Thursday, July 30, 2009

120 lbs. of Stardust

Mesa Verde - no, it's not a painting

I rode until I found a cool breeze. At last. At last one of the heavy gray clouds had wrestled the sun's grip off the McElmo Valley and bathed the hills and mesas in a gentle cloak of shade. The landscape softened revealing different colors and curves. The air was still warm as breath and dry but the brutal heat had broken. When the sun re-emerged it was as a golden lover with rays that glowed rather than burned. We had earned our right to stay in this valley another day. Paid for with sweat and salt stained skin, siestas, fans and spray bottles, pink foreheads and hiding our cars in the shade. Now the cliffs of Mesa Verde reflected a palette of rose and pink in a lavender sky.

With my tendency toward heat prostration anytime the mercury rises past 85 F I was sure this land would fry my brain like so much albumen on blacktop. But I loved every minute of it. I rode every day near sundown and instead of dying, the dry air seemed to sweat out every drop of venom that the unseen demons of stress had deposited in my blood stream. With each ride I grew lighter. And while the sun did test and menacingly remind me of my mortality (oops, my water bottle is almost empty...!) the colors of the valley walls, the souls of ancient Puebloans whispered healing prayers to me, songs of welcome. I had packed my troubles in my carry-on bag and smiled, but when I came back from my first ride here that bag was empty.

The eldest llama

When I left Cortez the rains were just beginning. The warm air held the sweet, dusky aroma of wet hay - a scent familiar from a handful of childhood summers a lifetime ago. I had been taken to wildflower-lined bike trails high in the hills, hiked through ancient ruins, dined on home cooked cuisine made from vegetables from my friend's garden, watched stars shooting across the milky way every night, and delighted at the sight of every lizard, bird, prairie dog and insect. Sat, breathed in and out and listened to the wind blow.

Happy Trails

The energy of this majestic place would sparkle on my skin all the way home. Thank you Fiona and Steve, Joyce, Carol, Mark, Karen, Dan and Alan. Thank Mr. McElmo whoever you are!

Welcome storm

Fiona contemplating the wisdom of the Anasazi

Me feeling incredibly lucky

Lucy the Border Collie mix puppy

Jimbo from Kokopelli's bike shop who loaned me the mtb

As seen in the yard

The Rock House built into the cliff face

Russian Sage

Hope I can come back one day.

1 comment:

Yokota Fritz said...

Are you road tripping it back to California? You just might pass my son - he leaves Saturday morning to spend 10 days backpacking in the Sangre de Cristo range.