Take The Byway

Treasures in fragmented layers litter this terrestrial labyrinth

Underneath scattered, undulated time. The hour glass thrown.

Cracked and splintered, a pedestal for observation.

Gliding along a shelf of cedar, aromatic intoxication infused with sage.

The ancient man still slumbering in sleep, seen from desert to stream.

From cliffs and mesas, mountains and bridges, arches and kivas.

Stands (lies) the test of recorded time.

The smell fades as sand sifts. The eyes glaze betwixt.

We are burnt, scorched in rays of wonder and admiration.

Silently staggering in clay, our feet of the same sheet.

Flesh on flesh, bones on stones.

Who ever said the desert was a lonesome place?

Filled with life, above and below,

Forever linked, soul with soul.

***

Perspective will always eliminate the assumptions of yesterday. Dozens of times, in different states of mind we have hurriedly sped along the meandering, desolate road, Scenic Byway 95. Always screeching through each turn, slamming the gas on straight aways to make it home before dark, or racing out to 12, 24, or 70 for a new adventure. Never pausing or stopping to soak in the raw beauty. Until now. Now we live, work, and play a stones throw from 95. So we opened our eyes and opted outside. Slightly agitated with former naivety I realize the incredible magnitude of this 121 mile stretch of road. From Cedar Mesa to Glen Canyon an immeasurable, dramatic change of the Earth’s shape. Like scars, fissures etching from the plateau into the channeling waterways.

Standing on top of the mesa, in between the Trail of The Ancients, we are greeted with kivas and towers of the Anasazi people. From Hovenweep to Mesa Verde, Natural Bridges to Canyon De Chelly, the Four Corners are accentuated by Sleeping Ute. A mountain seen for hundreds of miles in all directions. Wherever we are, when seeing a glimpse of it, we know that we are close to home. A natural welcoming in a such a diverse landscape. Thousands of years of history beneath our feet. Arrowheads and tools still buried below the ever shifting sandstone floor. Petroglyphs and pictographs clinging to unsteady walls, crumbling…

“…The broken potsherds of the past,

and all are ground to dust a last,

and trodden into clay!”

HWL – “Kéramos”

Clay, as we shall be in time, marks the breadth of all mankind. All the treasures in the world are fragmented splinters of our soul….

Down the steadily sloping walls Natural Bridges link the passage of time. Standing underneath Owachomo, gazing up at Nature’s artistic creation. Thin slices of rock eroded by the passage of a former waterway scrape across the sky, a natural wonder. I feel blessed to spectate, giddy to admire what soon shall vanish. Soaking in one second of the Earth’s history in thirty minutes. Astounding how time divides itself in perspective. The canyons that pass through Natural Bridges follow the length of 95, pass through Fry Canyon, until the dramatic fall into the Colorado River. Crossing over the Dirty Devil we dwell into the diminishing decent. Such depth, time laid out like a book on the shelf of each shredding rock face.

We climb up the other side, distinctly different terrain than before. Sliced rock curving around deep bends. Around we go until we reach the summit of the Glen Canyon, looking down at the confluence of the Dirty Devil and the Colorado. Deep green and silt stained waters interlock, greeting each other silently and subdued. We pass through Hog Canyon, admiring truly magnificent amphitheater like wall faces while peering out at lime colored washes alongside the road. Then the scene shifts, overlapping sand dunes swallow up the sides of the road, constantly moving, twisting and turning in and out of itself. Following the wash, cottonwood trees cling to the banks, thirsting for long overdue runoff. Inside the wash petrified wood roll unearthed, distant relatives showing a glimpse of our home (Earth’s) history. Such wonder in this magical place.

Time is relative, it rolls all around our lives. Showing our past, present and future in an infinity of spectrums. Do you want to see time unravel itself before your eyes? …Take The Byway… -G

We ride the snake, stretching 121 miles through a vast radiant terrain. Sunlight bounces off of every rock surface, shimmering heat waves across the blacktop. Layer after layer of rock, carved into canyons, beaten by the winds and the forces of erosion. Staggering formations stand alone like isolated islands, trickling sandstone into the slots. A network of washes interconnect, crisscrossing back and forth over the barren terrain. Clouds loom in the backdrop, floating above the opaque outlines of the Henry mountains, which disappear and reappear around every curve, a plethora of perspectives.

We follow the wash down the canyon, towering walls closing in. The dried up tributary leads us to the mouth of the Colorado river, where the dirty devil river flows in and together they carve their creation, Glen Canyon.We stop at one of our favorite lookouts, overseeing the Colorado deep down in the canyon. The water is incredibly low this year, but the views still take our breath away.

We continue on disappearing through rock as we descend deeper into the canyon. The Hite Crossing Bridge within our sites, a man made creation in such a staggering, dramatic landscape. We have driven down this byway multiple times, from North to south, from South to North. Through each drive time stands still, the magnitude of beauty overtakes the mind. We sit together silently, moving through these cathedrals of towering rock. Our eyes absorbing every color, every highlight and shadow. There are times where we’d drive without passing a single vehicle, as if all the world were silent too. Our thoughts filled with each other and the vastness of poetic silence sweeping the landscape.

We are but tiny specks of sand in the grand scheme, drifting along with the breeze.

This backroad is a part of the Trail of the Ancients, ruins scattered across the lands, cliff dwellings and hanging gardens. Ancient artifacts from the Anasazi people who once cultivated life here. This terrain is a keeper of stories, the mystery of these ancient dwellers and how they all migrated out of the area around the same time. Hidden gems sift through the sand, unearthed as rocks crumble and break apart. Petrified wood lies still, glistening in the moonlight. But the most spectacular hidden gems await in Natural bridges national monument.

We camped out beneath a half lit moon with a view of the Cedar Mesa, just outside of Natural bridges. The beautiful thing about this Scenic byway is there are so many free places to camp right off the main road, the only rule being, pack it in, pack it out. The next morning we made our way to Natural bridges. It has been over a year since we first visited this park, meaning our perspectives completely changed and it was like seeing it for the first time again.

There is a nine mile loop drive that takes you to the three Natural bridge lookouts, as well as a series of interconnected trails which lead right underneath each bridge. The force of nature proves itself time and time again throughout these lands. Leaving behind natural wonders, arches, bridges, beautifully carved canyons. This is nature’s art, constantly on display for the travelers and adventurers who seek it. So what are you waiting for? Get outside!

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