We got to talking a bit and I found out they were from Montana and had been hitting spots like the Tetons and Bryce Canyon and were now about to turn north back toward Montana and were going to visit the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Yellowstone. I told them my itinerary as well.
It’s funny, when you inform people you’re from Buffalo they always seem to have this quizzical apologetic response based on our wintry reputation. It’s like—"It’s one of those snow people.” Amusing, especially when it comes from people who live in the northern part of the country like Montana, where it has been known to snow a bit as well.
Shortly after this conversation in the distance, rising in the valley, I saw three hot air balloons which was pretty cool. One floated through the valley to my left going north toward Sedona. The second one was off in the distance going southwest and I lost track of the third one. Sitting there wondering where the third balloon had gone, I started to repeatedly hear what sounded like the woosh of a blow torch firing up coming from valley below getting closer and closer. All of the sudden, rising up in front of my face I see the third balloon coming directly toward me at the back of the van.
I quickly got my phone out to take a pic, but realized it was going to fly right over the top of me and instead went into video mode and filmed it as it floated by. As it was passing overhead I had a brief conversation with the apparently uncaffeinated balloon captain who requested I send him up a coffee. Though I couldn’t accommodate him it was a rather surreal moment.
After that little surprise the young kids across from me discovered, as they packed up to leave, the minivan the girls were driving was out of gas. I didn’t have a gas can to help them out nor did the few other Cockscomb campers so the kid had to drive into Sedona, I guess, to get some. I was hoping that Charlie the dog would come over and hang out with me, but he just followed the girls around. Still in my little gossip mode I noted in my head they lost over an hour by running out of gas—how does that happen? Especially out on Forest Road 525.
As it turned to mid-day I turned away from my amazing surroundings and loaded up my backpack with a couple of waters and went for a walk down the trail leading out of the campsite. Despite recognizing that I was being a robot I made sure that my phone was counting my steps. After the lack of coyotes of the previous night I readjusted my expectations and strolled along more concerned about staying on the right trail than the non-existent little dingoes.
Often when I’m out walking like this, even back in Western New York, when the trail veers off in several directions, I foolishly tell myself—Oh, I’ll remember—but of course, I never do. On top of that, it was so easy to build a rock cairn to mark the trail especially out here where like eighty percent of what I was walking on was in fact, stackable rocks.
I didn’t get lost but at one point I did turn back on what was the correct trail because it seemed “too open and meadowy” to me and took an alternative route that was “less open.” Lucky for me the alternate route quickly came to a dead end. If only Donna had been pointing at her phone telling me I was going the wrong way.
All kidding aside these little walks would be more enjoyable if I just took two-seconds to mark the trail, but you know us men—we won’t look at the maps, read directions or do household chores.
Back at the van after more than 10K steps I cooked some beyond burgers and poured myself a drink. It turned into another lovely night of stargazing and peace. I made sure at the end of the night to turn off the music box and sit out there and just listen to the night sounds. It was so nice.
I was going to miss this place when I moved on in the morning.