My husband and I just got back from a “COVID19 Road Trip” from our home in Denver to the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde.  This is our second trip to the area (DH grew up in Tucson, Az) and we affectionately call the excursion “the hole-in-the-ground trip. because of stops in the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde cliff dwellings and the not-so-famous meteorite site in Arizona.

This trip was different and seemed the littlest bit risky because we were leaving the relatively low-COVID-rate Colorado to Arizona and New Mexico, which were experiencing surges in rates.

We felt safe and there weren’t many people in the parks or on the road. Where ever we stopped, people wore masks and practiced social distancing (with the exception of a few cowboy-types, who tipped their hats at us while keeping a safe distance away).  We ate a lot of take-out and had little picnics. Nothing better than a bottle of wine, a loaf of good bread and a wedge of cheese.

We both get little bits of inspiration while on any of our trips, and while this one didn’t bring anything earth-shattering to me, I did have little insights. Such as, I forget how fortunate we are, how much we have, how healthy we are. I remembered to be grateful each day. We drove a couple of miles into the Navajo Indian Nation and were were struck by the simple houses, which were spaced so far apart that you wonder why the COVID19 rate is so high in New Mexico and Arizona given the sheer vastness. Is it the presence of the casinos? Are “outsiders” bringing in the virus to the Native Americans in much the same way we brought Small Pox to them so many decades ago? I hope not.

I was also struck by the appearance of poverty on the reservation. It’s easy to say that they have so much land, so much space that they must be happy, but when people don’t have money to build and sustain their homes and businesses, it’s hard to work their way “up” in the world.  I’ve always said that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure helps prevent unhappiness when basic needs aren’t met.

What can I do to help? I have an aunt who taught for years on a reservation in South Dakota while living in a trailer house, suffering brutal winters and adopting abandoned dogs in the process of teaching youngsters to read and write. Food for thought for me.

On a lighter note: On our way back home to Denver, we were forced to cross the border from New Mexico back to Colorado to avoid a quarantine order in New Mexico. Once across the border, we discovered there weren’t any available hotel rooms even though their must have been ten hotels in the area. Also, there was a party atmosphere. DH figured out that the crowd had crossed the border to access the recreational marijuana (which is legal in Colorado now). We finally found a room, overpaid for it because we were too tired to travel farther, and made our way home the next day.

I’d much rather visit these places, including the National Parks, which to me are much more interesting, awe-inspiring and fun than a place like Disneyland.