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And now we return to Monument Valley, and I am proud to share with you this image of my companion, my partner in disorganized crime, my travelling home if times get unspeakably hard, in short, my truck. I love my truck, and Truck loves road trips, particularly when they involve some form of off-roading, which our sojourn in Monument Valley did. Valley Drive, the road that runs down through the monuments, is red dust and bumps, and Truck was in her element. (Truck can switch between genders depending on the circumstances. Sometimes Truck feels female and sometimes Truck feels male. A transgender Truck. And in response to some ridiculous sentiments I have heard over the years, not all women who drive trucks are gay.)

This is my fifth Toyota pickup (shameless plug). Toyota pickups are the only vehicles I have ever bought when I was the only one making the purchasing decision. My first one was baby blue and a stick shift (which I didn’t know how to drive.) They’ve saved ex-Pat’s life twice (as he destroyed them). And my last truck is now Kelsea’s. She loves it so much that she even wrote one of her college essays about it. We’ve traveled through blizzards, fires (stupid me), and floods together. When you find something in life that’s that dependable and loveable, be it a person, an animal, or a truck, stick with it.

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Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the day: “I love the smell of Waffle House; it’s the smell of freedom, being on the open road and knowing that ninety percent of the people eating around you are also on that road. Truck driver’s, road-trippers, hangovers–those who don’t live that monotonous life of society slavery.” — J.A. Redmerski…….. (but I call it Casa de Waffle)

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
Dogs with their heads out the car window
The conjunction of a planet and the moon this morning
When the antique store is open when I’m walking home
Watching little kids play soccer

Our view from The View Hotel in Monument Valley afforded us the opportunity to see the weather pass like waves across the monuments. This dust shower swept across Merrick Butte, followed by rain, rainbows, sunshine, sunset, and stars. It was a magical place, and like the sea, a vista that was truly ever-changing. We could have sat on our balcony for hours just watching the light and clouds and wind renew our view every moment. But the lure of the Valley itself was irresistible, and we had to take to the road that travelled through the monuments, getting up close and personal. We would go back in a heartbeat.

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Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the day: “It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo.” —  P.G. Wodehouse

Daily gratitudes:
A new doctor
Skyping with Kelsea
Snuggly cat
Plans for NaNoWriMo
Ice water

Can you see the faint edge of a rainbow next to the  center monument in this image? I noticed it while we were waiting for dinner, and we both had a wonderful time trying to capture this slight piece of magic.  Things here, after the flood, are still in clean up and anxiety mode, but I have been doing a lot of processing, not only about the value of “things”, as I mentioned in a previous post, but the concept of home, which is something I have struggled with my whole life. Hopefully, the words that are running like an army of motorized slinkies in my brain will chill into something I can put on (electronic) paper soon.

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Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the day: “There are some things you can’t learn about just through words. There are some things you can’t really understand until you’re living them.” — Kim Dare

Daily gratitudes:
Happy children on the shuttle
An early bedtime
A vat of pork green chili on the stove
Nine quarts of roasted green chiles in the freezer
The boy down the block who used his trampoline to make a perfect, unwobbly landing on the top of his fence

And that my blessing, otherwise known as my amazing daughter, just called me out of the blue to tell me how awesome she thinks I am. I love her so much.

Happy Independence Day!

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The view from our room at The View Lodge was like the West personified, although I guess that’s not really the right term when you’re talking about rocks, is it? The lodge projected John Ford movies set in Monument Valley on one of their outside walls every night, which was pretty cool.

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Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the Day: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” — John Muir

Daily gratitudes:
Soft air in a summer twilight
A working shower
Discovering my peanut allergy safely
Being myself
Morning Red Bull
The Bronte sisters

I would have liked it if I had gotten the monument sharp, but the softness is pretty too.

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Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the Day: “Like a flash of lightning between the clouds, we live in the flicker.” — Joseph Conrad

Daily gratitudes:
The amazingly beautiful smell of rain
Lightning poofing in the clouds
Makeshift meals that turn out delicious
A rare cool breeze
Cold Red Stripe

We were blessed to have just about every kind of weather you can imagine (except snow) when we were here, and the view from our room was constantly changing. We had just gotten back from the 17-mile loop when a rain/sand storm strolled through.

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Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the Day: “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” — Confucius

Daily gratitudes:
Iced green tea
The waitress who dumped the whole water pitcher on the firefighter’s table today
Sweeping
A coolish morning
Poetry

This was one of those amazing sights that we only saw because we wisely took a private tour with a wonderful Navajo guide (more about Wil Cowboy later), since it’s on protected tribal lands and not on the public road. We had a little extra excitement in the form of a runaway horse that had tossed off its rider. We lay on our backs and looked up through the hole to the sky, and listened to our guide sing. Awesome.

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Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the day: “…There is the heat of Love, the pulsing rush of Longing, the lover’s whisper, irresistible—magic to make the sanest man go mad.” — Homer

Daily gratitudes:
Lunch with Julayne and Melinda
Waking up with MKL
Having Kelsea here tonight
Yellow roses
Talking things out

Except for one particular spot that I’ll share with you later, cedar trees are just about the only trees that can survive in Monument Valley.  Some are more famous than others, but I liked this one, which is one of the lesser-known cedars.

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Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the day: “Take wrong turns. Talk to strangers. Open unmarked doors. And if you see a group of people in a field, go find out what they are doing. Do things without always knowing how they’ll turn out. You’re curious and smart and bored, and all you see is the choice between working hard and slacking off. There are so many adventures that you miss because you’re waiting to think of a plan. To find them, look for tiny interesting choices. And remember that you are always making up the future as you go.” — Randall Munroe

Daily gratitudes:
Cleaning up
Baths
My little bungalow
Encouraging Kelsea
The smiling deaf man on 16th Street

The 17-mile road that runs through the public areas of Monument Valley allows for numerous stops and lots of little trails that lead to lots of amazing views, like this one of an approaching storm from North Window. To access this view, you walk on a little two-person wide curving trail along the side of a steep mesa. We were fortunate enough to have this lovely spot to ourselves for about five minutes. As we headed back towards the parking area, numerous vehicles arrived and vomited up about 100 french tourists who all immediately headed for where we were. We barely edged by them. I think if they had all actually made it out on the trail, they would have filled it from one end to the other. Maybe they did…we didn’t stick around to see.

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Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the day: “It seems that scientific research reaches deeper and deeper. But it also seems that more and more people, at least scientists, are beginning to realize that the spiritual factor is important. I say ‘spiritual’ without meaning any particular religion or faith, just simple warmhearted compassion, human affection, and gentleness. It is as if such warmhearted people are a bit more humble, a little bit more content.” — Dalai Lama XIV

Daily gratitudes:
A touch of thunder last night
Finishing a good book
Picking the next book
Missing someone you love
That some of the sparkles from my red shoes glitter in the hallways at work (days after I have worn them)

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