Thursday, May 7, 2009

Westward Ho, Part II: The Two Parts of Me

And the adventure continues. Though I am actually now getting settled into my new digs in Northridge, CA, in the San Fernando Valley, I cannot move on in my postings until I deliver on my promise to tell you all about my amazing road trip.
When last we left off, I had been telling you about my experiences at the Grand Canyon, and driving through Northern Arizona. The next day, we left Page, Arizona, and passed by Lake Powell. This is an area I would earmark, so that if you ever get a chance to venture there, make sure to see this place! It looks like mountains on Mars overlooking blue water. Can you imagine such a thing? Well, you don't have to, because here it is!

Then we crossed the border into Utah. According to my dad, Utah has many incredible canyons, all of which are greatly different. We were able to visit two of them, actually three, though one we only caught in passing. First we went to Bryce Canyon. A man named Ruby and his wife brought the beauty of this canyon to the the attention of the general public many years ago, and soon it was overtaken by the government. Here are some pictures of Bryce and one of its little inhabitants.

I was able to walk further down into this canyon than I was able to at the Grand Canyon. For one thing, the sides of this canyon sloped more instead of dropping off into a shear cliff. Also, it was deep, but not anything close to the depth of the Grand Canyon. I doubt any are that deep, hence the name. Plus, this one had rails on its trail, at least part of the way down.

After exploring on the trails a bit (but not taking the time to go to the bottom of the canyon), we headed out. It would have taken a significant amount of time to get down and back up, considering we were at a much higher altitude than usual, and air was harder to come by. Steep hills in the South are problematic for me. You might imagine what a time I would have with a canyon in Utah!

Thus, we began the drive to Zion, where we would drive down into the canyon and spend the night in their lodge. But on the way, we saw what was called the Red Canyon. Take a look at the spectacle it offered.

And take a look at this one- how does it stay upright?

This fire was burning strong in Utah, but we were not sure if it was a controlled burn or not. It was a sight to behold.The scenery in Utah was so varied. From the amazing red canyons to the scenic snow-covered mountains, and then to fir trees.

This next one, for example, could have come from Georgia or Tennesee. How can it be so different, and yet so much the same? Fascinating!

Soon, we reached Zion and started the slow, winding drive down into the canyon.

And then we approached and entered a couple of tunnels.

And then more winding down into the canyon. It was nice because we had seen the tops of a couple of beautiful ones, but had not made it to the bottom of any yet. The view looking up was just about as awesome.

Next we came to the Court of the Patriarchs (still on the way down into Zion). The three rock tops are the patriarchs, I believe.

And then we reached the lodge, where my dad pointed out little mounds of earth next to the parking lot where little diggers of some kind were making their homes. I was thrilled to see dirt being thrown out of one of the little mounds as I was looking at them, so I tried to sneak up and catch a glimpse of them as quickly as I could. I did get to see a couple of them- they must have been gophers. But the camera was not quick enough, or I wasn't, and I didn't get their pictures. Here is one of the mounds, though.

Before dark, we walked on a trail that was a mile long, and that ran beside the Virgin River. The end of this trail marked the end of the real walkable part of the canyon floor. The river filled up the canyon bottom at this point, and if you wanted to walk on you could, but you would have to venture into The Narrows. When the water covers them, they are dangerous and slippery, and when the water does not fill The Narrows, you risk flash floods when trying to walk through them.

We did run into some lovely creatures along the way, grabbing some dinner on the side of the mountain before the sun went down. They were not scared of us at all.

The next morning, more wonders awaited. We saw a wild tom turkey walking along the road, all bowed up at us as he sought to protect his harem of what appeared to be five, yes five, female turkeys (I don't know what you call them- hen turkeys?) We just captured a pic of him, though, not his harem.

But old tom turkey could not hold a candle to the sun on the canyon tops early in the morning.

And one of my personal favorite moments of the entire trip, something I had hoped to see, was a buffalo herd grazing in a field. On the prairie, I suppose. It was quite amazing. I had never seen any like that.

So, remembering how amazing all of this was, a part of me wants to go back there and live there- somewhere- to have a ranch and raise animals. To live in the rocks of Arizona with the Navajos or in the rolling hills of New Mexico where Billy the Kidd once made his last stand. As I sit in my new apartment and listen to the sirens and traffic blaring outside my window, a part of me desperately yearns to go and make a place for myself somewhere else in the beautiful west, where romance abundantly inspires the imagination. But what I need to do- the art I need to make- the performances I need to give- have brought me to where I am, and here I will be until God leads me elsewhere. If it was about writing, I suppose I could do that anywhere. But although I do consider myself a writer, I am also a performer, and don't think I could live properly without performance in my life. Maybe one day, there will be a way for me to combine the two parts of myself- the one that yearns for the beauty and romance of the isolated country, to be a pioneer of sorts, and the one that must perform and be a part of a thriving artistic culture.


  1. You all are probably used to my spacing challenges by now, but I just don't get it. I went back and checked this post several times, and each time it was different somehow- spaced differently or with large gaps, and I have no idea how they got there. I tried to fix them- possibly I did not do it right, so I apologize again and ask for your patience as I try my best to learn the how to work these digital special friends.

  2. Lots of those places you went are the same places I went with your dad and my dad back in the early nineties. Really brings back memories! And I certainly understand about feeling split like that. I don't think that feeling ever goes away. Whatever choice you make, you're giving up something else. And we want it all!!

  3. Thanks for posting all those photos, Kristi. Very cool! I've never seen any of those places.

  4. Wow, love the scenery. Makes me want to take a trip out west.

  5. Beautiful pics, Kristi! And great descriptions!

  6. How beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Great journaling about your trip, Kristi. I've been to all those places--camped at most of them. A very different kind of beauty. So nice of God to give us so much variety!