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Navajo Dam State Park


Yesterday evening in Tsedaak'aan was perfect. I spent most of the morning and afternoon with Gloria Emerson and her friend Marie cleaning and arranging indoor and outdoor spaces for our evening guests. Gloria was the executive director of the Native American Materials Development Center when I worked there, and her brother Larry, who lives next door, was a staff artist and writer. There was a period of time when I was traveling the world that we lost touch, but for the past six years, I have often spent time with Gloria, a painter, sculptor and writer. Larry, in the meantime, has become an educator and philosopher as well as a farmer. I was over visiting him and his son Mark, talking about religious and linguistic decolonization, when Gloria walked over to say some guests had arrived.

It turned out to be three members of the Garnanez family—Boyd and Anna Mae and their daughter Sandra. Boyd and Anna Mae were several years ahead of me at what was then Rehoboth Mission School, and Boyd served as a pastor in the CRC for 36 years. Sandra was a couple of years ahead of my two youngest brothers at the same school. A rich evening of storytelling ensued, with Larry, Mark, and Gloria and Larry’s sister Elaine joining us later. I was privileged to learn things about Rehoboth that I never knew before—things I’m sure will end up in an essay on religious deconstruction to come soon. I’ve been learning powerful specifics about Navajo contextualization of Christianity, and I learned more last night. There was plenty of laughter, although we acknowledged that some of it was about things that were not really funny. And there was love. Oh, and I sold some books.

Most of the invited guests didn’t show up, and at least one reason was testament to life in the Nation. Our friend Roy had endured a bear attack on his sheep atop the beautiful Carrizo Mountain and had to go up to repair the corral. I’m still waiting to hear if he lost any sheep.

This morning, after another comfortable night in Anna’s Bookmobile, Gloria and I went to the Country Kitchen in Kirtland for breakfast. The senior breakfast there was delicious and a tremendous bargain for a plate-sized fluffy pancake, one strip of bacon, a scrambled egg done exactly the way I like it (well done, dry, browned), a slice of orange, and homemade salsa. I keep stressing to people who help with events that whatever happens is perfect, and I mentioned to Gloria that if our other guests had appeared, the richness of our visit with the Garnanezes would not have happened. She agreed. From my point of view what did happen was essential.

After breakfast, even before leaving the café, my housekeeping began. I’ve written a bit about it before, but it struck me again how much thought and time goes into it when you’re living simply on the road. First, I needed to rembember to brush my teeth in the café and fill up on ice in the adjacent service station/convenience store. Then when I arrived at the lake after a stunning drive through canyons and river valley, it was time to give the portapotty a good cleaning and disinfection, wash floor mats, clean the picnic table, remake the bed, which is more time consuming in a small space than at home in the bedroom…well, you get the idea.

I’m terrifically excited that I can work online where there is no wifi. When I was last in ABQ, I invested in a 4G hotspot; of course it means there must be 4G, and there is here at Navajo Dam State Park where I’m spending the night. I paid for a spot with electricity and water, turned on the hotspot for the first time, and voila! No hassle! It works!

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