Boulder Bound Day 4 (Searching for John Ford)

No end to rugged country.  Monument Valley next: from SW Utah to SE Utah.

Leaving Zion. Checkerboard slope.

Leaving Zion. Checkerboard slope.

It’s out through a tunnel and onto the 2 lane blacktop world again.

What is this absurd picture doing here? (to borrow from Land without Bread). Suddenly it appeared in the middle of the desert.

What is this absurd picture doing here? (to borrow from Land without Bread). Suddenly it appeared in the middle of the desert.

There’s an answer, man-made: Lake Powell, although it’s pretty darn low.

Look below to see why this lake exists.

Look below to see why this lake exists.

Glen Canyon dam. Bus loads of folks stream across the bridge to get a closer look.

Glen Canyon dam. Bus loads of folks stream across the bridge to get a closer look.

Page is the town the workers on the dam lived in. It has at least dozen churches like this one, plus MacDonalds, plus the Blue Buddha, recommended but also closed.

The churches of Page line the main front one after another like fast food chains, competing for customers.

The churches of Page line the main front one after another like fast food chains, competing for customers.

Time marches on. I wound up eating at a cantina that had its own power supply.

You can hear the burgers sizzling.

You can hear the burgers sizzling.

Even deserts have their gas.

Even deserts have their gas.

There it is! Not the trailer but the first sight of Monument Valley.

There it is! Not the trailer but the first sight of Monument Valley.

These monuments take the breath away, even if you’re but one of hundreds pouring in. I headed over to Goulding’s Lodge where I had a room and jumped on the 3.5 hours “deluxe” tour, departing at 4pm, close to the magic hour.

I'll be your guide today.

I’ll be your guide today.

Note promnent profile on the right.  Do you see him? Not John Ford. Alfred Hitchcock.  Still looking for Ford.

Note prominent profile on the right. Do you see him? Not John Ford. Alfred Hitchcock. Still looking for Ford.

A female hogan where we (all 3 of us on the tour) saw a demonstration of weaving and I chatted with Robert, our Navajo guide, who says the young people flee and no one builds hogans from logs anymore.

A female hogan where we (all 3 of us on the tour) saw a demonstration of weaving and I chatted with Robert, our Navajo guide, who says the young people flee and no one builds hogans from logs anymore.

Saddles and monuments at one of our stops where we could also buy Navajo crafts.

Saddles and monuments at one of our stops where we could also buy Navajo crafts.

See the "W"?  Not the hotel chain, or that President, but it's one of the more impressive monuments.

See the “W”? Not the hotel chain, or that President, but it’s one of the more impressive monuments.

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I’m glad I didn’t take my car on the tour. It’s all dirt, deeply rutted, standing water in places, and lots and lots of bumps, jolts and bangs. But worth it.  The more remote sites had a profound silence and magical aura of nature’s supreme power and the patience of milennia.

At dinner I surrender. Good good overall so far, but the preponderance of menu items features beef.  I order the filet mignon, am not disappointed and compensate with oatmeal for breakfast.

Tomorrow it’s on to Durango. Still looking for John Ford, though Robert says the local people invited him back after he retired for a banquet tribute as someone whose films remain iconic reminders of the sheer beauty of this country.

Boulder Bound Day 2: “Chasing Mountains”

The distant hills

gn=”aligncenter” width=”584″]Just the great long road Just the great long road
Day 2 is across the great deserts of Nevada on backroads. Nary a car in sight. The goal; you can’t tell yet from the photo above but look below:

The distant hills

The distant hills

For hours mountain ranges loom in the distance but as I near them the road finds a way to snake past them on the flank of a canyon or valley wall. And it’s on to the next stretch of flat hard road.

Nevada's small town life

Nevada’s small town life

I’m not sure what folks do here, there is a huge heap of mine tailings but they’re very old. There is however, outside the Post Office, this sculpture:

Heroism in the high desert

Heroism in the high desert

How this fellow got here and what happened to the young woman I don’t know but I was impressed by the size and power of the work.

They used to say the west was lawless, not it seems the law has come and gone.

They used to say the west was lawless, now it looks like the law has come and gone.

Hard times for Mr. Whipple. His sign was near the intersection of two major backroads: a little patch of activity with an auto repair shop and some mobile homes.

I asked if he wanted to play tennis, but he said he was booked up.

I asked if he wanted to play tennis, but he said he was booked up.

A sense of humor and a long memory for atom bombs, nuclear fall out and strange goings on in Area 51 is all around me.

Found on the side of a nut shop, at another junction of back roads: no gas, no cafe, but lots of nuts.

Found on the side of a nut shop, at another junction of back roads: no gas, no cafe, but lots of nuts.

The day is getting on. How fast to drive with no one around? Drive the temperature. It was 85 most of the time and that’s what I did.  Gas? Nearest gas was 111 miles at one point. I was ready to pay anything but it was cheaper than in San Francisco.

From my balcony at entrance to the park. tomorrow: into Zion National Park, on foot.

From my balcony at entrance to the park. tomorrow: into Zion National Park, on foot.

At last, the hills are truly mountains. Zion is before me. The landscape has hints of the verdant once again. And I am worn.  Time for dinner and hiking plans on my day in Zion.

Les Blank

Les was a great filmmaker and friend. He will be missed.

I had the honor of hosting his reception of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Mendocino Film Fest, a little fest up the N. CA coast, and doing a q/a with him.

Having done this with Haskell Wexler the year before and worrying more about getting a word in than getting him to open up, there was just a bit of anxiety with Les who is prone to the laconic but after a clip from The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins and a little appreciation of his subtle, non-verbal thematics, he lit up and talked freely of his wilder days of parties and partying and his film aesthetic of respect, appreciation and open-endedness. It was a great event and one I will cherish now that he is gone.

Up!

Today, the blog went live.

Much more content will follow but this is a beginning.  Comments on films, info on books and articles I’ve done, consulting projects, thoughts on the arts and politics of our time, and a touch of fiction too.