Six hundred and twenty-one miles of blacktop and a camera. My partner in crime in the drivers seat and our beater Honda packed full of sleeping bags, icy green teas, dehydrated beans and jars of peanut butter. Nothing ahead but the freedom and spirit of the road and endless possibilities and epiphanies drawn from the long stretches of road where your mind starts to wander in that dreamy state where the yellow blurs into one long line and there cease to be spaces. One space, we float within occasionally coming across another in the long expanse of emptiness. Adventure in our hearts, we began in Nevada City, Ca and made our way towards Zion. The map shows we can make it there in eleven hours, thirty minutes without stopping. Seven days before any responsibilities according to my planner.
First stop is Sand Mountain. Next discovery is the shoe tree, not the original but a second founded after the first burned down. Remnants remain, with shoes scattered below like a resting place for those too tired to go on. As we carry on, cars become fewer and signs of life are limited to the cows wandering the fields and sometimes the road. Our quest becomes one of finding the perfect cow skull, one which the bugs have eaten the dead flesh away and left the skull bare in the sun to bake the stink away.
He finds the beginning of the long dirt road, unmarked. We make our way whipping up a dust storm behind us in our haste to get to these magical hot springs that await us where the farmhouse meets the road in this expanse of valley. The steaming waters greet us sparkling in the sunset and tempting us from the mossy banks of sand and shrubbery of the Nevada desert. The farmhouse has no power but all that we need for a night. A lantern hanging from the ceiling lights the table for our game of cards and our dinner we take by the light of the moon and the purple sunset that silhouettes the mountains in view from the porch.
This house is a naked one where bathrobes are the only necessary attire to battle the chill from water to house. We live primitively, drinking straight from the springs of the earth and existing simply in this space. We create art under the stars. Sipping our tea, we read by candle light and rise with the sun. The morning brings a new mission of exploration up the trails that the mountain created from the rain water running down its peaks. A successful mission. We find glass bottles that touched the lips of miners or traveling folk so very long ago. Jared surprises me with an early birthday cactus present.
Next destination: Bryce Canyon. Number of abandoned buildings I plan on stopping at and exploring along the way: too many for Jared's patience. One night in Beaver, Utah and and we will be hiking the canyons of Bryce and the mountains of Zion for the next two days.