The end of a grand adventure takes us through the Hoodoo’s of the red earth to the Mermaids of the High-Desert.
Words taken from my daily journals, with some enhancements…..here or there.
Bryce Canyon National Park, North Campground, Utah: I long for a coffee cup, a real ceramic mug! I have always loved handmade mugs. The morning task of choosing just the right one to match the mood of the day. The feel of it in your hands and the way the hot treasures swim inside this vessel of art.
This area is insane. Every place has the most picturesque view. We’ve seen arches and the crazies rock formations. I’ve hiked among and throughout the hoodoos, which are steep and epic. Nature and all its wonder, right here, at my finger tips.
It is a bit overwhelming. There a so many people here. So many tourists, including myself. It makes me nervous for the land. Can this place take on so many? I enjoyed the beauty and grateful for it but I felt conflicted. There are so very many, many, many prints of feet being left behind with a very distinct trace.
Hole in the China Wall with Hoodoos in the background, in Bryce Canyon.
At every point, twist, turn of the trail there is a perfect photo op!
Our last week was a bit intense. Trying to get in as much as we could, I drove and drove. Exploring as fast as possible. We explored every ridge of Bryce Canyon. Drove through the Kodachrome State Park. Found the spectacular Grosvenor Arch. Visited the grand washes and ancient petrography of the Capitol Reef National Park. Hiked throughout Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. And pretty much everything throughout a 150 mile radius.
It all became a blur. I struggled to photo landscapes. Each one was full of beauty but slowly became more of the same. I began to experiment with each shot, trying to change things up. Getting below the flowers. Shooting strange and new angles. Just having fun, playing and seeing what happens with this or that. This became a lot of fun and I actually got some really cool pix!
It’s our last morning in Bryce. We are among the few that have gotten up before dawn to take in the Canyon. The sunrise beams kiss the earth good morning. Alice is off somewhere and I am actually enjoying the small number of people. Much better than the large groups from the day before. I find amusement in watching the standard “nonchalant” selfies, the ewww’s and ahhh’s of the sunrise, and the pros attempting to get the best shot.
The Driving Finale
We loaded into the RV, for our last drive together, from Utah to Joshua Tree. The 7 hour drive was quiet and scenic. As Alice posted to Facebook I let my thoughts wander. I wasn’t sad about our parting. It had been an adventure for the books and it was the perfect timing to go our own ways.
Pulling up to my brothers house, and our last stop, it was a hot June day. Alice, Truffles, and I headed into the cool house. Aaron and Alice sat drinking chilled beer and telling road stories. I headed outside to the RV and unloaded my belongings. Along with all the books I had collected on the road. And all the rocks, the shells, and the memories. Telling Zorro goodbye and thank you, I went back inside to join Aaron and Alice. We spend the evening at the local saloon eating, drinking, and laughing as old friends do.
Bearded and Shucked
The next day, and the first day on my own in over 3 1/2 months, I woke as excited as a kid on Christmas! It was Bearded & Shucked Day!!! Four years ago, my brother started this colorful mermaid march in the desert as a kind of tribute to his love for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. I had missed all the other years but not this one!!! Alice had to get the RV fixed and would meet up later. Aaron and I started our sea creature transformation. By 11am the house was filled with fish friends and by 12 noon we flopped out the door, fully costumed and finned up.
Along the 2 mile march we picked up a motley crew of characters. Cars waved and pulled over for photos. We stopped for a much needed beer and bourbon run at Sam’s. Cooled off in Iron & Steel Tattoo shop, which sparked conversations of a group tattoo. (Later that night 8 of us would end up with amazing works of Aaron Sheppard mermaid art on our bodies!) We took a group shot with a woman waiting of the bus, checked out art at La Matadora’s and after two wild hours, we made it to our destination, poolside in downtown Joshua Tree.
Alice joined us at the end, all decked out in her mermaid garb. But among the commotion of all the crisp and burnt mermaids flopping around in the pools, myself included, she disappeared. I texted Alice to join us for a drink but it was too hot for her to come back. So this is how we would said our final goodbyes. Seems about perfect. We ended the trip as we had started it, through a text. Even though she was long gone, I raised my flask to my former travel companion and took a long, hard, full drink of hot whiskey then relaxed deep into the cool shallow waters.
Alice and I exchanged cards and goodbyes a week or so before we parted ways. This was the letter I wrote Alice.
“We’ve seen epic views, met amazing people, had fantastic moments and even made a few dreams come true. Thank you, for inviting me along on this journey. I will never forget all that I have learned and experienced with Alice, in Wonderland.”