pages fly away 78

After leaving the north rim of the Grand Canyon, I was driving into the enchanted land of Navajo Land once again.  Here I came across more cliff dwellings, large boulders balanced precariously on one end, houses made of stone.  One of the strangest things I discovered was the Navajo Bridge, completed in 1928. 

The Navajo Bridge is over eight hundred feet long and spans a ravine nearly five hundred feet deep.  What is even stranger is that there are two of them, one for vehicles and once for pedestrians.  Just stepping out on it, gave me vertigo.  Halfway across it, a few people were looking at something through binoculars that turned out to be a California Condor, crouching under the arch of the second bridge.  Women were selling jewelry on the opposite side.  I circled around and made my way back to the car, dizzy every time I looked over the rail at the Colorado River below.

After passing through Tuba City, I came across a cluster of abandoned buildings that had been turned into another impromptu art gallery.  The message on the first one stated that American Rent is Due.  There were large eyes looking out of pyramids and between balconies.  One dark woman wore large gold earrings.  Another had long hair that flowed like lava.  There were black and white pictures of a girl rocking out on a guitar.  Beside her was a condor with its wings spread wide.  A painting on a tank showed a clutched fist and the words Power to the Patient.  Beside it was a stack of red birds.

By the time I got into Flagstaff it was well after dark.  I ended up driving along a strip of hotels along route 66, before pulling over at the cheapest looking one.  They wanted over a hundred dollars a night.  If I was going to pay that much, I’d prefer to throw in a little more for a better room.  One called the Western Hills Motel looked more appealing.  It wasn’t far from the Chinese Star Super Buffet.  It appeared a night out on the town was about to happen.

After I parked in front of my room and put a few things inside, I drove down to the Chinese buffet.  It was packed and once I got in, realized most of the people eating there were Indians.  In the past six weeks I’d driven to reservations all across the land, and this was the first time I’d gathered with them in any way, shape, or form.  Apparently, we had at least one thing in common.  There’s nothing more American than a good Chinese buffet.

When I got back to the hotel, there was a long train passing by.  I sat down hard on the bed and turned on the television.  There was an episode of Gunsmoke on, which seemed appropriate.  There are so many ways the trip could’ve gone wrong, but they hadn’t.  I know because I’ve been on a few trips where they have.  It’s almost like watching a movie.  You can often tell from the onset if you’re going to like it or not.  On this one I’d known ever since laying eyes on the Mountain Bluebird, that everything was going to be just fine. 

Now it was getting cold everywhere.  A few early winter storms were shutting down sections of the country.  Some of the trees would be bare.  The grass would’ve been turning yellow.  A lot of the campgrounds would be closed until the spring.  It had been an epic road trip.  No one could take that away.  In less than a week, all the worries of the world would come crashing back down on me, but for one more night, at least, everything was OK.

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