United States

A Chaco Sola

I arrived in Farmington, New Mexico, on Sunday hoping to convince myself to go to Chaco Canyon. I have wanted to go there forever, but a solo trip felt like a teensy bit of a stretch for me. It’s 80 miles from a city, and 13 of those miles are on dirt roads. The weather has been unpredictable, and my car had a minor episode this week that could be a big problem if it happened again in the wilderness.

But I went! By myself! It was not a big deal! It was amazing!

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Rocks and Rolling Through the Southwest

Gas station in Page, AZ

I left Sedona on Monday, headed for Louisiana. Slowly. I’d originally planned to make a bee-line for Louisiana through New Mexico and Texas, from big city to big city. I now know that would be silly. What’s the rush?! And I love cities but, during the pandemic, they’re mostly not going to be much fun. Museums are closed. No festivals or performances or tours. I’m not a shopper. And there’s so much to see that’s not cities!

So I’m taking a circuitous route to see whatever seems interesting. So far there’s been plenty of that, along with a few challenges…

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Long Layover in Cornville

Belle and Bill’s adobe house in Cornville

After my too-short detour to Monument Valley, I returned to the Sedona area last week to visit my friends, Belle and Bill. I’ve known Belle since the 6th grade. We were (and are) horse girls, although not the Pony Club new-jumping-saddle-for-Christmas variety. More the I’m-shoveling-manure-in-trade-for-a-ride type. One time when we were twelve, we rode out to the two-lane highway into Scottsdale, and got our horses to buck and rear for the people driving by. Thrilling! Dangerous! Belle’s idea!

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Navajo Nation

I left Arizona on Sunday, half-safe after my first Covid shot, and headed east to Monument Valley in Southern Utah. If you haven’t been to Monument Valley, you’ve probably seen it in films. It was first featured in “Stagecoach,” 1939, with John Wayne. Since then, the Valley’s spectacular sandstone formations have been the setting for more than a dozen classics, including “Thelma and Louise” and “Forest Gump.”

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Southern Utah: Zion, Escalante, and Magic Mushrooms

In the mid-19th century, the Mormons left New York to escape religious persecution. They  kept going west until they found a place of peace in a spectacular canyon. They settled there and named the canyon Zion — a holy place of refuge. Before the Mormons, Native Americans believed Gods inhabited the canyon.

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Greater Las Vegas is Greatest Las Vegas

Mural from East Fremont neighborhood in downtown Las Vegas.

When I was nine, my dad had to attend a convention in Las Vegas and decided to take the rest of us with him. At the time, Las Vegas didn’t have kid-oriented attractions, but it was thrilling for us anyway. We stayed in a real hotel with high ceilings, ate BLTs for the first time, and called room service for ice cream. Since then, I think of Las Vegas as a place to avoid, and I only stopped there this week because it’s on the way (to wherever I am going, not sure actually). During this visit, my hotel was very nice, my Thai take-out was very greasy, and I learned that Las Vegas has some very cool non-casino attractions.

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Joshua Tree and The Backroad to Sin City

Sculpture by Noah Purifoy

Wow, there is a lot to keep me going on this journey, even without museums, restaurants, or indoor performances.  I am especially grateful to have this opportunity to see a few of our incredible national parks. My first on this trip is Joshua Tree. On Sunday, while the rest of America was watching the Super Bowl, I was hiking one of America’s Super Parks.

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