As I sit writing this blog at the kitchen table of my RV, a gale is blowing outside my window. The trees are doing back bends as families of tumbleweeds fly by. I shouldn’t be surprised. This week, I am living at Willowwind RV Park in Hurricane, Utah.
When I picked this town for the next stop on my journey around the country, I thought the name was kind of interesting for an inland city in the Southwest. Growing up on Cape Cod, I have seen my share of hurricanes make their way up the eastern seaboard. But I was pretty confident that Utah hadn’t experienced a hurricane except maybe in the distant past when all these amazing rock formations were once part of an ancient sea.
Now, I am thinking they knew what they were doing when they chose this name because the winds on this mid-April afternoon are gusting close to some of the hurricanes that I have lived through. I don’t believe that it’s an accident that I ended up arriving in this town on April 11th, the day that would have been my Dad’s 87th birthday.
My Dad and I shared a special connection with hurricanes. As a child, he lived through the 1938 hurricane before they named them for women, and then both sexes. They now call it the Great Hurricane of 1938. In 1938, my Dad was living in the small, seacoast town of Onset on Cape Cod. His home was literally on the water, where the high tides washed underneath his front porch. When that 1938 hurricane arrived with no warning from any news agency at the time because they never thought it would sweep all the way up the coast to New England; it was a balmy, September afternoon which slowly became stormier and stormier.
At the time, my Dad lived with his grandparents, and eventually they all had to leave their home by the sea. His grandparents left in a rowboat with their grandson, Sonny at the helm, steering them to higher ground. My Dad was rescued from a fence where his cousin and he had taken refuge from the swirling seas. I can remember him telling me how a fine dressed man in a fancy car stopped, and waded through the rising waters to pull them off that fence. I think that man might have been an angel because my Dad’s home was washed away that day by the hurricane.
Over the years, my Dad lived through many hurricanes; and I was born the same month as Hurricane Donna, initiating my heritage tied to hurricanes. Even though some believe I was named for the hurricane, the truth is that I was named for my Dad – Donald Herbert Fisher. Even though my Dad lived his entire life in Onset, Massachusetts, he was a born explorer. He loved the outdoors, and took my family on many adventures around New England, and beyond. He inspired all three of his daughters to travel, and see the world.
I believe it was his love of travel that partly led to my being on this journey around the country. When my husband, Jim, brought up the idea, I could envision going on such a journey. At the time, I just had no idea of how much I would be letting go of before the journey began. Last June, when I drove away from my California home, it was only the beginning of the letting go, and the preparation to living a life on the road.
Now, after almost four months of traveling, I am close to crossing back into California. In March, I moved into the Southwest, and have been following the Grand Circle of scenic parks here. I haven’t seen all of them, but just last week, I completed the Mighty Five of Utah, the words they use to describe the five national parks in Southern Utah which are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion. I began with Zion, and I am now ending my time in Utah at the other side of Zion, near Hurricane, Utah.
All five parks have special qualities that are hard to capture in words and pictures. It’s the immensity of the parks, and the abundance of rock formations that capture the imagination. Just when you’ve seen all the rocks you can take in, you’ll glimpse another rock, seeming to grow from the desert in a magnificent coat of colors. One of the explorers who mapped this territory called them a “Wilderness of Rocks.”
On my last day of exploring the Mighty Five, I went to Capitol Reef, a park that I didn’t know a lot about. It’s a remote park, and not as popular in the guidebooks as Arches or Zion, but since I was here, I wanted to see all that Utah had to offer. After an almost two hour drive, I arrived at the quiet entrance of Capitol Reef. The fee of $5.00 even seemed ridiculous since most movies cost more than that these days.
After getting the map of the park, I headed out for a drive to see the scenic viewpoints. They included more amazing displays of rock cliffs that seemed to stretch for miles off into the horizon. The quieter roads, and short hikes at the viewpoints were a welcome change from the crowds at Arches. You could have a scenic viewpoint all to yourself.
After a few scenic vistas, I stopped at one of the old farmhouses in the national park which had once been part of a town called Fruita. The small farming community had been established by Mormons, and they had lived an almost utopian way of life here for many years, sustained by an orchard of fruit and nut trees. At the farmhouse, the national park even sold homemade pies which completely won me over to this park.
There was still one more scenic drive to take so off I went to an area called Capitol Gorge. It turns out that I was literally traveling through a wash which is like an empty riverbed except when it flashfloods. At the end of the drive, you could then take a hike into this gorge with towering rock walls, inscribed with some petroglyphs from Native Americans, and even the signatures of some of the early pioneers with dates back to the 1800’s. The hike in itself was quite memorable, and reading some of the early graffiti was entertaining, but my favorite moment in the park was yet to come.
As I headed back out of the gorge, and back into the wash, the sun was getting lower in the sky. At just about quarter to six, I came upon a couple of cars stopped alongside the road. The people were out, all gazing in one direction, and that’s when I saw them.
I had been asking for a couple of weeks to see one of these mighty animals in their natural setting. It seemed that they were quite shy, and also not as plentiful as the park would have liked. They had been hunted to almost extinction at one time, and had been introduced back into the park in the 1990’s.
As I stepped out of my car, there was the elusive Bighorn sheep, eating the grass near the road. There were three males at different stages of life, all adorned with those amazing horns. As we all stared at these incredible creatures, they stared back at us not that impressed that they had an audience. They didn’t seem threatened by us as long as we all kept our distance. But when a couple more cars came along the road, they began to sense too many people, and headed for the rocky cliffs. With a graceful run, they made their way up the cliff with ease. In a matter of minutes, all you could see was the white of their haunches. And now, I knew why I hadn’t been able to see them before. They all blended into their rocky hide-out.
Now that I am left with the memories of that moment, I feel like I was blessed by the three Bighorns. They blessed my own Bighorn RV, and my own journey around the country. I had been calling the Bighorn, the mascot of my journey, and now, I am grateful to have seen them in the wild. I also have a feeling that my Dad, the Aries ram, had something to do with that special sighting of the Bighorn. And so the journey continues. Onto the Wild West of Nevada and California.
By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2015
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com. ♥