Friday, June 20, 2008


On Thursday morning we woke up to blue skies and a cool breeze. A quick breakfast and one final peek over the edge down onto a rippled Colorado River glinting sunlight. Then it was back on the road, our destination located on the Navajo Indian reservation. The goal was "Poncho House", a very large and well preserved cliff dwelling alongside the Chinle River, a place I had visited on two other occasions. I figured it'd be an easy hike to a high value target.

The first problem to finding Poncho House was navigating a myriad of dirt roads using nothing more than a road map. That hit or miss technique resulted in putting us on top of it, far above the river. But further efforts failed to find the path down, cliffs visibly blocking what appeared to be routes I had taken in the past. I was really puzzled because things seem to have changed considerably. With time running out, I called it off, simply satisfied with a view of the ruins from above.
Had lunch in Bluff, Utah. Got our first cold beers since getting out of the canyon. Once again we stuffed ourselves, happy to be eating something other than the usual camping meals.

We drove to the southern tip of Cedar Mesa, to a favorite camping spot of mine that I've been visiting for many years. The spot overlooks a canyon that opens up towards the Valley of the Gods, a collections of spires and erosional remnants that stand out above the flat plain, like lone figures facing the sky. Set up camp and them attempted to hike to a small cliff dwelling on the opposite canyon wall, but once again we reached a point where we were cliffed out, too dangerous to proceed without ropes. Maybe next time!

We had dinner while enjoying the setting sun, shadows lengthening and then night was upon us. Others retire to their tents after dark, I head straight for car where I open the door and turn up the stereo. But not before pulling out a cigar and the bottle of tequila.

Blow across the mesa
Early summer desert wind
Pinyon pines whisper

Cross the red green plain
Reach for monuments of stone
Shadows lengthening

Lonely cliff dwelling
The builders long forgotten
Fingers imprint mud walls

Valley of the Gods
Tall stone towers dot the plain
Even they must fall

Centuries old ruins
Children peer down upon them
Theirs are long gone

They lived with silence
Their canyon now filled with sound
Eddie rocks the night!

Tonight's show was held in mid August of 1995, towards the end of their Balance Tour. What's amazing is that they played about 132 concerts between March and November of that year! The recording sounded great and the band was tight, playing all the best songs from the Sammy Hagar era. I was rockin for a long time listening to this 2 CD set, crawling into the tent close to midnight, if not beyond. The moon burned overhead while a stiff wind blew much of the night, silt coming through the netting of the tent walls and depositing a fine grit on the sleeping bags.

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