 33 of them are located in the US and Canada. This would give us plenty of options on top of saving us a lot of money. We also looked forward to the convenience of not having to buy a new pass at each new destination. No hassle, just get on the lift and go! (Read more at: ikonpass.com). “Steamboat!” Torbjörn is getting excited, and the rest of us laugh. This is Steamboat, the place where the phrase champagne powder was coined. As we roll up through the majestic mountains, our minds are filled with visions of swooshing down between aspens, up to our waists in

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Champagne powder at Steamboat! The snow can be absolutely fantastic here. But keep an eye open for aspen trees.


Aspen delivers.

Huge amounts of champagne are consumed at Cloud Nine in Snowmass, Aspen. aspensnowmass.com

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WE TAKE LONG, SMOOTH TURNS, AND I HEAR SQUEALS OF DELIGHT ALL AROUND ME. TORBJÖRN SWISHES PAST, FOLLOWING WHAT LOOKS LIKE A SMOOTH LINE, SO I TAG ALONG, AND WE SWOOP DOWN THE MOUNTAINSIDE IN PARALLEL, BIG CURVES, NOT STOPPING UNTIL WE REACH THE BOTTOM. WE LOOK AT EACH OTHER, CATCHING OUR BREATH, AND BURST OUT LAUGHING. THERE’S SIMPLY NO NEED FOR ANY WORDS.

respect. We have a beer in the bar in front of the Sheraton. There’s a band playing, and the place is lively–but of course, we find the bar where the locals go: T Bar, not far from the lifts. This place has that genuine American Ski Bum vibe: simple, but great times. We’ve soon made friends with most of the people at the bar. Steamboat is a little more oriented towards this kind of vibe than Deer Valley, but they both offer excellent skiing and varied after-ski options.

my poor mogul skiing and excellent beer drinking, I’m off driving duty. We drive into the beautiful town of Aspen late that evening. Our apartment is large, and very nice. We play rock-paper-scissors for the rooms; I win a great one, which fills me with a healthy dose of bro glee. We cook our own dinner and then spend the evening making plans for the next day over a game of cards. Aspen has four nearby resorts: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass, all four of which are excellent, wonderfully steep mountains. The latter two are larger, and offer more varied slopes, while the first two have plenty of excitement on offer with all their steep, narrow runs mixed in with more relaxed, wider pistes. We wake with great expectations, and are greeted by a bright blue sky. On our way to the lifts at Aspen Highlands, we drive through the town, and it’s immediately clear to us why this place is so famous: gorgeous little brick buildings, wooden houses, cafes, breweries, and bars–we can’t wait to go! We’re among the first to reach the peak, and the slopes are covered with 8 inches of untouched snow. We take long, smooth turns, and I hear squeals of delight all around me. Torbjörn swishes past, following what looks like a smooth line, so I tag along, and we swoop down the mountainside in parallel, big curves, not stopping until we reach the bottom. We look at each other, catching our breath, and burst out laughing. There’s simply no need for any words. We ski all day, and that evening, we have dinner at the classic Red Onion, complete with an iconic ski rack outside. The bar first opened back in 1892, in the days of the Colorado Silver Boom, and after spending all day on the slopes we’re feeling about a century old ourselves, but some good food and drink soon sets us right again. We finish our night at the famous, classic J-Bar at Hotel Jerome.

ARAPAHOE BASIN: CLASSIC SKIING

The next day, we’re back in the car, roaring through a fascinating landscape. Two hours and a bunch of winding roads later, we arrive at the Arapahoe basin, which, apart from having the coolest name of any ski resort ever, has plenty of history and a good deal of genuine adventure skiing to offer. The resort is centered on two locations, one on each side of a mountain ridge: Montezuma Bowl is on the back, on the slope down to the parking lot, and on the other side is the great, steep off-piste skiing of Steep Gullies. There’s a strong wind blowing at the peak, and we quickly head down below the tree line–it’s steep, but good skiing! We ski all day and finish off with some mogul skiing - I’m a terrible mogul skier, but that only seems to make it all the more enjoyable for my friends. I reward myself with a beer in the sun while the rest of the guys give it another go. “Mogul Schmogul,” I think to myself as my nose gradually turns a shade too red–from the sun, of course! ASPEN: GOOD TIMES

Later that same day, we head on for glamorous Aspen, where we’ve rented an apartment at the no less glamorous Gant. It’s only a two-and-a-half-hour drive, and thanks to

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THEN, WE DROP OVER THE EDGE. ONE TURN–ALL GOOD. TWO TURNS – I’M FALLING MORE THAN GLIDING, AS I TRY TO KEEP TO THE TURNS WITHOUT LEANING BACK TOO MUCH. THREE TURNS–I’M DOING OK, BUT IT’S EXCITING AND TERRIFYING ALL AT ONCE. FOUR TURNS… MY WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION IS OFF, AND THIS MOUNTAIN ISN’T THE TYPE TO SUFFER FOOLS. I TUMBLE, MY SKIES TRIGGER, I’M TRYING TO STOP AND I’M JUST SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW THAT I’M WEARING A HELMET AND BACK PROTECTOR.

whole body freeze up when I take a peek over the edge. I’ve never tried skiing anywhere near as steep as this. I look over at the others, who aren’t exactly looking super cool about it either, and that only makes me feel worse. “What about it, guys? Shall we give it a try?” I laugh nervously, secretly praying that somebody is going to come to their senses. “I say we go for it!” says Johan, and the others all nod. I swallow hard. Then, we drop over the edge. One turn–all good. Two turns–I’m falling more than gliding, as I try to keep to the turns without leaning back too much. Three turns–I’m doing OK, but it’s exciting and terrifying all at once. Four turns… my weight distribution is off, and this mountain isn’t the type to suffer fools. I tumble, my skies trigger, I’m trying to stop and I’m just so happy right now that I’m wearing a helmet and back protector. Eventually, I come to a stop. I hear good-natured shouts from above: “How are you?” “Are you OK?” “Get up and get back at it!” Naturally, I had to take the mother of all falls right below the lift, but Americans are a friendly and warm people, and they make me feel OK about it. Shaken up, but happy, I make my way down to the lift, where I declare that I’m done with steep slopes for the day. I ski down the piste a few times, just to relax. I’m proud that I gave it a go and stayed upright for three or four turns. Practice makes perfect! We all gather at Cloud Nine, 3,300 meters above sea level, our faces red and happy and every muscle sore, to enjoy some champagne and take in the view. To make sure we won’t end up riding the snowmobile back down, we make a point of sipping our champagne slowly. Although we have a day’s worth of skiing left in Aspen, we’ve already decided that this isn’t going to be the last time we enjoy the ski vagabond lifestyle in the USA. We’ll definitely be back for another ski tour soon, and we’ll have the Ikon Pass to guide us again. There are at least 28 destinations left on the pass for us to check out!

SNOWMASS

Snowmass is larger than–and quite different to–Aspen Highlands; it’s more developed, and the after-ski bar is really busy. We ski all day in the dazzling sunshine, and hang out in the bar by the lifts in the afternoon. There’s a good crowd, and spirits are high. After another round of rock-paper-scissors, I end up having to drive four happy boys back to the apartment. The next day, we’re back in Aspen Highlands. We’re got some serious skiing planned for today: we’ve studied the piste charts, and found a bunch of black slopes we want to try. Highland bowl seems challenging: there aren’t any lifts running up to the peak of the bowl-shaped valley, and it’s all black pistes–pitch black! I’m secretly harboring some doubts. We take the lift up to Loge peak, and enjoy some amazing runs down the pistes, which are quite narrow but great trails, and gaze over at the bowl. While we’re all pretty keen to give it a go, it does look challenging and it is quite a long walk, and we’re not seeing anybody walk back… which suggests that there’s no turning back. We decide to have lunch at Cloud Nine–high up on the mountain, next to the lift it’s named after. As it turns out, a compatriot of ours, Tommy Tollesson, runs the place. He sits down at our table, and we begin to pepper him with questions while we enjoy what turns out to be a great lunch. NN tells us he’s skied the bowl before, but that it’s insanely steep. In the end, we decide to give it a pass: we’ve been recommended some other steep, great runs that the lifts can get us to, and reason prevails. “Come back around 2pm, we’ll be drinking some champagne! If you drink too much, you can always take the snowmobile down,” Tommy laughs. Their record is 140 bottles of Champagne sold in a day, and Cloud Nine sells more Veuve Clicquot than any other restaurant in the USA–even though it’s only open four months each year! We make our way back to Loge peak and zigzag down a slope that gives a whole new meaning to the word steep. Being the least experienced skier among us, I can feel my 66

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Johan is pleased to find that Cloud Nine has an excellent stock of champagne.

IKON PASS • NO BLACKOUT DATES • 14 UNLIMITED SKIING & RIDING DESTINATIONS • UP TO 7 DAYS AT 26 DESTINATIONS • 41 DESTINATIONS • MORE INFO AT: IKONPASS.COM • FROM $1,099

IKON BASE PASS • BLACKOUT DATES • 12 UNLIMITED SKIING & RIDING DESTINATIONS • UP TO 5 DAYS AT 28 DESTINATIONS • 41 DESTINATIONS • MORE INFO AT: IKONPASS.COM • FROM $799

A great little ski cabin in Deer Valley.

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long train running

WALT’S TRAIN SHOP, AMERICA’S COOLEST. BERLIN | MARYLAND To be the ruler over one’s own kingdom has long been the dream of many. The closest that most of us ever really got though was to build up our own model train world. So when we stumbled upon the sign “Walt’s Train Shop, America’s Coolest” we simply had to check it out.

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WORDS BY JONAS LARSSON | PHOTOS BY ANDERS BERGERSEN

e went past the small boutique front on 8 Pitts Street in Berlin, Maryland several times before. In the window hung the intriguing and reassuring sign, “Walt’s Train Shop, America’s Coolest”. As was our luck we always caught the shop closed up the few times we walked passed after dinner. Now it is our last day, and with the drawing attraction of childhood nostalgia building up inside, we simply could not miss checking out this spot. After all, with a name like America’s Coolest, we we’re bound to find something worthwhile right? We sneak into the store and eye off a man talking shop on all things trainset to another older gentleman—this must have been Walt at work. We bide our time to get a chance to chat him up and meanwhile peruse the shelves stacked with memories. A strong sensation began to overtake me, nostalgia, a longing for the memories, and my whole childhood rushing back to me like a runaway freight train. I pick up the box cars, hopper cars, dining cars, the engines of varying make and model. I like the box cars most of all, there is just something a little extra special about them, an iconic piece of American locomotion. We wait to make out move. Walt has wrapped things up with his customer and tends to his work bench, tinkering with the underside of an old steam engine.

– Hey, what a nice shop you have here, have you had it long? I ask in a somewhat shy yet respectful mumbled voice. – Thanks, yea it’s my second location here in town. Not long ago I had a shop up in Mount Airy, that’s in Carrol County, just a little northwest of Baltimore. We had a small apartment down here by ways of the coast and I always promised my wife that one day I would sell that shop and we could just move down here. But she insisted on moving right away, citing that I would never sell that shop. So that’s what we did. We packed our bags and moved down here, I found a small empty boutique store front, and within a weeks’ time of the move I was up and running for business. RAILWAYS IN THE BLOOD

It shows that Walt’s Dad worked on railways, the real ones, and that Walt’s interest in trains began from an early age. In 1976 Walt began working with railways himself, albeit at a small scale, literally speaking. When they moved down to Berlin in 1995 and started the boutique, business was steady for the first few years. But as Walt points out, the average age of his customers is 65 years old, a trend that doesn’t go in the right direction for business. – I have noticed that internet has made it a lot harder. People don’t go out to the stores and shop in the same way that they used to do before. – Do you have a website where you sell your models and sets? – You know how it is, to deal with e-bay and all that online stuff is a full time job in of itself. I’m too old to work in 68

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Walt is a cool character with a great sense of humor.

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Freight cars, steam engines, and rails. Walt’s store was a dream for any train geek.

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Unfortunately, Walt had to close down the coolest model train store in America.

that way, so I just sell directly from the shop, and frankly not too sure how much longer I can hold on with that either. – What’s happening now is that a lot of people are giving up their hobby or go away and no one wants their stuff, so I end up buying it, renovating and repairing it, and then sell it here in the store. – Walt goes on to say that the younger generation just isn’t as interested in this type of creative hobby anymore. There is no longer a tradition and building upon train sets like there was before when train sets were handed down over generations in a family. Each passing of hands would build upon the gifted set, expanding the collection, adding to something timeless and unique. There’s a big cultural difference between the generations today and this type of hobby is on its way to disappearing. I myself remember my Märklin brand train set that I built with great enthusiasm on a piece of plywood board in my childhood room. Sweet played from the small plastic vinyl player that looked like a cheap old leather handbag. When you closed it up, it transformed into a world of wallpaper glue, Styrofoam pieces, old fabrics, and various types of sprinkles that created and became dirt, grass, and coal.

Because really, the building and construction process was the most important. Oh, and to buy box cars, real good box cars. Operating and driving the trains was in fact, quite boring. It’s like what Walt said, “The creative process in the building and planning of one’s very own train track is what really gets most people started and hooked on this hobby.” I show Walt American Trails and mention that Anders has taken the photos. – You boys do a good job here, real nice. Ya’ll have a good photographer? – Nope. They are hard to get a hold of I say and laugh. – Ha ha, they sure are nice pictures he eggs on. Walt is a real gem of a guy. – Can we get a shot of you Walt? Asks Anders. – You sure you want to? I mean my table is a mess. He Answers. Tell the readers that you spoke with a vintage old fart. We got some beautiful shots of the World’s coolest model train owner and we wander outside of the shop happy and with a newly bought Scale O, vintage plastic model of a classic American Diner. After our visit with Walt he has since closed his shop for good. We send him box cars full of our best wishes and luck to him. 71

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LANDS SIERRA VISTA | ARIZONA

and a Sizzling Hot Adventure Nature is amazing. In South Arizona, it also happens to be rather uncompromising. So, fill your water bottle, put on a good pair of shoes, and don’t forget your sun hat and lotion. WORDS BY JONAS LARSSON | PHOTOS BY SIMON URWIN

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Zach is our guide to the back country of Sierra Vista.

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tanding on a mountaintop looking out over buff plains–desert really, mostly flat with mountain ranges here and there–can really lend you a sense of perspective. Your thoughts wander freely, just like the birds, the pumas, and even the black bears. The fact that half of what we can see from here is actually Mexico is difficult to take in. The border runs just below us, and with some effort, we can make its thin, white line out. “Borders mean a lot to some people, but if we take a broader, historical perspective, it’s a whole different story. At first, the native Americans lived here, and then, the Spaniards showed up. They ruled over vast tracts of present-day USA, basically all the way up to Montana. Eventually, Mexico took over. Southern Arizona and parts of New Mexico didn’t join the USA until the Gadsden Purchase in 1854,” Zach explains. He is the friendly ranger who has set aside an afternoon to guide us around the Coronado National Memorial, a popular local destination for outings. We’re wearing hats and hauling drinking water; to be honest, I was a little worried when I thought about how we were going to be out walking on the mountains at midday. The heat was relentless down in Sierra Vista, but people have told me that you get used to it. Here, at just over 6,000 feet above sea level, it’s actually very pleasant, though. Wandering around in the mountains is a popular pastime here, not just because of the relatively tolerable temperatures, but also because of the spectacular scenery. You really can see a long way from here, and with a touch of imagination, the little mountain ranges do look a little like islands in an ocean, which explains why they’re called the ‘Sky Islands’. “We actually have black bears here,” Zack tells us before continuing: “This may not be a place where you’d expect to see bears, but they live here, in what we call ‘bear islands’. They thrive up in the mountains. From time to time, they migrate to another mountain–it doesn’t happen often, but they can be spotted plodding through the desert. I don’t

think it’s their favorite thing to do, exactly, but they seem to handle it OK.” The government, which owns much of the land along the border, and has turned much of it into national parks, has built special jaguar corridors to ensure the free passage of jaguars across the border between the two countries. They’ve also adapted the border fence to enable large mammals to climb over it without issues. We take a free bus from the visitor’s center down in the valley, and then, it’s a short walk up to the peak. There are plenty of great trails in the area. One particularly popular one is Crest trail, which takes you up to Miller Peak. It’s a 2–3-hour trek, which climbs 3,000 feet in 10 miles, so bring plenty of water and something to eat, and dress appropriately. If you’re feeling a little less adventurous, you can ride the bus to the top and come down the mountainside on the trail instead. There’s also a large cave just above the visitor’s center: Coronado Cave–and yes, you can climb inside it. Remember to bring at least two flashlights each, and wear good shoes. FIVE SEASONS

“We actually have five seasons here: we have the usual four, of course, but our summer is basically two separate seasons. In early July, the monsoon begins, when the rain comes in from the Pacific ocean. It tends to arrive suddenly and last for about an hour before the sun reappears. The monsoon continues until mid-September, and many people leave the area for that time, but I like it. The flowers come back, and it’s incredibly beautiful.” “Is that when you see the whole desert bloom?” I ask. “No, March and April are actually the months when we get the most flowers, but there’s always something in bloom. Look at these cactuses, they’re in bloom right now!” I look around, and notice some cactuses that really are presenting some shy, little flowers. Before we leave, we make another quick visit to the visitor’s center. They have a remarkably good historical exhibition where you can try on conquistador armor or read about and see a variety of artefacts from the Native

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PHOTO: JONAS LARSSON

Collin puts his bike on the pickup after finishing his bike ride.

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PHOTO: JONAS LARSSON

Yucca and cacti are the dominant plant life here.


The view from the cliff ledges of Coronado National Park is magnificent.

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“I CYCLE TWO OR THREE TIMES A WEEK,” I FIB, WHILE CONSIDERING MY OPTIONS IN TERMS OF STRATEGY. GUYS THEIR AGE TEND TO BE COMPLETELY FEARLESS, INCREDIBLY RESILIENT, AND KEEN TO RIDE THE TOUGHEST TRAILS.

American peoples. We thank Zach, and head back to the hotel. I need a quick rest; in an hour, I’m supposed to be sitting on a mountain bike, heat be damned. It sounded like a good idea yesterday…

notice it only has clipless pedals. “Oh! I didn’t bring any clip-in shoes!” “No, that’s my bike,” says Colin. “Here’s yours,” he continues, and lifts down a far less impressive specimen, with regular pedals. “We usually warm up by cycling up this hill, on the asphalt,” Andrew tells me. “Does that sound good to you?” I embrace my strategy, and tell him it does. The time has come to show them that I have some lung capacity, at least! Halfway up the hill, it’s become very clear to me that this is going to be one hellish MTB ride. Once we get back down, we decide to follow an intermediate trail. It’s uphill, even more uphill, rocky, and hot. Andrew and Colin pedal on, and I struggle with the camera bag on my back until a receive a flash of inspiration: “Guys! This stretch here is nice. Let’s stop and take some pictures! You guys cycle up the hill, and when I call out, you ride back down. It’ll make for some cool action shots!” Finally, I’ve found a sustainable strategy. This way, I can rest whenever I want to. We take a bunch of photos. Colin and Andrew dutifully cycle up and down the hill, without showing any sign of slowing down. And I get to rest. When we reach the top of a hill, we stop to admire the view. Sure, this is hard work, but it’s so worth it! The view is incredible, and we’re about to start on the downhill part of the trail. It’s a lot rockier than I’m used to, but the trail is great, and I’m starting to really enjoy myself, so I ease up on the brakes. In the back of my mind, I’m worried I’ll hurt myself; I still have three weeks to go. I jump over a rock when I follow Andrew’s line. These guys are great cyclists. I feel a stinging sensation in my right hand; I can see the blood flowing down the back of my wrist. The thorny bush behind me is still swaying, and I think to myself that “this is real.” My next thought is “stop being so childish!” There are plenty of reasons to keep going, though: we’re in the here and now, and my fatigue has completely vanished. Once we’ve returned to the parking lot, Andrew looks at my bleeding hand and asks me if I’m OK. I tell him it’s cool. “Maybe that will impress them,” I think, and I can feel my dignity being restored as it happens.

MOUNTAIN BIKING

I feel like I fell asleep just moments ago when my phone rings, and reception informs me that my MTB guides are waiting for me. Half asleep and less than half eager, I put on some deodorant and head down to the waiting cyclists. Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that I don’t enjoy mountain biking; nothing could be further from the truth. I really love cycling in the mountains, but I’m feeling the wear of a week on the road. There’s an energetic adolescent in the foyer, fully kitted out. He looks to be in frighteningly good shape. “Hi, I’m Andrew, and you must be Jonas,” he says. “That’s right!” I respond, and hope that the guy I can glimpse out by the pickup is going to be closer to my age and level of physical fitness. Unfortunately, Collin Di Mattio isn’t just over 50 and slightly out of shape; he’s 18 or so, and in great shape. “There are a bunch of good trails round here. How much biking experience do you have?” Andrew asks me. “I cycle two or three times a week,” I fib, while considering my options in terms of strategy. Guys their age tend to be completely fearless, incredibly resilient, and keen to ride the toughest trails. I settle for a balanced approach: I want to try to show them that I’m in decent shape after all, but without having them take me out on a trail where I could end up getting injured. I have three weeks to go before I head home, after all. My strategy turns out to be a poor one. “We could try the Cooper Loop trail, it’s good.” We exit the pickup on a parking lot over by Miller Canyon road, and the 85-degree heat hits us in the face. As I start lifting the bikes off, it dawns on me that this isn’t going to be an easy ride. The guys are incredibly polite, and they have compassion in their eyes as they watch me struggling with the bikes. I move the first one aside, and 78

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PHOTO: JONAS LARSSON

There are plenty of great bike trails around Sierra Vista. It’s rocky, and warm, and technically challenging in places.

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Miami CITY GUIDE

Mmmiami! You hear the word, and immediately, you’re thinking of hot nights, pastel-colored buildings, gorgeous cocktails, happy party crowds, and sunny days. Miami, even the SOUND of it is awesome. Few places can carry their name with this kind of pride, and there’s very little that compares to hearing a local pronounce ‘Miami’. Miami means a whole lot more to us, too: here, you’ll also find one of the most exciting food cities in the USA–we come here just to eat, that’s how good the food is. Oh, and the art scene is awesome, too. That’s more than enough to land Miami on the list of cities we keep going back to.. WORDS AND PHOTOS BY JONAS HENNINGSSON


PHOTO: JONAS LARSSON

Ball and Chain

A beautiful couple is dancing the salsa on the sidewalk outside, in the greenish light of the nightclub’s neon sign. At Ball and Chain, they give dance classes at the bar. Margaritas to drink, and Mariquitas de Maduros, Chicharrones, Congri Fritters, and my favorite, fish tacos, to eat. The dancing by the bar intensifies as evening turns to night, and the palm trees by the small outdoor service area in the back yard sway lazily before the night-black sky. 1513 SW 8th Street | Little Havana ballandchain.com

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Wynwood There’s a lot more to Wynwood than all the famous murals. The area is home to many first-rate galleries. Ask around, because some of them are difficult to find, and don’t exactly announce their existence. ‘Sophisticated’ is the common thread here. Don’t forget the food scene up here, either. Incredible restaurants, several craft breweries, and a great bar density are all reasons why it’s so easy to get stuck in Wynwood.

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The Epicenter of Wynwood

This feels like the original, archetypal Wynwood restaurant. A beautiful bar that goes on forever, a sunny outdoor service terrace and a gorgeous dining room, where dishes like Ropa Vieja Empanadas and Gambas A ajillo are served to an appreciative, hip crowd. We can’t resist a great beer list, either. 2550 NW 2nd Ave | wynwoodkitchenandbar.com

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Yeah, craft beer! The staff at Concrete Beach Brewery are ready to go.

This guy reckons he makes the best pizza in the USA. He might actually be right. Find out for yourself at Cafe Babbo.

If you visit Miami, you’ll be eating tacos. Try Coyos, they won’t disappoint you.


There’s art everywhere in Wynwood.

five FAVORITEs In

wynwood Coyo Taco

Coyo Taco for tacos, of course. The minimum order is two tacos per person. I choose Carnitas de Pato with duck and serrano salsa, and Al Pastor with pork, roasted pineapple, and onions. Tacos, the dish that keeps on giving! And gosh, it’s so good! 2300 NW 2nd Ave. #3 | coyotaco.com/wynwood

Concrete and Brews

The terrific Concrete Beach Brewery were among the first to serve craft beer to Wynwood. They still run one of the best brew bars, with a cool urban and chaotic mood right in the middle of town, with airplanes taking off and landing, and a sizzling sun overhead. And, most importantly, good beer! 325 NW 24th St | concretebeachbrewery.com Fireman Derek is often in the bakery himself.

Say Hi to Fireman Derek

Who makes the best key lime pie in Miami? Well, lots of people would say that the answer is Fireman Derek, and I can only nod approvingly to that. This ex-fireman is a snappy baker, too, it turns out. And Derek is almost always there behind the counter. So go in, say hi, and make an order! 2818 N Miami Ave | firemanderekspies.com

Cafe Babbo

The best pizza on the American continent–we’re not kidding! Antonio Chia and Alessandro Pazzaglia keep the pies coming at Cafe Babbo. I sit down at the bar to the side of a bright red Fiat 500. The pizza is divine. The secret is in the dough, and in the technique, according to Alessandro. 97 NW 25th St #103 | baccanomiami.com

did i hear Suviche?

The name pretty much gives it away. Ceviche is a particularly enjoyable dish in this climate, and in Miami, there are plenty of places that serve great ceviche. The Pisco is good here, too, and you won’t miss it! I love taking a long, lazy Sunday lunch here. 2751 N Miami Ave | suviche.com


Little Havana

This is the most exciting neighborhood in town, if you ask me (and as you’re still reading this, you kind of are asking me‌). The large Cuban and Latin American population in the area is reflected in the bar menus and the restaurant selection. Lots of great shopping in two odd little stores.

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The Glory that is Kush Kush is dark, cozy and full of locals, and it might be my favorite place in all of Miami. The burgers are some of the best you can find in the country, but the main attraction is the beer. Their beer list is fantastic, world class, and more. 2003 North Miami Avenue | kushwynwood.com

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Design District

Miami’s sparkling Design District attracts prestigious brands and prestigious galleries alike. There’s no limit to how much money you can spend shopping for expensive brands in these refurbished warehouses, which have become the trendiest places in town. Many do just that. Several of the city’s best restaurants are located nearby.

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COWBOY CHRISTMAS

IN THE BADLANDS ALBERTA | KANADA Explorers, fur trappers and farmers from Europe and the USA began settling the harsh terrain of the Alberta Badlands hundreds of years ago. It was French-speakers who first gave the region its name: ‘les mauvaises terres a traveser’ or ‘the bad lands to cross.’ WORDS AND PHOTOS BY SIMON URWIN

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town cowboys

Once released from the ‘chute’, each rider must stay in the saddle for at least 8 seconds without touching the horse with their free hand – or else the round is voided. “You’ve got your town 94 cowboys – those people who just put a Stetson on and that’s AMERICAN TRAILS it – and you’ve got your working cowboys. Riding a bronc shows WINTER | 2019 your true merit – it’s talking the talk, and walking the walk.”


friends and neighbours

Although a settlement made up of just six houses with a population of 15, the Pollockville bronc match attracts around 2,000 rodeo fans from far and wide. “Everyone knows everyone, everyone gets along. This region is so remote, we consider anyone within a 50 km radius to be our friend and neighbour.�

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riding them mustangs

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A bronc match features one single discipline: riding with a saddle. “This dates back to the early 1900s – the skill of getting a saddle on a wild horse and riding them mustangs until they are ‘broke’.”


The Round-up men

Round-up men are on stand-by with their horses to pick up the cowboys and return the broncs to the holding pen. “They have to be able to take a lot – the push and shove, the getting knocked around. You know you have a good roundup horse when they show some chutzpah, they relish getting the job done.”

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The rock star cowboy

Cowboy boots, bearing the initials of the rider, are dusted off in preparation for show time. “I got my chest puffed out like a bullfrog. It’s like being a rock star playing at Wembley.”

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Ride that sucker

The stable of horses - from the nearby Calgary Stampede ranch – are considered some of the finest broncs (bucking horses) in the world; specially bred for strength, agility and bucking ability. Cowboys take appropriate measures not to get injured. “Being too scared to fall off makes you stay on better. You’ve gotta ride that sucker ‘til you’re a goner.”

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Bragging horses

The tougher the ride, the more points the bronc – and therefore the cowboy - will be awarded by the judges. “The horses sense the crowd too. If they throw a guy down to the ground, you know they feel good 101 about it. You know they’ll be bragging about it to their horse buddies AMERICAN TRAILS back in the stable in their own way afterwards.” WINTER | 2019


The Competitors

Competitors travel from across Canada, even as far away as Wyoming and Oklahoma in the US, to take part in the event.

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The first rodeo

Homesteads soon sprang up right across the Badlands and after open-range ranching began in the 1880s the area became renowned for its cowboy culture. The first rodeo was established in 1903 in the Albertan town of Raymond to celebrate the skills the cowboys practiced in their daily working lives out on the prairie.

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Catch First, Dive Later!

TO DIVE FOR | HOLE IN THE WALL, KETCHIKAN | ALASKA WORDS AND PHOTO BY JONAS HENNINGSSON

When we’ve been out fishing for King Salmon (they call them Chinook here) for a few hours, and our throats begin to tighten, Tony, our guide, hears our prayers. “Let’s go to my favorite bar,” he says, and revs the engine. Soon, we arrive at a little marina in the middle of nowhere. On the wharf, the catch of the day is being cleaned, and some birds are eagerly awaiting their lunch. In the slope, high above the cluster of fishing boats, is a rickety old shack that looks like it’s been pieced together from left-over boards of wood. However, Hole in the Wall is in the sunniest spot up there above the wharf, and we can hear the energizing chatter emerge from inside the shack even as we step off the boat. Inside is a small, carpentered corner bar, a worn wooden floor upon which a well-used pool table stands–and little else. Dollar bills have been plastered to the walls and ceiling. It’s a Monday morning, but that’s OK. The locals are at it like it’s Saturday night, and that’s what this place has been like ever since it opened exactly fifty years ago. We have a great time at the bar, chatting with Cody Peterson and John Jackson about their pool match, which is still being contested when we leave to go back out on the ocean. And yes, before we leave, we promise the guys we’ll be back to find out who won. 105

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FORGOTTEN CLASSICS

Katie Lee

The Desert Goddess of Glen Canyon

Love’s Little Sisters

In each issue, American Trail´s vinyl editor Donivan Berube tells the story of a classic, but forgotten, American album. This time, Donivan tells the story of environmental activist Katie Lee.

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WORDS AND PHOTOS BY DONIVAN BERUBE

he only thing keeping me from blowing that dam up is that I don’t know how,” she swore. Stewards of the Colorado River know Katie Lee well, the celebrated “Desert Goddess of Glen Canyon,” the “Grand Dame of Dam Busting,” who in her own words is “probably best known for my bad mouth.” The famed environmental activist was as much revered for her outspoken brevity against Glen Canyon developers as for her nude portraits set against the stunning Northern Arizona topography that she called home. Lee spent decades traversing the Colorado River and fighting against the damming of its waters. “When they drowned that place, they drowned my whole guts,” she laments. “And I will never forgive the bastards. May they rot in hell.” But even her most inspired followers may be entirely unaware of the artist that lived within, as Lee somehow found the time to pursue her passions for writing, photography, and music along the

way, releasing several records in the 1950s, ‘60s, & ‘70s that seem to have flown under the radar of her largerthan-life sociopolitical legend. ARIZONA

Lee’s parents, an architect and a decorator, moved the family to Tucson, Arizona when she was just a few months old. The landscape would go on to become the central figure in her life’s work, but only after earning her degree in Drama from the University of Arizona and moving to Hollywood to pursue her talents in the performing arts. She landed a few film roles and radio shows while turning heads and playing troubadour concerts amidst the burgeoning California folk revival scene. With the support of her friends and fans, however, Lee ultimately withdrew her focus from the silver screen and into the rushing green river waters of the Colorado Plateau. In a 2015 short documentary by local PBS & NPR affiliate Arizona Public Media, the 95-year-old Lee describes what the region meant to her: “The river became a part of me, and still is, 106

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FACSIMILE FROM THE ALBUM FOLK SONGS OF THE COLORADO RIVER

because I don’t think I have been anything like the person I am until that river picked me up and took me along.” It was a short river-running film made by an old high school friend that first sparked Lee’s interest in Glen Canyon. She was immediately struck with an impassioned need to explore the area for herself and began asking around as to how to get there, but the trip requires enormous expenses. Imagine weeks-on-end with absolutely zero services and large groups of people in need of food, gear, and shelter. She didn’t have the money to hire an outfitter, but slipped the overhead when a guide offered her a spot on their trip. All she had to do was simply bring her guitar and sing songs on the beach at night. “Eden couldn’t have touched this place,” she remembered. And the ensuing proposition to dam its waters, thus flooding the entire canyon, would become the single most defining chapter of her legacy.

Dominy in person, who by then had been promoted to commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, she responded with striking sincerity: “I would’ve cut his balls off if I’d have ever met him...or paid someone to do it.” Teams of archeologists rushed in panic to complete their “salvage” work, documenting hundreds of the historic geographic sites and cultural remains of the area before the dam’s flooding would wash it all away. They unearthed a forgotten community of native peoples who’d literally walked away in the 1300s with ashes still in their fireplaces and handmade pottery sitting out with food remains still in them, leaving behind a virtually unknown paradise sitting untouched for almost a thousand years to come. “I guess I’ve shot my mouth off so many times in so many places that finally somebody heard it,” Lee sighed. With her beloved Glen Canyon literally erased from the map and more dam projects being proposed further along the Colorado River, the Sierra Club, founded by famed naturalist John Muir, ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times reading: ”Should we also flood the Sistine Chapel so tourists can float nearer the ceiling?” In response, the IRS suspended the Sierra Club’s non-profit tax exempt status. While this was certainly a financial blow in the short term, it led to the Sierra Club’s mem-

THE DAM

With surrounding metropolitan areas in need of resources and the Colorado River’s water flow having been deemed “temperamental,” a dam was designed and proposed by an agricultural economist named Floyd Dominy to more reliably allocate its supply. When asked if she’d ever met 108

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“I guess I’ve shot my mouth off so many times in so many places that finally somebody heard it,” Lee sighed. With her beloved Glen Canyon literally erased from the map and more dam projects being proposed further along the Colorado River, the Sierra Club, founded by famed naturalist John Muir, ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times reading: ”Should we also flood the Sistine Chapel so tourists can float nearer the ceiling?” In response, the IRS suspended the Sierra Club’s non-profit tax exempt status. While this was certainly a financial blow in the short term, it led to the Sierra Club’s membership doubling in size and an exponential increase in public awareness. Faced with mounting protests and outcry, the Bureau abandoned its Grand Canyon dams in the late 1960s.


“HOW YOU GONNA SPEND YOUR LIFE?” SHE CONCLUDES. “DON’T POINT YOUR FINGER AT ME. THE TRUTH IS HARD BUT I’M GONNA TELL IT, AND THERE’S A MILLION WAYS THAT YOU CAN SELL IT. I’M GOING BACK TO NEW ORLEANS TO SPEND MY LIFE BENEATH THE RISING SUN.” THE ALBUM’S FINALE COMPLETES AN ASTOUNDING NARRATIVE ARC THAT FEELS A THOUSAND YEARS WIDE.

bership doubling in size and an exponential increase in public awareness. Faced with mounting protests and outcry, the Bureau abandoned its Grand Canyon dams in the late 1960s. With a loud and impassioned voice for environmental advocacy, Lee’s music stood out similarly as less an artistic statement than a semi-autobiographical extension of that same spirit, a poetic exploration of the very rivers she loved and lived upon for weeks and weeks at a time. “Maybe that’s my legacy,” she laughed. “I’ll give you advice whether you want it or not. Now get off your ass and start moving.” Lee’s self-released 1975 album Love’s Little Sisters has become a true musical obscurity magnified to its most refined, a strange theater of folk tunes written in complete theme as “a tender documentary of the early American whore.” Imagine Peggy Seeger writing such unpredictable ballads in Bolero-esque mania, both obsessed with and possessed by her subject matter, whether mountain songs, river songs, prostitution songs, or stranger inspirations. The album opens with Lee’s take on the traditional anonymously-penned folk tune “House of the Rising Sun,” made famous by the Animals and for which she calls it “undoubtedly the best known of all whorehouse songs.” She returns to it many times over the course of the record, albeit briefly, as a familiar and grounding reprise. Lee’s rhythmic, ascending guitar progression transitions seamlessly across an unthinkable spectrum of songs in flawless medley before the listener even notices the switch. On the back cover, Lee provides a short description of each track and where she first heard them, varying from songs taught to her or covered by her famous contemporaries like Josh White, Will Holt, and Harry Nilsson, or simple poems she’d read in Hobo News broadsides. “Down the Line” is described as “a vaudeville song of the twenties learned from an old cowboy who heard it from a dignified lady at a convention in Phoenix, Arizona. I later met her...”

Thus the album becomes an odd collection of far-flung folk tales and sexual escapades brilliantly compiled by Lee herself and strung together as one epic, breathtaking, and effortless song. In “Mournin’ Glory Story,” Lee bemoans the plight of a prostitute’s morning after. “She wakes up, she finds herself sleeping in a doorway wondering how she ever got that way.” “Another poignant line brings us down hard,” Lee explains. “She looks down at her feet, my God, they sure look dirty, seven thirty, time to be or not to be.” Beautifully commanding a soaring falsetto, a sarcastic southern drawl parody, or even a high-mountain yodel, Lee proves herself a complete master of song, accompanying her own edgeof-your-seat storytelling with expert guitar capability. “How you gonna spend your life?” she concludes. “Don’t point your finger at me. The truth is hard but I’m gonna tell it, and there’s a million ways that you can sell it. I’m going back to New Orleans to spend my life beneath the rising sun.” The album’s finale completes an astounding narrative arc that feels a thousand years wide. Despite having become a household name in some respects, Lee somehow remains an absolute ghost note in others, with her music and writing having been eclipsed by the nature of her lovable persona. Many of her albums have never been reissued since their initial release over 50 years ago, including her 1956 debut Spicy Songs for Cool Knights, 1960’s Life Is Just A Bed of Neuroses, and 1977’s Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle. While her earlier records were released by major labels such as RCA Victor and the federally funded Smithsonian Folkways, her later albums were self-released under her own label, named Katydid Books & Music. With her activism inspiring generations of feminists, outdoorsmen, and naturalists, Lee’s artistic side remains a rarified gem hidden deep within the canyons of American music history. Look for her albums in the dollar bins at your local used record store. 110

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PHOTO: NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY, CLINE LIBRARY

Katie Lee in her beloved Glen Canyon.

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PORTFOLIO BY EMIL NORDIN EMILNORDIN.COM

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LONE STAR STATE OF MIND Texas was my first encounter with America, and Austin is where I got hooked. I came there for an assignment some years ago, with youthful expectations accumulated and marinated in nostalgia over two decades. But for all my preconceptions of American culture, I had a pretty vague image of the south. As I picked up the rental car in Houston and drove west, I had no idea what kind of unique strangeness was awaiting me. I documented my personal impressions during the following days, as I came to realise just how different this place was from my childhood fantasies - and how much more magnificent.  Since then I have been all over the country, but as with all first loves, Austin still holds a very special place in my heart.

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PRESERVING NEVADA’S

PSYCHEDELIC PAST VIRGINIA CITY | NEVADA

In 1965, long-haired draft-dodgers and drug dealers dressed as Cowboys and Indians bought and renovated the Comstock House, transforming it into the Red Dog Saloon, a hippie enclave with a light show machine and a gun-slinging psychedelic band. Today, Loren and Sue Pursel preserve its colorful history.  BY ENGRID BARNETT

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Loren and Sue are keeping the tradition alive by hosting concerts both outdoors and in the saloon.

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etting to the Red Dog Saloon, a quintessential “Wild West” bar that marks the birthplace of psychedelic rock,” isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires a hair-raising ride up Highway 341, a circuitous two-lane road that climbs more than 2,000 feet (609.6 m) in 7.7 miles (12.39 km). But the increase in elevation to 6,789 feet (2,069 m) at Geiger Summit isn’t the first thing on my mind. Instead, it’s the sheer cliff dropping away to the right. Oh, and the large yellow highway signs exclaiming, “FALLING ROCKS.”   Up ahead, I catch a glimpse of bicyclists. I’ve been warned of their presence by another yellow sign that commands drivers to “share the road.” But that’s easier said than done with no bike lane or even shoulder along the highway. But as I squeeze past a car to my left and the intrepid cyclists peddling madly to my right, they appear unphased. Maybe I shouldn’t feel surprised. These are, after all, the cycling “descendants” of Greg LeMond, who

grew up in nearby Washoe Valley. The three-time Tour de France winner made Geiger Grade (the other name for Highway 341) his go-to training spot. In the process, he inspired flocks of daredevils whose fascination with neardeath experiences leave me white knuckling the steering wheel.   CHASING THE RED DOG EXPERIENCE

Despite the adrenaline-tinged drive, the views prove incomparable. Desolate sagebrush-lined slopes give way to rugged outcroppings of colorful mineral-laden rocks in every imaginable hue. Lush groves of hardy piñon pine trees increase in density as I continue driving. The “orchards of the Indians,” the Paiute leader Numaga fought in vain to protect them from 19th-century, timber-hungry loggers.    Despite Numaga’s protests, the surrounding mountains were deforested to bolster the system of square-set timbering — pioneered by German-Jewish immigrant Philipp Deidesheimer — that still extends for thousands of feet beneath the surface of the Comstock Lode. The 130

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Comstock refers to the internationally famous mining district that Virginia City once reigned over as the “Silver Queen.” Deidesheimer’s innovative mining technology made deep, hard-rock mining possible. But Irish and Cornish miners powered it. And intrepid Chinese laborers laid track and blasted tunnels through the distant Sierra Nevadas, providing the interconnectivity to feed San Francisco’s imperial ambitions.    Virginia City’s silver and gold strikes lined the United States’ coffers, too, and helped the battle-weary Union win the Civil War. Today, few signs of the industrial marvels that once connected the Comstock to the Bay Area exist this side of Geiger Summit. Just the green, stubby trees with pine cone-laden crowns. It looks as if this year’s crop is abundant. Pickup trucks lining 341’s few rest areas confirm this assumption, their drivers atop ladders gathering the pine nut harvest.     Geiger contains two scenic rest areas where I pull off the road to collect my nerves and snap a few photos. From both outlooks, I enjoy a broad expanse of valleys, forests, and mountains. The first outlook boasts rock struc-

tures constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1938 during the Great Depression. From this spot, I catch a wispy smoke trail in the valley below. The trail marks the site of Steamboat Springs, a small volcanic field sputtering with geothermal activity. And straight ahead, the Sierra Nevadas rise from the valley floor, an admixture of violets, blues, and muted forest gray-greens punctuated with vibrant pops of yellow — evidence of aspen groves in autumnal transformation. Snow-tinged Mount Rose towers 10,785 feet (3,287 m) above the basin floor, home to a world-class ski resort by the same name. And I can make out a thin, white sliver of highway that winds lazily up the mountain’s hazy blue side.  According to original participants of the 1960s Counterculture scene, the “Red Dog Experience” began about an hour before reaching the saloon. In other words, after crossing the border from California into Nevada, the pot and mescaline came out. And by August 1965, when Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters made their way into town on the Further bus, LSD no doubt entered the scene, too. I can’t imagine navigating Geiger stoned, let alone in a 131

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AFTER A 30-MINUTE DRIVE ALONG A SNAKING ROADWAY PUNCTUATED BY FLAT MEADOWS WHERE DAPPLED MUSTANGS GRAZE, I SEE VIRGINIA CITY. OR, RATHER, THE SILVER TERRACE CEMETERIES, A SERIES OF TERRACES LOCATED ALONG A WINDSWEPT MOUNTAINSIDE JUST BEYOND THE CITYSCAPE. ONCE, 25 SEPARATE CEMETERIES GRACED THIS EXPANSIVE RISE, BUT ONLY ABOUT ONE-THIRD CAN STILL BE IDENTIFIED.

painted school bus. But then again, the Sheriff ’s deputies who patrol this stretch of highway in abundance today proved sparse in the 1960s — one of many highlights Nevada offered to the Red Doggers.  

Mark Twain, George Hearst (father of William Randolph Hearst), and the four Bonanza Kings. But I’m not after the specters of the 19th-century past, although many of the old buildings here look as if residents of that bygone age might still linger in the shadows. I’m interested in the 20th-century history of the area, and that’s what brings me to the Red Dog. I’m seated in a booth across from Loren and Sue Pursel, proud owners of the saloon. Although everything about this place exudes an updated version of the Kitty Longbranch from Gunsmoke, original psychedelic posters line the walls. From the Charlatans, Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Grateful Dead, A Beautiful Day, Jefferson Airplane, and more, they provide a vibrant yet startling contrast to the initial 19th-century vibe. And from my vantage point, I’ve got an excellent view of the original stage. That’s where the first psychedelic band, The Charlatans, stumbled around dosed on acid (unbeknownst to them) while auditioning for a position as the Red Dog’s first house band more than 50 years ago.  

ROCKING AT THE RED DOG

After a 30-minute drive along a snaking roadway punctuated by flat meadows where dappled mustangs graze, I see Virginia City. Or, rather, the Silver Terrace Cemeteries, a series of terraces located along a windswept mountainside just beyond the cityscape. Once, 25 separate cemeteries graced this expansive rise, but only about one-third can still be identified. Like everything else in the city, Silver Terrace is over-the-top. Since most of the city’s inhabitants have now relocated here, in one form or another, it’s also a fitting introduction to the “Silver Queen.” Today, the town boasts little more than 800 residents. But 150 years ago, its population peaked at more than 25,000. Next, my eyes catch St. Mary’s of the Mountains, a beautiful, spired Catholic church that dominates the local landscape. It’s about as close as this place gets to skyscrapers, and local school kids refer to it as the “Eiffel Tower.” Getting my eyes back on the road, I see the city’s welcome sign, which includes Mount Davidson the most prominent topographic feature on the Comstock with its iconic “V.” The sign also highlights mining equipment, and the city’s favorite title: “The Richest Place on Earth.” That’s a mighty claim for a quasi-ghost town, but no one shies away from it here. After all, the title was bought and paid for with rich deposits of ore recovered from the city’s subterranean depths. And it provides a fitting nod to the 19th-century miners who received $4 for an eighthour shift, making them the most highly paid industrial workers in America at the time. Finally, the city proved rich in colorful historic residents, including literary legend

AMERICA’S ANSWER TO THE BRITISH INVASION

Unlike the garish posters with their swirling, vibrant images, Loren and Sue both have a quiet reserve that’s refreshing. Yet, for the past ten years, they’ve found themselves at the center of a swirl of Counterculture activity as keepers of the psychedelic scene’s frontier outpost. At this point, I want to know more about why a handful of foppish Bay Area malcontents settled here in the summer of 1965. After all, wasn’t San Francisco the happening place? Fortunately, I’ve found the right people to answer my questions. As Loren and Sue fill in the storyline, a haphazard picture emerges of starry-eyed twenty-somethings hellbent on countering the Beatles’ British Invasion with a 132

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Although Nevada is famous for its desert climate, it gets really cold up in the mountains.

Victorias Chinatown är133 AMERICAN TRAILS litet. den här gränden WINTER | 2019 är också väldigt liten.


Loren, Sue, and Red Dog itself.

uniquely American style. In the process, the Charlatans transformed folk music into pop star ballads. Lack of a solid recording contract and too many chiefs in one band led to the Charlatans’ premature dissolution. But they still managed to inspire just about everything that would become synonymous with the Counterculture. Mike Wilhelm, the lead guitar player, taught Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead some of his most famous guitar riffs. And lead singer and autoharp player, George Hunter, inspired Counterculture style by blending the best of Victoriana, paisley, Maxfield Parrish, and rock ‘n’ roll into a vibrant esthetic. Hunter’s fashion sense made his Beatnik counterparts appear dour in their frumpy black clothes and sandals. Michael Ferguson, the band’s pianist, owned the Magic Theatre for Madmen Only, the first head shop in San Francisco. He added a decadent edge sporting turn-of-the-century velvet suits Joris-Karl Huysmans would have adored. Dan Hicks did the drumming while exuding a one-of-a-kind stage presence and contributing plenty of sardonic lyrics. Finally, Richard Olsen, the only professionally-trained musician in the group, made them somewhat respectable. In 1965, the Charlatans were the

sole proprietors of many things, from trend-setting to music-making. Loren and Sue become animated as they list all of the significant innovations that took place at the Red Dog. These innovations include the first psychedelic poster (a.k.a. the “Seed”), the first band to perform on acid (still legal in the summer of ’65), the first psychedelic light show machine, and the first Counterculture concert promoters, Family Dog. All of it coalesced right here on this spot. It’s a lot to take in. Add to this a visit from the Merry Pranksters, a house residency by Big Brother and the Holding Company (likely with Janis Joplin) in 1966, and you’ve got a hippie Mecca on your hands.  KEEPING THE SPIRIT ALIVE TODAY

How Loren, a fifth-generation Nevadan, came to own this saloon with Sue is another serendipitous story. You see, the couple first met and danced together here more than a decade ago. So, when their farrier first approached them about taking over the establishment, vacant for seven years, they couldn’t pass up the offer. Loren laughs as he reminisces, “My family, the Pursels, first settled in 134

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“MY FAMILY, THE PURSELS, FIRST SETTLED IN NEVADA IN THE 1860S AT MASON VALLEY. THEY WERE THE FIRST IRISH WAGON TRAIN THAT CAME TO NEVADA, FIVE FAMILIES IN ALL. I GREW UP IN YERINGTON, AND IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE WHEN I WAS A KID THIS ERA WAS GOING ON, AND I REMEMBER ASKING MY MOM, ‘WHAT’S A HIPPIE?’”

Nevada in the 1860s at Mason Valley. They were the first Irish wagon train that came to Nevada, five families in all. I grew up in Yerington, and it’s funny because when I was a kid this era was going on, and I remember asking my mom, ‘What’s a hippie?’” Loren’s family is also distantly related to Henry Purcell, the famous 17th-century English composer. So, music runs in the veins. Of course, the Charlatans would’ve raised Henry’s eyebrows with their brash, naughty sound — an audible middle finger to the “Man.” And Big Brother and the Holding Company’s distorted, acid-washed improvisations would’ve given the Baroque composer pause, too. But for the residents of Virginia City in 1965, the Red Doggers remained benign curiosities. Although their LSD-infused antics sometimes raised local ire, most residents were amused. After all, the Red Doggers dressed in Wild West garb and played their part in the town’s real-life spoof of Bonanza. This, in turn, helped bring in tourists, the only vein of wealth left to mine after the ore played out.  Besides a general lack of local law enforcement and an ambivalent relationship with the locals, the Red Doggers also came to Virginia City for another reason. To live out their most lavish, technicolor “Wild West” fantasies. After all, they were a generation who cut their teeth on Western cinema and television shows. How could they pass up the chance to play cowboys and Indians on the ultimate soundstage, an honest-to-goodness frontier town? What’s more, they had lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) provided to them by Augustus Stanley Owsley III (the infamous Berkeley chemist) to fuel their fantasy play. As my mind wanders over these disparate aspects of the story, Loren calls my attention back. “I’ve got another interesting story for you,” he exclaims in a matter-of-fact tone. “After Mike Wilhelm passed in

May, a friend of his named Fritz showed up here. I’d met him before, and we were sitting at the bar enjoying a drink in Mike’s honor when Fritz piped up, ‘I have a question for you, Loren. Before Mike died, he, his wife, and I had a conversation about what Mike would like us to do with his ashes. And he asked me to bring some of them here to stay at the Red Dog. Do you think that’d be okay?’ Of course, I agreed, and so Fritz went out to his van, rummaged around for a bit, and finally brought back in this little bag of ashes. So, I put them in the most fitting place I could think of, the location of Mike’s 1965 bedroom. That way, they wouldn’t be disturbed. That’s when Fritz turned to me and said, ‘Okay, Mike had one more request. He wanted me to put one last hit of acid in with the ashes. Would you mind if I do?’” At this point in the story, Loren and Sue are both laughing, and I’m wide-eyed. The truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction. After a comedic pause and some head-shaking from Sue, Loren replies matter-of-factly, “All I can say is I think Mike’s really happy now!” Who says 20th-century ghosts don’t haunt this place, too? Of course, if Mike is any indication, they’re doing so in Counterculture style. 

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THE AMERICAN

Mamone

Gina Mamone and their partner Chelsea DobertKehn haven’t slept in over 24 hours when we meet at a zine festival at the Public Library in Richmond, Virginia. They have driven all night from an event in Morgantown, West Virginia. Mamone is the founder of Queer Appalachia, an Instagram based community with a quarter million followers. WORDS AND PHOTOS BY MATTIAS LUNDBLAD

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“The climate is too hateful, it’s not safe for anyone who looks like me.”

A

ll of this was Bryn’s idea, ” says Mamone. ing campaign led to the creation of Electric Dirt, a zine Their friend Bryn Kelly was a transgenfeaturing queer voices from Appalachia and the South. der author and artist who saw a need It immediately sold out, and gained $30,000 worth of for a community for queer people in pre-orders. Having a platform for people from rural rural America. In 2016, she committed America telling their own stories is central for Mamone. suicide. Soon after, Mamone and their “So many people have come in and mined our images and mutual friend Amanda Harris decided stories, the same way as they have our minto realize Bryn’s idea. erals. To me that’s the most special thing “Both of them were really prolific about the zine. Documenting ourselves.” THE AMERICAN artists, and the first representations you A steady stream of people keep comsee in rural queer art on a national level ing to the table. Many, having never met Gina Mamone come from these people,” Mamone says. before in real life, talk about how much THE PUBLIC LIBRARY “When Bryn killed herself, Amanda Queer Appalachia means to them. Exsaid ‘we should do this’.” But Mamone cept for selling artwork and the zine, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA was left alone with the project. Queer Appalachia are handing out free OCTOBER 12, 11.25 AM. “Then Amanda killed herself, and harm-reduction packages: condoms, both of them bitches left me here to do HIV test kits, and Narcan, that can stop this,” says Mamone. “So it’s about them.” an opioid overdose.  Mamone, originally from Bluefield, a town in the coal“You can be the Narcan fairy!”, Mamone says to Kevin, fields of West Virginia, moved to New York City in their a recovery specialist in Richmond. 20’s. They spent two decades working as an audio engineer America is suffering an opioid crisis, and its epicenter until family circumstances made them return in 2014.  is rural Appalachia. Mamone has experience. An auto“It was a lot different when I came back. Part of it immune disorder led to chronic pain, and addiction to was me and my radicalization. I was working for a queer painkillers. After coming out on the other end, helping record label that was very political. When I came home, others struggling with addiction has become central. coal had declined in a way it never had before. Everybody Existing services in rural America are often connected who could afford to leave left, and those who are left are to conservative Christian organizations, unaccepting of living in extreme poverty, in places where all the copper queer identities.  piping is ripped out.” “Why can’t the health department do this? Why is a Being queer in this environment also turned out to be zine doing it?,” says Mamone, adding: “because of my own hard.  personal bullshit around opioids, I guess I try to make “The climate is too hateful, it’s not safe for anyone who amends for the hurt that I did. I think it’s a really importlooks like me,” says Mamone. Queer Appalachia started ant wing of this project. And it’s something Bryn would around the time of the last presidential election.  have wanted.” “We started before Trump took over, but that definitely was something stoking the fire.” In 2017, a crowdfundInstagram: queerappalachia 138

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The Waste Land

THE BLACK MESA AND LAKE POWELL RAILROAD | ARIZONA WORDS AND PHOTO BY JONAS LARSSON

At first, I think it’s a mirage. After driving non stop for hours on end, I’m desperately hungry for lunch, and there, in the middle of nowhere, at the point where highways 160 and 98 and a railway line all cross, I see a BBQ truck. There’s a little lady cooking meat on the trailer like there’s no tomorrow. Two mutts are lurking nearby, taking in the irresistible scents. I order some ribs. While I wait, I stand on the tracks of the Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad. It’s been closed down for a few years now. There used to be coal shipments going by here three times a day, headed for the power plant in Page. Now, all I can see is some bad weather up ahead, far off in the distance, over Grand Canyon way. You can see a long way out here on the plains, and the scene is so solitary it could be from a movie: there’s just me, the BBQ lady, and the dogs. I get my food, sit in the driver’s seat, and begin eating. Soon, I get a visit. One blue eye, one brown, and a great big wet nose are all staring back at me hopefully. I think to myself that “sharing is caring”, and all three of us share the lunch, like brothers. 141 AMERICAN TRAILS WINTER | 2019


Where the Buffalo Roam CUSTER STATE PARK | SOUTH DAKOTA WORDS BY JONAS LARSSON | PHOTOS BY ANDERS BERGERSEN

The ground is shaking, and the whips are whistling through the air. Something I can only describe as a brown, hairy tidal wave surges over the top of the hill. This is the Buffalo Round Up, which is organized in Custer State Park in West South Dakota. The last weekend of September each year, a group of volunteer cowboys and cowgirls mount up to herd the park’s buffalo in for health checks. The event draws a large crowd, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a magnificent display, and an opportunity to see these proud beasts thunder across the prairie as they once did in the thousands. At the close of the 19th century, the buffalo were more or less extinct. Their numbers had dropped from 60 million to just 541! The reason for this catastrophic reduction of the population was commercial hunting on the one hand, and diseases contracted from farm animals on the other. Today, there are about 31,000 of them wandering around in North America, after some intense aid efforts around the middle of the 20th century. If you head to South Dakota next fall, you’ll see about 1,300 of them. TRAVELSOUTHDAKOTA.COM

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Up in the Blue ASHEVILLE | NORTH CAROLINA WORDS BY JONAS LARSSON | PHOTO BY JONAS HENNINGSSON

One of our (many) favorite cities is nested high in the Blue Ridge Mountains: the fairly small, but oh so congenial city of Asheville. This place is pretty much overflowing with creativity and cool people. Asheville reminds us a lot of Portland, Oregon, which you can read about on page 22. Craftspeople, artists, musicians, and other people seeking the good life. Asheville also happens to be beautifully located, high in the mountains, with a far-reaching, intensely green view of the forests and mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. We recommend you come by car, or even better, motorcycle, and drive down from the north, along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a staggeringly beautiful experience. You can read more about Asheville in American Trails 2/2018, which you can order from 145 americantrailsmag.com. AMERICAN TRAILS WINTER | 2019


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