Three Bridges

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October 8, 2019, Blanding-

In the summer of 1981, I was coping with what turned out to be a short-term derailment in my private life.  What worked for me was a week’s sojourn in southeast Utah, with visits and hikes in Capitol Reef National Monument and Natural Bridges National Monument.  I came upon the latter, serendipitously, going in with a skepticism as to how it would measure up to more well-known places, such as Arches and Canyonlands.

The rangers on duty at the time were among the most enthusiastic workers I’ve seen, cheerfully stating that I would find the Monument equal to Capitol Reef, certainly, and as challenging a series of hikes as any at Arches.

On that trip, I camped overnight and hiked a nine-mile loop that took in all three bridges.  This time, still tired from Goosenecks, I opted for one hike to Sipapu Bridge, and checked out the other two, Kachina and Owachomo, from short-trail overlooks, saving their trails for another visit.

Let’s get back to the difference between a natural bridge and an  arch.  The only difference, between bridges and OTHER types of arches, is that bridges are created by a body of water actively eroding the rock. Other arches are created by wind erosion, as well as flash flooding.

So, here goes-a flash flood of photos.  First, from the Canyon View overlook, which gives an introduction to the type of sandstone from which the arches, which became the bridges, were carved.

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Note that some of the same sky islands that are found at Goosenecks, and elsewhere in this area, are found here.

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A first view of Sipapu Arch is found at an overlook, 1/4 mile from the trailhead.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Now, it was down the trail, with the help of some rails and log ladders.

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Lichen is also ever at work, turning rock back into soil.

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After three log ladders and several stretches of railing, I was close to Sipapu Arch.  Sipapu is a Hopi word, meaning “place of emergence”.  I can imagine how it would have felt, to have this structure towering overhead, when climbing out of a subterranean refuge.  For the record, the Hopi regard their actual Sipapu as being near Indian Gardens, in the Grand Canyon.

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From long ago, and a galaxy far away, comes Jobba the Hutt, keeping an eye on things.

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After absorbing the energy of being under the bridge, it was back up the ladder to further exploration.

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An interlude, between Sipapu and the Kachina Bridge overlook, is a view of Horse Collar ruin.  There appear to be two groups who built kivas here:  A circular kiva was built by people of the Ancient Puebloan culture, related to the Hopi, Zuni and Keresan nations of today.  A square kiva was built by people of  the Kayenta culture, associated with Hovenweep ruins, which are about 40 miles from Natural Bridges.  More on Hovenweep, in the next post.

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The overlook for Kachina Bridge shows it to be the widest of the three.  First, though, note the sandstone twins.

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White Creek, which cuts the bridges, is still very active here.

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Owachomo Bridge, visible below, is the narrowest of the three, being nine feet thick at its strongest point.

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Natural Bridges is adjacent to Bears Ears National Monument, a place whose existence is somewhat controversial.  The butte for which the Monument is named is visible from the turnoff to the Visitors Center for Natural Bridges.  The butte is sacred to Dineh and Ute people.

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In truth, I wanted lunch, more than anything else, so heading to this small tourist town was a priority,  over two more hikes.  Those give me an excuse to come back to Natural Bridges, though, which is a pretty good thing.

 

The Grandeur of Monuments in Red

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October 7, 2019, Mexican Hat, UT-

Several years ago, Penny and I took a guided jeep tour of Monument Valley, another of the Southwest’s signature geological wonders.  We encountered rock formations which resembled all manner of creatures, both past and present. There are, of course, myths and legends which explain these formations, though geology does quite well to keep things in the realm of reality.

My drive along U.S. 163, in northeast Arizona and southeast Utah, offered a glimpse of the formations which are visible from the road and some of which allowed for a better view, from overlooks.

The Mittens and Agathla Peak are the southernmost, and among the most famous, of the “monuments”, which are mostly sky islands that remain from the Oligocene Period, nearly 25 million years ago.

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Various ridges also remain from  the Oligocene.

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This pinnacle resembles an otherworldly sentinel.

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Agathla is 7055 feet in elevation.  It is what’s left of  an ancient volcano.

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This butte is also part of the same dormant volcanic outcropping.

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Second from right, the column looks like two spouses, engaged in a conversation.  The column to the far left resembles two onlookers.

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No matter how captivating and iconic the red columns and benches look, one must always remember that this is a working environment.  Ranching is a huge enterprise for Dineh people, struggling to thrive in an extremely arid environment, with poor soil.

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As the valley rises, and gets closer to the San Juan River, the promontories become more spread out, but no less majestic.

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Monument Valley, even fenced off, has a decluttering effect on one’s psyche.

 

And The Bears Came

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October 15, 2019-

On Saturday evening, after I had put in about 7 hours of volunteer work in the kitchen at Arcosanti, I drove back to Prescott, with the intention of helping someone else with an early morning project.

There was a lot of energy generated that night, at Arcosanti.  Some of it found its way to me, at my Home Base.  in the prime dream time that is the early morning, I had a lucid dream that a group of children were in my apartment.  We had enjoyed a small celebration of sorts, and were looking out the window, when I spotted a large, shaggy brown bear heading into the neighbourhood. (We don’t have brown bears here, although the occasional black ursines show up, in the areas near the mountains.)  Kids ran, screaming, into nearby houses, and some came here.  Several more brown bears came, some walking on their hind legs. (Bears do not customarily run in groups.)

I found myself talking, through the closed window, to the bears which were approaching my place.  They understood my firm tone and went away.  One small boy called to  me and said that some “wind energy” had just messed up my bed. As no one had been in my bedroom, it was rather stunning to see that the previously well-made bed was indeed messed up.  I looked out the back window, and saw three more brown bears standing outside, with a nineteen-foot-tall figure, who resembled a character from the Transformers movies, in their midst.  I spoke to the tall figure, and it collapsed.  The bears then dropped to all fours, and went away.

I interpret this dream as meaning that there may be a time, soon, when I will need to safeguard vulnerable people, and speak truth to power.  Ironically, the bear, along with the tiger, is my spirit animal.

Resurgence

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October 14, 2019, Arcosanti-

The first sentient being to greet me,

this morning, was my friend Pam.

It was a silent greeting,

each  of us stretching,

across the courtyard,

of the sleeping area,

known as the Vaults.

There were about twenty of us,

some, like Pam and me,

in our own singular spaces,

and responsible for

our own warmth.

Others coupled,

keeping each other warm

against the early morning chill.

Each of us dreamed,

many lucidly.

I resolved an old conflict,

wondering why fault had been

continually found with me,

all those years ago.

The answer came,

in my lucid dream,

and I was absolved,

set free,

with a new understanding

of why a beloved soul

had been so quick to judge,

back then.

It is always pain,

that brings this on.

When the pain is gone,

so is the blame.

The second sentient being to greet me

this morning,

was a peregrine falcon,

whom I will call Percival.

He perched on the rail,

outside the central kitchen,

and took in our shared morning world.

I sat and did the same,

for several minutes.

This, we can learn from animals.

The morning ever brings resurgence.

North Rim

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October 7, 2019, Kanab-

I will, as usual, post photographic accounts of my current jaunt, once back at Home Base.  In the meantime, here’s a verse on the topic.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Serene, confident teenager

stretched herself out

and took in the view,

of the gaping maw below.

Mother’s watchful gaze notwithstanding,

the girl took pains to keep herself safe,

as a much younger child,

asked her mommy,

“Can I do that, too?”

“Maybe, when you get

to be that big.”

The North Rim,

eight thousand,

three hundred feet

above the Colorado River,

at Bright Angel Point,

is not for those

with acrophobia,

or shortness of breath.

I promised my late

maternal grandfather,

spiritually,

that I would not

entertain the former,

and, as yet,

I do not suffer,

from the latter.

So, down the narrow trail,

I went,

and gazed over the edge,

at Bright Angel Point,

again at Point Imperial,

and, lastly,

at Cape Royal.

where two dozen of us,

watched the sun dip,

below the horizon,

accenting the smoke

from a prescribed burn.

Growing My Vision-Part 1

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October 5, 2019-

At our Baha’i Unit Convention, this morning, I spotted a sign on the host’s chalkboard, with the message, “Build Vision”.  One of the constant mantras of my childhood was that we each had to see ourselves in five years, ten years, etc.

Most of us have thought of this, to the extent we think of it at all, in terms of education, career, size of family, etc.  I did all that, and now, as my formal career has little more than a year to run, albeit as a part-time substitute teacher, my vision is changing tack.

It’s always been natural, even impulsive, for me to take in the world, in my planning or visualizing.  Often, I have been chastised, for being too global.  I think the point was for me to be more present, in the here and now.  My head has made great strides, in that regard-and my focus is sharper, in the past dozen years, than it was long ago.  A good part of that came with being a caretaker. There is, as is said in such challenging environments as, say, the Alaskan Bush, the fact that “Ignorance, distraction and stupidity are the three Princes of Death”.

There is much that I have left to do, so keeping my broader vision global, whilst maintaining a sharp focus on what’s close at hand, has presented itself, with a welcome intensity.  If I slip, I know there are those among my faithful readers, not to mention, real time friends and family, who won’t hesitate to blow the whistle.

That is the supreme comfort.

Nuance

4

October 4, 2019-

We have all seen and heard- over the past few days, months, years- those among us who shun nuance, skit tact and embrace the bullhorn-far more than the average person.  Granted, most of us drop the tact microphone every now and again. Fatigue, stress, runaway emotions can all factor in and create a thoroughly embarrassing moment-or extended series thereof.

Those who have followed me for several years, know that I’ve had my share of tact-free episodes.  I have to own those times, and if they get thrown in my face, it is best that I ponder the situation and see what remains to be learned.

We have had a few firestorms of nuance taking a vacation, over the past several years, and most recently the back and forth over responsibility for climate change, as well as diplomatic fracases.  The larger truth seems to be that every living thing affects the climate of the planet on which he, she or it lives.  We humans, being the most advanced creatures on Earth, have the greatest capacity for influencing such change, but I digress.

Humans, chimpanzees and ants are the three groups of animals most closely associated with warfare.  Ants use what Nature gave them.  The Primate species use tools, and unlike ants, can effect intentional destruction.  There is scant nuance in war.

Nuance is developed by adopting a mindset that gradual change is best; that things aren’t always, or even often, what they seem; that complexity is inherent in the human condition; that people are not prisoners of their past.  Nuance, like any other feature of civilization, requires an open mind, listening skills and an essential love for humanity, for sentient life.

I look forward to continuing to develop an appreciation for nuance.

Shaman-ish

4

October 2, 2019-

Last Sunday, I texted a friend, to see whether a meet-up we had planned earlier was still on.  Immediately, I got a spirit message:  They are all sick.  Thirty minutes later, a text from friend verified that.

Within the past year, two women, who do not know one another but each claim to be intuitive, have told me that my own intuition and spirituality run very deep.  After saying so, each distanced herself from me-one, by a series of vicious verbal attacks, followed by a loud demand that I not contact her again. (Interesting, as I had no plans to do so.)  The second quietly has dropped off the radar screen, as have both of our mutual friends.

I was told that my identified strengths are best used for the healing of those around me- and although I don’t possess medical knowledge, I have taken that aspect of the women’s pronouncements to heart.  In fact, helping others, with essential oils, has been part of my friendships with people, for about five years now.

I thought of these things, after finishing reading “Spiritwalker”, by Hank Wesselman.  In this account, he claims to have made contact with a distant descendant-from 5,000 years hence, at a time when mankind is regrouping and recovering from a worldwide calamity.  It is a compelling and plausible account, though I  don’t have a great sense that the future will unfold in quite the manner he sees.

Both men, and several people, both male and female, who are around them, appear to possess shamanic powers.  My erstwhile acquaintances ascribed such powers to me, the latest one saying that my using these powers is totally elective.  So it is in Mr. Wesselman’s book.  He and his descendant choose to do what they can, to help their loved ones and others in their respective communities.

I have embarked on a life of service, which has been understood by several, and greatly misunderstood by others, including the two women who diagnosed my nature.  All I know is, at the end of a given day, I am thankful to the Universe for having bestowed such gifts on me, and ask that the signs of how I may continue to be of use, be made clear, each day.  Titles, such as shaman, or even prophet, seem rather over the top, at least in my case.

Integrity

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October 1, 2019-

Every crisis that strikes between people, and within a person, is a matter of integrity.  The old saw defines integrity as “the way a person behaves when no one is looking.”  The problem is, someone without integrity will have difficulty in code switching.  When one is outside of one’s room, there are most likely going to be other people around, going about their own business, and simultaneously noting what everyone around them is doing.  So, the non-integrated person will go about being foolish, or angry, or drawing attention to self.

A person with integrity, on the other hand, will take the presence, as well as  the legitimate feelings and rights of other people, into consideration, before engaging in an activity.  There will be ownership of that activity, no blame-casting, gaslighting or obfuscation.

I have come by integrity, after much self-work, over the years.  Ownership of my mistakes and errors has at times been painful, and come at a great price.  In the end, I am more worthy of being in the world and have been able to achieve more.

I say this, looking at various public figures, several of whom have a fair degree of integrity and others whose public persona is one of “duck, doge and hide”.  Some of these people are obvious to anyone, whilst others have managed to keep their inner character a secret, behind a facade of  “good works”.

Sooner or later, though, as we have been seeing, the truth comes clear: “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.” (Luke, 8:17)  This truth is well to be remembered by BOTH sides, in any given dispute.  The first thing that needs to be established is, “Who lacked integrity first, and to what degree?” Then may the truthfulness of others be established. This is the whole purpose of legal cross-examination and academic rebuttal-that things which are not as they seem, should be made clear.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right” has never been truer.  This is all I have to say, for now, on the current state of affairs in our nation’s capital.

She Never Stopped Singing

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September 30, 2019-

Had Penny stayed on this Earthly plane, she would have turned 65, today. There was not a day that went by, until her voice gave out, that she didn’t sing of one thing or another.  Her voice was easily among the most pleasant sounds I could ever have heard. It was very often infused with praise for the Divine, making its tones that much more salubrious.

She never stopped seeking a means to improve health-her own and that of everyone she loved.  It is largely her legacy that has led me to use essential oils and hemp-based CBD, which were either little known or not marketed during her long years of suffering.  I can at least help maintain my own wellness and those in my widening circle who are ill.  That would comfort her.

She was always her own person.  Years ago, I was screamed at, for having used the term, “my Penny”, in a random post.  The angry correspondent, who was not known to me beforehand, was crusading against “people thinking they own one another.”  Despite that over-the-top assessment, I never regarded Penny as being somehow under my thumb.  She stood her ground, right up until her last breath, and never hesitated to speak truth to power- doctors, hospital administrators, insurance executives, school principals, Senator Barry Goldwater, even her parents.  The woman was fierce.

Her ferocity was based on love.  No one who caught her wrath really believed her to be a noxious presence.  With a few narcissistic exceptions, friend and foe alike appreciated just how much Penny Kay Fellman Boivin was devoted to the well-being of humanity.  That love served to heal one of the most psychologically ill people she ever knew: myself.  So, here I am, still able to carry on her work, along with my own.

The spirit, the genderless essence, watches over me still, and lends strength to doing all that remains to be accomplished.