Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thurs, Mar 31, 2011: Southwest Spring Break, Day 6 - Winslow, AZ to Holbrook, AZ

The morning dawned bright and sunny, as did all of the mornings of our journey. We were in Winslow! I have wanted to visit the town ever since I heard it named in the Eagles song, and couldn't wait to see it. There was a tribute to the song in the downtown area, complete with a flat-bed Ford, a mural of the woman driving it, and a statue of a man with a guitar leaning against a light pole.
The entire town of Winslow was very vacant, both the buildings and the people that we encountered. It was strange and sad to see what must have once been a prosperous little town now sitting around as if waiting for something. The town of Winslow felt as if it had breathed out a long time ago and never bothered to breathe back in, just because it didn't really have a reason to breathe anymore.
We started our day at Meteor Crater, which was just west of town. We noticed this strange old house from the highway and drove closer to investigate. It was kind of creepy and forbidding so we didn't stay long, but I am curious to know what its history is and what happened to it.
As with most places in this area, we had a beautiful view of the San Francisco peaks, deep gray-blue against a blue wash of sky.
We were able to discern the shape of Meteor Crater from a ways away.
This is a real meteorite, the Holsinger Meteorite. We were allowed to touch it. I touched a shooting star. :)
We took a short hike around the crater, which brought us to another fallen down red stone structure. This one was built by one of the men who originally "discovered" the crater.
The crater was massive and awe-inspiring, and it was strange to be faced with the devastation that can be created by a small piece of rock falling from the sky. In the middle of the crater was an old mine shaft, because apparently the original explorers of the crater thought that the meteorite was buried deep within the ground inside of the crater. In actuality, the rock fragmented and was scattered around the area from the force of the impact.
I loved this window. :)
Our next stop was Little Painted Desert State Park, which is located within the lands of the Navajo Nation. I think that this was one of the best undiscovered gems of our trip.
The name "Painted Desert" conjures up these magical images in my mind of Technicolor rocks and a giant deity with a paintbrush. I don't know why the name is so magical to me, but I can honestly say that I was never disappointed with any pieces of it that we were fortunate enough to encounter.

There is a dust devil to the left in this next picture:
Homolovi State Park was our other undiscovered gem of the day, and one of my favorite places that we visited on the trip. Most of the ruins were less preserved than many of the national parks that we visited...
...but its undeveloped nature was its treasure. We were able to play archaeologists in this site, which was absolutely covered in shards of pottery and chipped pieces of stone.
The park had been closed for a time and recently reopened in the middle of March, so we were among the first people to see it for a while. The Hopi nation donated money to the park to keep it open, which is the only reason that we were able to enjoy it and the beautiful old artifacts that were there.
I was in awe the entire time we were there, constantly searching the ground to make sure I didn't step on a piece of 1,000-year-old Hopi pottery.
As we were leaving the first sites, B and I noticed a giant wasp flying near the side of the path leading to the parking lot. We walked slowly, hoping that it wouldn't be disturbed by us, but it stayed right alongside us and followed us toward my car. I suggested that we run, and we both took off toward the car, hoping to put some distance between us and it. We stopped and looked around, and didn't see it so assumed it was gone. As we sat in the car and I reached to put on my seatbelt, I suddenly felt a horrible stinging sensation in my armpit. I began smacking my armpit with my opposite hand and started yelling, "AAAH! AAAH!!". B just sat there and stared at me for a while, then randomly started screaming "AAAH! AAAH!" like me, for no other reason than I was screaming and he knew something alarming was going on. We screamed back and forth like that for a while (Me: AAAAH! AAAAH! B: AAAAH! Me: AAAAH! AAAH! B: AAAH!), and then the hornet finally flew out of my sleeve. It landed on the window next to B, who eyed it as if he thought punching it right out the closed window was the best idea he'd ever heard of. Luckily for me and Philippe (my car), he came to his senses and opened the door to shoo it out. I inspected my armpit to make sure it wasn't going to fall off, then as the feelings of panic subsided we both started laughing hysterically. It was so ridiculous that we had been sitting in an empty parking lot screaming at each other that we totally lost it.

Once we pulled ourselves together and obtained an ice pack for my armpit from the visitor's center, we headed off to the third area of ruins. This one was perched on top of a small hill that overlooked the Little Colorado River.
Seeing the river flowing strong through the middle of the desert was a refreshing sight, as I imagine it would have been for the people who inhabited the area long ago. The pottery at this site was the most complex and colorful that we saw at the park.
Rather than take I-40 to Holbrook, we took a back route through the Painted Desert and the Navajo Nation.
The rock formations in this area were amazing and strange, with a sort of patina covering the brilliant orange rock of the formations.
In some places, the natural orange of the rocks bled through, and the color was deep and warm in the barren landscape.
We ate dinner in the small town of Holbrook, which connects I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park, our destination for the next morning. Holbrook was so alive and present, and I wondered if it fared better than Winslow because people have to travel through the town when they visit Petrified Forest (unless they turn around and go out the way they came). There were massive pieces of petrified wood all over Holbrook, which I suspect added to the good energy we felt there. I purchased a beautiful piece of petrified wood from the restaurant where we ate dinner, and couldn't stop touching its soft surface. I love its energy and the way the tree-turned-rock feels under my fingertips.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weds, Mar 30, 2011: Southwest Spring Break, Day 5 - Camp Verde, AZ to Winslow, AZ

We woke up in the little town of Camp Verde, which still seemed to me like a lush oasis. It felt a bit like home after spending 2 nights there, and I was a bit sad to leave.
One of the places I insisted we visit is Route 179 that runs from I-17 into Sedona. Route 179 was designated the first "All-American Road" because of the incredible beauty that is exposed along its every mile.
We wound through massive red rock features that erupted upwards through the sparse desert vegetation, amazed by their striking shapes and bright warm colors.
We stopped in town for breakfast and got a map of the 4 major vortexes around Sedona. The woman who gave us the map told us that in addition to the 4 on the map, there are hundreds of smaller vortexes all around the area. I was happy in Sedona that day, having decided to be so, and was looking forward to our vortex experience. The woman cautioned us that the energies are subtle and many people don't even feel them, so we shouldn't be disappointed if we don't notice anything.

We decided to visit the vortex area near the Sedona airport. We got out of the car at a small turn-off area and walked a short distance over a small ridge. Right away I felt a thousand butterflies fluttering furiously in my stomach, and this feeling of happy excitement stayed with me the entire time we were in the vortex area. I noticed that there were many small cairns around the area, and this one in particular made me smile with its strong resemblance to a duck.
The woman who gave us the map had informed us that near vortexes, the juniper trees will often grow in a spiraled or twisted pattern because they are influenced by the swirling energy of the vortex. This tree was growing on the edge of the cliff overlooking the area where I felt the vortex.
The view was so, so beautiful, and we could see red rock formations all across the valley.
Another twisted tree curved by the energy of the vortex:
Near this tree, I settled down a bit. I could "see" the vortex inside of my mind, a reddish-purple swirling spiral moving in a clockwise direction, located down the cliff face in a little elbow of the rock wall. The energy here felt so good and I started to tear up. It made me feel awake and alive in a way that I haven't felt in a very long time, and it broke through the fog around my mind and heart like nothing else has been able to do in maybe a year or more. It felt like finally having the fingers of the sun pierce through the clouds around me, and they gently parted and opened the clouds until I was surrounded by light. The sun's fingers danced over and around me, then began to dance through me, until I was not only touched by the light but also one with the light.

I have been told that people experience their intuition or psychic abilities differently, and for me one of the ways that I experience this is through my voice in my head. Everyone has their usual internal chatter in their heads, but sometimes this chatter speaks to me with a little more strength, and the things it says are accompanied by a feeling of strength in my gut. I'm not sure if that's how it's "supposed to" be, but for me that's how I separate my usual internal chatter from the things that I really need to listen to.

The vortex spoke to me through my internal voice, the one that gives me the feeling of strength in my gut. It wasn't so much a verbal conversation with words as it was an exchange of feelings, but at times it did say things that were put into words. One of the verbal statements it made was to remind me that I am psychic. I asked it if it (meaning energy, the earth, the universe) can help me to develop this ability.

While I was having this experience of my soul basking in dancing sunlight, B was experiencing the vortex in a more physical, corporeal way. He felt the energy as a pressure that was thick in the air, and when he put his arms out he felt that the air wanted to lift them. He described this as the same feeling you get when you stand in a doorway and press your arms up into the door frame, then step away and your muscles naturally want to continue to lift your arms. But here, obviously, there was no doorway. He felt the vortex as a physical energy that was literally working to lift him up. B also had some interesting experiences with gravity in that area and felt a physical pressure working to push or tilt him in a certain direction. When he stood parallel to the ridge (with his left side facing toward where I sensed the vortex, down the hill), he felt gently pushed forward or sideways, but never down the hill as one would naturally feel pulled.

I thought it was interesting that we had such different experiences, but neat that the energies of the vortex were felt by both of us. I felt happy that B was able to be open to that experience - actually, he was the one who suggested we try to visit a vortex!

We headed back to the car after a time, and the view across the valley was stunning:
We said goodbye to Sedona, a town which finally won me over despite the negative experiences I had there previously. Having the vortex talk to me was one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me in my life. I was left with a feeling of awe and wonder, and deep gratitude that my soul was warmed by sunlight instead of shrouded in clouds. The sunlight dancing in my soul faded as we left the vortex, but the memory of it sustained me and filled me with hope that I may feel that way again someday.

(It's taken me so long to post about this trip that my timelines have become braided. Here I talk about coming back after vacation and beginning to take medication for the hormonal imbalance in my body. The day I'm writing about in Arizona reminded me what it felt like to be a "normal" person, without that imbalance, and that I never used to live with clouds around me. I think it really emphasized for me how far from my normal self I had become).

Our next stop was Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and neither of us had any idea what to expect. We drove into the park and... were shocked to come face-to-face with lava floes that are hundreds of years old.
We took a hike up a steep hill and found ourselves in a land surrounded by volcanic rocks and dirt, with a beautiful view of the San Francisco Peaks in front of us. We learned the the San Francisco Peaks were once one massive volcanic mountain about 16,000 feet in height, that erupted with such force that it lost the top 4,000 feet of its height.
It was so amazing to see the lava!
I loved this old tree. It looks to me like a tree shaman in the middle of a ceremony.
The other side of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument lead us to Wupatki National Monument, another site of ruins built hundreds of years ago. It also gave us a distant view of the Painted Desert, which stood out in my imagination as this fantastic, other-worldly place.
Wupatki National Monument was a huge area of ancient homes and cities, many of which hadn't even been restored and were closed to the public.
The main city in the area seemed like at the time it was built it must have been a site of luxury and leisure. In the picture below, the round area to the right of the main city kind of looked like a kiva to me... but it wasn't. It was a sports arena!
My favorite thing about the dwellings built in this area is how beautifully they were built around the natural existing rock formations.
The last dwelling that we visited in this area was called "The Citadel" due to its location. It was perched on a hillside and overlooked a small canyon area, the San Francisco Peaks, and had a view of the pink Painted Desert in the distance.
We decided to take a long route into Winslow, rather than just heading over on I-40, for which I was so grateful. We headed north on Rt. 89 and into the Navajo and Hopi nations' land. I always thought that the Painted Desert was one small area, but B informed me that it's very large and runs through where we were headed. I kept my eyes peeled for every piece of paintedness I could find in the desert.

It did not disappoint. The rocks were striated with soft colors ranging from tan to pink and purple...
... and some, in the brilliant sunlight, boasted vibrant hues of yellow, orange, and deep red.
There were interesting formations all along the way, and I loved the play of sunlight and shadows on the land around us as we flew across the high desert.
The Hopi lands were strange in that they were entirely contained within the Navajo lands... which if I remember my history correctly is extremely messed up since the Navajo and the Hopi traditionally were enemies. The Hopi lands were perched up on a series of high mesas, entirely removed from vegetation and any access to water for the irrigation of crops. The land was stark and beautiful in its simplicity, but I can't imagine how anyone could be expected to make a living there.
The afternoon passed as we drove, and we were gifted with a rich and beautiful sunset.
I loved watching the liquid molten colors rise up from the setting sun and bleed across the clouds.
We arrived in Winslow late that night and wouldn't have a chance to explore the town until the next day.