The Four Corners; Lemons or Lemonade 

My kids cringed as I pulled the Land Cruiser over to the side of the shoulder, hopping out on the long deserted windy highway and picked a handful of stray wheat stalks, that were happily growing outside the farmer’s expansive cultivated land protected by the lonely never-ending barbed wire fence. Earlier, they shook their heads while I was still navigating my way out of Texas as I made a U-Turn to get a extraordinary picture of a beautiful row of tall sunflowers—asking Joshua and David to smile as I took their picture in front of the oh-so-tall-giant beauties.

IMG_0965Ah, the memories. I look back now and marvel at the fun-filled expeditions across the United States that I shared with my boys growing up; that small window of time—still being at home—and not having summer jobs—or big plans with their friends; I valued those summer moments even today.

Much to my husband’s displeasure, I didn’t travel with reservations.  I let the road and the enticement of curiosity and intrigue of our journey be our guide.  Yea, there was a general plan and route, and we participated in all the big tourist sights over the years : Carlsbad, Hoover Dam, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon—Mt. Rushmore—and the Four Corners, Mesa Verde National Park; I could go on, Niagara Falls, San Francisco, the Pacific Coast highway, the famous tea-pot service station were buried in there too.

Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona literally come together; intersections on the map—a quadipoint. The unique points of the compass; each state, staking their claim to the arid real estate. Four Corners, a home to one of our national parks— a piece of Navajo, Hopi, Ute and Zuni tribal Country; untamed, wild and harsh.

The long winding road that brought us in to the majestic park had been a tedious leg—as I followed behind RV, after RV up the inclined and narrow highway the 35+ miles.  I didn’t care that these folks towed their petite homes behind them, it was just a different pace for them, then it was for me.

Desolated, barren, remote and rugged, I was surprised the park offered hotel accommodations. Making the decision to stay for the night was a splurge.  We were all a bit tired, my ex-Mother-in-law in tow.  (She often traveled with me on these summer sojourns and it was always nice to have another adult in the car—although certainly not necessary or at times easy—she excitedly partook in our road trips.)  For my kids, it was nice to have “Grandma” along; a woman who always seemed to keep things interesting.

The park was home to the Cliff Dwellers and offered tours about the Hopi’s and other ancient populations who at one time had occupied the land.  We had come all this way—why not learn a bit about this unique Colorado Plateau and the Tribal Nations who inhabited it?

Although, I was pleased with this quiet high plateau desert stop—my kids were not so much.  This was one of the few room sans TV.  They survived amidst their mild protest.  I laughed about what a rut and routine we often find ourselves in; sympathy without television was not high on my list. We we here to explore and discover.  I remember the ruggedness of the views from the small balcony—sun setting.  The isolation. The apparent acerbity. A very different life. One that had not been easy and one without our modern conveniences or luxury; I appreciated the ease by which we traveled and filled our bellies.

The night had been restful. The solitude and stillness amazing and rejuvenating for me.  The sun welcomed us to the new day. With our belongings loaded in the back of the Toyota, I made my way back down the blacktop towards the office—reservations and checkout.  With everyone waiting in the Land Cruiser—I skirted in to check out.  We would be on our way to see the ancient ruins and history contained within the park’s borders— of Mesa Verde and all it had to offer. It gave us a chance to speculate on the mysteries and disappearance of an entire race. This much I knew. Included in my plans was a tour to learn more of the Native peoples in antiquity— known as Anasazi, and Pueblo and predated our current Native culture by several millennia.  Our plans were in place for the day . . . or were they?

My usual dress at the time was a pair of Ralph Lauren shorts—with the side pockets—causal Polo style shirts and sweater or sweatshirt when necessary—leather topsiders and my leather backpack.  I mentioned this only to illustrate the vast number of places a set of keys could hide.  Upon my checkout I trotted back to the vehicle.  I needed to re-park the Toyota as the tours’ of the ruins would take 4-5 hours.  Yet, I could not find my keys.  I checked and rechecked my pockets.  I asked the boys and Grandma patiently waiting in the car.  No keys. I returned back to the hotel front desk twice, even making them look behind the computers to see if the keys had inadvertently fallen between the higher check-out counter and the screens from which they worked.  Nope, nowhere—a dilemma at hand! Where could they have gone? I even questioned myself.  Yes, I had to have the keys—after all I had driven from our room to this point where we sat . . .  This time on my trip back to the Land Cruiser, my mind raced for solutions.  A thousand or so miles away from home—and no keys!  I went to the glovebox.  Maybe there was a number of a ‘local’ Toyota dealer who could somehow get us a key?  I started digging.  Glove boxes, or at least mine, are like that;  You never know what you will find.

Within minutes, of searching the Toyota literature, I came upon a very small, yellow plastic key—stuck on a card—as I remember the 5 x 7 size—Stuck with those glue globs that usually free things come with in the mail.  I peeled the flat plastic key away from the card.  “We can get home” I said with a smile, holding up the tiny treasure.  “Let’s go.”  We left the car and went to catch the shuttle—the driver delaying—I believe in hopes we would find our keys.

About four and a half hours later—our tours complete we returned to the car.  I must say we had had a terrific time. As a matter of fact, I had completely forgotten all about the missing keys and had just enjoyed settling into the “Now”; the sights and the history.  We would be back in the Land Cruiser soon, on to parts unknown and enjoying what cool things and other sights this country had to offer. Our summer journey matching on, uninterrupted.

But, what greeted us was another astonishment. There, taped to my door was a white paper; a note from the front desk which said: “WE HAVE YOUR KEYS!!”  How about that—I shared with the boys and my Mother-in-law.  They found our keys!  I opened the vehicle and told them to climb in—I would be right back.

I presented the note—and they presented my keys.  “Wherever did you find them?”, I asked.  The young gal holding the keys looked at me.  “A man took them, thinking they belonged to his daughter—and then was embarrassed to bring them back”, she shyly confided. Well, whatever the reason, I was indeed happy to be reunited with my ring of keys.

It had been a good adventure.  Quite happily, I had been able to enjoy the days plan—despite the monkey-wrench concerning my keys.  I didn’t look quite as crazy to the front dest, I thought, smiling to myself as I walked back down the path towards the truck.

Today, as I write and recall this story, I am not sure whether it was a “test” of living in the moment.  Part of a life puzzle of handling unforeseen circumstances . . . or a debt of karma. (Unfinished business with another) It really doesn’t matter. Whatever the moment, or circumstances, we are always at choice-point of how we handle the up’s and down’s of life and our day(s).  When we come from a place of trust, things usually have a way of working themselves out.  It seems it’s all a matter of perspective and how we react or don’t react. Whether we believe we can or can’t, we’re right.  What do you choose to believe today?  . . . .  Well, You’re right!  Happy Summer trails and adventures!  Make them GREAT!

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