Desert Revival

sometimes you just gotta get back to the dusty road and the desert, even if it's only in your mind. 
(and on your blog)
especially when you finish a book like The Anthropology of Turquoise by Ellen Meloy who writes of  "pure sensation" of these lands: "I try to notice how the desert is put together, with the expectation that if i look hard enough the land will open up to me, spilling an endless stream of color, light, and living things in bright ecstasy."  

bright ecstasy.

i revisited our trip last august to the southern utah desert. i shared some of it here, but i think these are all different photos than i posted before. this was our first night in the desert; we arrived late to meet up with addie and mandy at snow canyon state park. there was some hysteria about a giant tarantula in our camp, but the boys gently persuaded the gent to leave the near vicinity, everyone calmed down, fixed a late supper and enjoyed the purity of summer desert sparkly star nights.

hiking the next day took place in desert heat over a hundred degrees, shooting off the black and red sand and into our pores and skin and lungs. in its own way this is the most alive you can feel, viewing vistas for endless miles that all but shimmer in the sun. 

the heat got to me in the afternoon and, swooning, em and i and pops opted out of the "cinder cone" hike (below) and headed to st. george for some ice cold diet coke instead.

next day, zion national park, my dreams came true. we camped near a river. a glorious, cool, turquoise river called the Virgin.
"We know few ways to tell the river's story other than through our own. Yet here it flows, making beauty a fact of existence, visible in its presence and absence, in flood and in washes as parched as old bones." 

tadpoles bound for the good life:

"the river celebrates things we forget how to celebrate: our own spirits, the eternity of all things."

in zion, you take a shuttle to all the vistas and hiking spots. 
it is crowded, but who could blame everyone when there is a place this spectacular decorating the face of planet earth?

a little riparian wonderland near the weeping rock.

and in the late afternoon we found our own private swimming hole, another dream come true. if you are going to Zion, ask me about it! a true desert paradise. 

leaving the park, we stopped along the road at a place my rockhound brother knew to find crinoids, tiny star shaped remnants of time.

arrived at red canyon campground near dusk. 
push your fingernail into a juniper berry; you'll smell gin.

most mountainy of our campgrounds, with paintbrush charging the landscape with the erotics of red. ellen meloy writes about desert paintbrush (castilleja chromosa) calling it the "queen of slickroctica." she writes, "the sun illuminates the paintbrush against blond rock. red is the color of martyrs, blood, hell and desire. it quickens the heartrate and releases adrenaline....i make a vow that each day will have in it a jewel like this one, knowing well that the desert bloom is not so much a season as a moment, given then lost."

each day will have a jewel in it like this one.

i woke up early, all alone, and started the rounds of french pressed coffee for the whole camp who would soon be emerging. i sat and watched the sun rise and wrote in my journal. if you could see the words i wrote that cool desert morning, i speakof a profound happiness nearly complete. the only thing i wished for with the most sincere calling of my own wild spirit, was a baby. a child to bring with me on these adventures and shower with this love of nature and family. 

fairyland point opened up the center of earth's heart for us.

down into the canyons' spires on navajo loop trail,
dressed in the colors of desert sunshine, sky and earth.


"sometimes the desert exhilerates me to the point of soaring. other times i am so heartsick i cannot bear up against the despair, a palpable, aching longing. longing for this wild beauty to last and for me never to die and no longer be able to feel, see, hear, taste and breathe it."

bristlecone loop.

cozy kodachrome basin state park became our little home for a couple nights.
this is the best feeling:

next day we hiked to lower calf creek falls.
so nice to have a little creek to refresh yourself when your face is beet red and you're dripping with sweat.
pops had a hard time on the way there, but after the falls he was feeling great!

another creekside desert wonderland.

the hundred hands pictograph up on a very steep slope. i was freaking out and making them come back down.

not easy to find beer in the tiny towns of southern utah. and it's all 3.2% but hey, we'll take it.

sunburnt, tired, comfy, happy:

last desert day, a crazy drive through a washed-out road to grosvenor arch.
it smells like rabbitbrush, gritty and earthen, and everywhere the bittersweet aroma of sage.
a bunch of wildflowers that mikie picked for me.

on the way home, the worst mexican food ever (even that tasted pretty good) at an rv park on a side street in a town called beaver, utah.
with a damn fine playground too.

our parting gift, a rainbow as we travel home blessed by the desert with senses a little more open, hearts a little more broken.
"Our bodies are still profoundly timed to the heavens. Our perceptions remain our only internally generated map of the world. We are blood-tied to landscape by the language of cells."

now back to my cold cloudy spring world, revitalized.

all quotes from ellen meloy's The Anthropology of Turquoise.


marygood said…
going to the desert, BRB.

i remember your posts from last year, and yet i think this one encapsulates (for me) your experience the most. thank you SO much for revisiting and my body now literally ACHES for some of that desert sun. all of you are like the magical mystery tour of desert rats. whenever i see you in the desert and read your thinkings on it, i recognize that not a little part of you truly feels at home, and belongs, there. xo
Crystal Lee said…
I'll have to read that book. It sounds incredibly inspiring. What wonderful photos! I will definitely go to Utah desert land one day. I've been dreaming of it for so long. I love the desert, all nature really, but I think I love a forest just a little more.

Happy Friday. xoxo.
fabulousjunk said…
great photos... really makes me want to go to the desert. Although I have been when I was 2 years old to Utah, Arizona, etc.. unfortunatly I just don't remember :(

Heather said…
Wow what an amazing trip....Oh how I love the desert as well! I just love the West and South West...there is something about it that just connects with me. As soon as we got back out West again my photography totally changed and I am really happy with it. When we were staying back East it was like my creativity was blocked. I would love to visit this area you went to it looks amazing. I really need to take my kids camping that is going way up high on my todo list now after seeing this post!! Thanks so much for sharing those pics I enjoyed seeing this gorgeous place you went to and I love how you described the smells as well :) ~Love Heather
Scarlett said…
I love each and every photo. It looks like you had such a good time with friends and family. I am now following you. Check out my blog sometime if you have time xx
anne said…
well, i know where i want to go this summer!!!

absolutely gorgeous! beautiful photos and an amazing time i'm sure. the book seems really cool but i still need to get and read the terry tempest williams one first :D

happy easter heather!
whit said…
Gosh, what beauty. Love camping and love being outside. What fun!!
Amy Beatty said…
these phots make my brain dizzy and my heart sore!! I love them all. You are in my thoughts always these days. I have been LOVING your bebe bumpet xo you are so LUCKY and you deserve it. You are just pure love. I want to see what you have been doing in the way of a nursery?!?! I miss you sooo much. So excited that May 5 is now truly less then a month away now. I started the book you got me for my birthday f i n a l l y.. It took my forever to get through house of sky even though I loved it. I just never had time to read and if I tried to stay up to read it would just lull me into a sweet slumber. but I remember you reading it on this trip. I love sharing books, tears, trips, salsa, sodas, family, music and plain ole JOY with you.
this looks like the best most absolute fun camping trip! I want to do something like this :) Loved all the pictures, just beautiful!
Kelsie Lynn said…
I'm still yet to go to Bryce canyon! I can't believe it.

Looking beautiful as always. perfect weather
Teeny said…
Hey sweet Heather, i read this post the other day but wasn't ready to comment just yet.I managed to sit here and eat a whole easter bunny, (it was a yucky cheap sugary one - so too easy to eat) I wish we could have had time to fit Utah into our travel plans this time, after seeing your first lot of photos, I was saying to Steve "this is why we have to go" and he was in agreeance, of course! But time is of the essence, unfortunately. Next time I hope to go. Intense. So intense, the beauty, the depth, the space and colour. I see why you are in love with such a place, I wish I would get to feel it too. Baby, baby, baby yearnings, so glad you get to have your bundle Heather. So glad. xxx I owe you an email and will send you one soon!!!!! promise!
Missa said…
Oh, this post has me longing for a desert road trip! I think we've done pretty much this same route before. We're still trying to come up with a good time to take off with our little trailer and do it. It will be amazing to share the mystic wonder of this part of the country with Clover for the first time. My sister-in-law Zoe and her family are in Zion for her birthday right now. I want to gooooo!
Nichole said…
you know of my love affair with the desert. this makes it catch fire a million times over!
Celynne said…
Haha, if I'd have been there when there was a giant tarantula, everyone would have to convince me I couldn't take it home! It's probably a good thing I didn't grow up someplace where tarantulas are wild :P I've said this before but I need to visit the desert! It looks like another world. I was obsessed with the Anasazi and pueblos and the American Southwest for a while in my teens and I've read a lot of the landscape, it'll be a trip once I finally get to see it in person.

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