Leaving Natural Bridges and the canyonlands of southeastern Utah is hard to do. I love those canyons and I made some good friends at the park. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in southwest New Mexico is my destination, where I will work for the next 3 months……I hope it is half as fun and fulfilling as the last three months.
Looking back on my time at NABR, I am thinking of all the visitors that came and went……so this is a thanks to many of them that left memories behind. Of course first need to thank Mindy for giving me this chance to expand my horizons. While she is back in cloudy Ohio, I am enjoying the sunshine of the southwest. Maybe thank you is not enough…….
My experience at NABR was a very international one. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that half of our visitors were from other countries. Those that I recall include – Germany, Israel, Russia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Japan, Switzerland, China, South Korea, France, Australia, Austria, England, Scotland, Canada and Mongolia. And there were countless number of states from this country including Alaska and Hawaii. I even traded contact information with a few visitors after we connected with our travel stories. But with most, we got to know each other as best you can in a few minutes and will never connect again. Yet they all became part of my experience and my lasting impression of NABR. The following are just a few memorable vignettes of these connections.
There was the couple visiting from Colorado Springs, CO who had been to every National Park in the continental US, most of the eight in Alaska, one in Samoa and one in the Virgin Islands. They were now working on the National Monuments.
One morning there was a young woman by her car cooking breakfast in the parking lot on her backpack stove. Having graduated from the University of Wisconsin, she was now was with AmeriCorps in Las Vegas/Reno area working on the fire crew and cleared hiking trails.
The couple from Park City, Utah had family in our present hometown of Columbus, Ohio and were both where from the small town of Irondequoit near Rochester, N.Y. where Mindy grew up.
The couple from Alaska told me the best time to see the Northern Lights was in March or September and that I should go to Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks or to Homer Alaska for the best viewing.
There was the fellow from Prague who when discussing the beauty and age of his city, told me about the pub that has been in operation in the same building since 1100 AD.
I talked to a couple from Australia about all of the things in their country that would kill you – cone web spiders that are common in their houses and brown snakes that will chase you. They were impressed with the mountains since the highest elevation in their country was 5000 feet. They said best time to visit their country is March/April or Sept/Oct. And the flight to America is short compared to the 24 hour flight to Europe.
The couple from North Carolina had quit their jobs and were traveling around the US for a year. They pulled a cool little camper that they had rebuilt (it was built in northeast Ohio in the late fifties). They are WWOOFing around the country (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) a network of organic farms where you work and learn about sustainable living in exchange for lodging and food. I am now following their travel blog.
Ancestral Puebloan petroglyphs and pictographs
Hyo and his family were low on gas when they made it to NABR. The nearest gas station being 45 minutes away, he was worried about running out of gas with his small child in the car. After seeing him fret about this and the exorbitant cost of gas delivery to the middle of nowhere that he had called about, we ended up giving him several gallons of gas – enough to get to the gas station but also to make the drive to enjoy the park. His appreciation was obvious as he introduced me to his family as I pumped the gas. (Hyo, I did get your letter and you are very welcome and the return of the phone card was not necessary. I hope you enjoyed your time at Cornell and your tour of the states. And have a safe trip back to Korean. And I promise I will contact you if I ever get to your homeland)
Mara from Brazil had been traveling alone throughout the US, sightseeing and camping. We must have talked for an hour or so about traveling and places to visit in the four corners area. We traded contact information to keep in touch with each others travels. And Mara, I hope you enjoyed the Watch Tower and your hike at the Grand Canyon your camping at Gooseneck State Park (where I hope you put my firewood to good use with a large bonfire.)
The fellow from Scotland agreed with what his countrymen who told Mindy on her trip to Scotland, that our name is pronounced Kan-AIR-d and NOT Kan-ARE-d. He also told me that since I was of Scottish descent, that I should celebrate Robert Burns Day on January 25 with a few shots of Scottish whiskey. A good tip, I think.
These were just a few of the ‘friends’ that I made at NABR. I am looking forward to those I meet at Gila.