I love my job. Well, it has ups and downs… but overall, I am pretty lucky.
Today has brought me to Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site and Canyon de Chelly (pronounced shay) National Monument, two beautiful places in eastern Arizona that are off the beaten track. Hubbell has a collection of historical wagons, farm equipment and supplies used by early settlers (upon looking closely at the wagons, I instantly realized why broken axles were a regular part of the Oregon Trail game… these were built long before the invention of shock absorbers, and any stress was taken directly by the axles).
The drive from Hubbell to Canyon de Chelly was absolutely beautiful—low sunlight stretching over the vast desert landscape, spilling into the canyons but halted by the furrowed canyon walls. A layer of dust hovering above the ground caught the sunlight and appeared to blanket the wide pastures. My breath was taken away upon arrival in Canyon de Chelly. I was suddenly in an oasis overflowing with cottonwood trees and water winding through a wide river basin carved out in wetter years than this one. The water caught the last of the sunlight, and the sun exploded into a bank of clouds, painting them fiery orange as they concealed its descent below the horizon.
Again I get to fall asleep in my tent, close to the outdoors, lying beneath the sleeping warblers that welcomed me to my campsite earlier, and hoping they wake me in the morning. I breathe fresh air and listen to the crickets, and with one zip of my rainfly I narrow my view of the starry sky, and then shut it out completely as I sink into the pillow of my sleeping bag, perfectly content.