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Chiricahua National Monument and the shimmering colors of the peacocks, AR

I am back on I-10. In a few miles, I will enter Arizona. A long cargo train is parallel to me. The train carries different cargo boxes in many sizes and colors, all chained together creating one long journey. For miles and miles, the train is in my right side view, and somehow, I feel the metaphor of my life journey chained together, riding in one forward direction toward a happy destination.

My first stop in Arizona is the Chiricahua National Monument. There was a snowstorm last year when I planned to visit the park.

I planned to camp at the park campground, but it isn't my day. The campground is full. It is a small campground, so reservations are highly recommended. This park is remote and off the grid. The ranger kindly informs me of a BLM not far from the park. Just as you exit the park, turn left to Pinery Canyon. It is a dirt road, but manageable. A few miles in, you will get to a sign on the left welcoming you to Coronado National Forest. Drive two miles further to start finding nice spots to boondock.

Right away, as I enter the park, the towering Pinnacles are taking over the surrounding landscape. As I drive up the winding road, the landscape changes to the mountain range with snowcaps. One more turn, and the Pinnacles are in charge again.

I get to the park mid-day and have time to drive the beautiful Bonita Canyon Drive to Massai Point and hike the Echo Canyon Grotto Loop.

The Echo Canyon Grotto Loop puts me next to the giant rocks. To me, they feel like sculptures. Again, it feels like God is a brilliant artist. Of course, this park reminds me of Pinnacles National Park, but they are still different. I love how I feel small in this land of giants.

It is a beautiful sunny day, but Chiricahua National Monument rests at a high elevation, which means another cold night and morning for me. I get a pure silent night and cherish this spiritual power.

Getting out of my cozy bed into the freezing cold is so hard. Knowing that the faster I move, the warmer I will get motivates me. By 8:30, I am on the trail, enjoying melting in the sun.

Since I hiked at a higher elevation yesterday, I decided to stay low and hike the Natural Bridge Trail. What a fantastic choice! I love the different terrain the path takes me through. I still have the Pinnacles in my view, but the mountains and the valleys are equally present here. High above, a falcon is soaring, echoing its voice in the quiet morning.

There are many burned trees still standing black and beautiful. One young tree is starting its life, nurturing the wisdom from the dead tree beside it. What a beautiful way to witness the circle of life.

My next stop is to visit Thelma, whom I met last year when I camped at Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David. When I planned my route, I realized a short detour would land me at Holy Trinity Monastery (today the Monastery is a retreat center). I reached out to Thelma to see if she will be there again this year. Thelma has been volunteering here every winter for the last 34 years. Last year, she captured my heart with her joyful personality and wisdom. Today, she is 92, and this will be her last time volunteering to peel pecans at the Holy Trinity Monastery Center. The funny part about Thelma which I learned last year, is that she is "the" Miss Myers (the soap company). Her daughter built this company and named it after her mother.

It is nice to be in her presence. I am delighted to visit with her. I am happy to be back among the peacocks who roam freely.

I plan to catch up on my writing, do my laundry, and visit the small, beautiful church. I enjoy the power I find in this quiet church. Sitting in this holy place by myself is a chance to embrace life.

One of the fascinating things in this place is the peacocks. My favorite time to watch them is as the sun goes down and they start their ceremony of finding the place for the night up the tree. I sit on the bench quietly as they walk beside me, admiring their beauty and shimmering colors.



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