Of all the natural processes on this speck of a planet, erosion is my favorite. Maybe that explains my fascination with the American Southwest. It begs the question: What kind of person would choose an often stark, prickly, bone dry desert over lush, verdant woods—cracked dry skin and twice your age wrinkles over a soft, supple age-spotless exterior?
I know we are loving Utah to death right now, but let's start with Arizona—a microcosm of the entire American West, a state with extremes and diversity, a place where, if one searches high and low, they can discover unlikely patches such that—had you been brought blindfolded—you would swear on your dear Mother's grave that you were in Oregon or Washington or California. Arizona has it all... except for an ocean, which will soon be remedied when the "Big One" finally hits SoCal.
Having grown up in the arid Grand Canyon State—an "Accidental Tourist" progeny of Brother Love's "Traveling Salvation Show"—I've experienced nearly every landscape Arizona has to offer...from bleak barrenness to exuberant palmed oasis, from 120 degrees in the shade to 10 below with gale wind. Of all the weekend trips taken in my fond youth, Sedona's Oak Creek and red rocks area along with the pine scented rims of the Grand Canyon were among my favorites. Little did I know back then that such landscapes intersected to perfection a few miles north in Zion Country, Utah…a perfect amalgamation of everything I loved... geologically speaking.
When I was a sophomore in high school God spoke to my dad: He said, "Go back east, young man, go east..." It must have been a trial, a test, for his was a diehard western heart if there ever was one. That is how I came to be stranded in Les Miserable, Missouri…the biting insect/insufferable humidity capital of the world. But my Daddy always believed that bad things happen to good people for a reason. Though I didn't believe it when he said it (we were caught in a blinding, paint peeling sandstorm near Indio, California at the time…the road disappearing under a sea of drifted dunes) I came to understand the wisdom of that parable later on when I broke out of Les Miserable's prison—pointed my '66 six cylinder "Jimmy" pickup truck west, never glancing once in the rearview mirror at the "flames" of Sodom and Gomorrah lest I, too, be turned into a pillar of salt.
I had every intention of going back "home" to Arid-zona. But "the Lord works in mysterious ways" (another Preacher Daddy-ism)— took a wrong turn in "Albuquerque"—and ended up in Southwestern Colorado. That "Miserable" Missouri detour set the stage for a true understanding of Sagacious Daddy-ism numero trace: "Without suffering, there is no frame of reference to define thriving."
My heart soared as I crossed the Colorado state line, even though, technically, one is still in Kansas until they reach the front range Metroplex of Denver/Colorado Springs. You can no longer be a member of the "Flat Earth Society" once you've made the drive from western Kansas into eastern Colorado. The almighty Rockies rise almost timidly out of boring cornfields and reeking feedlots—from a fledgling line of bumps on the horizon, to sky piercing juggernauts.
I can't help but wonder, had Kansas been Utah, would my journey "home" have been cut short? And if so, what place would have snared my curiosity? Would the red rocks and canyon mazes near Moab be my undoing? Or would I have pressed on, to the magnificent slotted uplifts that zipper into sheer Capitol Reef? Or what about Escalante's "stairway to heaven?" God, it's so huge! (Thank you Bill Clinton, for screwing not only Monica, but the oil and gas lobby too). Or how about Bryce Canyon's radiant hoo doos, a veritable "Disneyland?" Chances are I would have never made it to Zion on my initial breakout, but I'd have found it, eventually, for the gears of geographical curiosity never really stop turning, do they?
Now for Part II of, A Bolder Boulder...
Another canyon wandered; another "dot" connected; another story unfolded.
Always remain Curious, dear readers. Seek out those places that feel like "home" away from home. Leave the beaten path to brave your own trail to tranquility.
mark and bobbie…always on the road to somewhere else.