pages fly away 73

By the time I left Monument Valley it was almost sunset.  The sun was just above the road in the rearview mirror.  I seemed to remember a budget hotel in Mexican Hat, Utah, but when I got there it all seemed to be boutique hotels and resort-style accommodations.  I continued on to the San Juan River and drove down to a campground there.  It was packed out.  Every space was taken.  There wasn’t even room to pull off to the side and stay in the car. 

I continued onto Bluff, but it was the same situation, either expensive hotels or no hotels, and nothing that resembled a campsite.  By now it was pitch black.  There was a restaurant and trading post at a place called the Twin Rocks.  I pulled over in the parking lot and put the seat back, but that was no good at all.  How long before someone came driving up and hassled me?

There was a place down the road called Montezuma Creek that seemed promising, but then I never came to it or it wasn’t large enough to register.  Finally, I came to Aneth and had no choice but to give up and stop on the side of a gas station.  The last thing I’d wanted to happen had happened, but only for the second time on the whole trip.  I wouldn’t be sleeping as much as just sitting there waiting for the dawn.  That would mean a whole twenty-four hours in the driver’s seat.  Does Avis give out medals for that?  More than likely it would be a fine.  If they ever do need a spokesman and want to pair me again with the Mountain Bluebird, they know where to find me.  That would be a trip.

It was a good thing that no one came out to check on me.  I put the seat back and got under the sleeping bag.  Then I just sat there in a vegetative state, only my mind working, until four o’clock.  That was enough of that.  I put the keys in the ignition and got back on the road, driving in total darkness, dependent on my brights to cut through it.  At that point, the stars were only faint pinpricks of light.

When I got to Four Corners, where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet, it was still dark and the gate was closed.  I’d been there a few times, but it was still a setback.  There was nothing to do but park beside the gate, but I wasn’t going to wait for them to open.  Rather, I needed to calm my frazzled mind. 

Now I stepped outside and the stars were magnified.  Orion.  The Pleiades.  Betelgeuse.  Aldebaran.  Sirius.  Leo.  Ursa Major.  These were stars and constellations from my stargazing crash course during the pandemic.  They were bright in the black night, trinkets, and jewels, that shined through my eyes and into my foggy mind, clearing the confusion.  The cold air snapped me back to my senses.  The world was alive and well. 

I had been pushing so hard to get somewhere, but the stars were always above me, rather I recognized them or not.   I could feel my heart beating in my head.  My pulse steadily slowed down.  The four corners were sacred, the crossroads, where the red road meets the black road.  I thought about the Black Elk Monument in Blair.  Is it a cross or a tree of life that the lonely man clings to? Perhaps, they are one and the same.

Could it be that I was heading back east next?  Could I possibly be thinking of driving to Mesa Verde?  Why not?  It wasn’t that far.  When I left Four Corners it was still pitch black.  They probably wouldn’t be opening for hours.  Even though my phone service was out, and I didn’t have Karen from Google Maps to guide me, if I got lost, I could always look up at the stars.  They wouldn’t lead me to Mesa Verde, but I could still look up at them.

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