The photo above features my favorite scarf of Jacqui’s, blowing in the breeze as we drove through Arches National Park. Dan, Jacqui, the rest of the Patchy crew, and I had left Pagosa Springs on Labor Day and began the drive to Sisters, Oregon, for the Sisters Folk Fest.
The gnome car, as we call Dan’s Totoya Camry, camped near the Utah border late last night. We assumed it wouldn’t rain, as we were in the desert, but of course it did, announcing itself with a loud crack of thunder in the middle of the night. Three naked humans popped out of two tents, head lamps lighting the way to rain flies. We managed to stay dry but lost a good deal of sleep listening to the desert thunderstorm.
In the morning I groggily strolled the campground, drinking water out of a large jug and processing the weekend. It had been a magical, music- and love-filled time. Rainstorms pounding huge tents while sweet young women serenaded the huddled, wet, happy masses. Huge savory crepes and thermoses of dandelion tea. Family in the trailer base camp. Smiling, silly dancers….
Around 10 am this morning the gnome car found itself in line to enter Arches National Park. We drove slowly through the park until we reached the end of the road at Devil’s Garden. There lay a beautiful trail system through striking sandstone formations of all descriptions. I took off and found myself running the five-mile loop. I was the only person running among teems of tourists. Folks expressed cheerful encouragement and a sweet Austrian woman insisted I drink from her Camelbak. I ran around boulders, over trees, through sand, among arches and strangely perched rocks. I ran until I was heaving air in and out of my lungs. I ran with the knowledge that the marathon was less than two weeks away and that it would probably be easier than running through the desert at noon with no water.
After we left the park we found access to the Colorado River. This section was the color of the surrounding sandstone and was delightful to swim in. Dan and I reached down to the silty bottom, covering ourselves and each other in thick layers of clay and admiring our briefly brown, shining bodies.
Now we find ourselves back in the gnome, heading towards Salt Lake City, listening to Jim Henson’s autobiography on tape.
The run in the desert was the most beautiful and perhaps most meaningful I’ve ever experienced. I really felt like a runner.