It is Sunday and about fifty degrees. The air is crisp and the skies are full of fluffy clouds hanging over mountain ranges in every direction. The day is good. I wish the dog would stop barking at the intrepid travelers that go by every few hours. In the mornings I am confused about where I am. Takes me a moment after opening my eyes to recalculate my reality.
We are camped outside of St. George. Straddling the Arizona-Utah state line. St. George was once just a small town cooked by radiation drifting on the wind from the Nevada Proving Grounds, today it is a growing bubble of ticky tacky middle-class houses.
How do I explain this in an orderly narrative? I ask myself. Try from the beginning self, with Sedona. My Internal compass is vastly confused. I couldn’t tell you which direction we approached Sedona from or the direction we left. We entered through a dispersed camping area. First impressions were of a beautiful area stuffed with happy campers barely concealed among the low growing evergreens. We only stayed the one night. A different idea sprouted.
About that energy vortex. I never heard of Sedona prior to a few months ago. It was hours after arriving I decided to open my browser to learn more. I closed my browser. Grab your favorite crystal (there were a few cute shops in Sedona) and meditate on a rock formation, because some years ago a disenfranchised Native American made some cash selling the idea of energy vortices to people. That’s what I gathered from the web. Certain locations are supposed to make you feel good just being there… isn’t that all of Arizona? The Southwest?
Kurt drove us through the city of Sedona on our way north, passing miles of parked cars lined up near hiking paths. The tourist area of town was busy, bustling even. Beautiful Sedona, the last place I wanted to be during a pandemic. Herds of tourists. Some masking, some not. Bouncing around busy sidewalks like electrons.
The drive from Sedona to Marble Canyon was uneventful with one unavoidable night outside of Flagstaff. We managed some responsible sight seeing. (Next to no one there). First stop Sunset Crater Volcan, to put the fear of Mother Earth into your bones. A thousand years later and the scars still ravage the earth. Second stop the Wukoki Pueblo ruins. To feel time the way I imagine it would feel for people in the old world.
We camped on BLM land alongside a canyon within a canyon. Watched a perfect sunset. The next day we traveled to Crazy Jug Point. Not before stopping at a strange configuration on the roadside peculiarly labeled “cliff dwellers.” Was this created by outlaws or some poor soul from the dust bowl era? No. This was born into the world by a broke down Ziegfeld Follies’ girl on her way through.
To get to Crazy Jug Point pulling a camper in January you have to trust the road and the truck. I did not trust the road. Kurt did. It was long, unpaved and mostly snow covered. But worth it. We spent two cold nights for the sake of experiencing winter weather at the Grand Canyon. Sat on the edge of the world during perfect silence. The air still. No people noises, no engines. Every so often a bird. An epic gaping void in the soundscape. This is the consciousness cleansing experience people seek in nature.
In the evening the Canyon glowed subtly with deep reds and violets. In the morning it was filled with clouds. An impossible sea of cotton candy.
Where to go next?
Utah. Kurt sussed out an area that looked easy enough to find dispersed camping and was near a few big name landmarks. Thats not what we ended up doing. We found an empty campground. Happily paid for a night stay at Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park and for the first time in months had a shower without rationing water. For the first time in weeks filled the water tank with a hose instead of hauling jugs. It is the little things.
Kurt worked out a sight seeing plan on our way to the next thought. He unhooked the camper at a trailhead and we rattled our way down a sandy trail to see dinosaur tracks. I won’t lie. I expected epic big tracks. Not little ones my dog could leave.
It was the drive back to the road. The truck didn’t make it up one particularly big sandy hill and the tires started skipping. As Kurt went into reverse I saw something in the rear camera. Turns out the shaking shook out a few water jugs, rugs, chairs and we ran them over.
But something else happened.
We broke Baby Grey Whale. Wait? I didn’t tell you the truck had a name? Yes. Baby Grey Whale, BGW for short. BGW was throwing serious codes. No speedometer and it dropped out of 4-wd .
We camped in a dispersed area for the night. Woke up to snow. Kurt couldn’t identify an easy fix on the truck. The short of it is that BGW worked, but had to be fixed. With the cold hitting the area we started heading for Las Vegas and stopped in St. George. A town with dispersed camping, warmer weather and big enough to get the truck fixed. And best of all, it wasn’t Las Vegas the true energy vortex. You can triangulate your position to calculate the odds of being sucked into that city by one disaster or another.
There was nothing wrong with Baby Grey Whale. It took hours for a mechanic to check out the truck. Merely needed the codes reset by fancy tool after having its brains scrambled.