Day 45: Unstuck & Smiling

Definitely started the day feeling leftover ick from yesterday.

As soon as the desert sun started to heat my tent, I headed in the direction of a narrows hike the guy at the visitor center recommended…and found myself wondering all the way if he’d ever been on the particular backroad he’d sent me on because it definitely wasn’t suitable for my Civic!  After making my way over rocks of all different shapes and sizes, crossing ruts and washouts, and questioning the route at almost every turn, I reached a point I knew I couldn’t travel beyond.  Carefully I backed probably a quarter mile uphill of the narrow road.  With no turnaround in site, I negotiated some sagebrush for a sticky 14-point turn-around (rough estimate there)…only to get another half mile up the hill to a jumble of rocks I had managed to clear coming down but definitely couldn’t clear going back up.  Thank goodness I got a AAA membership before I embarked on my journey – and that the tow company fudged my location just a bit to get my recovery compensated.   As it turns out, AAA doesn’t cover backcountry towing… Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

It’s funny; stuck in the desert waiting for a tow truck (er, jeep, cuz the truck couldn’t traverse the road either), I felt no frustration, no upset, no impatience.  I talked with my dad on the phone, and he said “I’m so sorry this happened,” but I found myself surprised to be totally calm.  The situation was what it was.  And I just was.  It seemed like part of the journey, maybe a lesson about being kind to myself and patient with circumstances even in the face of being stuck, figuratively or literally.

After my assisted escape from the rocks, I took my time en route to my next destination, enjoying talking with my people by phone and observing my surroundings, stopping when the sights and scenery seemed right (toadstool rocks!!!).  My gosh Utah is hot this time of year…!

Surrounded by Navajo Nation, where I can’t do any dispersed camping, I decided to book a Hipcamp spot for the night.  (Hipcamp is a website that lets folks rent their land to campers; sites range from ordinary to extraordinary, primitive to glamp-ish, and I’ve had mostly positive experiences with it.)  What I discovered when I arrived at the backside of a giant mesa and the base of a red rock formation near Monument Valley was something of a camping bed and breakfast, with spots for tents, a spot for my car, and some underground native shelters, as well as a large communal restroom (with showers that don’t take quarters or run for a limited time), a barn full of furniture for lounging and a shared kitchen, and outside space with communal seating, firepits, and the like.  And kittens galore!!

I settled myself into a swinging chair with an awesome view and relaxed into my book, hoping to attract some company – and it worked!!  In just a bit, a woman with a lovely accent started a conversation and asked if she and one more could join me in a bit.  Yes please!  Ellena and her daughter were traveling from Switzerland, on a birthday and pre-school outing for Zoë.  Today was her 16th birthday, and we shared cake and conversation and lots of laughs under the Milky Way, talking into the night, wishing on stars, and snuggling with (or narrowly avoiding, in Zoë’s case) curious and playful kitties.  Most of my chance encounters have been with men, and that’s okay, but tonight, I was grateful to be in the company of women.  More than anything else (except maybe my couch and a daily shower…), I miss my cat and my girlfriends.  And tonight, I was delighted to have my love cup filled with kitty snuggles and feminine energy.

I’m certain I’ll fall asleep wearing a smile.


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