Arizona: Land of Many Canyons

Like the tagline for the state park signs that I’ve seen quite a few of lately: “Such-and-such a State Park: Land of Many Uses.”

Some (not all) highlights from the past week:

  • Driving across the entire state of Oklahoma (panhandle and all) in one day. High of 86 degrees F, according to Jenny’s thermometer — and she (my car) has no working AC, so I kinda felt like I was sweltering to death there for awhile…but then this glorious storm, that you could see coming for miles across the wide, wide plains, cooled the temp’s by at least 20 degrees. I can easily imagine how different people groups in history have been motivated to develop whole rituals of beseeching for rain.
  • And then driving through a snowstorm in some mountains in Northern New Mexico the very next day – !! America: land of much variety.
  • Finding a place to park for the night in NNM in the dark, and waking up to find myself surrounded by mountains on all sides — some snow-capped! — and camped practically right next to the Rio Grande River.
  • Roughing it in a Walmart parking lot the next night, again in the Sub., and mini-splurging (for me) on some amazing pumpkin pancakes, and eggs, sausage and coffee for breakfast at the nearby Denny’s.
  • Climbing up the mts in Mesa Verde NP in my car, and getting to some amazing overlooks.
  • Showering again once I got to Flagstaff (where I spent 3ish days).
  • Visiting the Canyon de Chelly, the Grand Canyon, and Walnut Canyon (which I had pretty much all to myself first thing in the morning; as I did the 4 Corners NM a few days previous – perks of rising and arriving early) all within 4 days and all in Arizona — land of many canyons. (Apparently AZ’s Antelope Canyon is pretty spectacular, too, but I’ve not been there myself – yet. Supai Canyon’s supposed to be cool, as well.)
  • Exploring Sedona and watching multiple Poirot and Murdoch mysteries w/ my marvelous host, Janet Grammer; also meeting a few of her friends who are Navajo.
  • Arriving at my aunt’s home in Las Vegas with virtually no trouble locating it, and seeing her and my cousins for the first time since 2009 — I know! Too long. So, SO good to be with them again.

A basic conversation that repeated itself 3 times in 2 days at 3 different gas stations, 1 in OK, 2 in NM — they pretty much all proceeded like this:

Local Man (seeing my plates): You’re a long way from home.

Me: Yup. Getting there. (Internally: I’ve been farther.)

Local Man: Wow, cool that you came all this way! Be safe.

(By the third such conversation, I was a little more chatty – one guy had been to NNY several times for training for some wilderness thing or other.)

One of them did also ask me if I was lost or had taken a wrong turn somewhere. No, sir. Nope. Just adventuring. I meant to take this road. All were definitely polite and seemed genuinely friendly, though – in a completely non-creepy way. So no worries everyone! The world’s a lot less full of creeps than we’re led to believe by the media, methinks…or at least, there are a lot more simply genuinely nice people than we usually hear about.

Lots of people I have encountered so far have told me to be safe, actually. Either “Out There,” “Driving,” “On the Road,” or whatever — “Be safe!” Me: “Thanks!” You too. 🙂 …And take risks. Smart ones, of course.

This quote:

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

These concerns:

Seeing “touristy things” w/o becoming too much of a “typical tourist,” myself…whatever I mean by that. Also, wanting to strike a balance between seeing neat things, but not feeling compelled to see them just b/c they are there or a National Monument or something…and seeing/doing things but also maintaining a pilgrim(ish) mentality, not lapsing into a frantic tourist gotta-try-and-see-slash-do-it-all/this-is-a-one-time-thing type mindset [’cause it’s not, and one never can see/do it all anyway, ever, and it’d be folly to try]. …

Also, want to avoid the mental pressure (self-inflicted) of feeling like I have to come home with some sort of answer(s) to…anything.

(Even on the road, I think too much. Wherever I go – can’t get away from myself 🙂 )

In the meanwhile:

Enjoying bumtown and chilling with my cousin today. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Arizona: Land of Many Canyons

Add yours

  1. so SO glad you are finding the beauty and grandeur of the locations and people in the west…. I loved living at Canyon de Chelly…. picturing you in AZ is making my heart so happy. Prayers are being sent, joy is being received…. you go girl!!

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