The extended time I got to spend in Moab was such a treat. First, just see what I love about Moab…
Of all my travels so far, arriving in Moab was the first time I felt like I was arriving home. It was a remarkable difference from my other stops. I suppose it makes sense since I have spent a lot of time in this area while living in Utah. However, the place definitely resonates with me, and that includes the town and the surrounding area of red rock, canyons, and contrasting greenery.
This could have been a series of blogs because I had a lot of good experiences while in Moab, but in the interest of time with the Peru trip coming, I’m combining everything into a longer blog divided by the headings.
I got to meet the man who quit money!
One of the first things I did was to attend a book event for the book “The Man Who Quit Money”. The title grabbed me and the description drew me in.
In the autumn of 2000, Daniel Suelo deposited his worldly wealth – all thirty dollars of it – in a phone booth. He has lived without money ever since. And he has never felt so free, or so much at peace.
In this Walden for the twenty-first century, author Mark Sundeen tells the amazing story of how one man learned to live, sanely and happily, without earning, receiving, or spending a single cent. Yet he manages to fulfill amply not only the basic human needs – for shelter, food, and warmth – but, to an enviable degree, the universal desires for companionship, purpose, and spiritual engagement. By retracing the surprising path and guiding philosophy that led Suelo from an idealistic childhood through youthful disillusionment to his radical reinvention of “the good life,” The Man Who Quit Money makes us question the decisions we all make – by default or design – about how we live. And it inspires us to imagine how we might live better.
I arrived at the auditorium surprised to see a flood of people walking in. The book event packed the place. It was obvious it was mostly locals. Moab seems to attract what I consider to be fringe people – people who are living by their own rules whether it be environmentalists in love with the wildness of the red rock of southern Utah and intent on preserving it, people who find bliss floating on the rivers, people who have dropped out of society, and of course the avid mountain bikers, climbers, and ATV’ers/Jeepers. One of the people behind me had spent the past day or two communing with a bottle of some lively spirit. I thought I might get drunk on the second-hand vapors! I think he was the exception, but somehow I had chosen one of the empty chairs in front of him, and by the time I figured out why the seats had been available; it was too late to move.
The author, Mark Sundeen, read a couple of chapters from the book with some Q&A in between. Interestingly, he is living a life that REALLY appeals to me. He is about my age, is a professional writer, and splits his time between Missoula, MT, and Moab! Mark had met Daniel in the 90’s after graduating from college and finding himself disillusioned with our society. He was living out of his truck, parked on BLM land and working as a cook in Moab where Daniel also lived. Long story short, Mark was hired to write the book by a New York editor after an article written about Daniel had gone viral.
Daniel got on stage after the Q&A with Mark. He was obviously nervous. The thing I really liked about his presence and his answers was how humble he was. There was no note of self-righteousness or judgment toward others. He is simply living life his way. I met Daniel during the book signing. Daniel has the presence of someone who is very easy to be around and was very sweet and gracious. I’m about halfway through the book and find his story pretty interesting. His sense of complete freedom comes through loud and clear. I don’t see myself doing the same thing, but the way he lives definitely brings up profound thoughts about our consumption-based society. I do recommend the book for those who are interested.
I learned I shouldn’t be an asshole!
After the first weekend in the campground right above town, nestled in slickrock and scattered juniper trees, I had the place to myself. I was so excited to experience the solitude! Josie and I went for a hike on the slickrock early in the evening and I was in a state of total gratitude. Then I was inside and heard a vehicle drive up and shut off their engine. A visitor? I looked out the window and saw a van parked in the spot right next to me. Did I mention the campground was empty? I thought WTF? Really, these are the words that came to mind. The whole damned campground is empty and you have to park right next door?? As I sat inside stewing and peaking out my window to see what noise makers this new person might have, I heard a diesel pull up. No friggin’ way! I went outside to look and yes, and it wasn’t just an average diesel truck, it was a Monaco bus pulling motorcycles, and they were looking at the spot on the other side of me. This was really too much. I hurriedly put on my shoes and stormed out my door to retreat to the slickrock to spy on my new neighbors from on high. (I do realize how mature my behavior was…)
When I returned, everyone was settled and inside. I barely heard the generator from the Monaco, as to be expected since it is a Monaco (a very high-class of motorhome). When I got up in the morning, I found the van already gone. I hadn’t heard a peep from him. Luckily for the rest of the world, I came to my senses and realized I needed an attitude adjustment. After all, there are no coincidences and this might be an opportunity to make some new friends. They did park right next door when the whole damned campground was open, so there had to be something to this. I saw it was just two guys. I figured it was either two gay guys or two married guys having a guys’ weekend. Are you still sensing some attitude? I started getting ready for my day of demoing a 29er mountain bike. One of the times I walked out to my car I actually looked in their direction and one of them looked and I waved just like a nice girl would. He waved right back. Now in my car, I hear one of their motorbikes start-up and then a knock on my window. I looked up and there were blue eyes within a full-faced helmet looking at me, inviting me to their camp for a steak BBQ and fire that night. I graciously accepted. Yes, I’m an asshole!
After returning from my day of riding and negotiating the purchase of the 29er, I heard my cute neighbors discussing how they were going to transport their groceries and especially beer back to camp on the back of a motorbike. Now was my chance to prove that I can be something other than an asshole. I volunteered to give them a ride when I drove down to pickup my new bike. They joined me and I got to know that they were not gay or married and they live in Breckenridge. Wow, I really have the potential to get in my own way with my attitude, don’t I?!
Dinner was fantastic and it was nice having the male companionship. I even admitted to them what my thoughts and attitude had been when they drove into camp. They actually looked at me unbelieving and said, “Well of course when there’s a hot single chick in camp we’re going to park next to her.” I felt like a double asshole.
I feel I closed the loop on parts of my past.
I have lived in Utah for 15 years, the first 9 of which I was married. We had spent a lot of time in Moab. The first year after we divorced, I had come on my first solo adventure to Moab on President’s Day weekend, the weekend my ex and I had always come here. Five years ago, that first weekend was difficult yet it was an awakening to my own strength and independence. Now I’m a seasoned solo traveler (and apparently I REALLY prefer solitude sometimes as described above!). During this visit to Moab, I returned to many of the places we had frequented with our friends.
The first place I revisited was where I had come on my first solo mountain bike ride five years ago. I had both of my dogs with me then, and this time Summit wasn’t there with Josie and I. This struck me harder than expected. It’s been over a year since Summit died, but I still miss him. It makes me sad that he didn’t get to experience this adventure with us. My dogs really helped me get through the hardest transition of my life. Josie and I still had a great experience as it was a picturesque day, but Summit was coming in and out of my mind leaving some sadness.
In the other places I visited I could feel the memories of the camping trips with old friends like it was yesterday. Some of the feelings of “ick” would come up when thinking of the betrayal of a friend and my ex, but they were mild and would fade out as I walked or rode the old trails. Truly, the hardest part was missing Summit. By the end of the walk or hike, I would be back in the feeling of gratitude. Overall, it felt very healing and like I was closing some unknown loop from my past that existed in the ether.
I then found a couple of new trails. These have become my new favorites. Josie and I returned to one a few times as there was water the whole way and it was beautiful. It is just the kind of place I like.
Friends made my birthday special.
The last weekend in Moab, my friends, Dave and Sylvia, came down from Sandy, UT. On the same day they were arriving I published my last post that said I was headed to Moab. A couple of my friends from Park City, Craig and Kathy, saw the post and responded that they were also headed to Moab. I decided to give Craig a call. We hadn’t talked since I left my job in Park City. I called him right as he was plugging my cell number into his phone! He told me they were going to do a float on the Colorado River the following day and invited me along. That day was my birthday, and a float trip would be a real treat! After telling him that I would be a party of three, he said he would get back to me in the morning to let me know if they would have room. Kathy is the rafting organizer and she would have to make the call.
Dave and Sylvia have been friends since I moved to Utah. My ex used to work for Dave and they have always been like a second family. During my married years, we all did a lot together – camping, skiing, partying, BBQ’s, softball, etc. The three of us have remained good friends. We have done a couple of trips to Moab to go ATVing and also traveled to Cabo together a couple of years ago. In Cabo we got to go ocean fishing, catch some Dorado, and have it prepared fresh for our dinner at the marina. That was a first for me and was a treat! I also got to drink good champagne while they negotiated the purchased of a property! Needless to say, the traveling trio works. Sylvia had been planning to come to Moab for a while and Dave in the end was able to come too.
Craig and I worked together for the City where he is the Golf Manager and I was the Water Manager and there we became friends. Besides having fun at work, we got to go on some fun trips together including a conference in South Carolina where we tried a drink called an “Eager Beaver” or something to that effect. It was also the same trip where I tried a fruit-flavored grain-alcohol infused slushy out of a row of slushy dispensers in the wall behind the bar. Yes, I think we learned something with professional applications at the Conference too! There were also City Tours, but what happens on City Tour stays on City Tour! Craig and I became friends and then I got to meet Kathy, his wife, whom I liked right away. I found we have a lot in common, especially in how we think about life and spirituality. Kathy made mid-life changes as I am. She used to work for the City and now is self-employed, running her own business as an organizational development consultant, and became a certified rafting instructor 10 years ago, finding floating the river to be her passion.
Craig, Kathy, and their friend Mona, did have room for the three of us for the float trip. They even had room for Josie! I wasn’t sure how Josie was going to like this. She has always liked getting on my float tube with me, but she hates to swim, and never enters water above her stomach. However, she was a perfect little floater. She got into the bow of the boat and didn’t try to move around. It was a beautiful day on low and slow water as our rowers, Kathy and Mona, will attest! I got to drink a couple of beers, chat, and take in the scenery. I did volunteer to row, but informed Kathy that I can only go in circles since I have one good arm for rowing! She never took me up on that. Luna, Craig and Kathy’s labrador, is an exuberant floater. She couldn’t decide between Kathy’s raft, Craig’s boat, or the water. She loved them all!! She is very experienced and could walk the side of the raft and walk between the boats like a pro.
After the float, Dave, Sylvia, and I went to dinner at the Thai restaurant Kathy and Craig suggested. It was wonderful. The following night, Dave and Sylvia took me out to dinner again for my birthday to another cool Moab restaurant where we dined outside and people watched.
The whole weekend with all of these friends was a fantastic way to celebrate my birthday! Thank you Dave, Sylvia, Craig, Kathy, and Mona for making it a special time for me.
As I said before, I love Moab. I had a great time during my extended stay and feel internal progress was made as well. I mentioned healing of the past, and I received some discernment on what types of environments and communities I can see myself living in.
Now I’m off to the adventure of traveling to northern Peru for two weeks. We are staying with a healer/medicine woman for two weeks to participate in ceremonies. I imagine my next post will be about that!