Driving to Maine: Day 8

Stupid fucking bird again. But I kind of smiled when I thought it this time. My little forest friend was in the same tree, it was still dark out, and I still didn’t want to get up, but I was a little grateful for this natural wake-up call today. It was time to leave Angel Valley and Sedona, and my dear friends. I felt a little nervous to leave the cozy bubble of their love and support, but also eager to be back on my own on the open road.

On my way out of town, Daniel had arranged for me to meet a special friend of his named Linda Ingalls. A highly regarded ICU nurse for decades, Linda had also developed a reputation as a powerful spiritual practitioner who could guide people during times of great transformation. She told me she’d been inspired to offer me a session with her, so after saying goodbye to Daniel and Cara Marie I made my way to her house in another Sedona neighborhood.

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When I sat down with Linda, dressed in a neon-green long-sleeved t-shirt and tan pants, in her little ground floor apartment with a view of the mountains and pines swaying just outside, I knew I was with a master. Her home was filled with Native American symbols and artwork, but I fixed on a portrait of Jesus that almost took my breath away. Her grandfather had painted it and I couldn’t take my eyes off it as Linda set up chairs and asked me if I wanted water. We settled in some comfortable chairs and she talked about what her sessions were often like. She’d occasionally peer at me, stop mid-sentence, and say something like, “OK, we’ll talk about that later.” Or, “But you already know that.” I was enthralled by her presence and her manner, her speech peppered with curses. She often let out big belly laughs. I felt like Val Kilmer when he meets the old grandfather in that movie Thunderheart, one of my favorites. Bemused, a little perplexed, and fascinated, I trusted her implicitly already.

I won’t go into what happened over the next hour with Linda, as the experience is very private and I’m still thinking about it. I mean, feeling about it. I’m sure I will be for quite a while. Let me just say this: I know my spirit, my soul, however you want to say it, higher self, got to talk to the Universe through Linda, who agreed to serve as a third party to facilitate that communication. It was the most profound, playful, lighthearted, and intense spiritual experience I’ve ever had. I intend to work with Linda again and again over the years. As she put it with a big smile as I left, “There’s more.” Yes, indeed. Thank you, Linda.

Over the course of the rest of the day, the Mini and I wound our way into New Mexico and eventually to Gallup. The way the landscape has changed from California to Arizona to New Mexico just blows my mind. You’d think they’d all be just “desert,” but each has distinct characteristics and a different kind of beauty.

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About an hour after I saw Linda, I got hooked by some signs by the side of the road near Winslow that said things like, "See the Earth's Best Preserved Impact Site!" and "Feel the Impact!" They kept coming up every couple miles or so as I sang to my Spotify playlist. Finally, a big one said "TAKE THIS EXIT TO SEE THE METEOR IMPACT!," and by God, I did. Sounded like just the thing. The turnoff featured a Mobil gas station in the shape of a geodesic dome, which seemed promising. Another little sign about a minute down the road encouraged me, in case I was having doubts: "You're almost there! Only 5 more minutes to FEEL THE IMPACT!"

Twenty minutes later, I pulled into the meteor viewing area and learned that it would cost me $18 to feel the impact for myself. "Hey, I just want to see it and go," I told the young man at the counter. "I don't want a day pass or anything, or a tour." He smiled but held firm, telling me it would be worth it. Shit. So I forked out the money and went up the stairs to the many-layered viewing area.

The wind got my attention first, nearly taking my leather hat right off my head. I saw other tourists clutching their belongings and hunched over. Then I got to the first observation level and nearly gasped at the enormity of what I was seeing. OK, I actually gasped. It was incredible in the original sense of the word: not believable. I stood motionless for a moment, leaning into the stiff wind.

 Doesn't do it justice, of course. They have telescopes indicating things down there for scale, and it freaks you out. There's a six-foot astronaut figure in bright white down there you can't even see without the telescope.

Doesn't do it justice, of course. They have telescopes indicating things down there for scale, and it freaks you out. There's a six-foot astronaut figure in bright white down there you can't even see without the telescope.

I caught my breath and walked up the steep steps to the uppermost observation platform another 100 feet up. A raven began to work its way over to me on the wind, its wings tucked in tight like a fighter jet. The wind was probably steady at 45-50mph up there, so the raven was flying, but not moving. He checked if I had any snacks, hovering there in the air about 10 feet away from me at head level, and then moved on to the tourists below when I failed to produce anything interesting.

Before I left the crater, I went down to the lowest observation deck and walked out onto a slatted, wooden platform with telescopes fixed on objects in the distance that made you truly understand how big this damn thing really is. I mean, they used to train some of the Apollo astronauts down in the center because it's so much like the Moon's surface. Honestly, it's just wild.

The wind down there was even stronger, and whipped up through the slats enough to make me feel unnervingly light on my feet. I retreated to what I thought was a sheltered area just above the platform, but there the wind was the strongest yet. I finally sat down, all alone, and meditated for a few minutes as it thrashed my hair and buffeted my body. I felt scoured clean and thoroughly vacuumed, as Linda would have put it. I waved to the kid at the desk as I left and said thanks. He smiled back.

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I arrived in Gallup a few hours later as night fell. Gallup is a funny place and I don’t know yet what to think of it. I got myself a (very) cheap room at the Lariat Lodge there tonight, right across from the Shop n’ Safe. The meat isle is populated exclusively by Oscar Meyer products. The locals I saw there are tall and big with dark skin and many have incredibly black long hair.

The room itself sloped violently to the north for some reason, so I leaned all my stuff against that wall. It was the only hotel I've ever been in where I wouldn't walk barefoot on the carpet. Suspicious stains in suggestive shapes lay near the bed. The AC gradually dispelled the fetid odor that had greeted me on opening the door, which was an inside door, like you use in houses for the bedrooms and bathroom. But the black velvet drawing over the full-size bed pulled the whole room together.

I wrote for a couple of hours, checking on the Mini occasionally until I finally fell asleep.