From the Kaibab Plateau, we dropped over 3000 feet onto the desert floor. This stretch of 89A would be my new driveway, it’s the only road in and out of Vermilion Cliffs.
Within a few miles of my new home, it was clearly visible that I was now living remotely.
Hence my blog and Facebook name, REMOTELEIGH!
For urbanites, the idea of living in a remote location might conjure up ideas of going without and giving up on some of life’s luxuries. A colleague of mine suggested this desert outpost looks more like a place that harbors outlaws as opposed to an Aussie girl looking for simplicity. A close friend expressed concern that living remotely could cement my feet in the land of hermitville.
Based on the opinions shared by my social media community I have learned that being adventurous is when you visit a remote area. Hermitting is when you decide to live there. Does living in an isolated area qualify one as a hermit, or is hermitting more a social isolation from the world, people, and relationships?
I do not consider myself a hermit, perhaps more a non-conformist!
Conformity truly feels like a foreign concept in my world. I think I came out of the womb with a passport stamp on my forehead that read- non-conformer. Non-conformists historically speaking tend to be seen as social deviants. Social deviants tend to judged by the mainstream for living outside the box. Living outside the box means the only person who will truly approve of my choices and decisions is myself.
When did we start believing we needed someone’s or society’s permission to seek and live the life we want?
Is it possible that many of us have made decisions over the years that were more approval seeking instead of life changing?
Is it disloyal to family and friends to live differently?
Does living differently put mainstreamers on the defensive or more the offensive?
Sometimes I feel intentional living is like being a nondrinker in a social setting. By not drinking, I have found some drinkers will automatically defend their alcohol consumption, or target my lack of. I understand that alcohol can be the social glue to community interaction. Call me a nerd; I would rather share a stimulating or heartfelt conversation that does not need alcohol as a catalyst.
Regardless, it does seem if you are the minority in group thought, you somehow always find yourself being targeted in one way or another. The reality is; a visible step outside the conformity box generates comments and opinions from people you have never met. I think John F Kennedy was rather wise and accurate when he said, “conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth”
I feel living in an outpost town might be similar to life on trail, with some additional creature comforts like electricity and a somewhat dependable water supply. Being on trail for an extended time changed my priorities last year, not to mention my outlook on life. Trail time over the years has permitted me to LISTEN and entertain my own THOUGHTS.
Last year while on the John Muir Trail, I decided to turn my thoughts into an effective immediately action plan.
I wonder what thoughts I will entertain while living in Vermilion Cliffs, and how many will become an action plan.
Before pulling into Vermilion Cliffs, I decided to drive an additional three miles south into the town of Marble Canyon.
Marble Canyon marks the western boundary for the Navajo Nation.
What legitimizes a town in America?
Is it the all in one gas station, that offers a post office, and a laundromat?
Or is it the private airstrip?
It seems in the city, strip malls, fast food restaurants, and a Wal-Mart legitimizes a town. I think what legitimizes a rural town or outpost is the sense of community.
My new home and community was Vermilion Cliffs. I would be working at Lees Ferry Lodge. Three miles to the south is Marble Canyon, and 6 miles to the north is another outpost known as Cliff Dwellers. Many of the residents living within this ten-mile stretch are seasonal workers. I am told in peak season no more than 50 people live between the three lodges. Hopefully, I get to meet all 50 residents during my stay here.
As I pulled into the Lodge I was greeted by the owner Maggie. This business woman hired me over the phone, not even knowing my last name. I had no background in the hospitality industry, and yet she was willing to take a chance with me. She had never met my dog Shadow, yet she still made us all feel very much at home.
As the sun set I opted to unload the car in the morning. I was tired, and just wanted a hot shower and a twelve-hour nap.
Home was now a rustic 2 bedroom trailer, with a partially enclosed porch.
It had been a journey just getting here. I think Shadow was ready to be in one place for an extended period of time.
He survived his first road trip, and I was about to begin a 9-month assignment.
It was now official; my new address is Mile post 541.5, Highway 89A, Marble Canyon. I have lived in Australia, Japan and on both coasts of the USA. Oddly enough, I never expected I would be living roadside along a desert highway.