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Saturday, December 5, 2015

On "Change" and "Leaving"

"…Every person has to leave, has to change like the seasons; they have to or they die… seasons remind me that I must keep changing." Donald Miller

Change Like Seasons

I adore spring flowers
abloom in the meadow
and summer sundresses
on girls without fellows

How Ms Autumn's gold
quakes in fall breeze
and winter's crisp slap
to face and bare knees

But I must leave my little "pond"
in order to sail oceans blue
risk heartbreak and loss
in a search for love and truth

The mighty quest for "home"
oft begins with "farewell"
to go and stand on our own
learn the difference between "stumble" and "fail"

For every stumble 
there is providence and reason
to every thing
a change in the season

What doesn't kill
will stronger make thee
I must get back on that "horse"
the mean one that just threw me

The answers I'm told
are "blowin' in the wind"
a choice to either fold
or start over again

Ours is not to wonder why
Ours is but to change or die
indeed, ours is not to wonder why
ours is but to grow or die


A final goodbye salute to the land of Red Rocks and Wonder. Hiking buddy Chris had long sense scooted on down the road and we missed him sorely. Then, the ultimate escape artist and last holdout, "Impermanent Suzanne," needed to heed the call of the road (sigh) and departed the day before Thanksgiving. …a lonely, unsettled vacuum descended upon "camp Zion."

Left to our own devices, Bobbie and I decided to take advantage of the convenient spoils of BLM land located behind the RV park—literally thousands of acres laced with mountain bike-able dirt roads and miles and miles of single track… easy to advanced. 

Last year the Gang went for a hike out in the BLM Bliss and stumbled across an old road/trail that zig-zagged it's way up to the golden cliffs of Gooseberry Mesa. Gooseberry is yet another area with an extensive network of mountain bike-able trails and backroads, someplace I intend to lobby the Gang to consider as an October destination next year. It is a mesa top much like Guacamole—treed with pinion and juniper and ripe with smooth boulders to play on. At one point in long-ago time Goosberry and Guacamole were connected. But the mighty Virgin River needed someplace to go and today they stand caved apart, separated by a couple of crow-fly miles. 

On the eve of the park's annual Thanksgiving pig-out, Bobbie and I needed someplace to go, preferably a place that would give us a hard work-out. The trail up Gooseberry is about as steep and strenuous as they come. So we put our sights on the top and stepped out.     

Bobbie leans into the mountain, as Gooseberry trail steepens… 

It's a gorgeous and to some extent surreal hike up to Gooseberry Mesa. The trail winds through precipitous foothills of dragon backed mountains, layered in colorful soils that remind growling stomachs of raspberry and vanilla sherbet. 

Would you ride a bike along the ridge top of that mountain behind Bobbie… or down it??? Well, some people do! Read on… 

One would never know unless they happen to be a fan of extreme sports, that the dragon-back mountain behind Bobbie in the above photo is the site of the Redbull Rampage Mountain Bike Challenge… the most extreme downhill race ever! (if one can call falling "racing") If you are acrophobic or have a queasy stomach, you may not want to watch the youtube clip of this years event. The Redbull Rampage is a Vertical Extreme sport where every rider wrestles with the knife-edge that separates Courage from Insanity and Life from Death.

On a magnificent day, gossamer clouds flaring like wisps of cotton candy and making a patchwork quilt of Utah's impossible blue sky, we set foot to task. The temperature was crisp; the trail exacting; the air pure; the view impeccable with fine detail. Glory! It didn't take long till images of turkey and gravy and pecan pie danced in our heads. 

Finally, teetering on the edge of a catastrophic caloric deficit—wildfires raging in quads and butts and sweat streaming faces—we snatched Gooseberry's summit from the jaws of defeat. 

Wobbly legs escorted me to a fractured cliff-edge where bold crags jutted into thin air. The facets appeared golden, as if slathered with Dijon mustard. Blooms of iridescent green and orange Lichen proliferated like bacterial colonies in a well cultured petri dish. The humongous sherbet layered mountain that one hour previous towered overhead like the monster it is, now lay in miniature far, far below—harmless, melting under a noonday sun.    

Of all the enumerable vantage points I've had the pleasure to experience in Zion and it's abutting glory, the far view from Gooseberry ranks near the top. I tried to imagine how one might to do justice to this eyeful of candy… beyond hunger games and food analogies. But, as you can see, my stomach got the best of me. 

Dijon mustard rocks… splattered with other assorted condiments 

It would have been nice to have had the gang along to co-appreciate such unparalleled splendor. 

Pine Mountain separated by the "Red Sea"

Bobbie and I continued north hiking along Gooseberry's enticing rim… weary, and taking note of all the miles that separated us from "home," now a mere speck in the distance. 

Rambling on, we came across a cluster of rental yurts poised on cliff's edge. A half dozen or so high dollar mountain bikes leaned against cedar trees, along with a couple of unattended SUV's with rear hatches open. A burst of male/female laughter rang out from behind canvas walls and broke the silence. Afternoon delight, perhaps? We tiptoed around.


Almost home… 
I write this post from "home" in Lovely Ouray, drawing upon fond, fragile memories and photos to help recreate our little adventure. It occurs to me that Bobbie and I are making progress on how to resolve the differential gap between our individual dreams. It involves compromise, patience, practice, with a touch of selflessness thrown in.

To me, the biggest drawback to living in a place like Lovely Ouray is enduring the transition between seasons. The time betwixt Ms Autumn's departure… after all her gold is spent and lies rotting into soil, and before winter's fresh whitewash of snow cleans the slate. Pennsylvania winter grayness  leaves me uninspired… adrift in a bleak mono colored sea. Same with the transition from winter to spring, affectionately referred to around here as "mud season," hiking dirty snow and gooey trails. Then early summer's transition, with its gale force winds and reluctant trees that don't leaf out till the fourth of July. 

Transitional periods are to be endured. It's a waiting game, and such things have a way of spawning restlessness and inner turmoil. It is during these target times that I either need to be either highly distracted, or gone. Maybe I have allergies winter and darkness… especially in places where they seem to last for six months. Glass half empty, it can't always work out for us to dodge transitions times. Glass half full, "darkness" is oft the wellspring of creativity, be it pen or brush. 

In the end we manage to negotiate compromise, which, as you well know, is an agreement where both parties come away feeling screwed :). 

Here's wishing you all peace, love, and joy.
Have a happy Holiday and Merry Christmas,
Mark and Bobbie 


  1. We really do need to get back to the Zion area. It has been a couple years since our month stay. Love the view from Gooseberry Mesa:)

  2. Photos and blog posts do a fair job of bringing one back to those fantastic moments from our travels. We will also be missing Southern UT this coming year and will have to reminisce through our archives to get our fix.

    Wishing you both a warm and happy holiday season!

  3. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts.

    Happy holiday's to you as well


  4. We are in Borrego Springs. Great weather here. And, although it is starkly beautiful, it is not Zion. And it certainly is not Colorado. We will be heading into Aridzona on Tuesday.

    Merry Christmas to you both. And Happy Trails.

  5. I would endure that steep climb again to hike back up to Gooseberry. Ah, those views! Not sure if our RVs would make it, though, as we remember the road going up to be in pretty rough shape when we biked up there two years ago. But then Goldie seems able to get to places we can't. Or is it that Goldie's driver is more willing to take chances ;-)
    Enjoy the holiday season !

    1. We need to at least take the Suby's and check it out…
      If we could get back to the rim (the road around there was great) and camp till the black water fills up… man, heaven!

  6. It is always hard to let those friends and buddies go on their way. We have experienced the very same. You can't hold them and you can't follow them on THEIR way. With regards to that video I must say how can ANYONE be that stupid to risk a life for a contest of a multi-million-dollar-company. But then watching I noticed that the average age of the suicidal gang is pretty darn low. Talk about getting your kicks - not on Rte 66.

  7. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you and Bobby a wonderful Holiday Season.

  8. I like that idea, embracing the challenge of transitions and using the energy to fuel creativity instead of struggling against what "is." Wishing you a peaceful, joyful, and creative holiday season!

  9. As if it wasn't enough that you use your creativity to write, take phenomenal postcards, paint, and play music. Now you are writing poetry. Nicely done. A good reminder that adaptation is the key to a happy life, even when it means leaving behind places like Gooseberry Mesa and friends like you and Bobbie!

  10. Those views are Spectacular!!! I am reminded of looking down on Zion from Smithsonian Butte. Summer will always be my season, with a little bit of spring and fall thrown in. Hang in there.

  11. Love the poetry, it is on the note board in my office now. To inspire me!

  12. You are a great "wordsmith". I could see the pictures thru your words without even looking at the photos. And the poem was excellent!!
    Thank you.
    Don in Okla.

  13. When I see views like those I always wonder what settlers crossing through there 100 years ago thought. Probably too tired to be inspired? I hope not.

    1. While hiking there, our "Gang" was wondering if the local Native Americans could appreciate what they had, especially if they hadn't been anywhere else. I doubt their language had a word for "scenery." :))
      Thanks Pam

  14. Mark, your header photo of the snow is stunning - almost looks like a painting.

  15. Beautiful painting, breath-taking pictures, masterful writing----leaves me hungry for more. :)
    (see what I did there?)

    1. Yes… I do :) We are enjoying Alex and Etta! Great kids, truly. I'm excited for Alex's "break out," reminds me of me at 25 :). He'll do fine…

  16. That cover photo of Bobbie heading out across virgin powder is ALMOST enough to get me into the mountains at this time of year. I had a wonderful time with you guys in Zion and hope to do it again, including Gooseberry next time! Chris

  17. Mark, I've been reading your blog for a while and enjoy your beautiful photos and mostly your way of "capturing" a moment, picture or emotion with words. This post about resolving "the differential gap" certainly resonated with us. We are working through it with "compromise, patience and practice" and hope to come away not feeling screwed!! You made us laugh and nod with that one. Anyway, Michael and I wish you and Bobby another adventure-filled year ahead and hope that we someday meet you both. Imkelina


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