After basically roasting to death in Arizona and Southern California we knew our only move was to head north. Our original plan was always to follow the weather (not that 120 degree stuff) but to chase somewhat of an endless summer across country. All packed up, we headed north.
We drove towards Sedona, a place we had a bit of history with and had been dreaming of returning to. Last time we visited, we camped out on BLM land just outside of town next to a creek with natural rock tubs. We had tent camped then and a rogue skunk terrorized us endlessly. There wasn't much we could do. We googled remedies (which involved us peeing around the entire perimeter of our camp) but nothing seemed to work. We screamed at it, shot the BB gun, and lit off fire crackers but as soon as that beast got close our only option was to retreat to the tent and watch it crawl over all our stuff and eat our food.
Either way, it was an almost perfect camp spot. We had found it the first time through friends that were travelling kids over two years ago. We spent days all swimming, cooking and talking endlessly with them. They were pretty good at scavenging food and had great luck dumpster diving their way across country, something we were jealous of. They'd go into town and raid behind the grocery stores and come back to the site with all sorts of amazing (and perfectly good) food. One night they even returned with bouquets of flowers for each of us. Dirty, broke, beautiful and free.
This time it was just the two of us and Billy, and she was a trooper off road. We didn't have our original directions from the first time we visited but we felt it out and found it first try. There was only one difference, the tubs were dry. After all the heat down south we had been dreaming of just sitting in some cold water. We set up camp in the same spot regardless and wondered about what happened to the terror of a skunk we encountered the previous trip. We unhitched and found another swim spot among the red rocks down the road before calling it a night. We were going to try and find two things the next day; our psychic and a vortex.
We had absolutely no money the last time we were in Sedona, we were eating food from dumpsters after all. But somehow we both justified spending money on seeing a psychic. It's especially strange in hindsight because we both weren't believers, we were skeptics. It was as if we went just challenge the woman and catch her in a lie. She sat us down and started telling us everything she could have never known, we linked pinkies and gasped. She blew our minds, we became believers (but only in her) as she described our respective pasts and presents to a T and then speculated on our future. It all sounded incredible yet impossible and two years later, it has all come true. Where we stand now and what we have been able to accomplish together is nothing short of a dream, that is never lost on us. Whether or not she truly predicted the future, or just told us what to aspire to and we made it happen on our own, who knows. Whatever shot in the arm she gave us, we could have used that again. We headed to the Mystical Bazaar in search of her, we walked through the doors and eagerly looked through the book for her photo but it was gone. Dejected, we went back to the car and started calling other places trying to find her but she was nowhere to be found.
Next, we decided to go find a Vortex in the desert near Bell Rock, where we had previously possibly felt them. Last time we were here we were incredibly hungover so any kind of weirdness in our bodies could have been blamed on that versus any kind of psychic experience. We both almost puked, so who knows, maybe we had stumbled upon a true vortex but we wanted to try again.
We walked towards the rock, looking for twisted juniper trees (tell tale signs of an energy vortex, we're told) when a bearded man standing in the woods with his hands out says, "I feel it, it's here". The rule is, if you find a vortex, you have to make a stack of rocks on the ground where you stood. We walked towards a space in the trees filled with rocks and stood there and waited to feel something. It was 100 plus degrees and the sun was blaring down on us, we started to feel something alright; heat stroke. Again, we almost puked and decided we had to get back to the car. Of the three things we wanted to accomplish in Sedona, we failed on all counts. The rock baths were dried up, our psychic evaporated and we were too nauseous to know if we were standing on a vortex or not. We've learned this lesson a few times now, revisiting a place is a risk. It was time to keep driving, north bound.
I think it's an almost universal want, to see the Grand Canyon. We had tried twice and missed out both times, it was actually CLOSED one year. Anyways, we knew this was our shot. We did some mapping and found a perfect (IE FREE) spot down a dirt road just a few miles away from the South Rim entrance. The temperatures cooled and we were all alone in the woods, just us, Billy and 25 ports potties in a field. This was practically a resort. I don't know how this happened but oh man, what more could two homeless girls ask for. We unhitched and ripped towards to Grand Canyon as the sun started to set.
It kind of felt like Disneyland, big gates up to the entrance to pay your admission, tourists everywhere and kind, uniformed rangers handing out maps as we drove by. We were even greeted by a bunch of elk posing on the roadside like Mickey and Minnie. It felt kind of staged but appropriate. We parked in the giant lot and followed the crowded pathways to the Canyon.
It looks fake, initially. The view just kinda smacks you over the head and you find yourself stunned, along with all the others, looking over the edge. You hear all the murmurs and gasps, all in different accents, universally impressed. We strolled along the edges and found a place to sit and let it sink in. The sun was getting lower and the colours changed by the minute, there was a fire raging on the north rim and the smoke lifted up, dissipating and softening the sky into pastels.
There are some views so beautiful you just need to sit with them, cameras down, eyes up. We sat like this for some time, the sky getting darker and the red glow of the fire slowly revealing itself over the rim. Then we heard music, echoing through the pathways above the canyon. Quiet at first, undefined. We walked towards it, it was coming from the big overlook. We walked down the stairs, dark and barely being able to make it out, but it was about 30 young men all arm and arm singing in Hebrew. It grew increasingly louder, not because we were getting closer but because what started with just a few of them had spread through their whole group. No instruments, just voice and awe. Enough to make you want to believe in something, anything. The light was gone and what was left was just sound and the glow of a raging fire, the size of barely a spark to us on the horizon.
The next morning a man with a flat bed trailer arrived at our camp spot and loaded every single porta-potty up, one by one. It was our queue to leave.
We had a few routes to choose from when it came to making our way from the Grand Canyon to Denver. We had wanted to go to Santa Fe forever but mostly because of a song we both knew. Typical.
We wanted to go to Monument Valley more, even if it meant we would have to drive through Utah. That state has been bad luck for us, time and time again but we won't get into it here. After the pageantry of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley was an entirely different animal. It was sparse, vast and simplified. The monuments rose out of red dirt and there were few distractions. Nothing's built up, over developed or pristine. It's just beautiful all on its own without the need to explain itself. It's like no one notices its there, forgotten and left alone but well worth the drive.