Walking Crippled in Butler Wash–Miriam Sagan


“Crippled” isn’t a polite term—probably it never was. But it’s the term I privately prefer with myself. About three times in the last year I’ve done something I thought I couldn’t do physically—and yesterday was the fourth. And I did these things crippled.
I did the “easy” mile round trip to Butler Wash in Utah to see the far view of ruins in a cave. Easy for obviously out of shape tourists. Easy for kids in flip-flops. But difficult for me. Up. Down. Sheer rock. Difficult. I took my three legs (my good leg, my bad leg, and my cane) and my 1 1/2 lungs and off I went through the scent of sage. Had to sit on all three benches en route—both there and back. Had to remember that walking, dancing, weight lifting, and thera bands all done on flat terrain don’t exactly prepare for this.
Saw the far view. Made it back. Was it worth it? Well, I’d seen a nice far view of ruins across a river earlier down a totally flat road. And a cave dwelling off the shoulder of the road. And later walked a ruin that was practically in a parking lot. This part of the world is riddled with kivas, towers, ruins of 14 or 15 rooms, buildings in caves.
But yes, it was worth it. Not the view, the walk. The fear, the trouble breathing, the clear air, the trail. It’s better to experience it than not, for as long as I can.
I had Rich take a photo, but I just looked too goofy in my plastic orange sunglasses, my polka dot top, and my hiking boots—not a big surprise! Here’s the ruin instead. Not a polite term, ruin, but in its own way a noble one.IMG_1659

To Monticello, Utah

Left Farmington and drove through Shiprock in the haze of the Four Corners plant. Fruit trees, hogans, salinized soil. Stopped at Bob French to look at Navajo rugs and was greeted by yarn floor to ceiling–a good sign. Bought a funny small pictorial rug of a chicken–never saw one before.
Five border crossings before lunch:
NM-AZ
AZ-NM
NM-AZ
AZ-CO
CO-UT
And went by but didn’t stop at the Four Corners tourist trap.
Off to Hovenweep, that ancient Anasazi site in a small canyon–so haunting–round towers, square towers, beautiful masonry, and why? To look at the stars? To signal a message?
As a writer, I’m sad a picture is worth a thousand words, but here are some stock images:

Drove into even more remote country and down a Toyota daunting road to see a beautiful cluster of outlying towers and buildings, Cajon. Then on to Blanding, to a small site called West Water which was an overlook view of a little ruin and one natural arch…this landscape in miniature.
We were last in Monticello ten years ago, and never expected to pass this way again, but found ourselves back in the motel now called Inn at the Canyons (once a Days Inn–with the sign hidden out back to prove it).
Spectacular snow covered Abajo mountains, a spring field full of very fat prairie dogs, and a Mormon temple with a glittering gold angel atop it all.
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Navajo rug of Shiprock