“ 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


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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



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.


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.


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.


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’.


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?


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.


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?


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


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


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.


However, I would share it with the perfect stranger!


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.


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!


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?


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.



“It was lit up like a PRIDE event yet it felt like Christmas”


Strolling through the rainbow lit town of Prescott, I wondered what local event had generated such community support.


I’d been so focused preparing for this trip that I had forgotten it was the month of December, it was officially Santa season. The downtown colored lights made two lesbians feel very welcomed, even the religious Santa was happy to see us. Santa’s wife Mrs. Clause, or perhaps Mrs. Cause, as her motives were faith-based, was very excited and willing to take our picture with her husband.


I really don’t remember the last time I had my photo taken with Santa. As a kid, I always felt rather silly having my photo taken with a fat bearded man who somehow became the face of Jesus’s birthday. Could Santa have been one of the wise men? The wise men traveled far and wide in order to bring gifts to Jesus, as did Santa with me as a child.

Easter was even more confusing for me. Imagine praying to a hanging dead man on your church wall, only to commemorate his death with a white rabbit delivering chocolate eggs. I vividly remember asking my catholic church Sunday school teacher if rabbits were present at Jesus’s crucifixion. Her answer was not helpful to a curious mind. Shaming instead of explaining seemed to be the conditioned authoritative response when it came to my endless questioning about the church. I would later learn from a fellow student that the rabbits and eggs were symbolic of “new life”. My uncle hunted rabbits on his farm, did this mean he was anti-Christ?

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Mrs Clause made sure we did not leave Prescott empty-handed. With a religious brochure titled “The Real Santa” in one hand and a bag of gold coin chocolates in the other, Clarissa and I left the town square with a lasting impression of Prescott.


Prescott for me is a town with a strong sense of community. Residents seemed mindful of others and there was no sense of impatience or tension due to crowd gathering in the town square. After having spent the past nine months in a remote outpost town, Prescott was rather harmonious, my dream urban reintegration experience.


As we headed out to Seligman, I felt grateful that Clarissa’s flight had been redirected to Prescott. The few hours we spent wandering around town made me feel less awkward. I was still recovering from the reality that I was incapable of greeting her with eye contact at the airport. Even more embarrassing, she noticed and mirrored it back to me.

Imagine driving and internally celebrating the fact you can now look at the perfect stranger for a few sacred seconds?

Would you feel exposed and somewhat naked knowing your co-pilot is a body language expert?

For the next eight days, your middle name is “Busted”, and you simply don’t care.

Every head bow, smirk, smile, and body position will be noted and cataloged for future reference in the vault, more commonly known as the perfect stranger’s brain.


As we pulled into Stagecoach Hotel 66, I realized we spent the entire drive bonding through music. I have always felt one should play to their strengths when feeling vulnerable. My strength has always been music. Sometimes one can find comfort rapping and entertaining your co-pilot to House Of Pain’s, “Jump Around”. So here’s to two women, car karaoke, and the feeling of being naked while fully clothed.



Hotel check-ins and registrations are either very formal or rather funny. Forced formalities in chain motels feel very fake to me hence why I appreciate the personality and down to earthness of family owned lodges. On this rainy registration night, our experience was funny, informal, and rather entertaining. Imagine two giggling women doing Belinda Carlisle impressions as the poor male attendant tried to process our check in.


There was instant laughter from the peanut gallery when the attendant asked if we wanted to upgrade to a themed room. Prior to our arrival Clarissa and I had both insisted upon pre-booking a non-themed, non-smoking room, that offered two beds. The Stagecoach 66 website had given us the impression that themed rooms housed only one bed. Did the attendant pick up on our chemistry or was he just hopeful that perhaps he was checking in two playful lesbians? In honor of Heath and Jake, we upgraded to the “Brokeback Suite” as it accommodated us with two beds.



For the next three hours, we went through the Perfect Strangers gear and prepared her pack.

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Since the early planning of this trip, Clarissa had referred to me as her Sherpa, primarily because I had given her clothing and gear requirements. The word proud comes to mind when Clarissa unzipped her pack and revealed all her new adventure wear.


The Perfect Stranger had made sure she obtained everything on the list. From this day forth Clarissa would be a poster child for Columbia’s Omni-Heat line, not to mention we were now both Keen hiking boot twins.



As the rain continued to pour outside, I reminded us both we could be looking at a snowy drive in the morning. We were both excited about possible snow, yet both knew the weather could be a game changer.


When a facebook friend messages you and asks “Do you have any adventure trips coming up” and you say YES!

For almost twenty years it’s been a dream of mine to backpack Havasupai Falls. As a kid, I remember seeing photos of a sacred place that the Supai believed was the birthplace of the human race.


In mid-October, I started to plan my solo hike and was rather adamant that this adventure would be just mine. I felt this decision was rather cemented in my soul until I received a Facebook message from an acquaintance asking if I had any upcoming adventure trips. Indeed, I did have an adventure coming up, and surprisingly enough I found myself inviting them to join me.


Have you ever agreed to share an eight day adventure into the unknown with an online friend?

Would you be willing to share a tent, camp in a car, and split a hotel room with somewhat of a stranger?

What if after one day in the car, you found no commonality with your Facebook friend?

Would you bail on the trip or be committed to making it a fun experience?

These are of few of the questions my friends asked me when I told them I had invited a Facebook friend to join me on an eight day adventure in Arizona.


For some, entertaining the unknown can be rather terrifying. The unknown can elicit feelings of fear, the entertaining of the dreaded “what if’s”, and at times can turn a spontaneous internal YES into a paralyzing public NO. Call me weird; however, I tend to find comfort in the unknown. I have come to realize control is more an illusion than a reality. In the past when I tried to control a situation or experience, I felt I spent more time trying to maintain my comfort zone as opposed to venturing out of it. These days showing up, being present, and honoring a willingness to entertain and explore the unknown, has led to some life changing experiences. Little did I know, this adventure into the unknown would be heart altering and life transforming.


On a cold foggy morning, I found myself driving through the calm and quietness of Vermilion Cliffs, while my new adventure buddy was prepping to board her flight to Kingman.

In preparation for our adventure, the Perfect Stranger had outfitted herself with all the necessary cold weather gear and outdoor clothing; but how does one prepare to spend 24/7 with the unknown? Is this blind faith or perhaps the true definition of living: assume nothing and experience everything.


Following Interstate 40 to Seligman, Arizona, I exited onto the longest continuous stretch of  Route 66 in the U.S.A.


Route 66, Arizona’s Main Street of America, has long celebrated Mom & Pop businesses, family-run restaurants, and trading posts. Undoubtedly, Interstate 40 is far more time efficient; however, if you appreciate rural, unique and eclectic experiences, then Route 66 is a must drive!


Seligman first gained its name as the “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” in 1987.


Known as the “Father of the Mother Road”, Seligman resident Angel Delgadillo was the man responsible for convincing the State of Arizona to dedicate Route 66 as a historic highway.


With the opening of Interstate 40, Route 66 was delisted from the United States Highway system in 1985. How could this once important stretch of highway become an unwanted ghost town road?


Thirty years after the historic highway dedication, I found myself enjoying some roadside art on the outskirts of Seligman.


“ Do Stupid Things Faster ”, the sign read. It reminded me of something an Aussie would say. I started to wonder if any Australians lived in town. It seems no matter where I travel, regardless of the location, I can always find an Australian, an Aussie influence, or a permanent mark left by a visiting Australian tourist.


It would be my lunch time visit to “Road Kill Café” that confirmed my observations about the influence of Aussies abroad. While the waitress confirmed that no Australians lived in Seligman, she did point to the tourist memorabilia wall.


And there you have it!


As the dark afternoon clouds came rolling in my morning weather concerns became a reality. The storm coming in from California had hit Arizona sooner than expected. Clarissa’s flight had been canceled.


With a pending 90 minute drive to Prescott Airport, I headed back out onto the open road. Today was going to be a longer day than expected. The original plan of meeting in Kingman and driving an hour back to our hotel in Seligman had now become a Route 66 boomerang experience.



I arrived at the very quaint Prescott Airport 30 minutes prior to the perfect stranger’s tarmac touchdown.


I feel the charm of rural airports lies in their simplicity. Simplicity in their architecture, their proximity to town, ease of parking, and let’s not forget traffic free.


As I waited for Clarissa to disembark from the plane I started to wonder what the next 24 hours would bring. It was 5pm, and we still had to drive back to our Seligman hotel and prepare our backpacks for Havasupai. Mother nature’s mood had already altered our plans for today, and with expected overnight snow storms I knew we would both have to be flexible in our trip planning. Communication was going to be crucial, yet I was not concerned or worried.


What was rather concerning though was my shyness and inability to maintain eye contact with my new adventure buddy. What was that about? I think Walter Egan’s song, “For You are a Magnet and I am Steel” sums it up best. I felt drawn to someone I barely knew.

Our twenty-minute drive into downtown Prescott, followed by a ten-minute walk to dinner, confirmed one feeling I could identify, she felt familiar.