Monday, March 16, 2015

Return to Indiana

 In the morning Pete drove me and Freebird to the airport and stayed by our side until we went through security.

The plane raced down the runway and quickly rose up into the air. We looked through the windows as the La Sals, the desert, and the canyons slipped out of view.

 Canyonlands Airport and runway below.

Salt Lake City.

 In Salt Lake City both of us had a layover and had one last lunch together. From there we would part ways, Freebird heading to Hawaii and me to Indiana. Interestingly enough, our gates happened to be next to each other. My flight was the first to go, and as I was being called to board, Freebird and I hugged each other goodbye. I had no idea if I'd ever see him or my other friends out west again, which was difficult. Sometimes you just don't know where you'll be called to go next. It's a huge lesson in non-attachment and faith. But I had to trust in God's direction that I was doing the best thing for my continued growth by returning to Indiana.

Landing in Chicago.
 I arrived at O'Hare, and though it was a bit unnerving with how gigantic that place is, I easily made my way to the baggage claim. As I waited for the conveyor belt to carry out my pack, I felt a tap on my shoulder. My brother, Matt, had found me! We grabbed my pack and drove back to his place in Valparaiso, calling our parents along the way. That night I stayed with him, Carly, and their playful black kitten, Felix. The next day my dad would pick me up and return me to Fort Wayne to catch up with family and friends, most of whom I hadn't spoken with in months.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Back to Moab


Pete fed us profusely with dumpster food and cafeteria leftovers as we caught up with him and his roommates for hours. He offered us a place to stay, but the canyon which we had not seen in months was beckoning us back out to the wilderness.

We nighthiked into the canyon and found Cottonwood Cave once again. Leaving the packs there, we walked over to Guest Cave and Raven's Roost to check on their condition and see if anyone had been there since we left.

It felt as if 20 years had passed since being in Raven's Roost. I had changed so much since then. As we stood there, looking across the canyon at the cliffs and the stars as I once did very often, memories came flooding back. There were so many ups and downs that had taken place here. The whole of the experience, as I recalled it then, was completely breathtaking. Raven's Roost is much more to me than simply a place where I slept each night. Here I learned an entirely new way of life. As we looked up at the stars, I cried bittersweet tears. Sadness because the moneyless tribe no longer lived just around the corner and nothing was as it was before. Happiness because I am so fortunate to have experienced living in this canyon and being a part of such a caring community.

It wasn't until the next morning as we awoke from sleep that we looked about us and saw how transformed the place was, especially from change of season and flooding. We revisited the other caves and many other familiar places that day.

Beavers chopped down much of the cottonwood forest about us to make dams.

Our raven friends recognized us immediately and continued to check on us the entire time we were there. We remembered their voices; these were the two parents. The fledglings that we had called to for months and had seen leaving the nest had grown up and moved on to live elsewhere.

We returned to Love Pool and sunbathed on the rocks once again, until the sun set behind the ridge.

Guest Cave.

Raven's Roost.

Cliff Cave, full of hundreds of petroglyphs.

Infinity Falls.
The All-Seeing Eye.

We walked back into town to reconnect with some more of our friends...

Visiting Dory, Bear, and Ziggy.

We stopped at the Grand County Public Library again. As we were sitting at the guest computers, Daniel showed up! He told us where he and the tribe were staying at these days and welcomed us out to visit anytime.

As the temperatures would be dropping for a few days, we chose to stay in a motel. This way we also got to visit with our friends in town more often and to meet lots of other amazing locals.

Exploring Matheson Preserve...

Daniel and Matt, a man who had recently joined the moneyless tribe.

Here's some beautiful artwork created by Daniel...

And here's some pieces created by Julia, who stayed with the tribe in Moab after I met her at the Rainbow Gathering...

Meeting Matt's loving travelling companion, Hawkeye...

The view from our motel room.

Once the temperatures rose again, we returned to the canyon...

None of us had noticed before that there were petroglyphs in Cottonwood Cave. We continued to discover more during the last couple weeks of our stay in Moab.

Hands Cave.

Thanksgiving Day had come and we walked into town to have dinner with some friends...

Freebird, Amanda, Dan, and Pete at Wabi Sabi's free Thanksgiving dinner.

This man came up to me and challenged me to a "shoot-off" with our cameras, then introduced himself as John the Baptist and handed me a business card. Later we learned, from three different witnesses, that someone was running around town in a Batman suit that day, diving into bushes. As a sticker posted on Wabi Sabi East's door states, "Keep Moab weird."

Having left town again, Freebird and I explored the area with a wonderful family from Salt Lake City. After they went back to town, we climbed up Coin Slot Canyon...

Reaching the top of the slot canyon....

We amused ourselves by watching the off-road vehicles drive past as we awaited sunset...

Climbing back down...

A modern petroglyph.

A mammoth and spiral. As far as I've heard, there's only one other mammoth petroglyph around Moab.

One day the moneyless tribe came up-canyon to visit...

Julia and Tucker.
Daniel at Hands Cave.

Matt, Ariella, Daniel, Freebird, and Hawkeye.

Picking Russian olives.

Freebird made this beautiful design around the fire pit.

As stated before, we had been discovering hundreds of other petroglyphs in the canyon. As we were walking through one day, Freebird noticed that there were several within the All-Seeing Eye. And so on one of our last days in the canyon, we climbed up there. The ledge directly in front of the eye is a bit precarious and not for those scared of heights or lacking good traction with their shoes.

Gandhi's been here too!

While we were up there, one of the ravens came to greet us.

Immediately following our descent, we went for a dip in the ice-cold stream.

Visiting LuAnn and Kali.
Stopping by Josie's grave, Pete's adopted daughter, who passed on Thanksgiving morning.

That night we accompanied the moneyless tribe for a night out on the town. They were heading to an art gallery showing, and were to meet up with Gabriel and Jonathan along the way. These two wandering Buddhist practitioners from Quebec had just arrived in Moab. Meanwhile we ended up accidentally crashing a party at their host's house, and no one blinked an eye because they knew Daniel already. We stayed and chatted with everyone and were given free pizza. The art show over, the moneyless tribe then journeyed elsewhere. Freebird went back up-canyon, and I went to stay with LuAnn for a couple nights.

LuAnn, Kali, and I enjoyed each other's company as I stayed two nights with them. One day we explored little gems along the Colorado River together, and then LuAnn showed me her secret favorite spot in the wilderness, where she would like to have her ashes buried. There we picked out some tumbleweed, decorated it with sage and pinion pine, then brought it back to her place. To further transform our "Moab Christmas tree," we strung together garlands of frozen mixed vegetables and dried cherries while laughing the night away and listening to KZMU. Once Daniel came on the air with his show, "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out," we called in to tell him how much we love him. The next morning LuAnn gave me some of her clothes to replace what had become damaged on the trail, and she drove me back to the trailhead to hike up-canyon once again.

In celebration and commemoration of our last night in the canyon, Freebird prepared for us what would be an immense fire. He laid a trail of bark, which he doused with Heet, to lead up to the central pit and to get the fire started. Here are some pictures from the lighting ceremony that night...

The last few days a ringtail had been coming to Cottonwood Cave, and had actually crawled on top of Freebird's back one night. I never saw him but he visited us on our last night and left some evidence behind...

We began our last walk out of the canyon, with the ravens following us and calling out to us. They knew that we were leaving. It was very sad to be going away, not knowing if I'd ever be back. We would be spending one more night in town and would get a ride to the airport from Pete the next morning. Freebird would be flying back to Hawaii, and I would return to Indiana.

We made one last visit to LuAnn and Kali. The balcony door was propped open, letting in some fresh air and sunshine. As we talked with LuAnn, we heard a familiar call from outside. One of the ravens, from all the way back in the canyon, had followed us and knew that we were at LuAnn's!

Along our walk into town, we stopped to see Dory, Ziggy, and Bear again. But once we were there, no one answered the door. Just as we turned to leave, we found Dory walking up to us. She had been in town and returned at just the right time to see us off.

Then we went to Rotary Park, just so we could play the freenotes at least once before we left. There we noticed a few familiar people sitting in a circle nearby. The moneyless tribe was having an impromptu potluck on a Sunday, on the same day and at the same place that we always met for these communal meals and conversation in the spring. As we joined them, Jonathan and Gabriel offered us some sandwiches. They had actually received the inspiration to make 2 extra for that day, not knowing for whom they were.

Freebird, Daniel, Matt, Gabriel, Ariella, and Jonathan.

Brer, his daughter Veda, and her friend Bella joined us later. We watched in awe as these two innocent girls fed each other, making sure that each had eaten enough. What a beautiful experience.

Then everyone hit the freenotes...


As we walked down a path with the moneyless tribe, a raven flew silently over us. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the same one that had been following us all along. Together we appropriately walked up to "Peace Bridge," where two homeless men would greet passersby every single day and ask how they were doing. Here we said farewell to the tribe. As a parting gift, Daniel received a few drawings - one for him and one for his father. These two men, along with Brandon, were the first of many to welcome me with open arms as I got off of the Greyhound in Grand Junction 7 months ago. Since then, my life has been forever changed in so many ways that I never imagined. I could never express in words just how thankful I am for all of them.

We watched the moneyless tribe walk away, off to continue learning and growing together. I smiled in admiration of Daniel, happy for all those whose lives have been and will continue to be changed by getting to know him. I'm so grateful that I too was fortunate to be a part of that tribe. That beautiful experience, now in the past, could never be repeated in the same way again.

At a hotel we checked in for our last night in Moab, just around the corner from Pete. We visited with him and Dan, then we returned to the hotel to do laundry and to get a little rest before our flight out the next day. In the morning, Pete would be driving us to Canyonlands Airport.

11/30-12/14/2014 "Leaf Tripitaka"