THE PERFECT STRANGER – PART 3 – HIGHWAY 18

“ At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear. It is those we live with and love and should know elude us. You can love completely without completely understanding.” Norm Maclean

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With less than a few hours sleep between us, we gathered our gear and checked out of the “Brokeback Room”. Tired yet still cheerful, we hopped into the car and continued our drive along Route 66 bound for Highway 18. Ten miles west of Seligman the sunrise revealed a break in the storm and a light show that only Mother Nature could orchestrate.

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On this morning I felt blessed that I operate in the currency of time. Time has no dollar value, you cannot buy stock in it, and your 401k will not harbor it. Time, either you have it or you don’t! To say I don’t have time to pull over and enjoy the beauty of a sunrise would be rather tragic. Even sadder, not being able to share Mother Nature’s light show with a fellow human being.

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Note to self – you know you have met someone special when they cosign your living in the now and want to capture it with you.

Initially, our plan was to be at Havasupai trailhead by 9am. Fortunately, our time frame was written in sand and not cement. The focus of this trip was about enjoying the freedom of time. Clarissa and I were both open to the possibilities of the day. If it meant delaying our hike by one day, the world would not come to an end; however, ten years ago my world would have!

In my 20’s, I feel I was incredibly rigid with time. I feel this rigidity robbed me of living, but then again maybe the rigidity was more a protective measure. Somehow holding time hostage empowered my low sense of self, yet in hindsight, it disabled my self-growth.

Do we willingly give up our freedom by clock managing the day away?

Does every aspect of our life have to be planned, scheduled, and structured?

Is our time really managed when our daily mantra begins with “I don’t have time?”

How do we even prioritize our time?

Have we become so disconnected that we have forgotten what our priorities are?

In my 30’s,  I had to redefine my relationship with time. Time was no longer a minute, an hour, a month or a year. Time had become an emotional connection to the nature of life and living. No longer would I be too busy to live, instead I would be living.

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Leaving route 66 we turned north onto Indian Highway 18. We were now only 60 miles from the trailhead parking lot.

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How long do you think it took us to drive 60 miles?

Three hours? Four hours? Six hours?

Try the entire day, yes that’s right, the entire day.

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Initially, it was a gold-lit desert floor against a limbically driven sky that warranted so many stops and photo opportunities.

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As we started to gain altitude it was the snow flurries that demanded our attention, followed by a brief encounter with the desert Grinch.

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A few miles down the road we blamed our stopping and starting on the desert winter wonderland. Last night’s rain in Seligman had delivered a dumping of snow in the higher elevations.

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My dreaming of a white Christmas had arrived two weeks early. I did not need a Christmas tree or a traditional dinner. I was perfectly content with Santa’s gift.

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Santa delivered a new friendship wrapped in a picture perfect winterscape; however, he failed to include a pair of wire cutters.

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Have you ever found yourself and your womanhood caught on a barbed wire fence?

The slightest move could rob you of a lifetime of sexual pleasure, yet you remain hesitant to ask the perfect stranger for extraction assistance.

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If this was a roadside accident the ‘jaws of life’ would be called in; however, fence side there was a definite need for the ‘claws of life’.

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My interpretation of faith and trust was redefined during my extraction procedure. How do you trust someone who considers the ‘Operation Game’ as surgical training?

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With only millimeters to spare, we both had to stop laughing at the severity of the situation and try to regain our composure.

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Like a seasoned bomb disposal officer, the perfect stranger strategically removed my girlhood from the barbed wire fence. They say laughter is the best medicine; however, I do not recommend it during delicate procedures. One simple sneeze could have sent me to a plastic surgeon’s office.

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On this day, the morning of December 13, 2014, my girlhood was saved by the magic claw.

After the rescue, I think Clarissa was either considering a cigarette or perhaps wondering she could explain the fence procedure to her friends. Is it a simple, ‘Yes, I saved Sherpa’s labia today’, or was it just another day playing in the snow?

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Either way, the experience fast tracked our friendship cementing a bond of trust for life.

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As we continued our drive along Highway 18, we encountered deeper snow packs. Deeper snow packs meant additional play time and more photo opportunities.

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Over the years friends have asked me why I prefer to travel in the off-season. My reason is very simple; no crowds! It’s a far more intimate experience when the only noise you hear is your camera’s shutter. Call me selfish, but I would rather not share this snowscape with a large group of people.

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However, I would share it with the perfect stranger!

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Sharing had undeniably been the underlying theme of our past 24 hours together. The only time we had alone time was in the bathroom. We shared our meals, hotel, transportation, and even my camera. Yes, I let the perfect stranger use my camera, the Fuji Hs Exr 50.

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There is something rather sacred about witnessing someone’s passion in action. Clarissa was a natural with my camera. You can study the art of aperture and speed, but you cannot teach an eye. Either you have it or you don’t. Clarissa has the eye and the art!

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As Clarissa was filming I wondered what the next few days would be like. It seemed we both flourished living in the now and embracing the unknown. Whatever Mother Nature threw our way I was confident we could handle it as a team. We were still 30 miles from the trailhead, yet there was no rush as we both knew we would be car camping in the parking lot. Overnight temperatures would be dropping below 15 degrees; it was going to be cold in the car.

As we continued our drive along Highway 18 this photo kept surfacing in my mind. Who was this free-spirited joyous breath of fresh air?

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By birth, her name is Clarissa. Regarding her spirit, I see her as Joy. Joy, the feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Joy, because it radiates off her and rubs off onto me.

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2 thoughts on “THE PERFECT STRANGER – PART 3 – HIGHWAY 18

  1. How does one feel….it’s magical….I feel with my heart while reading your heart….or, maybe I should say I feel your hearts….What magic, when out nowhere a beauty comes into your life….it’s been long yearned for, I feel….You have waited long, and here she is, jumping right in to the inside of your whole being….this stranger is no longer a stranger….you are one with each other….that’s what I know and feel reading your heart ….I am feeling magical …. It is absolutely magic….from my heart, I am deeply touched by your adventure….may it always be beautiful and full of love and magic….may you soon be together …. not separated by miles and space…it’s magical….

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