… continuing the story of ending my time here in Colorado…
I woke up the next morning completely refreshed. It was early morning and only a woman in the neighboring tent was awake as well. I let Lacey out and she wandered down to the creek for a drink. I followed her to get water for coffee then began to set up the stove.
I had to wake David up to help me, since he was the one who normally operated the stove and I couldn’t get it to turn on. By the time water was ready, Mel was awake too and sitting at the picnic table, eyes barely open, obviously ready for coffee. We sipped the warm drink and allowed our bodies to take their time waking up. The sunlight through the trees mixed with the rising smoke from our neighbor’s fire, and David pointed out the shimmering combination.
We took showers to get the sulphur scent from our skins then took down camp, piled in the car, and headed anywhere. We ended up in a coffee shop about 30 minutes west and ordered the locally-brewed chai tea. Sipping our drinks, Mel and I checked out the posters on the wall above sugars and creamers; one of us pointed out a paper advertising for a yoga retreat in Moab, Utah.
“Hey,” I said, “My friend really loves that place.”
A few minutes later Mel had found out that Moab was a little over an hour away, I’d called and canceled our campsite reservation, and we were all driving toward Utah.
It was a longer drive than we’d anticipated because we stopped often as the temperature increased; the Cruiser doesn’t have a working air conditioner and we were absolutely pouring sweat. Eventually, though, we arrived in Moab and parked near the Visitor’s Center.
Mel and David walked in while I stayed outside with the heavily panting Lacey. They asked for camping and sunset-spot advice from the men working there and came back outside with maps covered with arrows and circled areas. We were to head to the Arches National Park for sunset and camping was possible pretty much anywhere outside of the city itself. Satisfied, we walked across the street for dinner at a beautiful juice bar and organic eatery.
After dinner we drove into the park, only realizing once we’d left the city that the gas light was on. “We can make it,” David said confidently, and although Mel disagreed I was neutral, so we ended up not really making a decision and thus continuing into the park. We found the perfect sunrise spot only a few minutes later, parked, and got out, Mel absolutely certain we’d end up spending the night right there because of the fuel situation. She was pretty chill with that, though. It was a theme of the weekend… whatever happens, happens and we move on from there.
As we walked toward a large rock formation upon which we would have a good view of the lowering sun, I noticed how vast the area was. It was mind-boggling wide and large, red clay going on and on in every direction. Random enormous rock formations altered the landscape, inspiring a sense of spirituality, immensity, and grandeur to the space. Other people were milling about as well, but somehow it felt ultimately quiet. Perhaps because our voices could not possibly compare to the landscape; we were so, so small and the world enormous.
As the sun set, the rock grew deeper red, its tones shifting from salmon-pink to burnt orange to blood red. The sky was as vast as the land, clouds only touching the very tip of the horizon in long slanting brush strokes. The sun was a fiery ball, searing our eyes although we kept returning to gaze at it. We sat and watched, allowing ourselves to just be.
After a while the sun left us for another world and we moved to watch a group of climbers as they attempted one of the rock formations. We spent a long time watching and talking, the air growing steadily cooler. Finally we left, having watched the climbers successfully ascend, and drove into town.
We grabbed water and candy at a gas station then made our way through the opposite side of Moab, into the open desert that way. We were following directions toward camping Mel remembered and quickly found the spot: an open camping area near a lake. We set up camp then sat down to talk and watch the ever-brighter stars.
We spent hours gazing at the stars, with conversation moving in and out and Lacey lying silently by our feet. After some time, the amount unimportant, we made our way into the tent to sleep.