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Friday, November 1, 2013

Reinventing The Familiar With Unfamiliar Eyes

"The strange is not always to be found in a strange land; one could make vast discoveries at home; one would obtain unusual results if one learned to look on the familiar scene with unfamiliar eyes..." 

The above quote was gleaned from The Life of a Simple Man, by Emile Guillaumin, though it was Charles Peguy's words. It is, for now, my newest excuse to not run off to Europe, Asia...Timbuktu; I have eyes full right here in my beloved West. Don't misunderstand, I'm not dismissing lightly the cultural enrichment and sense of history to be gained from travels far and away, nor am I peeing on disciples of Rick Steves. It's just that, for me, as someone who values space, distance, and landscape virginity, there is enough "strange" here at home to see, both anew, and again, to last and satisfy even my enormous proclivity to wander. 

And so it is, my co-wanderer and I find ourselves renewing eyefuls of familiar scenes—attempting to do so with "unfamiliar eyes." That is my explanation, both to myself, and to all who wonder why in God's Name we seem to follow in our own foot tracks, and I'm sticking to it...right here, again, at the Almighty gates to Zion. 

Fall is the season to reap, to gather up and store for leaner times. And so it is with travel for comely Autumn is off-season. Trails are lonelier; tourists are fewer and further between; dust has settled...except for the fine red powder clouds of fellow mountain bikers who like to push the "buttons" of older men. 

There are actually several "Gates" to Zion, but none can compare with unspoiled Virgin...an unpretentious little township one mesa level above LaVerkin, and a few steppes below Springdale...Utah's version of Sedona, complete with Imax Theaters, extortionate prices, and a circus-like strip mall of curiosity shops full of ice cream lickers. Lovely Rockville, caught in the middle, trying to preserve its identity, imposed a moratorium on water taps...in other words, "Keep Out;" we don't want no more outsiders with commercial dreams spoiling our turn of the century ambiance. 

Rockville is something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, all prim and proper, like grandma, frying chicken after church in her Sunday School attire and a striped apron. Virgin, on the other hand, is more "trailer trash," and probably why I feel at home here. It doesn't hurt that Virgin is surrounded by BLM lands—boondock-able, mountain bike-able, pleasantly walk-able and hike-able. No need to load up the bikes and drive somewhere, just ride Sally, ride. Never have I tired of it; never will I tire from it; never will I cease to come.

Today, another exploratory bike ride to find the trail down to the mezzanine town of LaVerkin...a hillbilly name if there ever was one. If any reserves are left, maybe I will tackle Flying Monkey Mesa's steep and narrow road to the Secret Governmental Compound on top...after all, it's conveniently located right in our front yard. Then we pack up and move two miles for a month's stay at the Zion River RV Resort, that's right, Resort! Thirty days of indulgence—hot tub, swimming pool, potlucks, and electricity—with the same old front and back yards to play in. I'm hoping Boonie will hang around; we found him a perfect boondock. Also hoping to meet up with Jim and Gayle...and Debbie, too.

Below are photos of yesterday's twenty some mile bike ride, which included portions of the famous JEM single track trail...a roller coaster smooth ride full of thrills and chills, and one spill. Don't worry, I'm okay :))

That's one pooped Bobbie, grinding out the last yards of a glorious mountain bike excursion through Utah's colorful landscapes.


  1. Hope to pass thru Zion next year.....it didn't work out for us this year. Timing and weather were a little off! Sure is pretty!

  2. Beautiful country, for sure. Did you get up to Canyonlands or into Arches, or just stick to the bike trails? Love the last photo of the RV with antenna up. Just some conveniences can't be sacrificed! We already miss being west, and are tiring of crowded, tourist destinations.

  3. That's about as close to a real photo of Boonie as I would guess anyone's ever got - congrats!

    Beautiful shots of beautiful country. Probably snowing in Ouray, eh?

  4. Hope Zion River Resort is quieter in Nov than it was in March. We had one good week before the mobs started arriving and it then went from bad to worst. Enjoy your stay. I'll be looking for some new adventures:)

  5. Nothing wrong with returning to a place that calls your spirit.


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