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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cosmic Accident or Divine Experiment? Feeling Small in Valley Of The Gods

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


  1. Mark,
    Ahh, I can remember lying on my back in the Valley of the Gods, looking at the stars and moon in absolute solitude. It reminded me of how small we are.

    The Moki Dugway! What a ride. I watched Ara's video of he and Spirit riding on the Dugway, what memories.

    Keep smiling

  2. Humility is good for the soul.

  3. Just busted our door in the wind over at lee's ferry... Circling around to go to church in Zion... Maybe Brice, and then try to get back to the "shorter circle" in western Colorado... Or maybe "church" in Valley of the Gods? ;)

    I don't think answers are "his" point... Asking the questions is... And I've always said... Religion and Spirituality/Faith are two different things. Kinda like politics and ethics ;)

  4. I would classify this post as a "rant" - What I enjoy the most- but of course I am not capable of understanding -but sure enjoy!

  5. I enjoyed your account of visiting Valley of the Gods. It put me in mind of a man whose writing was a significant influence on me, Edward Abbey. Your comment about not being Numero uno on the food chain also brought to mind Ed's closest friend, Doug Peacock and one of his books, "The Grizzly Years." If by chance you've not read Abbey, I urge that you consider it; starting with his first book, "Desert Solitaire."

    A small suggestion from a fellow "60 something." The gray font you have chosen is really hard on my eyes, making reading your interesting commentary all but impossible. Could you consider plain old black?

    Dave at Collinda

  6. Dick,
    Yes, Ara and I have waxed poetic about the enchanting nature of that area. It's ugly desert to some... heaven on earth to others.

    Agreed... and the Universe as seen from Valley of the Gods does just that. We are small...

    CowBoy Brian,
    There is indeed a vast difference between Religion and Spirituality. Sometimes it's best to think of them as being completely unrelated. Hang on to your hat in that wind... for it blows until the last of the snow goes.

    Walden Steve,
    I need to vent more often... I must be getting comfy in my vagabonding rut :))

    Colinda Dave,
    Request granted... is this black enough for you?
    I have read "Desert Solitare," but it has been years... "Monkey Wrench Gang" too. "The Grizzly Years" sounds good... I'll pick that one up. Thanks!



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