Tandem, An American Love Story

Chapter 15, Red Rock Country

Hoodoos and Hot Rods in Heaven

Somewhere between Page, Arizona and Kanab, Utah, we pushed Zippy through sand about a tenth of a mile and set up camp behind some junipers amid shin-daggers, small prickly pear, bunch grasses and fine red dust. Across from us, red striped hills against blue sky and distant raining clouds rimmed with sunset colors.

There were no campgrounds open on this stretch of red rock desert. There was an RV park listed in some promotional material at Big Water, but like so many across the country, it had gone the way of permanent residents. We saw no point in paying $15 for a gravel pad and no bathrooms. The owner allowed us to fill up on water, and we were set for our preferred camping method, freelance on Bureau of Land Management land.

We left our tent and walked down a wash that had been in flood recently; cracked red mud, white salt dust, an uprooted juniper in a bend, still thriving, just moved a bit. Found coyote tracks trotting the wash in search of unwary bunnies. We played with a praying bug, so named because when threatened they stick their hind-end up in the air and heads to the sand. Actually a stink bug of sorts. They make funny tiny footprints on the sandy clay of the wash walls.

Dinner was tuna and squeeze cheese on tortillas, tangerines and baby carrots. A feast. Later there was sweet treats before bed, and perhaps later, Bob the mouse, will be heard tearing candy wrappings deep into the night.

After sunset, I sit under a juniper and taste an astringent and pungent juniper berry. Taste and scent fill my sinuses and trigger memory; childhood Christmas, I am lying under our eastern red cedar Christmas tree, really a juniper tree, sparkling with lights and tiny strips of foil perfectly hung like magic ice; mysterious packages wrapped in shiny bright papers and silken ribbons fill me with a joy belonging to childhood. Like this Utah, bright colors wrapped in silken clouds hold wonder for the grown man who loves Christmas in April in Utah, or any month in any place.

Lingering twilight flames the clouds overhead, shooting over and behind us like an aurora. Then they watercolor wash the pale blue, ease to gray with soft pink edges and hints of green. An evening star appears, coyotes serenade and we sleep the sleep of those without care.

Stayed in Kanab at a nice RV park with grass to pitch a tent. The town is ringed with red rock cliffs. A sweet town, growing some but not much, and amid such beauty.


Tandem, An American Love Story — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the memories, and the update on your own adventures. That last few days back to Sequim was bitter-sweet after more than a year on the road. We’ve never been the same; a good thing.

  2. What a marvelous and beautifully descriptive article about a simply amazing woman – Karen Landis. I’ve had had the serendipitous experience to create and nurture a friendship with Karen after I underwent a hip replacement and three hip fractures and realized I needed to request the local “Meals on Wheels” service. And of course, if she didn’t have enough on her plate, Karen serves the Chino Valley community two days a week by delivering meals to people in my circumstance.
    I loved Karen the first moment I met her. And when we started chatting I knew I had met a soul mate. I’ve been looking all my life for a role model, a hero, an amazing example of humankind. I don’t know if she realizes what an outstanding example she is of a strong, independent, intelligent, talented woman. Sometimes as women, we have a dentency to undervalue ourselves. But Karen, I want you to know you are the real deal. You are just so beautiful in your authenticity. And I a so appreciative of the value you have added to our environment by caring for the land and the animals under your watchful care. Your abilities and strength simply boggle my mind. And thank you for your loving service to me these past four months. You rock girl!

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