on returning home from the four corners

I returned home from my Four Corners road trip on May 25, after just under four weeks on the road.  Six of those days were spent driving across country and driving back to Virginia. I explored several parts of Colorado and Arizona outside of the Four Corners area, and the rest of the time I stuck within the perimeter of where the four states — Colorado, Utah, Arizona & New Mexico — meet.

Outside of the Four Corners area, I loved visiting my oldest son Alex in Denver and seeing where he lives and works.  I also had a great visit with my youngest son Adam in Crestone and going to the Great Sand Dunes with him.

I loved Colorado National Monument, Arches and Canyonlands; these parks are not really considered part of the Four Corners.  The three national monuments around Flagstaff, AZ were a pleasant surprise. So was the old Route 66, Winslow, AZ and the Petrified Forest National Park.  I especially loved Arches and the remnants of Route 66 with its vintage hotels and signs.

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Park Avenue Trail at Arches

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the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ

Within the Four Corners area, I adored Natural Bridges National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, and Canyon de Chelly. The San Juan Skyway, a 236-mile loop through the spectacular scenery of “America’s Switzerland”and the adorable towns of Durango, Silverton, Ouray and Telluride, Colorado, was a stunning side trip.

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Owachomo Bridge with wide angle

It was quite an adventure to get to Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico.  I had to drive alone (Mike had flown home by then) over 20 miles of dirt roads in the middle of nowhere to get there.  It reminded me of my adventurous days in Oman, driving on treacherous mountain roads and through wadis.

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kiva at Pueblo Bonito (Chaco Canyon)

I didn’t expect much from Four Corners Monument Navajo Tribal Park, the actual point where the four states meet, but I thought the setting was beautiful.  On the day I was there, a cool breeze was swirling gently about, making it wonderfully pleasant.  I felt the same way about the Hubbell Trading Post in Arizona; the setting and the breezes made my heart soar. 🙂

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me in four states at once!

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Hubbell Trading Post

I was less impressed with Bisti Badlands.  Although I’d seen beautiful photos of the hoodoos online, mostly taken at sunset, there were no directions on how to find concentrations of hoodoos. It was a long way out of my way for not much. Bisti is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, so it’s not set up like the National Parks and Monuments are; no rangers are on site to provide information to visitors.

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Hoodoos at Bisti

A lot of the areas I visited were on Native American reservations, and I found most of them poverty-stricken and depressing. It broke my heart to see the dry and arid land where white people have forced our Native people to live, land where it is a challenge to eke out a living. The places I visited on the reservations included Window Rock, Hubbell Trading Post, Canyon de Chelly, and Monument Valley.  Though Monument Valley is iconic, it was a letdown in some ways, mainly because so many cars drive over the main dirt road designated for tourists, kicking up dust everywhere.

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The Mittens at Monument Valley

What struck me most about this area is that ancient native people lived here for centuries, eking out a living on inhospitable land. I loved visiting all their preserved dwellings, on cliff edges and in canyons, and wondering how on earth they lived here for so long.  Most of them left the area in around 1250, but archeologists can only guess at the reasons for their departures.

Before embarking, I set intentions for my journey.  They were as follows:

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FOUR CORNERS Intentions

I’ve already edited over 4,000 photos, and tried to identify thematic possibilities. I’ve posted photos on themes including: Colorado towns, hoodoos & badlands, red rocks, La Posada, Winslow, AZ, and the pinyon-juniper woodland.

I’m mostly happy with how I kept my travel journal, although I still need to focus more on using all five senses to describe places. I also failed to describe people I met using 2-3 details. I did collect words I found along the way to use in various writings and poems.

I wrote rough drafts of two chapters to my road trip novel.  I hope to work on this further when I return from Spain & Portugal in November. I picked random titles from poems and short stories as my chapter titles and let the titles inform the tale.

So far, I’ve written three acrostic poems:

A poem on Colorado will post on September 7, and my attempt at an abstract poem will post on October 5.  I loved trying my hand at poetry again after a 15-year hiatus.

I used my wide-angle lens several times, but I could have used it more. 🙂

I sent home four vintage postcards from each of the four states.  Each was written from the viewpoint of Mykaela, the main character in my novel-in-process.  One of the postcards is written to her daughter Viktoria:

One was written to her husband Emre:

Another was written to her daughter Lena:

And lastly, she wrote another to her husband Emre:

Any descriptions in the postcards are directly from the trip, but any personal or character information is pure fiction.  Since I don’t have the entire story worked out, this was difficult to do.

No matter.  I enjoyed traveling with intentions in mind for what I would create on my journey.  These intentions kept me focused and more attentive than I would normally be.

Overall, it was a fantastic road trip and I was thrilled to have visited parts of the USA I hadn’t visited before. 🙂

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“ON RETURNING HOME” INVITATION: I invite you to write a post on your own blog about returning home from one particular destination or, alternately, from a long journey encompassing many stops.  How do you linger over your wanderings and create something from them?  How have you changed? Did the place live up to its hype, or was it disappointing? Feel free to address any aspect of your journey and how it influences you upon your return. If you don’t have a blog, I invite you to write in the comments.

For some ideas on this, you can check out the original post about this subject: on returning home.

While I’m in Spain walking the Camino de Santiago from August 31 – October 25, and then in Portugal from October 26 – November 6, I kindly request that if you write a “returning home” piece, please simply link it to the appropriate post, this one or my next one as soon as it publishes.  I will try my best to read your posts while I’m on my journey, but I won’t have a computer or the time or ability to add links to my posts.

My next “on returning home” post will be on Monday, November 5, 2018.

This will be an ongoing invitation on the first Monday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!

the ~ wander.essence ~ community

I invite you all to settle in and read a few posts from our wandering community.  I promise, you’ll be inspired! See below in the comments for any links. 🙂

Thanks to all of you who wrote returning home posts following intentions you set for yourself.  🙂