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Saturday, November 19th is a sunny day, so I take care of some CI business while my laptop is charged, even though I would much rather be outside. By the time this is done, even though the high today is only 53 degrees, it is warm enough to play cello on the sunny side of Terry.
With the steep mesas east and west of us, there are not many hours of direct sunlight, so as soon as the sun goes behind the mesa, I extend my outdoor time with a cheery campfire. When it is too dark to write in the journal, I head inside to fix dinner and later do some editing for the Montana author. Goodness, the days go by so quickly…..
Sunday, November 20th is a walk-about day, looking for wood and just enjoying being outdoors, even though it is overcast and not a great day for photos. It is warm enough to play cello outdoors, which is always a good thing. I start writing a blog with photos of our trip. Last year I did a daily post with photos, but not sure that will happen this year, as I am so far behind. Clifford is experimenting with ham radio antennas and studying for the next test to upgrade his license. Some of what he learns can be applied to work in the lab.
Monday, November 21st is a town day to buy supplies and do laundry. At the Visitors’ Center, using the free wifi, I am able to post the first blog of the Winter Journey 2016-2017 on my website with links to FB for those who want to follow along. After we finish up there, we walk in the pouring rain to the museum in the next block. The deluge of rain continues as we leave Moab, and heading up the canyon to the campground, we see numerous waterfall with water dropping hundred of feet from the cliff tops to the river canyon below. I want to take photos, but there are no safe places to pull over until we get closer to camp.
Numerous waterfalls appear and then are gone
By then, the rain has let up, and as unexpectedly as they appeared, the waterfalls disappear. It was quite a sight to see, while it lasted. Back at camp, I put away clothes, remake the bed, and clean the fridge. Clifford continues with his studies.
Tuesday, November 22nd is travel day. Since I am up before Clifford, I have time for tea and saying good-bye to the river. This has been a good stay for us; I’m sorry that we have to leave, but we are lucky to have had such mild weather this time of year and we need to move on further south. After Clifford is up, we begin packing up. As we are leaving, we take photos of an interesting rock formation/geological event: it appears the big boulder at the campsite probably fell at least 1,500 feet from the top of the cliff, perhaps eons ago.
I had called regarding camping at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado and that is our destination for tonight, but once we arrive there, we find that we were given misinformation on the phone and there are no campgrounds open. The only rest area in the vicinity clearly states no overnight stays, so we go on back to Cortez (Colorado) and spend the night in a spacious Walmart parking lot. This town is not a place I’d like to live, but we are grateful for a place to stay overnight.
Tuesday, November 15th, this morning I find a little yellow butterfly dead on the ground, but in perfect condition. Very special, as butterflies were Mom’s ‘thing’ and it is totally unexpected to find one here at this time of year.
After breakfast, I make a thermos of tea and then walk down to the day use area where there is a gravel and sand beach. I sit there on a rock with the river right at my feet, drinking tea and writing in my journal.
After a walkabout to gather abandoned firewood, I sit at a picnic table at a nearby campsite where I can see the river and write postcards to family.
Back at our campsite, I play my cello, sitting in the sun, while Clifford sits on the shady side to study until after the sun goes behind the mesa.
This was really quite a lovely outdoor day.
Wednesday, November 16th, I am up in time to get photos at sunrise.
I make a cup and tea and start reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which I am sure I read eons ago, but I want to read it again now. After breakfast we head to Moab for errands and to use the wifi at the Visitors’ Center. We take a break from catching up with emails and other internet business to go to the Moab Brewery for lunch, then return to the Visitors’ Center to finish up our business. On the way back to the campground, we stop at a spring outside of town – water coming right out of the side of the cliff – to fill up our gallon jugs. Back at camp, I take photos of the river just before sunset.
I edit until the laptop battery goes dead and then finish reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull: seek your own highest level of perfection and don’t be limited by the flock mentality. Good advice for all of us.
Thursday, November 17th, we are up at 4:00 a.m. to secure anything that might be blown away and close the visor over the window at the end of the camper. Shortly after we go back to bed, the rain starts, light at first and then a real downpour. It is still raining when I get up; I go for a walk, taking photos in the rain. The rain has stopped by time Clifford gets up, but it is cloudy, windy, and chilly all day. Good day for inside activities: I reorganize some storage areas, write in my journal, and even play the cello inside. We are grateful for Terry’s sturdiness, as we stay comfortable and warm in our “tiny house.”
Friday, November 18th is another beautiful sunny day.
Today we go to the Red Cliff Museum, about seven miles further out on Highway 128 from where we are camped.
This museum features the movies that have been made in this area because of its scenic value. Starting in the early 1950’s and up to the present, about 60 movies have been made here, everything from old westerns to Thelma and Louise.
Back at camp my laptop has been recharged via the solar panels and the hotspot is also working, so I check email and bank balances. I am glad that I was able to spend most of the day outdoors, and it is also nice to have the laptop and hotspot charged for evening activities.
Sunday November 13th is catch-up day: After taking photos of the Colorado River, I write in my journal, check email and bank balances (hotspot internet is very marginal, but better than nothing), and do some editing for the Montana author. We figure out where the propane smell is coming from – the regulator will have to be replaced. The campground is nearly empty today, so I walk about salvaging leftover firewood.
Once the sun goes behind the mesa to the west, the temperature drops considerably, even though it is still light out.
I take a few more photos of the river before making a campfire to extend the daylight time outdoors.
When it is too dark to read or write by the light of the campfire, I come in and make applesauce with some of the apples that I had gathered back in Idaho, amazed that they have lasted so long.
Monday November 14th is a town day for us and we head to Moab right after breakfast for groceries, laundromat, and several other short errands. Back at camp, I put groceries and clean clothes away, thinking about how Mom and I, after a trip to the laundromat when I was a kid, would fold heaps of clean clothes while my younger siblings would scamper off with piles of folded clothes to be put away. I call my sister Lillian to share the memory, but no answer, so just leave a message. Lots of memories, lots of feelings to work through.
Friday November 11th, after a long layover in Salt Lake City in the wee hours of the morning, it is with great relief that I board an uncrowded bus that takes me to Moab, where Clifford is waiting. We get propane and a few groceries, before going to the Moab Brewery for a good lunch. Then on out to Horsethief campground just outside Canyonlands NP where Clifford camped while I was gone.
It is a big campground with roomy sites and views of the mesas; it would be nice to stay here for awhile, but the 14-day limit has been reached. I unpack my bags as Clifford and I catch up the news. I am exhausted, feeling caught between two worlds.
Saturday November 12th – Since I am up before Clifford, I go for a walk on the trail near our campsite, getting photos of the sunrise. I like it here; too bad we have to move.
As soon as Clifford is up, we pack up and head toward Moab and east on Highway 128. We are fortunate to find an available site at the Big Bend Campground along the Colorado River, about six miles out from Moab.
After we get set up, we realize that we left the sensor for the weather station at the Horsethief campground, so we have to drive all the way back out there to get it.
Returning to our new campsite, we take naps, only I can’t sleep, the words of Dave van Ronk’s song “Motherless Children” going through my head. I get up and write a short blog about the void in my life created by Mom’s passing. Dinner is late; I am too tired to do dishes tonight, so leave them for Clifford and go to bed.
Thursday October 27th our friends leave and we move to a different site, but are still in Dead Horse State Park. Finally this morning I am able to talk to Mom and we have a good conversation. I tell her I am working on getting a bus ticket so I can come see her and she tells me about her ride to the hospital in an ambulance. We say our I love you’s and our good-bye’s, hoping that it is not the last time. In the afternoon, one of my daughters calls: at the meeting with Mom’s doctor today, the game-plan was changed from a plan for rehab to comfort care only. I know it is time for me to go and I finally talk to a human being at the bus depot in Missoula to get the information I need. Tomorrow morning Clifford will take me to the nearest bus depot that we know of – Green River, about 60 miles away. I pack a couple of bags with enough clothes for a week, laptop, journal, camera, and snacks for the 22 hour bus trip. In the afternoon, Clifford and I drive out to the Dead Horse Point, which is a very scenic view of the canyon and Colorado River below. I try not to think about the bus trip and what lies ahead, but just stay in the present moment and enjoy the grandeur of the landscape.
Friday October 28th to Thursday November 10th: My mom knows I am coming, but sadly, she passes on before I get to the hospital. Her body had been failing since her 90th birthday, but her mind was sharp and her faith strong to the end. She was surrounded by her family whom she loved and who loved her; she was ready to go and left peacefully. But her going creates a void in my life – a huge indescribable void. I wonder how it is for all who were close to her. Are they tempted to explore the void to see if there are treasures there to be discovered; are they tip-toeing around the void, afraid if they fall in they will be swallowed up never to return; or will they turn their back, walk away, pretending the void doesn’t exist?
I stay at Mom’s house, walking from room to room looking at her stuff, feeling her presence. I help my siblings in regard to planning the funeral, writing the obituary, and am one of several people who speak at the funeral service. I am very grateful to all the family members who contribute their time and effort to make the funeral a special event.
In the days that I am here, I begin the process of organizing and preparing for an estate sale. Coming across her Christmas tree and ornaments that she had collected or made, I decorate the tree, recalling how beautifully Mom always decorated our Christmas trees when we were kids..
As my siblings and all of our families come to the house in regard to disposing of Mom’s stuff, a spirit of generosity and helpfulness prevails. There is no fighting over this or that, rather everyone is thoughtful and considerate. Most of my kids are around, at least part of the time, even those who have come from afar. It is a special time of closeness with both my siblings and my kids.
I stay for a week after the funeral, having done as much as I can to make things easier for my siblings, knowing that the greatest part of the burden is still on them to prepare the house for sale, while missing the regular interaction that they had with our mom. I am torn in that I would like to stay and help them, but Clifford is in southern Utah waiting for my return. We are fortunate that the weather has been moderate for this time of year, but it is time for Clifford and me to head further south for the winter, so with heavy heart, I say good-bye to everyone and board the bus, heading south once again.
October 26th is a day with our friends, starting with breakfast at a cute funky place in Moab. Of course I took photos of them, but they have asked photos to not be posted.
Then we head up to Arches National Park. We make numerous stops for photos, the most interesting being the Sand Dune Arch and the longest hike being the hike to Landscape Arch. Our first stop is Balanced Rock; from the Balanced Rock Trail, one can see formations in the distance, including Turret Arch
Next stop is the Fiery Furnace Formation named for the warm glow of the rocks in the late afternoons. We are here too early in the day to witness the “fire.”
The Sand Dune Arch is most interesting to me, being hidden inside this formation. For this arch, the overhead sun brings the most color to the formations within the slot canyon.
Our last stop of the day in Arches National Park is a hike to Landscape Arch.
After the hike back to the trailhead, we all go Moab to browse in a bookstore, followed by dinner at a nice restaurant. We check our phones while we are in town, as there is cell reception here, but not at the campground.
Texts from my siblings indicate that Mom is stable and their talk with her doctor includes looking into rehab for the next 20 days. I have called the hospital several times, but each time Mom has been asleep or otherwise occupied, so I have not been able to talk to her. Although the indication is that there is not an immediate need to go to Missoula, I continue to look into getting a bus ticket.
As soon as we arrive back at our campsite, I head to bed. Its been a long day for me.
Sunday October 23rd, I read “Dances With Wolves” with my morning tea instead of writing in my journal – not sure that is legal! After breakfast we go to Moab to run errands and have a picnic sitting on big rocks under the trees at Lion’s Park.
On the way back to our campground, we check out the BLM campgrounds along the way: Lone Mesa is a bit too far off the highway on a washboard road; Horsethief is a future possibility. Too late to play cello by time we get back to camp and I’m feeling like I might be coming down with whatever Clifford had, so have a cup of tea and early to bed.
Monday October 24th, I finish reading “Dances With Wolves.” I don’t feel great today, but we go for a picnic at Upheaval Dome anyway. We find a picnic table with a nice view, but the wind has come up and probably not the best thing for me to be outdoors today. I am not up for the hike uphill to see the dome itself, so will have to save that for another trip.
Back at camp, I rest, while Clifford plays with his ham radio. After dinner, Clifford does the dishes so I can go to bed. Heavy rain in the night.
Tuesday October 25th, we just have vege juice for breakfast, as we need to pack up and head on down the road to nearby Dead Horse State Park, where we are meeting friends from Colorado.
One of my sisters calls; Mom is in the hospital again, and it could be more serious this time. I start looking into bus fares in case I need to head back to Montana; automated systems are not helpful – please give me a human being!
Clifford and I go for a hike with our friends along the West Rim Trail out to the Rim Overlook. Because of the rain last night, the depressions in the rocks are filled with rain water, which provides interesting photo opportunities.