Thursday, June 26, 2014

Saying Farewell to Moab

Starting off this entry are some pictures that I talked about in the last post. Now I have 
the means to upload them. Here are some pictures of Josie, when she, Pete, and I were 
waiting for Freebird as he shopped for groceries.

Once Freebird was done, we all walked to Rotary Park. 
Here's the sunset as seen from the local high school. 

 And now, here's the pictures from the cave party the following night. 
Again, this party was written about in the last post.

Jake, Freebird, and Phil. Jake is the newest member of the moneyless tribe.

Pete serenaded us with guitar, while we watched the ravens fly about.

Tess in the foreground.

 We watched an amazing sunset after dinner as we walked to Cottonwood Cave for s'mores.

 The following morning, as I was doing laundry, the ravens were calling for each other. 
I stopped what I was doing and conversed with this one.

 I had lost some really good pictures of Daniel harvesting and preparing prickly pear cactus pads. But oh well, those things happen sometimes. And so, based on what Daniel (and now Chelsea) taught me, here's a demo for all of you...

 With a tip from Chelsea, I cut off the younger cactus pads with some scissors. 
These pads tend to be a lighter, yellower-green than the rest of the plant. 
(Later in the year, you can also eat the fruit of this plant. I look forward to trying this.)

I chose to grip the pads with the scissors (to avoid touching the spines) and carried them over to some rock.

Now I continue as Daniel demonstrated. I'm thinking that there has to be an easier way. I used one rock to hold down the cactus pad, while using the other to scrub away the needles. I got pricked quite often and was pulling spines out of my hands, arms, hoody, and jeans all day. Same with Jake, who came by to help me. Despite the spines, it was still a fun experience that provided a delicious and nutritious addition to breakfast!

Thanks to Jake for taking the pictures and for helping me with the removal of the rest of the needles! And also, thanks to Daniel for taking even more pictures of us and all the fun we had!

After removing most of the needles, we took the pads over to the stream to further rinse them. We were definitely a bit obsessive about the whole process, but at least that meant less needles in our mouths!

I've had a Mexican dish before in which the cactus pads are cooked (nopales), but none of us know how to cook them properly. Instead, we ate them raw. Younger ones such as these, you can eat them entirely. The older they get, the tougher the skin. To me, these taste like a mix of honeydew melon and green apple. The inner slime also makes great moisturizer for the skin and hair. Just apply and rinse later with water if you'd like.

After breakfast, I made a solo day trip back up the canyon. I wanted to visit the arch again (see last post), as well as see the beaver carving and Daniel's sculpture once again. I came so close to seeing Daniel's work of art, but passed the cave by accident. Who knows, maybe I'll return there before we leave Moab in a few days.

 I've posted pictures from here before, but I had to go back once again. This is "Hand Cave," 
where native Anasazi children left hand prints all over the walls.

Another cave along the way.

An arch.

 "Sculpture Cave," where Daniel's piece of art can be found. I talk about it in detail in the previous post. On the way back down-canyon, I walked the high route so that I could see it again. I accidentally walked a little too low in that area though. Once I realized that I passed it, I didn't want to turn around.

I did lots of bush-whacking and I found it again! The beaver sculpture! 
Again, check the last post for more detail on this piece. It's quite an amazing sight to behold.

"Star Wars Caves."

Back at the heart-shaped swimming hold. After riding the water slide and sunning for awhile, Otho Arch was next!

 Found it! This place is spectacular. It's very silent other than the rush of wind and the sound of birds. It doesn't look like many people traverse this far up the canyon.

Another arch nearby.

A friend of Daniel's (as I mentioned in the last post), carved upon some sandstone underneath the arch. Here you can relax or perhaps play some chess or checkers.

The ladder to get up some sandstone underneath the arch.

After relaxing in this magical place, I decided it was time to head back down-canyon.

Heading back to Star Wars Caves! Here I swam once more and encountered the first person I saw during this entire trip.

Squawberries or desert sumac. I often just pick these berries and eat them, even the seeds. 
You can also put hand fulls of these into a water bottle and flavor the water.

A blue-bellied lizard! The first time I've noticed one in this canyon.

The second person I spotted, climbing a rock wall opposite the canyon from me.

An arch near the Guest Cave.

Upon returning, I went to Cottonwood Cave to swim and play beach volleyball with Freebird. Then we had some dinner. For about every meal, we've been going to the nearby stream to pick watercress and basil. The quality of these pictures isn't that great, but I'm sure you can easily find more pictures of them online.

Wild basil. To me they smell and taste similar to mint.

Watercress. Here they still have little white flowers. They have a strong, bitter, pungent taste to them. I don't know how else to describe them.

We use both of these to flavor dishes quite often. Pick however much you would like to use, according to taste, and then rinse. They can be used raw or cooked. We've added them to salads, wraps, or cooked them into rice and pasta dishes. I've grown quite fond of them!

On Sunday, we went into town for the potluck. Freebird and I stopped over at LuAnn's first to visit and to invite her along. She offered us showers, gave us a ride to the City Market, and then took us to the potluck. What a wonderful gathering of people it was! Lots of familiar faces, and a few new ones.

I was about to head back up-canyon or go to the radio show afterwards, but I couldn't make up my mind. LuAnn sensed and knew more than I that I needed a break, a girls' night. She drove me back to her place to spend the night. That evening, I fell in love with Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet" and stayed up with LuAnn, listening to Daniel's radio show in her bedroom. The following morning, we went on some outdoor adventures, and then I finished "The Prophet" before she returned me to the trailhead of the canyon that afternoon.

LuAnn's roommate and friend, Kali.

Before having breakfast, LuAnn and I drove to the wetlands. 
I never expected to see a marsh like this in the midst of the desert!

Upon arrival at the marsh, we saw a huge flock of adult and baby chuckers.

A gazebo that LuAnn likes to use for meditation.

LuAnn demonstrating some form of Kriya Yoga. It's so interesting that she followed this path, for I once thought of learning this practice. We actually found that we have so much in common! She is definitely another mother to me, and I'm her mini-me. 

 LuAnn and I stopped at this 7-Eleven before returning to her place. In mischief and "indecisiveness" of being women, we tried several shots of different kinds of coffee. One of the workers was amused with us and told us not to try the turbo blend. Of course we're did what we were told not to do! We were wired the rest of the day!

 We lifted each other up those two days we spent together. We both clearly needed each other's company. I'm so grateful that LuAnn recognized that I needed to be around her for awhile, and overall I'm thankful for our friendship. God-willing, she may be going with us to the Rainbow Gathering soon.

Daniel and Jake are most likely leaving tomorrow for the Gathering, and then Freebird and I will probably be heading out this Sunday or Monday to join them. Maybe then, LuAnn will come with us too.

It's getting hot here in Moab. Summer is definitely here. That means it's time for us to migrate. After the Rainbow Gathering, Freebird and I (and who knows, maybe others) will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and exploring the west coast. Today, we're in town preparing for the trip. I'm so excited for what's to come!