Friday, May 15, 2015

On the Road Again

After several months in Apache Junction, our feet were feeling the itch to move. We watched the last few sunsets on the Superstition Mountains, trying to keep every second and every nuisance of color. Relieved to know that come winter we have a place to stay with a kind friend and a fun, wonderful job with great friends.

We made our way out of the Valley to Arcosanti. Have you heard of Arcosanti? Urban laboratory is a description that leaves enigma and the thought of beakers and goggles. Wrong thought! Soleri bells, cement walls, austerity, simplicity and function. Ideals, ideas and a positive low environmental impact model proposed for urban future. It is only 4% built, yet is sustaining itself through educational programs, environmental and urban impact studies, and bells.

We toured the buildings, learning about their water reclamation balconies and cisterns. We delighted at the taste of loquat grown on a tree at the amphitheater. We admired the use of solar and wind power, how the buildings were oriented to catch light and heat. Models were proposed for the Mojave desert and Siberia, ways to build cities that are self sustaining with low impact on the environment unlike the current urban sprawl method.

Why not choose to fund the other 96% instead of a few nuclear bombs? Why not improve our methods, the plans created at Arcosanti are constantly updated with newer materials and techniques. Ecology is part of the design, instead of destruction it is maintained.

The tour taught us all the things we hadn't quite picked up from the urban laboratory description.

We wound north throught the colorful mountains of Sedona, past vortexes and tourist attractions, slipping by neon signs and statues being photographed by tourists in shiny new clothes and oversized sunglasses.

We stopped in Flagstaff among many RVs at a Wal-Mart parking lot stunned that the forecast called for snow. Every time I go through that area the weather chases me off. It succeeded again, we decided to wait and see the Grand Canyon on a sunny day perhaps in the fall.

In the morning we headed east on the 40. We stopped at a tourist store that was long closed, the glass from its double doors lying like unclaimed diamonds on the cement walk. The giant cement tipis were fading and the huge dreamcatcher had holes. Could that be why our society lost our dreams to materialism? Here at this empty store I saw what the world will look like when we are gone. Petrified wood in front of our cars sparkled with crystal veins lasting beauty of enduring nature in contrast to the random debris and graffitied detritus of unwanted bottles and plastic goods.

A little unsettled in thought we went on, stopping at Homolovoi. Hopi settlements from the past. The wind blew as we looked at the rooms that have stood since the twelfth century. Danny called my attention to beautiful pot shards and artifacts. We took only memories and photographs. We were saddened by the sight of pits dug by people who had looted and vandalized, there were rows of them. We appreciated the serenity, the peace of the place. The stones were green, red, and beige with glints of sparkle. Perhaps the settlements were built there because of the beauty, the feeling of contentment, and the water of the Little Colorado River. 

We made our way past the Painted Desert, enjoying a look at beautifully crafted Native Artisans pieces at the Painted Desert Trading Post. We were downcast at having missed the frybread at Chee's but Danny mugged in their storefront for a photo before we settled for the night at the state line. 

Watching the last rays of sunlight on the vast mountains around us we were humbled. No photograph or description would really do justice to the vast, profound natural beauty around us. The wind and water sculptured the rocks, the minerals accent as natural as paint could be. 

New Mexico. Every time I drive through the state there is interesting weather. A cold rain rose behind us and seemed to push us past points of interest. The drizzle and constant cutting wind raced us through Gallop, past the ice cave and volcano which tried to lure us, and further past Acoma and Sky City. We are just fickle enough to want our appreciation and memories to come on a warm, sunny day. The drive seemed surreal at the last rest area. A man called to me as I passed and told me this rest area is too loud to sleep at, that we should try the one in Santa Fe near the Camel Rock Casino. How did he know what we were trying to figure out, that we wanted a place to pause for potential adventure in Santa Fe? I thanked him feeling eerie and wondering if the advice was good or ill. 

When I opened the door to the woman's restroom it was to a bloodcurdling scream. I always thought I knew what abject terror sounds like. I was wrong. At the receiving end, it is like a physical blow to the face and chest. I stopped stunned by the shrill tone. I looked at a short, stocky older woman perplexed. I asked her what that was for, softly, confused. She mumbled and I asked more firmly. She had been writhing to catch her glasses and recoil as if the door and I were the fangs of a rattlesnake. She apologized saying she thought I was someone else. She rushed past me and out into the gray. A mystery I will never solve.

We decided not to stay at that rest area, it was the least restful area I have been in despite the mountains and valleys it looked out on. We are on the road again. Slipped past Albuquerque with a thought in our hearts for local friends but an undefined urge to move further into the journey. We are on the road again, sometimes we travel as slowly as chilled molasses, other times we move like beads of water dancing in a hot skillet or mercury freely sliding across a linoleum floor. We appreciate the sights we find. We learn, we gain perspective, we laugh and we live. There is a world of potential, chances and moments are everywhere if you know how to appreciate them in the moment. It's all in the choice: fly or fall.