By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 5/23/2017
Posted: 4/26/2017
Topics/Keywords: #Travel #Shiprock #NewMexico Page Views: 133
Not all who wander are lost.

This past weekend, Keith and his brother Chris and I drove up to Shiprock to visit their family. (Actually, since I'm still recovering from a double-broken leg, Keith did nearly all the driving while I kept my leg up on the dashboard.) It was just a quiet, relaxing visit along a route we've taken many times before; so I wasn't expecting to be taking much in the way of photographs. But then we started getting visitors, including an animal family consisting of one dog and four various cats.

We chose to take I-17 north to Flagstaff, a decision we soon regretted due to a car fire somewhere ahead of us that brought all traffic to a complete stop for an hour-and-a-half. even so, the actual drive took us about 7 hours but another 3 were spent at various convenience, gift and supermarket stores because Chris cannot leave the car for less than 30 minutes at a time, regardless of the original reason for the visit.

Paul S Cilwa

So we arrived late and pretty much crashed. In the morning when I woke I had barely settled onto the Jim family porch when a strange cat leaped into my lap and made herself at home.

Paul S Cilwa

She stuck so close to me that I had an impossible task trying to get a decent photo of her. But I was able to get sketches and they have the advantage of maximizing her beauty and minimizing the road wear. I decided to name her (she seemed female; I didn't try to check) Misty, after a friend's childhood cat of a similar description.

Paul S Cilwa

Of course, as soon as I texted my kids about the cat, they were all, "Oh, you have to bring her home!" But I was all, "But I don't want a cat!" And it's true. I love cats. I love all animals. But that doesn't mean I must possess every one of them.

Besides, she was traveling with friends. As the days went by, I could see how devoted they were to each other. Hungry as they were, even the dog made sure the cats got a few scraps. They were clearly going somewhere together and were simply stopping for a few days' respite before continuing their Incredible Journey. Or something.

Paul S Cilwa

Another visitor was Elizabeth, Keith's sister Molly's little girl, who is just the same age as my youngest granddaughter, Gianna (and also fascinated by rocks).

I got to hold Elizabeth when I first met her as a baby; and although I didn't see her for another year, she climbed right into my lap without saying a word. So, I felt like we bonded somehow. This trip, she brought me a rock collection.

Like Gianna, Ellizabeth has an older, high-school age brother, Jarryd, who clearly adores her as much as Gianna loves her big brother, Zach.

Jarryd is just a sophomore, but is making waves on his high school wrestling team, impressing older members. We had a nice conversation, and this is one smart young man.

Paul S Cilwa
Paul S Cilwa

Meanwhile, my visiting kitten friend found a warm place to cuddle between my bear slippers (gift from my son, John).

Paul S Cilwa

Keith and I made a quick run to Colorado; along the way I spotted this unusually tall butte. I posted its picture on Facebook with the joke, "’Butte’ is Spanish for ’butt’ I call this one, ’Butte Plug’"

I was quickly corrected. Butte, it turns out, is French, not Spanish and means, "mound" However, I think my punny name still qualifies.

Paul S Cilwa

Now, we all know that catching an interesting shot outside the window of a moving car is problematic at best. And the flaws are only exaccerbated when shooting with a cellphone camera. I didn't really care for the preceding photo, even though I loved the joke. So when I got home, I tried creating a digital painting from the shot, which I personally find more satisfying.

Paul S Cilwa

Similarly, I have a tradition on camping trips of taking The View From The Tent, especially if they feature a nice sunrise or sunset. This was a pretty sunset, but because of my broken leg I couldn't get quite the perspective that I wanted, and I feel it fails as a photograph.

Paul S Cilwa

However, as a digital painting I think it actually captures the feel of that moment better than the ordinary photo.

Paul S Cilwa

By now we were aware that we were not being visited by a stray cat, but a whole managerie. Besides the white Persian/Siamese mix (my guess, and I named her Misty), was a dog and two other cats. (I was unable to capture the pure gray cat, who was the shyest of all.) Apparently they'd been traveling together for awhile, as they were very comfortable with each other, the role of each having been well-established by now.

Paul S Cilwa

Of course, now I couldn't stop with the paintings.

Paul S Cilwa
Paul S Cilwa

The pure dog was the worst-looking of the bunch, but this is actually misleading. The dog (I called him Blue) is an Australian Cattle Dog deriviant, called locally Blue Sheep Dogs. Yes, her fur's a mess and she has ticks and fleas (no doubt—I didn't giver her a close examination), but the gray undercoat isn't all dirt; it's natural for her breed.

Paul S Cilwa
Paul S Cilwa

We regretfully had to leave Monday, so I could make Tuesday's physical therapy appointment for the broken leg. We stopped at pretty much every convenience store on the Rez, it seemed. This one had a resident dog all its own. The rural world is so different from the city, where no unleashed dog would be tolerated…and that's thought of as "normal".

Paul S Cilwa

Along a portico leading to the restrooms, were a series of paintings depicting traditional Navajo life. The paintings were done right on the outside wall of the store. Spencer "Da Painter" is clearly a very talented artist.

Church Rock, Kayenta

Church Rock, Kayenta
Keith Jim

San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff

San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff
Paul S Cilwa