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Friday, March 20, 2020

Homeward Bound

Though it's only been a short while since I graced (or fouled) these BCB pages, it suddenly feels like we live in an entirely different world.
Going forward (we have to, right?) I don't intend to go on and on about "the virus" any more than I have to. There is enough blab coming at us from every speaker and screen. What will be will be, and all the rumor-milling and/or news sound bites does nothing but beat us down. I will do my best to lift you up...maybe even have a laugh at my expense or shed an appropriate tear or two.   

Just because the BCB has been idle doesn't mean we have. There are stories to tell, as well as a few photos that I hope might take a few minds off the news...including my own. I think the best place would be the present, then work our way backward through the calendar. 

Sometimes their will be stories to accompany the photos; sometimes not. My goal with the BCB is to provide a few minutes of vicarious travel, hikes, bike rides, and miles on the road. Maybe, as fellow blogger Terri often suggests, put on some soothing music to aid in your distraction from "noise."

The aptly named "Fire stick" bush

Just about the time the sky began to fall, we were making our way from a rain-sogged Tucson to the Klondike Hills north of Moab. It's close enough to Lovely Ouray that Bobbie can drive home and get out of the "shoebox," maybe have some someone other than me time to herself. Bonus? She even gets to control the "remote." :)

For at least a couple of reasons, really, we decided to route ourselves back to McDowell Mountains Regional Park for a few days. One, we were scheduled to meet up with my older/smarter brother, Dan, and sister-in-law, Elaine, who just happened to be flying to Phoenix for a few days in order to visit Elaine's brother, Verne. More about our meet-up in the next post...

Secondly, friends Jim and Gayle, who recently came off the full-time road, now live in nearby Fountain Hills...a well-stuccoed, upscale, and near litter free retirement town where...to rip off Garrison Keillor, Most of the women are recent widows, all the remaining men are grey-haired, pop-bellied geezers, and all the children are grown and left town cause they couldn't afford to live there. Oh, one more: we wanted to ride our mountain bikes on McDowell's amazing system of trails.

Seriously though, Fountain Hills proves to be one of the cleanest towns I've ever seen...not one cigarette butt, plastic bag or bottle. Jim and Gayle took us on a pleasant neighborhood walk to show us just a few of the lavish homes they can't afford to buy. :) 

There's the town center lake in the background. It has a fountain that shoots water about 200 feet in the air. Due to water shortages and high evaporation rates, the Fountain Hills fountain only geysers for a few minutes once every hour.

Such views, reserved for the rich who live in hilltop mansions with lots of glass.

Of course there are smaller, sub-mansion homes that only run 6 to 8 hundred thousand dollars.

Wouldn't you know it...the fountain goes off when we have the poorest view...

Before the rain
But the rain finally caught up with us at McDowell Mountain, so much rain, in fact, the Park closed trails to hikers and bikers due to potentially trail-damaging muddy conditions. Ah well...even the best laid plans are subject to revision...

After meeting with my older/smarter brother and his wife, we decided the forecast was not that much worse up in Utah's Klondike Hills than for Arid-zona. Since we couldn't ride, Bobbie and I pulled the plug on McDowell and headed north...hoping to boondock in our "spot" a few miles south of Village of Oak Creek. But it had been raining/pouring there, too. As I nosed Daisy across the cattle guard into our spot, I was met with sloppy foot-deep ruts and small bottomless ponds. Well shit.

I managed, with Bobbie's help, to back out of that mistake and proceeded to creep along at 15 mph due to huge clods of mud being slung from Daisy's tires into the nether parts of the wheel-wells. What a mess. I decided to head on down the road in search of someplace with more sand and less clay. Finally, I spied a place with no ruts and some green patches of future weeds. Without the ruts it certainly looked less muddy. It was getting dark. I was desperate. You don't know if you don't try...

Snowcapped San Francisco Peaks rise above Flagstaff. Yes, it's been wet around here.
Bright and early the next morning were back on I-17, headed for Flag with its backdrop of snowcapped San Francisco Peaks. I was determined to make it beyond Moab to our Klondike boondock.

Ahhh. Utah's monumental Monument Valley.

We rolled into Kamp Klondike with sore butts and blurred vision. But there they were, those familiar great red mounds of petrified sandstone...hoo doos and slots beckoning to be explored. But first, a bike ride...where the only thing raining down is the cerulean Utah sky. 

A good bit of snow on the La Sals. It reminds Bobbie of home, and that she will be there tomorrow.

Looky here. As an outdoor kind of couple, we count on weather forecasts to plan out outings...be it to head south, head north and/or to climb mountains during monsoon seasons rife with thunderstorms and lightning so intense it liquifies bowels. Is there is anything more fucking fickle as forecasts? We know when there is a dust storm on Mars, for crying out loud. What's with all the guess work here on earth? 

Meteorology...with all the super-computers and modeling and gazillions of weather data stations...have a long ways to go before I' concede it a "Science." Hell, Sociology, with its infinity of human variables, is more of a science than meteorology will ever be. I can look out the window and do better. Do they ever even look out the window, because half the time they say it's sunny and clear, it's freaking snowing blazes outside. 

But they got one day right, the day after we arrived at Klondike. It was a perfect day to ride and take in a glorious taste of upcoming spring-ness. Then days 2 thru 5 fell apart...rain, some snow, wind, little sun, lots of clouds, more wind. Ouray fares worse with snow and blow. I wished I was back at McDowell.

The next morning Bobbie and I squeezed in a two-hour power hike before she had to leave. On the verge of departure, I held her tight...planting kisses on the top of her head. I told her to wash her hands after stopping at Walmart or anyplace, then added, "Love you." 

The wind kicked up. I stood and watched as she drove out of sight. Suddenly I felt as deflated as a week old party balloon. My spirit withered...a collision between sadness and loneliness...even though it had only been a few minutes since Bobbie headed home.  

A metaphoric storm, as real and dreaded as the literal one that rolled in from the northwest, blew my heart away. It's one thing to distract from loneliness by climbing on a fat tire bike and riding hard till you're too tired to think about anything but sleep. It's another thing entirely to face three days and nights trapped in a shoebox by a bad forecast with winds that drives chills to the very marrow of your bones.

That evening I am warned via a forwarded message from both Gayle and another BCB reader, that Moab is closing it's doors and pulling the welcome mat. I get on line to Moab's City Government site, click on "coronavirus," and begin to read a doomsday-like proclamation. 

In short it read that all tourists have 24 hours to vacate town. All lodging, including Rv parks, will be shut down, as well as all restaurants and businesses except markets and those considered essential. Do not come to Moab, we are closed till further notice. Reading on it said something to the effect...All public lands in Grand County are closed for camping and/or public use. Only residents and ESSENTIAL personnel, i. e., people who are employment based in Grand County, are allowed to remain...until further notice.

Moab does have a nice hospital, but it's only 17 beds. It has no "critical care" unit and only 1 respirator. This time of year hundreds of thousands of tourists descend on Moab from literally all over the world. Moab's hospital is neither prepared nor equipped for even the smallest c. virus "outbreak, thus, they're not taking any chances.

Where does that leave me, I wondered, A boondocking squatter on BLM land, only three miles from Klondike Hills? There are no signs posted, no one came around to notify the approximately 3 dozen Rv's and how ever many people to leave. 

I decided to sleep on my decision, only I couldn't sleep. Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound" kept playing in my head... 
Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home where my thought's escapin'
Home where my music's playin'
Home where my love lies waitin'

Silently for me

This is serious. I best get my ass homeward bound to Bobbie. Klondike will still be there next year. Only question is, will I?

Stay tuned for a gritty, emotional visit with my brother, Dan, and sister-in-law, Elaine. Something that's been a long time coming, finally gets done.


  1. I never wanted to live in interesting times I just wanted to do interesting things. To paraphrase the kids from eons ago, shits gettin real. It was great to see you both. Hope we live to see each other again. Virtual hugs as a friend of ours says. Jim

  2. Ah I've missed you. Scary hard times. Stay safe and get the f home!

  3. Misery loves company, keep your posts coming!!

  4. Misery may love company but Im having no part of it. Mark glad you made it through the worst of it, we were very concerned for too long and that only added to the gloom, just proves it doesn't pay to be a worrier, have to stay positive. Tony Robbins has the best video on being & staying POSITIVE, if you aren't familiar with it or him please check it out.

    Safe travels home Mark........I don't think shopping at WalMart or any of the big Box stores is a good idea Mark, stick with the small local markets where you know the folks.

    Off to walk Rocky now and get some fresh air :)

    Stay thirsty my friend.
    D& A

  5. I wondered what you might be up to. Life has changed so much in so little time. We are still contemplating what to do about our annual desert trip. We never stay close to Moab but it appears that the "order" extends to some surrounding counties too. :(

    Stay safe and healthy.

  6. It was nice to see your pics of wide open spaces. It feels so confining right now. Take care

  7. Thought you's be interested to know that the smaller sub-mansion house in your photo above had a sold sign on it yesterday. Guess there are still people out there who aren't too worried about the economy.

    1. I know. Our friends in Albq. New Mexico put their place of for sale and had four buyers standing in line the next day.


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