[Patreon] Part IIIc: The Mountains (Colorado and Utah)

A mere two hours out of Edwards is Grand Junction.

I chose to stay the night in Grand Junction for a few reasons, most being that there was no other place to stop enroute to Zion – without driving another six hours. Two hours of that is through a section of Utah I call “The Exclusion Zone” – a place where there are no services and no cell service. More on that in a bit.

Enroute to Grand Junction, I passed the town of Parachute, Colorado. There isn’t much in Parachute except a rest area and a few tourist trap type stores, but I did find an interesting historical marker:

As for the rest of Parachute, there isn’t much.

And with that, we were off to Grand Junction:

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If my post-seminary career allows it, I would move to Grand Junction in a half a heartbeat. It is a gorgeous city. with gorgeous people. Seriously, Grand Junction is awesome.

Why? Because, after the questionable decisions of Denver, my AirBnB search was quite a bit more thorough. I found a sunroom for the night in a one-hundred year old bungalow, beautifully furnished by a biology professor and mother of late-teenaged girls.

While there, I made a new friend – because of course I did. Meet Smoke, as I named this loveable furball:

 Smoke being adorable.

My host had an indoor cat who looked a lot like him. The two of them made the most adorable noises at each other through the big living room window – and then my host told me the history of Smoke.

Yes, you get a story about a cat. Deal with it. 😛

Smoke belongs to a house down the street. Smoke, however, has decided that my host’s house is his house (see, cats do choose their owners) which has not gone well for him. My host let him in one day, and then spent the next three weeks scrubbing down everywhere he marked. Out the door he went – but that hasn’t stopped him from hanging around.

My host also has chickens. This is another reason I love Colorado.

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My host, unfortunately, had a prior engagement and had to step out for a few hours. She gave me free reign of the downstairs, and – I think – expected to come home to, well, I don’t rightly know, exactly. It seems she has had some bad experiences with renters, which she alluded to when she came home and found me reading “A Ragamuffin Gospel” in her living room. No TV, no internet, just the quiet sounds of – no shit – “A Prairie Home Companion” and me reading. We were good after that.

I checked in with Mom and Dad before bed, remarking to them that I could see more stars than I remembered in the night sky. When I went inside, I was able to snuggle down into a bed covered by handmade quilts, and I slept like a baby.

The next morning, after performing the usual pre-flight checks, we were off to Hurricane, Utah, thirty miles outside of Zion National Park and nestled into the very same hills.

When you first hit Utah, the “Welcome to Utah” sign is a bit of a misnomer – as it advises you that there are no services for the next forty miles until the Welcome Center. Not exactly the most friendly of welcomes.

Utah’s speed limit is 80 miles per hour, which is a terrible idea. The country, however, is absolutely gorgeous:

Have some Utah.

I have embedded a route map from Grand Junction to Hurrican, and I would like you to take a moment and look for a tiny flyspeck town named “Parowan”:

Did you find it? Trust me, it’s there – and so is a truck stop right off of I-70. I stopped there to check my email for a confirmation of my reservation for that night, and you won’t believe what happened next.

Fine. I’ll tell you. First, some back story.

Twenty (!) years ago, I stepped away from a path to religious leadership. I could not serve a United Methodist congregation as a trans woman- it is, and was, forbidden by the church.

Before I left home on this adventure, I submitted my application to attend Meadville Lombard Theological School as an M.Div student – with the goal of achieving UUA credentialing as an ordained member of the clergy. It took nearly a year’s worth of conversations and encouragement from those nearest and dearest to me to get me to the point of applying, and in Parowan everything – literally – changed.

This was the email I saw first when I was able to steal enough 3G signal:

Dear Andrea,
Congratulations on your admissions into Meadville Lombard Theological School. On behalf of the Admissions Committee and the Student Affairs Office, I would like to welcome you to the 2016 Entering Class and the learning community at Meadville Lombard.

I… I am going to seminary. That journey starts in August, but here, in this place, in this flyspeck of a town in Utah, I learned another important truth about this journey – it’s not about me. It’s about who I will become, not who I am, not who I was.

Just as the mountains reminded me of who and what I am called to be, the desert is telling me who I will be by reminding me of who I was – and of where I come from. These mountains, this desert – all of it formed the person I have now grown to be – and who I will be.

Next up is Part IIId, Hurricane and Zion.