We met two couples, one young from California, and the other older from Ontario, Canada. Both were interested in talking about our lifestyle, and how we manage it. Both had more money than we do, but considerable less time, and both wanted more time to explore together. Today I sent out query letters to a hundred or so literary agents for a book proposal we have tentatively set at It’s A Wonderful Life. We think there is a market for it, we just have to convince an agent and then a publisher. We have been working on one chapter and a tentative chapter list, but we’ll have a lot more work to do if we get a request for a full-blown proposal. Don’t know how we’ll do that on the road, but we’d find a way.
We keep coming back here. It remains among the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, place in the world, or at least the world as we have seen it, and that’s a fair bit.
We sat up, as usual so we could have a reasonable chance of driving off quickly during the night, if need arise; though the drop-off to the cliff was pretty close, Turtle has a good turning radius.
Darkness arrived with the fading of the rainbow; the wind is up and the lightning announced the odd thunderstorm somewhere to the South. We could get more weather during the night; if it clears we’ll have stars since the moon is still a sliver. Another billion-dollar view bought with the price of a little adventure. It’s a wonderful life.
May 21: Drove to Wind Whistle Rock and struggled along a double sandy track to find a bush camp with beautiful view of La Salle Mountains and red sandstone capped with white Navajo sandstone and vast expanses of grass, sagebrush and Utah juniper. We were expecting (courtesy our weather radio) high winds and perhaps rain in the afternoon, so we hunkered down, only to find reasonable, if breezy weather. We hiked around Wind Whistle Rock instead, of the planned mountain bike. Our walk gave us a close up reminder of what is so special about this part of America; you can be within a mile of a road, and never see or hear another human all day. We threaded slickrock, and drainages to avoid damaging cryptobiotic soil, saw several delicate spring flowers and a new (to us) blooming cactus.
We went in and out of sun and cloud shade, napped on a rock ledge and came back to Turtle for a warm shower. Then we took a walk, had a-little-something under a juniper, and came back to Turtle for another short nap.
Dinner was pasta with garlic, olive oil, onions, yellow and zucchini squash, and the second half of a bottle of Chilean Cab/Sav/Merlot (better after some mellowing). Evening is coming slowly under high thin clouds and the breeze is dying, unlike last night when Turtle shook until after midnight, unsettling when parked on the edge of a cliff. Tonight there is no cliff, and no wind and the temperature should be cool.
Had someone suggested to me when I was 25, that life could be so good past 60, I would have thought they were crazy. No more. It’s a wonderful life.
Three photo panorama from our campsite.
May 18. Monument Valley is a tribal park, and more reasonable with a $5 per person entry and $5 to dry camp in a spectacular spot. Late today we hiked the one trail open to unguided hikes, 3.5 miles around one of the Mitten buttes and arrived back at Turtle just before sunset. Took much of a 512 card of photos, and will probably do it again tomorrow when we bike the 18 mile loop tomorrow. With this park, it at least is fully within the control of the Dine; at least we are allowed to bike the same loop the guided tourists take.
We got a fantastic place to park Turtle (check the photo) though I had to make him/her act like a 4 wheel drive to get there and out, the sunset view was worth it. Had one of us been prone to sleepwalking, it would have been about a dozen steps to the edge.
May 19 Bicycling Monument Valley. We had a great mountain bike ride on a good dirt road today through some wonderful scenery. We left at sunrise and managed to do the loop at an easy pace, with lots of photo stops, and finish just as the loads of tourists began the loop, so we had no dust and we could hear the birds and smell the vegetation.
Our second night we drove about eight miles back in the woods from McNary to the Los Burros campground on the Coconino National Forest. We read about it in Matt Nelson’s column in the Desert Leaf. We wanted to try some of the great mountain biking he described.
We love looking at the stars through our 16 x 24 inch (approximate) skylight above our little nest/bed. I was wondering at some very unusual low lying black as ink clouds, silhouetted against the starfield, when a huge shooting start burned out from behind the biggest cloud, fading out the stars for a couple of seconds. It was then I finally realized the black clouds were not clouds, but big ponderosa pines leaning in over our Turtle. We are so unused to tall trees in the desert that I had been fooled. I love it!
The trails were indeed wonderful, snaking through aspens and ponderosa in the cool 8,000ft. sunny mountain air. We hadn’t ridden trails for yonks and the first few miles were challenging until we got our looseness back, and then it was a hoot. However, the blue sky turned black, thunder rumbled and lightning flashed, and we had to turn tail back to Turtle before we were ready to be done. Still a fine day, particularly the cool air after experiencing 100 degrees or more several days before leaving Tucson. We now know why so many Tucsonans come here for the summer; it’s an easy day drive and 30 degrees cooler.
We are sitting in the parking lot at the Hon Dah Casino, getting wi–fi from the casio RV park. This works!