Arches National Park

Arches National ParkI first spotted the clouds that would dog us for the next three days on the descent from the South Rim and Kaibab Plateau on the way to Page, Arizona and Antelope Canyon. “This is not going to be good,” I thought to myself.

Not good indeed.

For three long days, those clouds–nary a drop of rain between them–formed a flat and featureless plane that turned drab what otherwise would have been dramatic scenery.

Balanced RockTraveling north towards Moab, deja vu overwhelmed me. You see, I’d been there before; just after college when I decided to celebrate my degree with a three week Outward Bound adventure. My particular poison combined two weeks backpacking in the La Sal Mountains and one week running the San Juan River.

North Window, Arches National ParkAs we drove through the same lands from my past, the places that had been lost in time and space clawed their way back into consciousness.

There was Mexican Hat and the bridge above the first rapids on the San Juan through which we piloted our river boats–really inverted bathtubs.

And there was the turn off that we had taken to get up into the La Sal Mountains after a long and bewildering bus ride from Farmington, NM, past Shiprock and Blanding.

CactusTo say that those three weeks influenced me would be an understatement. We lived up in the mountains for two weeks where I experienced altitude for the first time. Then we ran the class III rapids on the San Juan down to Lake Powell.

Those three weeks forged me. It birthed my penchant for the outdoors, my spirit creature, and a nickname, “Gator.”

And now I was back.

A tear fell onto my cheek.

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