Traveling Through Southeastern Utah

One of the best parts of our lives right now is the opportunity to travel to nearby lands.  This weekend we once again explored southward towards the Navajo Nation.

Muley Point Overlook
Muley Point

We drove out to Muley Point, a cliff overlooking the Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation.  The haze clouds the view but adds in beautiful layers. Naturally the view is much better in person but you can get the feeling of the expanse of the land and the canyonlands below.

Navajo Rug
Navajo Rug

On to the next spot: The northern part of the Navajo Nation.  We stopped at a trading post where we could have bought beautiful handmade Navajo rugs (starting at $250 for a small weaving and going way up from there).  The artists deserve the money, for the work is intricate.   The trading post had colored rug yarn for sale, bright and muted colors in bundles on the wall.

However, when we talked to some of the local people, they all said they rarely bought the yarn there. After all they had their own sheep so they would make their own when necessary.  They use every part of the sheep and consider the animals one of their most precious resources. The store also had feed, propane, farm supplies and remedies for curses.  Yes, curse remedies right there in the counter under the cash register.  I wanted to buy one but couldn’t think of any curses I needed to counteract.

Four Corners
Dave at Four Corners

We ended up at the Four Corners monument, the only place in the United States where four states meet.  Dave obligingly touched all four states for the photo. This spot is on Navajo lands, and usually there is a charge to visit, but they sponsored a foot race that day so the fee collectors were busy elsewhere that day. Four Corners has vendors there, with booths set up in each of the quadrants, so there is one set of stands in each state.  We bought some things in the Utah section but spoke to the artists in all four states. What an experience, to shop in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, all within walking distance.  A perfect way to travel, in my opinon.

Going on these trips reminds me why we are on the road.  Sometimes it gets difficult to be so far away from friends and family.  But then we get to visit places like this.  Truly amazing.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey

Balance

Christmas

Christmas time is a wonderful time of year but I have a hard time keeping my balance.  This balancing act takes on many forms.

 
I must balance my budget with my desire to shower everyone I love with gifts. My mom was fortunate enough in her later years to have enough resources that she would shop all year for each of her family members.  She would arrive at the extended family holiday celebration with a VW Vanagon loaded with gifts.  It would take us a long time to unload the plethora of presents, crowding theVW Vanagonm under the tree and dwarfing the gifts already in place there.  I understand now how tempting it is to be generous and lavish everyone with physical evidence of love.  But I am lucky enough that I also got to experience the overwhelm that comes with this amount of generousity.  Over the past few years, we have moved to the other side of the pendulum and now give each other the gift of time, laughter and playing games. We extend our holidays by adding on a “game day” on the 26th, playing charades and board games until we have to drag ourselves home to rest our smile muscles. The connection with each other is the best gift of all.  Other families have traditions that allow one gift each, of giving to favorite charities, of white elephant exchanges or only buying for the kids. Perhaps we will move to the center and once again agree to buy presents.  But for now, this works for our family.  Still I fight the urge to “cheat” and buy out the store for each of my family members.

 

Speaking of cheating, I find it difficult to balance my choices around heathy eating during the holidays. My inner voice insists that because these special treats only come around once a year, it won’t hurt to indulge.  My weakness is eggnog.  Oh yes, and cookies.  Did I mention pumpkin pie?  Or red and green M&M’s?  I have been diligent about exercising every day for the past few weeks but I have to remind that little devil on my shoulder that exercise does not give me permission to cater to my every gastronomic whim.  (My main trick is to keep it out of my house.  I have not figured out how to resist at parties. Sigh)

Christmas Tree balanced
Christmas Tree

Even though I love decorating the house for the holidays, recent circumstances and the travels we are on have forced me to downsize. This pendulum swing has been difficult for me.  It would be nice to have a festive Christmas tree and boughs of holly on every wall but that is not possible for now. I struggle to keep myself from getting forlorn over the lack of adornment, although usually I am quite proud of my ability to simplify our lives.  In an attempt to help alleviate the melancholy, I have purchased a couple of things to add some festive color to our home.  More balancing.

 

Tree pose balance
Balance

Living in a new places has its challenges.  Every time we move, I have to find a way to handle our mail, search for internet connections, learn a new grocery store and remember where the bathroom is when I wake up in the middle of the night. This adventure we are on has also been interesting, exciting and wonderful.  I am more adaptable than I ever realized.  My connection with my husband is stronger than I ever knew it could be.  Remembering what I am grateful for helps even out the difficulties.  It helps me find my balance once again.

 

 

 

Visiting Arches National Park

La Sal Mountains, Utah on the way to Arches Park
The La Sal Mountains

Utah is the land of national parks.  We were able to visit Arches National Park this time.  The road to this park parallels the snow covered La Sal Mountains.  The wind blowing that snow off the tops made the ride especially beautiful.

Three Gossips Formation in Arches National Park
View of Three Gossips and Courthouse formations

This part of the country is full of surprises.  Around every turn there is another awe-inspiring view and the geology behind the rock formations adds to the magnificence.  Ancient oceans, petrified sand dunes and subsequent earthquakes gave the raw materials for erosion to create interesting shapes.  It is easy to see how some of the rocks were named.

Rock shaped like Lief Erikson in Arches National Park
Is this Lief Erikson?

Other formations invite our imaginations to come out and play.

There are over 200 arches here (hence the name of the park). We only saw a few of them, however the afternoon sky gave me an opportunity to capture the beauty of the day as well as the spectacular nature of the rocks.

Double Arch
Double Arch

 

 

 

 

 

Sand Dune Arch path
Sand Dune pathway

Our favorite hike of the day brought us to a set of stones set on their edge. Following the path between the rocks, we walked on fine red sand until we found an arch tucked inside, hidden away from the road.  Most of the other visitors drove right by this treasure.  I am so glad we stopped.

Sand Dune Arch
Sand Dune Arch

 

 

 

 

I believe that it is important to take care of the day-to-day responsibilities first, but what a blessing it can be to make sure we take time to step outside of our routine.  I am grateful that we choose to visit nearby wonders.  The little adventures are what makes life so good.

Skyline Arch
Skyline Arch

“I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.”

– Thomas Carlyle

Blessings

A blessing of light
Sunset in Utah

December brings in wonderful  holidays. The sentiment remains the same for each of the celebrations:  time with family and friends. These are the true blessings in life. The gatherings are one way of reminding us we are bringing light and warmth into the darkness of winter.

Star burst
Light – A blessing for us all

This time of year invites each of us to be joyous and generous.  It is an opportunity to remember that there is more to life than our daily responsibilities.  Yes, of course this season also adds to the busy-ness of life, bringing a clutter of to-do lists, sometimes unmet expectations and can bring home that not everything in our lives is perfect. Still, it is also time to remember I have friends, family, sustenance and a warm place to sleep each night. I take a deep breathe and I am once again centered and grateful.

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“Having somewhere to go is home. Having someone to love is family. Having both is a blessing.” – anonymous