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."
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."
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.