Monday, October 31, 2016

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: She makes a Plan for a Road Trip

We had a long and glorious autumn this year.
This scene is driving up Cedar Canyon in southern Utah.
The colors were just shimmering which the photo can't show.
In early October I took my first big retirment trip. I took a road trip through northern Arizona, north western New Mexico and southern Utah that lasted 12 days. If I had just been moving the whole time, I probably would not have taken 12 days, but the kernal that began the trip was an accreditation site visit at the College of Nursing at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

This is one part of my professional life I didn't even think about giving up. I work as a volunteer on behalf of the accreditation agency for midwifery education in the US, known as ACME. We're a small group of folks, and the work does not attract many people to it, but I really enjoy getting to go to new places all over the country, getting to know my midwifery education colleagues and newcomers (students) to the profession that we all love.
There is always happiness once the report is read and the visit finished.

The visits are a lot of work while we are doing it, but we get treated nicely, and if I want I can arrange to arrive early or stay after to be a tourista in the city. Sometimes I do (San Francisco, of course!) and sometimes I don't (no regrets about not getting to know Lubbock Texas better even though I was very impressed with Texas Tech University.)

So when this Albuquerque gig came up, I thought I could turn that one into a nice, little, fun trip, and indeed I did. I began with planning visits with two dear friends who have moved away from Salt lake in the past few years. K. now lives outside St. George UT in a community called Kayenta, and S. lives in Prescott, AZ. I'm going to hold those stories in abeyance for now.

The next thing I decided was that I would do my best to try to visit as many national monuments as I could along the route. I suceeded in that too. There are quite a few in the four corners area.

As you know this place is very close to home
and I have been there many times.
Close Encounters, anyone?
For those that do not know, national monuments are usually a part of the national parks adminsitration system (some are under BLM management or other agencies), but are not quite the same as the parks. A park needs to be designated by a law passed by Congress. In this day and age, that just does not happen much any more.

Monuments are defined in a 1906 law about preserving antiquties. They are generally smaller than parks, and often are largely about preserving historical sites which might or might not be naturally beautiful. Most importantly, monuments are usually designated by the president by executive order. The very first one was our own Devil's Tower in eastern Wyoming, established by Theodore Roosevelt.

Recently the designation of national monuments has been a political point of contention in many ways. Check out the story about Grand Staircase- Escalante, for example. And right now there is a possible new monument called Bear's Ears in southern Utah which might or might not become the newest one even as I write and you read this.
Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah.
This will be right next to Bears Ears if that goes through.

I won't go into all that now. The stories are all too long and complicated, and I have not really studied up as a good journalist would. I'm sure you can find more than enough excellent journalism on the Google machine if you want to know more. Try the archives of High Country News, for example.

Overall I visited 11 monuments. I will be upfront and say I VISITED the places. I did not get out and hike or camp. I did not visit at night to see the fantastic dark skies that most of these places offer. Honestly, I was kind of into checking off the list mode rather than experiencing to the fullest mode.

I do outdoor activities the handicapped way ... by auto or by using well paved walkways. I make no apologies for this. I don't like to go out of sight and sound of other people when I am alone. And I don't have a lot of ability to hike well. I'm too anemic to be able to breathe well much of the time and too afraid of falling & getting hurt. I don't walk well on uneven ground and can't handle much in the way of up and down slopes.
Better than anything I could ever hope to do.
A professionally made postcard.
I'm ok that I won't see this kind of view in person.

In my mind it's ok that parts of our vast national outdoors can be accessed by anyone of any ability. There's more than enough .... way more than enough .... for those with better abilities and more adventurous spirit. Explore and have all the amazing experiences with my blessing. I'm more than happy to see your great photos.

My trip began with a two day visit to Kayenta, followed by two more days in Prescott after traveling around that pesky Grand Canyon via Las Vegas. Next it was across Arizona to Albuquerque with an overnight stop in a B&B in Winslow, Arizona.  After the visit was over I headed home. I spent one night in Farmington, New Mexico and the last night in Monticello, Utah. Then home to SLC and my beloved Smokey Rose.
Mr. Russ, the Animal Nanny, always takes good care
of his pal Smokey Rose.
She loves him.

I deliberatly bypassed five monuments (Agua Fria, Tuzigoot, Montezuma Well, El Morro, & El Malpais)  and Chaco Culture National Historic Park. I made a decision not to go into Colorado at all, so a few places were not even considered. (Although technically I was inside Colorado a bit as part of the stop at the Four Corners.) And I also decided not to go farther east than Albuquerque, so that left out places like Bandelier.

 I have now visited all the parks and monuments in Utah except for Rainbow Bridge. I That one is not very accessible for me. And if Bear's Ears is a go, chances are I won't get there anytime soon. There are just too many other places to go to first before I go back to someplace

I hope I get a chance to go back to Arizona before too long to check out the places I missed. I think that will happen because, as it turns out, I have not yet gotten to the actual Grand Canyon. I'm really thinking about doing that one better by joining a trip with Road Scholars. Another trip back to Prescott to see S again would also be in order. And I'll also be able to check out Sedona and probably Flagstaff too. I hear there are some good yarn stores in the area!

So now that I have outlined the basics of this little trip of mine, I'll be writing about the places I did visit over the next several posts. Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment