I’d driven up to the Arches in the pitch black last night feeling like a little kid to be honest. Excited cheeky and happy, through the park gates and up the hill. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Sleeping in the National park underneath the Arches.
I planned to get up in the morning and catch the sunrise, Jeff in Denny’s had recommended the Windows Rock as the sun would come up right through them. Done. I wove my way through the blackness of the park sensing the great shadows and shapes on either side of me, I was grinning to myself. Hummingbird purred quietly. It felt like we were on tip toes and tip tires…. sssh
I’d parked up, I was genuinely absolutely shattered, bedded down quickly and next thing I recall is the loud slamming of car doors on either side of me. I didn’t know where I was for a moment. I sat bolt up to see a guy getting wrapping up in a snug coat next to his 4×4. He looked down at me dispassionately, I looked at the phone it was 6.25am
Let me tell you it took some effort to get out from there. But I did and was shocked into life by a bitter dry cold when I opened the passenger door. I say into life but what I really mean is numbed. I wrapped up as best I could, but I’d split my jeans so my ass was exposed. I was so tired I couldn’t be bothered changing them, I wasn’t thinking straight at all
Oh and the song today was “I hear you knocking but you can’t come in” Dave Edmunds (version)
I looked around and it seemed quite a few people had had the same idea, dark shapes were hurrying towards the dark blue hole of the outline of the great northern window rock. I hurried too but once there I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself, it seemed we were early and just stood in that open window which just seemed to draw a flow of constant bitter cold air through it. We stood shivering waiting on the Grandfather. It must have been about half an hour before he decided to show, I remember thinking ‘come on Sun hurry up’
Just before the great entrance, the sky behind the jagged rocky horizon began to get lighter all the way through the full spectrum Black to blue to green to orange red yellow, the bird life began to get louder in anticipation out across the sandy red rocky place, things stretching and coming to life with a gentle anticipation. The Ravens were first in the air of course. It was quite a thing to be there. I was happy with myself for actually doing it.
As it finally appeared I recall seeing the full spectrum dancing around my eyes and across the land in hazy circles of energy as Grandfather Sun slid into view. Waiting seemed to have been an age and then there he was and the morning was upon us all and strangely that was that. I didn’t stick around too long as I really was very cold and my hands had gone numb
Then we slowly and I easily drove across to Fragile Arch, a wonder of the world, I’d said it last time and I wasn’t disappointed this time either. I took my time letting Hummingbirds heaters come fully on and toast me before I got out again. So with that glow stored in all my joints and pulled in tight and snug all around me now I walking long legged, slow strides, kicking up dirt, feeling good in my boots and in my pants that I’d changed, much better to have a warm ass on a day like today.
Made my way easily up the massive slopping flat bench rock you have to navigate to get there, just enjoying the physicality of it and with mock pride I said to myself “and all before breakfast”
The Fragile Arch is just the most surreal thing you can imagine. In the photos I have looked back over, you simply can’t get the scale of it. It is enormous and you wonder how it was created and how it is even still standing. How the waters and winds have created such a sublime structure. Below it a great hollow basin that was made to sing and dance and drum in. I watched people come over the lip and get the first sight, everyone goes quiet, everyone. It is something to behold I promise you. I stayed there for quiet some time just looking at it in the surrounding environment, it really does give a person butterfly’s in the belly.
I heard a girl laughing with her boyfriend
“Come, we have many other wonders to see” she said hammily. She was right.
Made my way back down zigzagging and dodging through a whole throng of Japanese tourists fighting their way stoically up the hill, they are a funny lot. They never say a word. The Americans on the other hand were all “Hey” and wishing everyone “Good morning” I loved it. Mind you I think I must have looked pretty odd too, hair slept in and on for 3 or was it 4 days now very nearly a beard, I don’t think I’ve had a proper wash since Salt Lake. That was going to change today.
To be honest with you, I love the Arches area, the whole thing. But I think I was just ‘rocked out’ now and just ready to be on the move today.
But on the way back a wave of deep fatigue came over me so I just rolled right around and down into Lions Park by the Colorado on the outside of town, pulled up, put a blanket under my head and fell fast asleep sat up in the drivers seat again.
The family had been a little scarce over these last few days, but I could feel them around today, a real lightness, everyone getting ready, busy, anticipation.
But first things first I went straight into the bathroom at the bakery, locked the door and got down to the business of having a proper scrub and hair wash. Oh it was joyful, hot water, a shave, and the trousers around the ankles type of wash, so nice to feel that clean again, and hot water, delicious, I even did my feet in the sink, boot on one foot other in the sink. Honestly I was laughing to myself, if there was somebody waiting they must have wondered what I was doing. I left it spotless too, probably cleaner than when I’d gone in. Good karma.
I sat in the bakery still marveling at how unbelievably laid back the place is, it actually took me less time to have a wash and a shave than to get a coffee. There were two people in front of me you see. It was funny today though. I was in no rush, I noticed it in me, caught up with a few emails, sipped 3 cups of coffee, checked the map, something had lifted for sure
Before we left town I got creamed by the ATM scam there is in Moab, $5.00 for any cash withdrawal. The guy behind the counter said
Tourist trap man, there are two companies that own all the ATM machines, try the gas station at the end of town on your way out it maybe $3 there”
It was $3.50, total robbery!!
I didn’t let it bother me too much I was happy, happy to leave now, the sunshine was glorious, I felt clean and clear. We headed south out of town, the dark red jagged teeth of the Moab fault flickering past, strobe like, high above on our right.
Last set of lights, foot down on the 191 south past the ‘Hole n the rock’ with its exotic petting zoo, I wondered what they could possibly have there in the dust and dirt, then zinged past the ‘Wilson Arch’
“Not today Wilson” I chirped
“I told you” said Mercury “You had been carrying something ever since Santa Cruz, maybe you should have called into say good bye to that lady, she helped you”
“Oh I couldn’t” I said “ I just wouldn’t have known what to say after all that”
He laughed “Just joking, but she helped you remember that, all that pent up frustration has been getting in your way for too long now, good that its out, now enjoy the day”
“Was she really a witch?” I asked, I never did get an answer
We shot along, we seemed to be going downwards into a valley and out across a wide plain, felt like we were at sea again bouncing through the waves. Then up into valleys and Mesas covered with Juniper. I began to recognize the different terrain, similar to Ghost Ranch.
I had planned to get out at Monticello and Blanding and take some shots, but there was nothing to photograph, the term ‘asleep’ is an understatement. I saw two young girls an Indian and a white girl. They looked like the local Goths. I wondered what on earth young kids did here. I noticed them because they were the only two people in Blanding.
I stopped all the way along the journey, where I felt like it and just enjoyed myself. It’s what I love doing, it’s what I came for just to tumble weed about along the back roads.
I saw an interesting Indian Museum and on the highway outside Blanding so I turned around just to see what would happen. A sign said
Huck’s Museum and Trading Post !!
Open Most days about 9 or 10am
Occasionally as early as 7am
Sometimes as late as 12 or 1pm
WE CLOSE about 5.30 or 6pm
Occasionally as late as 10 or 11pm
Some day’s maybe just afternoons
We are NOT HERE at all, but lately
I HAVE BEEN HERE about all the time
There was a number underneath to call and or said ring the buzzer (as I may be working out back) and Huck Acton would come shortly and open up for you.
The shop was shut and locked with a big padlock and an iron gate, the buzzer was broken laying on the floor and I thought if I call it maybe some time before Huck appeared. Pity, as it looked like a treasure trove in there
I noticed the Crows again today as well, sitting on the fence posts, watching our progress all the way along with their glittering black eyes. I always say ‘hello brother” to a sitting crow. We turned onto the 262 towards Montezuma creek and onto the Ute Reservation and almost immediately there was a different atmosphere. It’s wonderful out there, wide open, the mesas and the sage again. Stopped to take photos here and there just enjoying myself in the peace and quiet, just the spirits and me.
At one point I was stood on the side of the road in the sunshine just looking out across ‘open range’ I think it was Cynthia said “Just be who you are, enjoy who you are, stay on your own road”
It was a fascinating drive, the land littered with what appeared to be randomly placed trailer homes in the most obscure places, up on a hill down around a bend, up by the road or tucked into a mesa just scattered about in a seemingly disconnected way.
Before Montezuma Creek there were water pumps on the range sucking up water from Colorado Plateau Aquifer for the cattle and oil pumps sucking up the oil from the Crude Tar Sand Reserves. I’d also noticed on the way through the reservation quite a few little trailer home churches. I always am double edged about it but I countered myself quickly ‘what do you know?’ I have read but not lived it here.
Then noticeably after a curios stop at a tiny trailer town called Aneth where it became really obvious we were on the Utes Reservation, just after it, all pumps and fences of any kind seemed to vanish.
We came over a rise outside of town and crossed into Colorado and everything just opened up wider than ever if it could be possible and there across in the distance was Ship Rock in New Mexico, just amazing to see it so clearly and yet so far far away across the land must have been 60 miles away or more.
Its Navajo name is Tse’ Bit’ a’I meaning rock with wings. Referring to the legend of the great bird that brought the Navajo from the north to their present lands here. Looking across the land it’s obvious why it has such a powerful significance in their myths and religion.
A little earlier as we’d turned onto the 262 I’d heard somebody say
“Now this is a place where you can show what you are made of”
I am presuming something is coming, I am sure it was ‘Big Name’ because as we shot across down the arrow straight road through this beautiful mythical looking land I heard him clearly say
“Now you take care Mick”
Hummingbird was bobbing up and down along the road almost taking off in places because the road was uneven and would just dip unexpectedly and then she would bounce back up wheels nearly taking off. I was just light and flying along. I kept seeing colours in the sky or in the air would be a better description, out across the land above the sage and the far off mesas. Swirls and smudges of pastel pinks and purples, light.
The land there was dry and grey dust covered in dry yellow grass, dark yellow rocks of the Mesa’s rough cut building blocks, as if placed there on purpose, then fractured and fallen down the sides as slopes. It is a quieting and calming place, a place to open up in.
At the junction at the 160 I stopped and got out. I’d thought am I seeing things? But as I stood looking across at ship rock and back to where we’d come from, I was clearly seeing pinks and purples, hints of rainbows, not pots of gold arches, but swirls and smears and movements, there was no moisture in the air, it was dry, it seemed right there and then that something spiritual was vey much alive and present in that land.
I had promised from now on no more nighttime drives. I’d timed it just right. At dusk we all rolled into Cortez. I’d thought a few beers perhaps, but then as we rolled in, I thought a Denny’s would be great too. We rolled through town looking at all the sticky signs and then there she Blows, ‘Denny’s open all night’ In we went the staff were immediately great I had something nice to eat, nice easy rocky sound track in the back ground, nobody minded me sitting there as they scrubbed the kitchen next door when everyone else had left.
It had been a better day, a new day, a better me, chilled at ease with myself and the road