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19: Out in the open

Updated: Feb 27



Dear Friend,


How is your garden growing? If you are a gardener, you know that birds enjoy sprouts. Radish seeds sprout in three days, so if you plant them outside (where you can see them from your window) you can watch them grow and maybe get to see some beautiful birds enjoying them, too. If you aren’t a gardener, yet… watch out, radish sprouts could be the gateway drug to Master gardening!


We haven’t seen many organized gardens growing on this leg of our journey. But we have seen ‘wild’ blooms like this one.


Thank you, expert botanist, Cheryl L., (one of our friendly and knowledgeable campsite neighbors), for identifying this beautiful Echinocereus triglochidiatus, a hedgehog cactus, in bloom.


 

As I’ve said in previous letters, we have met a lot of kind people along the way. We have enjoyed hearing their stories, how long they’ve been on the road, where they’ve been, where they’re going. Some have given us tips on must-see destinations.


One such tip was for a waterfall along the Escalante Staircase in Southern Utah. Frank had been there before but wanted me to see it. So, we left our campsite at 3:50 am last Wednesday morning, and arrived at the waterfall well before sunrise. Frank photographed all morning as sunshine made its way onto the falls. We were alone at this beautiful place for several hours.








I don’t take the experience of living on the road for granted. Every moment in nature is real and raw. The sky is endless. The wind is truly…endearing. Out in the open, it seems that my thoughts hold me accountable to linger with them and I can hear what I think with fewer distractions. I contemplate survival, creativity, memories…what begets joy, tears, and what nurtures healing. Time in nature doesn’t necessarily make me more intelligent, rather, it makes me far more aware of the insignificance of worrying.


“Instead of worrying,” I hear myself say, “participate! It’s the doing that matters most.”


For me that means working with my creativity, and making the best use of each hour. So… I plunged into the falls that morning, (just up to my chin). You have either done that or you haven’t. It was snow-melt, the best, a restart for sure. No worries, I was able to get dry and dressed before other hikers got there.


The first people to arrive were Anne and Chris, a couple from Virginia who were traveling across the country. Like many travelers we’ve met, they were on the road to be in nature, see the sites, and to visit family. We chatted for a while and they shared several helpful destination ideas.


We really aren’t around people very often but I could list the names of more than a dozen people that we’ve met, all with their own favorite places they’ve seen and places they hope to visit.


There are times that we stop in to towns along the road to pick up supplies, do laundry, take showers. But we’ve spent most of our trip away from towns, exploring off-roads, or on unusual highways, seeing what we can see on the land and in the sky.



One (unconventional) road that we’ve taken recently is Moki Dugway, part of Utah, Scenic Route 261.



Though 261 is paved, this section is a narrow, mostly gravel portion of the road, barely wide enough in some spots for two pickup trucks to pass. Most RVs and anything towing a trailer are strongly discouraged from taking the road, the turns are just too tight!


The elevation at the bottom of the fairly steep, 3-mile switch-back is 5400’ and rises to 6400’ at the top on Cedar Mesa. The average grade of the road is 6%, but is 11% in places. Yes, cyclists and motorcyclists do ride this road but, without guardrails or much room to maneuver around cars, the road has a reputation for being scary. There is an awesome view from the top!

 



As we’ve traveled around in Southern Utah we’ve been able to experience many unusual environments, created by the powerful combination of time, water, and wind. Goosenecks, Hoodoos, Arches and Mittens are just four of many iconic, mind-boggling formations found in these breathtaking landscapes.












Frank and I were standing together in Monument Valley around sunset on the “Wild Cat Trail,” a well-trodden, 4-mile, people-made pathway that winds around the West Mitten, the East Mitten and Merrick Butte. The late afternoon light was really ‘getting good.’ Frank had just placed his camera-topped-tri-pod ready to photograph the West Mitten at sunset.He turned to me and said, “I wish I had something exciting in the foreground.”


All of a sudden, three wild horses walked up and over a distant hill and stopped right in front of Frank’s camera. They stayed for a long while.


By the way, entry into Monument Valley is $8.00 per person and dry camping (no hook-ups) is between $50 and $60 per night. The campground has trashcans, flushing toilet bathrooms, hot and cold-water showers – (a visit from wild horses is not guaranteed).



Once again, thank you for checking in to read Tracks by the Post. When you have a chance, please Contact me  and let me know what is happening in your world – and how your garden is doing.


We appreciate your caring thoughts and prayers; please know that you are also in our Thanksgivings.


Gently Be,

Leslie


To see more of Frank’s photography, please visit  fbphoto.com


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