"The river is calling and I must go."
For every other visitor to the canyonlands, those words are superficial- a slogan used to sell river rafting trips. To me, there is soul in those words.
Certain places can inspire those of us who dare to leave the comforts of home, to challenge our minds and our bodies with adventurous outdoor pursuits. Often, our journeys bring us back to those particular places, not by design, but we are nudged there by circumstance or fate. We don't choose these inspirational places. They choose us. We build a natural relationship with these places- the people, the rocks, the dirt, the trees, the water, wildlife, the air. For me, this place is Moab, UT in the Colorado River canyonlands. Again, I find myself there.
It started in 1999 when I was fortunate enough to accompany my uncle to Moab for a mountain biking and river rafting trip. This was catalytic. I immediately identified with the desert southwest and the Colorado River with its rich natural history and ecology. My relationship with the Colorado was only beginning.
Newly inspired, I returned to my student life although my focus remained on the river. One thing led to another and I eventually spent 6 years doing research on the lower Colorado River; working and playing in the desert southwest.
Circumstance has brought me back to Moab several times since... on mountain bikes, motorcycles, and in boots. This time was to scatter the ashes of a dear friend.
Moab will always be a place of wonder, beauty, joy, history, and sadness for me. My journey will definitely bring me back many more times, I'm sure. Each return will deposit an additional layer of complexity while eroding the rough edges to reveal the true depth of my relationship with this place.