Saturday, December 3, 2011

Westward American Road Diary: Four Corners and Utah, Part 1

The Four Corners monument: where the four states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah meet. We paid our $3, took our photos of us standing on all four states at once and left, but before we did....

At last!

I finally got to try Navajo fry bread, here on a Navajo Taco (vegetarian chili beans, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, cheese and picante sauce), $8, which Steve and I shared even though I think it was only after 10 A.M.! Read more about it from What's Cooking America.

Off to Utah. Live elevated is right. We experienced much elevation, of body and mind.

Monument Valley.

Three Sisters to the left, which you'll hear in the Native American tradition of beans, corn and squash growing together.

Revering the grandmother. We live in a society of anti-aging, failing to understand the beauty of the wisdom that comes with growing older. I wish we valued knowledge the way we do vanity.

I've neglected my Retro Matinee Movie column lately, but I should have done one before I left on a John Wayne film. I haven't seen any John Wayne films at all, for shame!

Natural Bridges National Monument. Steve and I were here just as the park was closing and we saw hardly a soul. It was these quiet moments of nature and beauty and calm that I so crave lately and keep returning to in my mind. Modern society's always plugged in world is not for me.

A raven sits on the railing, and I thought of Colin in Ben Gadd's Raven's End. If I was a raven, this is as fine a place as any to settle.

"Time and distance surround the place here.
Step up, step up, step up.
The sky is open armed.
When the light is mine, I felt gravity pull." - R.E.M.'s Feeling Gravity's Pull

After minestrone soup, a veggie burger and frozen lemonade, it was marionberry pie a la mode, $5, at Old Thyme restaurant in Kanab, Utah, then off to bed.

National Arches Park. We finally wised up here and bought an $80 a year national parks pass which grants you access that covered both of us. I've just fallen in love with the national parks. Have you been to any, and are there ones you'd like to see?

Hiking up to the Delicate Arch. You gain 500 feet of elevation in a mile and half, but the views are stunning.

On this trip, I was definitely feeling the effect of a job where I'm sitting all day, and then sitting two and half hours roundtrip commuting, and when I come home too drained to do much but sit and watch a library DVD and go to bed.

I wish I had as much energy as this jack rabbit, who was scurrying into the distance. I feel like scurrying into the distance too.

And another magical day slumbers into evening in Utah.


  1. I haven't been reading all the journals of your travels west for some reason, perhaps it is because I, a native New Yorker, has been living here in Montana for the past 15 years, I don't know. But I just read and enjoyed this one for it's pictures and words. Just beautiful photos. I have been down to southern Utah a couple of times now, and hope to get back for more. I'm glad you came upon the National Parks pass! We live 80 miles from Yellowstone and get down there several times a year. We buy a park pass every year for our little family, and have occasionally gotten to use it at other parks as well. But we always say that even if we use it just once at our "local" park, we believe it is a good investment in our National Parks. They are a treasure every American should be proud of and utilize! And, as always, I love your vegetarian take on the food! Hope you continue to have a wonderful Western experience!

  2. Hi Amy. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I would really love to go to Montana. Even though we bought the pass later in the trip, we didn't mind the fees we paid because the parks are so amazing and the rangers did such a great job. Glad you are enjoying the vegetarian food, it's a big part of the travel experience for me, and food in general is one of life's greatest pleasures.

  3. Hi Catherine, I haven't been to the national parks to see the sights you have so beautifully captured here. I certainly want to now! Thank you for sharing the story of your trip to the west and the natural beauty there.

  4. I love Utah. It is hauntingly beautiful. You got some great photos! Love arches are amazing. Did you have a chance to visit Bryce Canyon? Man, that place is like an alien landscape.

    A word of warning on the John Wayne movies--they are pretty shocking when it comes to the treatment and portrayal of Indians. Oy. You have been warned!

    And I just can't stop, 'cuz I am the way I am--fry bread ain't a traditional food. Well, it's a "traditional" reservation food, but since there really are so very few elders left who remember life before reservations, I guess it's been imprinted as a traditional food. Anyhoo, it's the result of government commodities when Natives were shoved onto reservations. Fried bleached white flour ain't anyone's "traditional" food, and those kinds of foods are giving Indians the worst rates of diabetes in the nation. (But god, how I love fry bread. Fried anything. Yum.) Kind of maddening. But!! There are folks who are trying to bring back truly traditional foods into the diet in many different tribes. Booyah!

    Ok. I will shut up now.

  5. Jennifer, thank you so much, I had not been to any national parks at all. I look back at my personal photos and how happy and contented I was even after being exhausted after a hike. I'm trying to tap into that positive energy.

    Demandra, I did - Bryce, Zion and more. I'm in front of a computer all day for work and it's hard to motivate myself to get back on after my commute, so my travel diaries are belated.

    I'm sure those movies are! I'll get to one at least eventually but at the moment I'm watching other classic films I hope to write about.

    And thank you for your two cents about the fry bread. I never heard of it until I mentioned I was traveling out West and told I must try it. My favorite traditional foods, that of the ingredients of nature like the squash, corn and beans. Much more heart-healthy.

  6. Fry bread is a big thing where I come from (Cherokee and Choctaw nation, mostly). I thought it was a common thing. ha! Shows you what I know. Anyway, thank you for tolerating my blathering.

    Can't wait to see/hear more about your journeys. I'm just sorry you're back to the working world. Le sigh. Wouldn't it be great if we could just travel all we want and not have to worry about the bills?

  7. Never blathering. This blog is meant to provoke thought and dialogue!

    I know it sounds selfish, but I wanted to keep going. I have one of those "see America for several months on the road fantasies." Doesn't everybody? Steve and I have made it through the economy with jobs but we've both known leaner times and are very grateful for what we have.

    Thanks, another rainsoaked commute home, too tired to do more than eat Chinese takeout and look at my cookbooks collecting dust and my work on my neglected blog. Tomorrow, I promise!

  8. Demandra, I've had fry bread here in Montana when I've gone to the local Pow Wow and such. It is an occasional fun treat, but I had also learned that it is, as you said, traditional only in regard to life on the reservation. I guess it might be considered Native junk food -- just like the rest of us on this continent have our real food and our junk food! Interesting that it is what the rest of us tap into from Native culture. Wonder if there are any restaurants around that serve some real Native traditional foods -- that would be awesome!