There are some days when you plan an outing, schedule a time to leave…know exactly when you’ll get there, and what you’ll have planned for the day…and then there’s this…
You get in your car, you convince a companion, a furry four-legged one named Heidi in my case…and you just GO. You don’t worry about time constraints, where you’ll be, or where you’re headed. You just drive. You go in a direction that pulls you the most. So I drove ending up in Payson, Arizona. Which really isn’t too far from me. Then I’m enticed and inclined to head to the East Verde rest area. It was quiet, calm, and peaceful. This is not the first time I had been there. In fact, it was introduced to me by my father. This was the last place I had met with him before he passed. So there were feelings of sadness, as well as peace. More so the latter.
A great swimming hole in the warmer months. But I was left with a lingering sense of more. There must be more I haven’t seen, or there must be more to explore somewhere here. My thoughts begin to focus on a greater sense of adventure. For it had not been sated with this place alone, though it was beautiful.
Moving forward, and passing by several stupas on my way out. Normally I have a little fun of my own in creating stupas and leaving a blessing in the places I travel to, leaving no trace thereafter. But these were not my stupas to send back to their natural state.
I drive again passing a very unnoticeable turnoff. I think to myself, there could possibly be something worth checking out there. With a sense of adventure, you want to find those places that are maybe, more obscure because you never know what you’re going to find. Upon turning around, I search for this opening of a turnoff and pull in. The road is fairly maintained. I’m feeling good, Heidi is sitting straight up excited for where she’ll be able to sniff out next. Windows are open, the air is brisk, but tolerable…even refreshing. I come to a section of the road that is flooded with a pool of muddy standing water. Now…here is the cool thing about taking risks. You can take that risk (maybe finding something magical), and reap the reward…or…you can play it safe (turn around…BORING!). Mind you, I’m in a little Ford Focus Hatchback…low clearance, front wheel drive. I sit for a few moments, eyeing my target. I floor it! Like slow motion we race through the puddle, water springing up both sides like a fountain of fondue…a look of the thrill on me, and a what the hell was that, and did I make a mistake going today on Heidi. We made it. We conquered the fondue puddle! Driving once more, we cross another puddle. Not a soul in sight as the road continues to deteriorate. Further and further we go climbing up and up some more. I have a slight fear of heights and can begin to feel that anxiousness as the road narrows, with a cliff wall on one side, and a drop off on the other. Coming to a very steep section of road I have to step on the gas even more to make it up the rocky, dusty dirt road. Tires screeching just to make the hill. With the smell of burning rubber, again my stomach tenses with the rise in altitude. Once at the top, the view is SO amazing…rolling green mountains shadowed by snow capped mountains, and the sun rays just shining down to enhance it that much more.
After hours of driving and saying over and over in my head, “please don’t get stuck, please don’t get stuck!” I see something a little strange. A little different from the rest of the scenery. When you travel a lot you gain a sense for spotting variances in the geographics of an area. I take a turn and shortly thereafter, can go no further. I park and walk. Oftentimes the best places are found by foot. Heidi and I manage to climb down a rock wall. That’s when we heard the water, and lots of it! Running, rushing, charging water! It’s not too much longer until I see these whitish gray rock formations like the jagged teeth of some massive creature waiting for it’s prey. Which would be me and Heidi…we’re the prey…
I can’t even begin to contain my excitement at how cool this place is! The rocks are so smooth and you had to be careful with every step. In fact, Heidi just got a little too overzealous at her excitement and fell into the water. I grabbed her by the handle of her harness before she was sent over the small waterfall. She was not amused…though she does like water. Just more so at her own leisure.
So again, taking risk can lead to reward. In this case, being in the presence of this magical place. Although, there is only a small area of these rock formations, they absolutely stand out for their ethereal beauty. Almost as though it’s all been placed from somewhere else. At that time I was satisfied with the hours of driving, the risks of getting stuck or damage to my car. It was all worth it just to lay eyes on the beauty that was present. The sound of the water falling into the bigger pool of deep green and blue water below was relaxing. This is why those of us who have wanderlust hearts do what they do…the challenge, experience, appreciation, and beauty of the journey.