Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The view from here...

I didn't have any place to be today, so I went out looking for one.  I ended up in Utah.

The Beehive State

Lately I have not been into seeing things so much as being places.  Less schedule and more staying.  For my sins, I have been resisting this urge to always be going forward. Serendipity cannot bear too much planning.  The desert west of Monticello, Utah, seemed like a good place to subvert travel and merely sit.

I didn't plan to be here.  I simply arrived.

I arrived late, of course.  Towards dark, 65 miles down a slow road, I found myself entering the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, staring at a sign that said the campground was full.  I had to go back 5 miles or so and find what rough comfort I could in the surrounding BLM land.  That effort led to one of the best nights in a long time.

Didn't look like much at first.  Red rock and sand.  Dry.  Flat.  Quiet.  Empty.  But somebody left a jumble of a fire ring and a bit of wood.  And then the moon came out.

Colors slowly deepened toward purple, then black.  And the stars.  My God, the stars.  They took my breath away.  Later, high clouds like fingers played hide and seek with the moon.

From a juniper nearby, an owl interrogated me.  I built a fire and cooked a steak.  After that, the only sound was what I made myself.

Perhaps I have been cooped up by the short horizons of mountains for too long.  Everything is different down here.  Without the thin brittle social varnish of modern technology, it would be easy to lose track of everything in these canyons, forget where you came from, your home, your job, your friends, yourself.  And then perhaps in a year or two someone finds your bones, and wonders idly who you were.

Even people who thought they knew you might wonder that.

Not everyone is the dying type.  Some dry up into seeds of themselves, waiting for some damp violence to bring them to thorny life again.  You can see that sort of weathered waiting in a few faces down in Monticello.

Odd that such an empty place should people my imagination with spooks and nightjars.  The wind has a lonesome feeling, but it is not cold.  It does dessicate.  I attenuate by the hour, turning transparent.  It's an anorexia of the spirit, exhalting and frightening in equal measure.

Or maybe I just need an aspirin, and a good long drink of water.  Moonlit thoughts on a moonlit evening, down in the canyonlands.

Bob, off to bed.


Anonymous said...

That's the kind of campsite I'd like to find, Mr. Fireman Poet.

Joe B.

Anonymous said...

ever have to worry about wolves and such in campsites like this?

Bob Giddings said...

I don't think you are going to find wolves where there is nothing to eat. The largest ground animal I saw there was a lizard.

The few wolves still around are probably up in the mountains, harassing the elk, or maybe some cows or sheep. I doubt there are many. Maybe further north, around Yellowstone.

I did notice a raptor of some sort flying far above, keeping an eye on me. Something else to keep me moving...