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"Sometimes you look at an empty Valley like this,
and suddenly the air is filled with snow.
That is the way the whole World happened.
There was nothing, and then…
But maybe sometime you will look out and even
the mountains are gone, the world becomes nothing
again. What can a person do to help
bring back the world?
We have to watch it and then look at each other.
Together we hold it close and carefully
save it, like a bubble that can disappear
if we don’t watch out.
Please think about this as you go on. Breathe on the world.
Hold out your hands to it. When mornings and evenings
roll along, watch how they open and close, how they
invite you to the long party that your life is."
~ William Stafford ~
…and I would add "Thank You Life".
I was laying down on the red dirt of Valley of the Gods last night, on a blanket while staring at the clear skies slowly filling up with its stars as my vision was getting used to the dark, the total absence of light. Not a soul within miles. One by one they appeared at one point almost touching each other. Bright holes in the skies each with its own hue. Overwhelming. Not the first time, yet, each night, as each day, unlike the one before and the one to come. The Milky Way, a white wide ribbon as almost dividing the skies with its own millions of stars so present and admirable slowly as us slowly turning. It has been a short long summer, the best one we have ever had while staying at high elevations, quite often between 9,000 to 10,000 feet. Mosquitoes for the most part were absent. The temperatures cool as I still remember putting my winter gear away only a few weeks ago. Some evenings afterwards bringing it back out! Soon again we will need them permanently for the months of winter to come. And, while thinking about all this, I heard myself say "Thank You Life". It was as I caught myself saying it as I was never thankful for much of anything in my recent past years. This two words sounded so sweet as besides thanking Life, I also Thank people always whether in messages, letters or in person. One needs to receive that little reward which cost nothing to give, as the assumption of it can only create hurtful feelings.
As I repeated those words while also images of our Journey made their way facing me, I knew I would never be "Thankful" for what happened over ten years ago, but I was Thankful for the path chosen and our "now". This wandering for the both of us while discovering some better meanings of Life. Meeting so many on line or in person. In person always better. Having a bond with a dog which I do not think is a dog but was send to me from a faith of Life still absent at the time. He has been down all the roads with me. The physical and mental ones. He understands and is always ready himself to pronounce that "Thank You" while wagging his tail or rubbing his head against my legs, quite often only that look I now know so well. Valley of the Gods. Always the space to regroup and find new gifts this path has given us. Solitude gained happily after being amongst much crowd but never losing that then thin thread of perception of time knowing too well we will regain what we are experiencing right now.
Time went on while laying down. The sky seemed as it was lowering itself to engulf me into its vastness. I closed my eyes often as the thought of infinity up there, right above me, again overwhelming. And then, more. A spark, another thought, not unknown but then such a real reality! We are so lucky we live on Earth. I am so lucky I am laying here only hearing the sound of my own heartbeat and taken away by this beautiful stage, one which could leave someone speechless as so unique and yet, free for the taking if one only searches and takes that time we are given to wander within this Life. This all went on for so long. I could not even feel the ground anymore I was laying on. I was absorbed by it all with the one wish that everyone could experience these moments and themselves be Thankful of their own presence on Earth which hopefully would overflow in being Thankful towards each other even if one can wrongly believe we are owed this Life and what we do for each other. Which we are not. It is and should never be an assumption.
We had ridden the 17 mile dirt road the day before and to my surprise the path was so totally destroyed. I had even thought about turning around after a few miles but the rough parts of deep sand and protruding rocks being mostly downhill I decided to go on. It was a point of no return. I doubt it we could have made it back as by then they would have been uphill. If Potash Road, Shafer trail and the White Rim were challenging, I found this road ten times worse in some spots. The uphill rough going also appeared just when I thought it could not get any worse having ridden it a dozen times previously. The ones crossing deep sandy creeks and on filled with rocks, those times when speed and a quick decision of the line taken are needed. I call it "flying over it all", regardless if beating up Old Faithful or not, only hoping I would not get a flat tire! Obviously we made it. I had a couple cameras rolling but they were pointed at Spirit and not on the road. Mr. Spirit who always stays calm and debonair while I was bouncing around and my arms getting tired but with no time to even think about it. The thought only was to get to the Highway. I stopped for a couple tourists in their urban cars. They were mildly a bit panicking. I could not blame them as there were no warning signs that the road had been destroyed. I assured them that a little further there was present a paved road. "Just go fast and do not slow down" is what I added. I am sure they made it… in their rental cars.
Today the weather predicted the hottest day of the week which will go on for a couple more days. In the nineties. There is also rain predicted for Saturday and Sunday. So we moved to Gooseneck this morning and amazingly it is a bit cooler here. We are also on solid ground versus red clay if the rains indeed come. Getting out of Valley of the Gods during or after some rains is not a possibility for us as in the past there had been also times we could not get in. So we are good here while watching the San Juan River meander it’s five miles to advance one mile. It’s all good. Next week’s prediction is in the 70’s. We live on the road, we can wait for such weather before adventuring ourselves further. There is no rush.
It is Saturday morning and I have been watching the radar on my phone since last night. Bursts of winds woke me up early. There is another more than an hour for sunrise and we are packed ready to go to Bluff to visit some friends. The other decision would have been to stay here as we are on solid ground and not on the path of some run off. Flood watch warnings have been up and I don’t take them lightly in this country. It could rain a couple hundred miles away and so quickly the roads here could be flooded with currants too fast to cross. I have seen cement bridges taken away as if made out of mud instead. We will go to town, catch up on "stuff", get my mail which has been as every month forwarded, mail some books, a real shower or two and probably come back here when those threats are lifted. I am watching also the weather in Terlingua and it is still too hot to drop to our Oasis as much as I miss it.
Spirit working on the edges of Ken’s Lake near Moab.
Riding during the day in the nineties was not so pleasant. We took advantage of the early morning hours and later evening coolness to do so. Up and down Moki Dugway, into Johns Canyon, all which unlike the previous road in Valley of the Gods have been fixed. More or less! The view is always so incredible from the top and last night’s sunset with Monument Valley at the horizon was of an incredible one. Maybe the photos doe justice minus the feel of being there and witnessing such a show. I said "Thank You" again. Later on, after Spirit’s playtime I sat out for a few more hours in the same total darkness and silence and blankets of stars hovering over me. These are always the times when looking back at my decision to take domicile on the road I find to be the right one.
When still up around Moab, every night had a rainbow.
There were, are, a few gatherings of motorcyclists, outdoor groups, who have invited us to join them. I looked at the maps and there are not too far. I looked at the list of presenters, the number of attendees and what once was a small group has now grown to spectacular numbers. We cannot go. As much as I would have liked putting some faces on some names, from past experiences I know we would not do so well. I wonder if we are doomed? Can this fabric of our Lifestyle be so unusual and withdrawn? Maybe some day things will change a bit and with some effort we can join in the crowds who gather all with a common denominator "the outdoors".
Spirit’s Photo was chosen at Instagram’s exhibition in New York City called “Photoville”
Ara and Mister Spirit…