Sometimes it takes a dark and lonely night to illuminate perspective. I can't recall a previous boondock so totally absent from pollutants of light and people (yes, people!) as this mind-altering place called Valley of the Gods.
No more than Dorothy could begin to describe Oz, could I offer a proper show and tell of this forbidding land of The Ancients. Its hostile beauty exceeds my vocabulary, its immensity is beyond my camera's perception. Valley of the Gods is just one of those magical places that must be experienced... a place for which the phrase "You had to be there" is in order.
No Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.
There is still much to share from our Sedona camp, including photos and movies of hikes I thought fetching. Well guess what; like an mutt ugly mate on a deserted island, "pretty" is a relative term. I will eventually get back to Ms Sedona... as soon as my heart stops pounding for the harem of rufous-rocked Goddesses out my camper's window. Why settle for cold peas and carrots when there's a medium rare tenderloin sizzling down the road. Consequently, I am compelled to hurdle the BCB "Nearer My God to Thee," into the real-time shock and awe of Valley of the Gods.
It is my nature to question authority... even God, especially God. Don't ask me why or else I'll ask you why you have freckles or crooked teeth; we are who we are. So I've been stepping outside the Chalet every night since arriving here in Valley of the Gods, first to study a full moon's light bouncing monument to monument. As Moonrise ebbed later and later with each passing day I began to appreciate the rarity of perfect darkness. I stared at millions of pinholes in outer space's black veil... in this darkness hardly a black space between them. Stars (suns) twinkled on and off at distances I can't fathom. It was enough to cause this wanderer to rethink his importance and "religion."
If you stared into space from a place as remote and dark nighted as Valley of the Gods you'd have a few questions too. The distance between me and another human being is one thing, the distance between the earth and the stars is quite another. It had an isolating effect, suddenly I became the Incredible Shrinking Man. A coyote's howl morphed into Patsy Cline, "Lonely, I'm so lonely..." There are still a few places on this earth where one can feel alone, where a nugatory fool can squander his existence at the mercy of his surroundings. I had a similar "small" feeling deep in Glacier National Park when the realization set in that I was no longer number one, two or three on the food chain. Nothing can establish an honest relationship between you and your damn ego better or faster than being out of your comfort zone. I relish being humbled by my surroundings.
All this set me to dancing with blasphemy by questioning The Authority. Does Jesus really love and protect little old me? Am I looking at His Father's handiwork or the aftermath of a Big Bang? Sometimes the whole "religion" thing affronts my wee intelligence... especially when a Bible thumping, soul saving evangelist gets caught with a hooker. I mean will the real God please stand up and say something? Speak, damn it! The silence was deafening. Looky here poser, don't give me that shit; life ain't fair and you know it. Why else do kids die from cancer and evil doers prosper? And what did I ever do to deserve a "backstab" just as my golden years rolled around. I thought it a good question but of course got no answer.
We are a self centered and needy lot, human beings. If there are other lifeforms "out there," are they as needy as we are or have they evolved beyond religion's crutch? And here's a good no-such-thing-as-a-dumb-question... If Jesus is their Savior too, then wouldn't they have the same bible with the same moral script? Does what I do even matter one iota when The Camera pulls back far enough to show the "big picture," I mean the REALLY big picture, the one where you can't even spot our galaxy let alone our sun? And more importantly, being just a kid in a sixty something body, I want to know what the other lifeforms look like. All we all created in the image of God? Does evolution follow the same script no matter where? If it does, then somewhere in the Universe right now a single celled ameba clings half out of water... hell bent on making a better life on dry land for himself and his descendants. All his friends told him he'd die, but for some there are things worse than death and you do what you gotta do.
So here's pea-brained little old me... boondocked in about as remote a place as there is left on our little spec of dirt... staring into the shallows of space and feeling pretty darned ignorant and humbled, as in nugatory. Small as a human being, small as a planet and small as a solar system because for all we know our entire galaxy may be but an infinitesimal, inconsequential blip on the space/time continuum. That our source of life sun has a lifespan dictates that so, too, does the human race.
But somewhere far far away the time is ripe for our replacements to begin their journey. A brave ameba with a penchant for wandering clings to a grain of beach sand out of tides reach and gasps for water. In a few hundred million years, give or take, his offspring will wander the planet in an RV, worried about the price of gasoline and kids who would rather text than speak.
|Muley Point, on the Moki Dugway above Valley of the Gods
|San Juan River carvings... from Muley Point
|The Goosenecks... Eons of time, layers of eras gone by
|The Ancient Ones dwelled among these cliffs
|Pottery became functional art...
|Valley of the Gods