Monday, January 7, 2008

Abbey Road


It's a wonder that westward settlers put their stakes in Southeast Utah. It's a no-man's land, prickly and anhydrous, with bright, burning days and steel cold nights. And yet the landscape is like no other east of the Colorado, the red rock virtually jumps out of the periphery like an absurd 3-D pop-up children's book, almost too fictional to be real, almost too red to be earthly. The sky with its infinite layers of every shade of blue stretches out beyond the imagination and loses itself behind the 2.5 mile-high peaks of the La Sal mountains.

Decades ago, this area was generally unknown except to uranium miners and cowpokes. Now Moab is a haven for weekend warriors, mountain bikers and hikers out to conquer the windswept terrain and leave their indelible mark upon the land. Of course, tourism requires paved roads, trash bins, and signs to stunt stupidity. Urban dwellers must be reminded to not feed coyotes or trudge upon the cryptobiotic crust that is elemental to the fragile ecosystem of the desert. How far we've come.

Edward Abbey wrote about his disgust for progression in Desert Solitaire, a must-read for visitors to this edge of the West. His other, more popular title is The Monkey Wrench Gang, a fiction-esque tale of a misaligned group of eco-raiders working against man and machine. Abbey did most of his writing in a quiet spot in the foothills of the La Sals, a rather special place named Pack Creek. I visited Pack Creek for the third time just a few weeks ago, walking in Abbey's dust, breathing in the memories of a place that once was. Every afternoon, as the sun tilted westward I would set out, bundled up, breath fogging up my glasses, and I would look out for the elk or the coyote or the bobcat I knew were on the lookout for me. Instead, I saw only signs: Seldom Seen Road, Abbey Road, and my favorite, Take the Other Road. As I rounded the bend behind our cabin I would imagine I lived in Pack Creek amongst the Aspen colonies, amongst the elk, coyote, and bobcat. And I could almost see the ghosts of settlers before me who knew well enough to put down stakes in this awesome land, this otherworldly and cavernous paradise, this dry and deserted Zion.

8 comments:

Pauline said...

It may be a long while between posts but then WOW! you dazzle with prose so descriptive I was breathing the dust along with you. How I enjoy reading your words, knowing they come from a deep and grateful place I recognize.

gautami tripathy said...

I agree with your mom! You prose dazzles!

tumblewords said...

Your mom sent me. She's rightfully proud of your writing. The second paragraph of this post is strong and understanding of the havoc we wreak in our quest for the next bend.

Linda said...

I scrolled down and read some of your poetry. Amazing! It's so clear and yet contains wonderful, fresh images!

meggie said...

Your descriptive prose is wonderful.
I come from your mother's with great admiration for you both.

paul martin said...

Good detailed description. Seems like all landscapes, and also all kinds of weather, have beauty to them.

I vowed before leaving this comment not to say a word about your mom, even if your writing does seem to have some resemblance. Not one word...

Eileen said...

Wow is right. I share your mother's praise . I have not been to that part of the world so I only know it by reading about it. Thank you for your nice encouragement of me on my maiden voyage into blogging. I wrote a new piece and Pauline helped me get a pcture of Minion on it. That is the best part . I really love your writing.

Eileen said...

I like all that you say.You take me back to my 30's when i struggled with how to be me without him.I finally learned to separate" grieving about no lover "from growing a" strong girl me". They really are two separate qualities in growing a self , and like you , i hate how much our popular culture mixes it all together with the extra added attraction of sounding suprised when a woman is good at something.And you are such a beautiful person . It's fun to read what you think about.