We arrive at La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona, in time to celebrate a late Thanksgiving dinner with my brother Rollie and his fiance, Tata. A few days later they park their Class A next to us, which allows for daily morning coffee together and the sharing of news and activities.
The first days here are centered around reorganizing cupboards and drawers, as being here for the winter means we have a lot of stuff to keep tidy and organized, and Clifford is focused on getting antennas up for his ham radio. Other than that, I go for daily walks, exploring the desert around us, especially enjoying taking photos at sunrise and sunset.
The wind is an issue, but we spend as much time outside as possible and set up a nice space by the largest of the mesquite trees at our camping spot, planning for sun, shade, privacy, and protection from the wind. One must be flexible!
Even though I had been posting a daily “Higher Vibration” photo every single day for well over a year, the last month has caused too much disruption in my life, so I’m not keeping track of the days any longer, but I do post a photo on social media almost every day. There is almost always something on the daily meanderings that is worthy of being considered a “Higher Vibration.”
The awareness of my surroundings gives me more appreciation for the desert, as well as appreciation for life itself. I can only hope that I am drawing good vibes, not only to myself, but to the whole world.
By mid-November, my daughter Katie, who has been here for the past week, returns to her family and business in Idaho. I have so enjoyed and appreciated having her company and all that she has done to support me in recovery from a stroke earlier this month.
My life feels different, even though in most ways it is not obvious, even to people who see me often. I can walk, talk, write, use my cell phone, cook meals, do laundry, and so on. Playing the viola, a newer skill in my life, has suffered. Fortunately, cello (over 50 years of synapses in place) is still fine. The new hiking sticks I ordered arrive and I can go for longer walks by myself with greater assurance. Town is not an interesting place to walk and the wind is annoying, but walking is an essential part of recovery, so I do it. It should be more interesting to walk when we are camped in the Arizona desert.
Our route has been modified from southeast Arizona being the destination to Quartzsite in southwest Arizona, the reason being that I have to wear a heart monitor that sends signals via cell service. Across the Navajo Reservation and in the regions of southeast Arizona where we had planned to go, there is no cell service. Better to be where we know our way around. Maybe southeast Arizona in the spring.
There is a dusting of snow the day before our planned departure shortly before Thanksgiving, but by the following morning, the weather looks favorable for travel. We finish packing and are on our way by late morning. Abajo Mountain looks pretty with its dusting of snow.
Due to Covid, travelers are not welcome to stop on the reservation, so our first day is a long haul from Monticello to a forest road just north of Flagstaff, Arizona.
It is a relief to arrive at the forest road and get set up for the night.
It is 21 degrees the next morning, Thanksgiving morning.
Clifford makes us breakfast and then we head for tonight’s destination, Badger Springs parking area just off I-17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix, trashy, but convenient. Shortly after we arrive, several emergency vehicles, including three fire engines, come in and head on up the road to the springs. And then a helicopter flies in. Something happened up there in the canyon, but we never did learn what. Thanksgiving dinner is about as simple as can be, but we appreciate it none-the-less.
The following day, we make it to our winter destination, La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona. As we are driving in toward the camping area, my brother Rollie and his fiance Tata just happen to see us go by, so we have a rendezvous while we look for a campsite. The site we had the last years has been claimed by someone else, so we find another one further along the wash with a tree (a very important consideration in picking a site) and even though it is a bit close to the road, we are grateful for the tree, actually a couple of them, and get set up – home for the winter.
I go on longer morning walks these last days of August, since I know they will be my final opportunities to spend time in the forest.
We play music in the afternoons, sometimes zoom with the UK group, sometimes Clifford has other groups, or we each work on our own instruments. With the UK group I play viola, but on my own, I play cello, enjoying pieces that I’ve just touched on over the years. I have thoughts of playing in the little park across from the post office, so want to have a few pieces worked up in case I actually try doing that.
Rain showers in the afternoon are a welcome relief to the dry conditions here on the mountain.
On the 30th, since I am up before Clifford, I go for a final morning walk, but close to camp, heading off in a direction I didn’t often go, then around to say good-bye to Bertha, one of the Mother Trees I’ve enjoyed visiting. Back at camp, after breakfast, we pack up with some reluctance and head down the mountain, back to home-base and the Carnicom Institute tasks that Clifford has set up for himself.
While the word is in turmoil with covid, hurricanes, wildfires, and rioting in the cities, we have been at peace on the mountain. It is my hope that this sense of peace will remain with us as we go forward.
These are good days on Abajo Mountain. Our daytime temperatures are in the low 80’s, while in town they are mid-90’s, as I discover when I go down to do laundry and run errands.
The morning walks continue to be a source of outer peace so that I am better able to experience inner peace. As one wildflower fades from the scene, another takes its place and now I see thistles sporting their beautiful purple.
A highlight of these days is a visit from a friend who also lives in Utah. It was quite the delight to have him visit us on the mountain, and I even got to ride on his fancy motorcycle from the entrance of the dispersed area to our out-of-the way cul d sac. Such good conversation. It sure would be great to have get-togethers more often.
A low point for me is a discussion with Clifford as we finally decide for certain that a trip to Montana is not going to happen this summer: mostly covid, but also finances and our aging Suburban are factors. This is a great disappointment to me, but I do understand the thinking behind the decision. Great advice from one of my daughters is to have a Knowing that I will see loved ones in the future and hold that thought with joy.
We who live in Monticello or nearby have a treasure in our backyard. Abajo Mountain with its variety of trees and shrubs and flowers, campgrounds, dispersed camping areas, mountain roads and jeep trails, “lakes,” and views provides something for everyone.
At 9,000 feet, Pine Flats where we picnic or camp is delightfully cooler in the summer than the valley below, let alone the canyon lands. A myriad of roads, sometimes rocky or rutted, lead to spots where a bit of privacy can be found, surrounded by scrub oak or shaded by great pine trees. Stands of aspen add their graceful beauty and ambiance to any stopping point.
We have camped at Dalton Springs Campground and picnicked in the late autumn at Buckboard Campground when all campers are gone. The autumn-colored aspens on a clear fall day are quite the delight, even though sometimes it has been so chilly that we’ve ended sitting in the car for our picnic.
A picnic at Monticello Lake is a treat for us, since bodies of water or streams are a bit of a luxury in Utah. Fishermen certainly seem to appreciate Monticello, Lloyd, and Foy Lakes for their own reasons.
The paved route over the north slope of Abajo is a most enjoyable and scenic way to make a trip to Newspaper Rock and on to the southern entrance to Canyonlands National Park.
With all this being said, not all those who go up the mountain are aware of their responsibility as stewards of the land. When we are camping, I walk daily, sometimes on the jeep trails, sometimes on game trails, and I always come back with a bag of trash I’ve picked up due to the carelessness of others. Beer cans and soda cans, tinfoil, broken glass, and so on are found even in remote spots as well as along the roads and in campfire rings.
Messy half-burned trash is ugly and attracts flies and rodents. This thoughtlessness is inexplicable, as are the ruts left by those who choose to go off-road to tear around in the forest just because they can, not because it is good for the land. The ground layer here in the forests, especially where the wild iris grow, is fragile and easily damaged.
Even with signs prohibiting campfires during these hot dry summer months, there are campfires being built, which seems rather irresponsible and potentially dangerous under the current conditions.
We are fortunate to have Abajo only a few miles from town. Being respectful of this mountain and what it has to offer is a must for EVERYONE! “Pack it in – Pack it out” is a good start. Be mindful of forest fire season and refrain from campfires. Stay on the roads and don’t go making tracks through the forest (or other people’s campsites) with ATV’s, motorbikes, and high-clearance vehicles. Loud music and loud generators are not appropriate, especially at night. Being considerate of others and being good stewards of this land is not too much to ask of any of us.
Come and enjoy the mountain, the jeep trails, the picnic and camping spots, the fishing.
Most especially, be mindful of the beauty that is here on Abajo Mountain. Treasure the treasure that we have!
One of the highlights of these early days of August on Abajo Mountain is my morning walk.
One day I met a human on the trail. Clifford and I have been camped here awhile and I walk every day and this is the only time I have seen someone else out walking. The fellow and I stop and chat for a couple minutes before continuing on our ways. The brief encounter makes me realize that I miss having people to talk to in person, besides Clifford, of course. I am very grateful that I have him in my life and that I am not living alone. I am grateful for the calls from my kids and really really look forward to seeing them in person… just not this summer.
The walks provide the photo opportunities for my Higher Vibration Series, a daily photo with a comment to inspire people. I am on day 303 – that is 303 days of preparing and posting a special photo, never missing a day. I am also working on getting all of these photos on my website, which has been a big project. There is so much negativity in the world now with Covid, the environmental disasters, the political scene, as well as deep dark things that we scarcely know about, I feel compelled to off-set that in any way I can by contributing something good, beautiful, and uplifting to the energies of the world. It might only be a drop in an ocean of darkness, but it is a drop of light.
Another highlight is listening to Stjepan Hauser, the Croatian cellist who performs in interesting scenic locations and almost always barefoot. His posts on Instagram are short romantic cello pieces, played with beautiful sensitivity, as he seemingly flirts with the videographer. His concert “Alone Together” is a full-fledged concert, a contribution to the world during this difficult time of Covid when so many people cannot meet with family, friends, music colleagues, and so on. The performance is quite sensational and I would encourage music lovers to find him on Instagram or YouTube. I am inspired to take playing my cello more seriously again, with intentions of playing outdoors in a public venue, like a park, where people might be uplifted by the vibrations of a real instrument.
Clifford continues with his dulcimer, virtual flying, ham radio, and plans for continuing CI research. We both join a UK zoom music group twice weekly. Very challenging for me on the viola, but fun for both of us.
Life on the mountain is good, social distancing at its best.
The last days of July include a hike with Clifford, leaving cross-country from our campsite. Heading south, we eventually come upon a jeep trail and since it is going the direction that we want to explore, we follow it in a big loop on the north slope of Abajo Mountain. Sometimes we are in pine forests or groves of scrub oak, sometimes surrounded by aspens or crossing meadows. The road is rugged, probably a lot of fun for ATV’s and mountain bikers. It eventually takes us around to the far side of Pine Flats, quite the delightful hike.
Having listened to a documentary on trees having feelings and friends (of course they do!), I started being more aware of trees hanging out in families, as couples or close friends, as well as the great trees called Mother Trees, which nourish the trees around them through their complex root systems and by providing shelter for saplings. Photos of tree families and friends will be featured in a separate blog, as there are too many for this blog. Wildflowers are always a delight to see.
Of course, music continues, sometimes individually and sometimes Clifford and I play together. The photo of me with the viola is a “Becka Day” as I realized that I was wearing pants, shirt, and shoes, all from Becka. Thanks, Becka!
While we are here, the roofing job takes place at home-base in town, and when I go to town to check on the roofing and run errands, I discover that a shrub near the driveway is BLOOMING! We have never been here this time of the year, since we are usually in Montana by mid-July. However, this year is different because of covid. It is a small consolation to see the beautiful blossoms of a Rose of Sharon.
With smoke from the forest fires in Colorado adding particulates to the air, the sunsets are particularly vivid these last days of July.
During these mid-July days, there are a few things I can mention beside our usual activities: rain and mud puddles for one. It is so great to have rain and I make the most of the mud puddles.
I have noticed how oddly shaped some of the trees are. Aspens in particular, usually gracefully straight-trunked in their growth pattern are sometimes not, and some pines have an unusual curvature of the trunk. This calls to mind a very interesting thought by Ram Dass (sent to me by my sister, as we are both tree lovers).
When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.Ram Dass
So, I have two thoughts in relationship to this: For all these months (309 days to be exact) that I have been doing the Higher Vibration Photo series, I have been seeing trees and flowers as people – singing, dancing, having families, smiling at me, being wise and patient teachers of wisdom. What an interesting turn-about to see people as trees.
The other thought is Ram Dass’ use of ALLOWING. I have been learning that in allowing something to be as it is or someone to be as they are, I move beyond tolerating, which I’ve always been good at, but which still has a negative energy about it. Allowing means having no emotional hangups or mental judgment in regard to a situation or person. This can be a very difficult move to make, since tolerating is a habit but allowing requires thoughtful letting go, releasing. This is not to say one should let go of awareness and discernment, but these states of mind and emotions need to be approached with deliberate intent.
The other unusual thing these days is an unexpected trip to town after dark, as the camera monitor in the house is picking up an unusual sound and we need to check it out. Cows, deer, and headlights make it a not-fun trip down the mountain. The house is fine. The noise was apparently fireworks, delayed from having no fireworks on the 4th, allowed this evening because of the rain a couple of days ago. We are certainly relieved that there is no problem at the house!
We are camping on Abajo Mountain in southeast Utah, a dispersed area that allows for space and a fair amount of privacy from other folks who are also camping here.
The daily “highlights” don’t really touch on what’s important. The morning walk is important, on a superficial level for the exercise, but also for the photo opportunities for the daily Higher Vibration photo that I post on FB, Instagram, and on my website. But even more important is the positive vibration that I feel from the connection with nature. Opening to what’s positive, beautiful, and right with the world is nourishing for the soul, and I am blessed to be here on the mountain where I can take these daily walks among the pines, aspens, and scrub oak with wildflowers keeping us company.
For Clifford, bringing forward activities that have been left on a back burner for over twenty years is what is nourishing his soul. Playing dulcimer, virtual flying around the world, and ham radio have gained an important place in his life. After devoting himself to Carnicom Institute research for the past two decades, it is now time to fill in the life-gaps. He is still working on research projects, but his life is more balanced and enriched.
Covid has changed our plans, but we are not nearly as disrupted as most people. Self-isolation via camping/boondocking is a normal way of life for us. Even when we are in town, especially since moving to Utah, we are pretty much self-isolated – partly because of Clifford’s research, but also because we simply don’t know anyone and are not involved any social activities of the town, not that anything is going on now with Covid. So, other than missing the trip to Montana to see family, which is huge for me, we carry on doing what we would be doing in any case.
Monday: Town early to get the trash can out to the street. Play bluegrass music with Clifford. Listen to David Icke on the London Real program.
Tuesday: Morning walk through the pine forest, visiting a great Mother Tree. Clifford updates me on Covid, more than I really want or need to know. Taxes are done, slow because of computer and software issues.
Wednesday: Morning walk, especially enjoying the lower aspen forest. Clifford is not wanting to make the trip to Montana because of Covid issues. Play cello outside. I think I saw a mouse in the RV. Set traps.
Thursday: Mouse trapped, major counter cleanup first thing. Trip to town for errands and domestic chores at the house in town.
Friday: Longer walk this morning, then more counter cleanup (another mouse trapped). Review the journal of the St. Mary’s Pilgrimage in August 1996. Continue editing I Am Markus Desmend, Ang’s sci-fi novel.
Saturday: Forest walk, mostly in the aspens. Deposit insurance check for roofing work (following hail damage), which is scheduled to begin soon. Begin rereading Way of the Essenes. Sit outside to eat dinner and watch a beautiful sunset.
*Morning walk; I use photo of a purple flower for today’s Higher Vibration photo, *Run all computer programs, trying to keep my laptop working, *Check & answer email, *Make edits to a memoir by an author from UK, *Play viola with Clifford playing dulcimer, *Work on my website – the Higher Vibration Gallery, *Dinner & dishes, *Talk to MI, a friend from CA – Words of wisdom from MI – “Don’t re-enforce negative thoughts by repeating them.”
*Happy Birthday photo “card” to my son Tye, *Trip to town for errands, laundry, watering flowers & bird baths – takes up most of the day, *Dinner & dishes, *Foxtail at sunset for Higher Vibration photo, check FB, which is entirely too time-consuming
Repeats: *Morning work through the woods, *music with Clifford, *Email, *Finish editing memoir, *Higher Vibration photo from the morning walk
New or different:*Research literary agents for Ang’s fantasy novel – Dragons of Va’Haden. Send one query, *Calls with roofing agent and home owner insurance agent – work on roof will move forward
What’s new: *Start 2nd edits for Ang’s sci-fi novel, “I Am Markus Desmend,” *Clifford makes a trip to town for propane, gasoline, and water – Right after he leaves, boys on motorcycles come tearing right into our campsite. Guess they are a bit surprised to see a wild mountain woman running out to tell them to get out of our campsite. I don’t know what they were up to, but no good, for sure.
*Morning walk taking photos of “tree friends” and a photo for the HV series, *Edits to Markus, *Website Gallery, *Music with Clifford, *Meals & dishes, *Calls from a CA friend and from my youngest daughter, who will probably not make the trip to Montana due to covid. It is a long flight from Hawaii and there are too many unknowns about the health consequences. Plans for a get-together for her birthday in Glacier Park are postponed.
July 11: Variations on some of the above
July 12: The morning walks take up the time I usually spend journal writing, quiet sitting, inspirational reading, and so on. The time spent with nature makes up for it in many ways. However, the journal is a record that needs to be kept, so that is today’s focus – getting caught up the journal.