Tandem, An American Love Story

Arches National Park

We left Moab early and arrived at the gate of Arches National Park by 7:30am to reserve a campsite for the night, before riding the beautiful 18 miles to Devil’s Garden campground.

After having the road mostly to ourselves for about an hour, the hot rods began their Sunday run throughout Arches. The long string of colored jelly-bean cars rolled passed us between red cliffs, balanced rocks and soaring arches. We enjoyed the friendly waves and beeps, but somehow they didn’t quite fit; a metaphor perhaps, for modern man and the natural environment.

A mule deer crops his slow morning way past me, not more than twenty feet, stripping buds and new leaves from low brush, still scruffy in his winter coat. He aims his big ears at me, listening for clues, black eyes shining. I am very still.

The sounds of gently snapping twigs follow him past Claire in the tent, who thinks it is me, making too much noise too early in the morning.

A small cottontail hops around past the mulie, unconcerned, shopping for his breakfast.

A bird works the blossoms on a single-leaf ash for bugs. He talks to himself, or perhaps the ash. “Thank you.”

Skyline Arch breaks the horizon just behind our tent, painted against the usual blue sky. The sun slowly releases the chill of the night.

It is still and oh so quiet. The memory of Moab madness fades. The jelly-bean hot rods and people watching were fun, but I am glad to be in this place where silence is the morning.

Yesterday, we took a ranger-guided walk through the Fiery Furnace maze of eroded fins and arches. Good thing. It would be very easy to get lost in there. There was some challenging scrambling over slickrock and through very small arches and cracks. Excellent program.

Later, we hiked another trail through an arch and some huge fins, with no one else around. Junipers whispered, cliff swallows dove and chirped and a canyon wren sang the most beautiful bird song of all. Salmon colored rock everywhere and just a slit of view of the still snow-covered La Sal mountains, and blue.

A nap on warm slickrock. Full belly and sun. Juniper wind song and no thoughts. Later Claire and I spent a half-hour following an ant to his nest with a bit of food. An Anasazi day.

After two days, we reluctantly left Arches. On the way out we met Jim and Ione Reese, a full-time RV couple from Oregon who gave us a ride back from the Fiery Furnace hike yesterday. They are having a ball living on the road. They visit the children and grandchildren at Christmas and travel the rest of the year. We’ll keep in touch. Road people are so much fun.

When we turned north out of the Park we encountered strong side-winds and lots of very fast traffic. The road shoulder was also very narrow and the combination did a number on my shoulders.

We were beating full into the wind westbound on Interstate 70, when a couple pulled up and offered us two cold colas. Oh so fine.

We had seen the man south of Moab and he wanted his sweetie to meet us. We had a short chat and they drove on, contemplating a tandem in their future.


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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