Friday, September 24, 2010

Southwest Trip

Some found words,
several signs,
several quotes,
and my own words

On our first night in Sante Fe —we eat enchiladas and green chili at La Choza restaurant. It’s too soon to taste the hot chili. My lips burn.

In the morning there’s the Spanish Market. We wander past stalls of straw appliqué crosses, Reredos De Oro -“poor man’s gold”, tin canaslabras, a century old family tradition and Spanish Colonial Rotables—

I browse the Southwest section of a bookstore on San Francisco Street, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya—“the white sun shone on my soul”

Lunch at the Upper Crust—veggie sandwich, avocado, cheese, and tomato. We eat on the deck, across from a family wearing tee shirts, shorts, and hats advertising Joe’s Eskimo Pies.

A street musician plays, El Santuario, a spiritual refuge for the soul. We buy his music. Atomic Café for dinner—a veggie burger—oats surrounded by flies.

On the drive to Flagstaff on I-40, signs advertise the continental divide, Fort Courage. A sign encourages us to See Buffalo Free , I assume that means free of charge. We stop at the Yellowstone Trading Post, Teepee Coffee House with a large selection of Pipes and decline a purchase of Chewing Tobacco at Chee’s Indian Store and Rock Shop.

We pass an enigmatic sign: All Livestock Stop 1/2 Mile Ahead.

A stop at the Museum of Northern Arizona—
Anasazi history on display, shards, winter wind, a broken branch lit by gray-green lichens of the past.

We splurge on Mama Louisa’s chicken cacciatore for dinner.

On the following day we drive to Zion and stop for gas at the same place a Batesville Casket Company truck stops. The women’s room dispenses stock tampons, hand lotion, aspirin and fruit flavored condoms.

Ninety-Nine degrees and no humidity. That’s still hot. We take a short hike to the Emerald Pools—colored reflections on sandstone, mineral stains, joints and waterfalls follow the grain of the land. Sedimentary layers deposited through time. Navaho Sandstone—We walk to the Narrows along the Virgin River. Not too far because there are warning signs of possible flood waters.

Instead we eat Virgin Veggie roll-ups and drink fruit smoothies for lunch.

Each strata
Holds tight to the past
To time’s memory

After a drive to Bryce we dine on “Champagne Trout”. Early in the morning before the sun's insistent rays penetrate our skin we hike Queen’s Garden Trail—past Gulliver’s castle and Queen Victoria, Navaho Loop. Wall Street rises two hundred feet from the canyon floor. Only a sliver of sky is visible. Two towering Douglas-fir trees live in this narrow chasm

A maze of forms —
Orange hoodoos formed by gullies.

We hike the Fairyland Loop. The trail descends a scenic ridgeline to the bottom of Fairyland Canyon—passing around Boat mesa, a section of Campbell Canyon, Tower Bridge, the Chinese Wall, and the remains of Oastler’s castle.

A sun scorched
Landscape holds my soul
In a holy embrace

Driving Highway 12 to Capitol Reef requires a steel resolve and a willingess to enjoy a winding road with hairpin turns along the edge of Waterpocket Fold, ancient seas cemented with limestones, shales and sandstones. Water chiseled and sculptured.

Here in this place,this Red Rock Eden is the story of Fruita—a desolate early Mormon settlement. Once pioneers planted apples,
Red Astrachan
Twenty-Ounce Pippin
Yellow Transparent.
Now the rangers warn you of cougars.

In the morning we breakfast on fruit filled pancakes and eggs, then visit the Torrey Gallery. I buy an autographed copy of Carol Brown’s Canyon Sketchbook. She writes," I linger in the Utah canyons, even on a cold day...with my back against ancient petroglyphs I can see a hundred miles into space and millions of years back into history..."

We drive to Moab— the road winds through a desolate moonscape. The Terra-cotta blanches and becomes ash gray. Once past Hanksville color returns until it becomes Entrada limestone, a muddy sandstone, Slick Rock —fine-grained sandstone that forms cliffs and narrow fins—the building blocks of Arches.

Desert varnish flows down sandstone cliffs, a patina of gold, brown and black. We hike Park Avenue to Courthouse Towers and step over ancient dunes cemented into place.

We pass Sheep Rock, Three Gossips, and the Tower of Babel.

It is here at Back of Beyond Bookstore in Moab we find Gretel Ehrlich’s The Solace of Open Spaces. She asks for the qualities of the earth for her writing,

“weather would land on it harshly; light would elucidate
the most difficult truths; wind would sweep away obtuse padding.” I, too, want the same things.

We spot this on someone’s car—‘Work Sucks—I’m Going to the Desert’

I roam the aisles at Lyn Ottinger’s Rock Store, passing by dinosaur leg bones and hip joints,and finally buy a small polished dinosaur bone and a shiny Utah agate.

In Sante Fe we purchase bracelets made of perlon climbing rope. A reminder of thoughts.

between one idea
and another..

Tomasitas for lunch
Guadalupe Café for dinner
Green chili leaving its heat.
We write down titles of books—books for the winter, to remind us of the space and sky —This Dancing Ground of Sky.

Linda Watskin ©2010


  1. This is one gorgeous travelogue. You treat all the senses - even the leitmotif of food is fascinating. Beautifully written - made me want to go there.

  2. Linda, beautiful writing, so evocative. This is one I'll be back to read again. Food and geology and so much in between.

  3. A trip suspended between the times - wonderfully evocative.

  4. fascinating journey, the food, geology, books, nameplaces. You got it all in here and did a good job of it,