With a car full of gear and clothes, two bikes and a kayak on the roof of the little car that could, Jeep and I head for the I-40 route to Denver. Just passed Newbury Springs, Jeep points out the hillsides that will soon be covered with hundreds of bird and bat-killing wind turbines. A dust devil whips up sand in front of us as I contemplate the fate of unfortunate flying critters that will get evaporated or implode and hope for renewable energy that regards all life on earth as our community brethren. Imagine.
Tumbleweeds pile up against a barbed wire fence like insulation in the blazing 116 degrees. We pull over to swim and float in the cool Colorado River for an hour. The water is dee-vine and the sun feels like a warm blanket. We dry off, pile back in the car and meet friends Rue and Scott in Flagstaff for the art walk before heading out into the desert to throw down the bags and sleep under the stars.
I buy turquoise earrings, an agate rock and an onyx business card holder (for my new job) before we drive into Petrified Forest National Park. Even though it’s hot as Hades, we take the bikes off the car and ride through the desert terrain. The gorgeous colors in the 13,000 old logs represent the trace minerals in the quartz, such as iron, manganese, carbon and sometimes chromium that provides a true green. The striated hills are colors of ochre, wine and tans. I’m learning to shift gears without the chain falling off as I slog up the hills. This is good.
We pass the Historic Route 66, visit the Hubbell Trading Post where I drool over turquoise cuff bracelets and Navajo rugs and take a peak into Canyon de Chelly National Park. We travel most of the day through the desolate Navajo Reservation made that much bleaker by the fact that I was reading One Thousand White Women and had just reached the inevitable part of broken treaties, massacres and forced enslavement. We turn on the reservation radio station and I listen mesmerized to the cadence of the unfamiliar language.
With darkness descending we take a dip in the San Juan River while bats fly overhead eating mosquitoes. Thank goodness for bats. I hope for all our sake, we figure out a way to save them, and ourselves.
The evening is capped off with a salad and beer at Cottonwood Steakhouse in Bluff, UT listening to Johnny Cash. The outdoor patio is set up like a Wild West town, with mining tools lining the wooden fence, crude posts and mock store fronts. A short drive out into the wilderness and we lay our heads once again on the dirt to rest.