Desert. As far as the eye could see, a sort of orange-red sand oasis. Possibly one of the most beautiful, and at the same time, ominous places I’ve been. This would not be a good place to run out of gas, I thought to myself from the penalty box. I was just mesmerized at the beauty before me. The world was so beautiful and I hadn’t so much as seen even a quarter of it. Hell, I hadn’t even seen a quarter of a quarter of it. Or even a quarter, of a quarter, of a quarter of it. I had a lot to catch up on. There I was, living in my tiny apartment in Sherman Oaks with Garth and the whole world was just passing me by. Things needed to change.
During all my soul searching and daydreaming, I would hear the words “rock formation!” being yelled out from one of my three companions. And sure enough I would look to either side and see huge rocks built by nature scattering the landscape.
We traveled on. The four of us trying desperately to keep each other as well as ourselves entertained for the two hour and twenty-two minute drive to Page Arizona.
“Rock formation,” Garth yelled.
“Rock formation,” Adam shouted a couple minutes later. Time passed. And passed.
“RF,” Jonathon yelled from the front seat. Really? We had already been reduced to this, using initials instead of the whole word. This was going to be a very long day.
“RF on the right,” Adam added as we all turned our heads to the right to soak in what I would call a mini rock formation.
“Does that even count?” I asked from the penalty box. Yes, even though I had done nothing to earn it, I was still in the penalty box. And just as we were all about to get goofy from being stuck in the car for what seemed like an eternity something wonderful happened. We entered the city of Page.
“Ah.” I sighed as I got out of the car and stretched my entire body to limits I didn’t even know existed. My muscles were still aching from the hike through Zion earlier that morning.
“We probably should load up on food while we’re here,” Garth suggested. We were in one of the few border towns of the Navajo Nation and knew that once we got inside the Nation the pickings were going to become very slim. Once we were done feeding the gas tank we drove to the local supermarket. That is the moment when my heart completely broke in half.
“What are they doing?” I asked Garth as I watched my grandfather’s people lying on the lawn in front of the store.
“They just got paid.” I looked on and could see one or two of the men swaying to and fro as they sat in the upright position. Others were just lying there, and some were passed out completely.
“They come here to cash their checks and they buy booze with it,” Garth continued. “The Nation is dry so they have to come into Page to drink.” I had heard the stories of the Navajo. I knew about the problems with alcohol. I knew that sometimes in the winter people would get drunk in their trailers out in the middle of nowhere and wander out to the warm road and lie down on it for warmth. Many a good Navajo died this way being run over and hit by cars. Something the Nation was trying its best to prevent. But this was Page. The Nation and its Council had no power here.
Once we got our food and pulled back out of the parking lot I saw them again so clear. Their faces, the lines of time and over exposure to the sun had carved these men into works of art. Very, very drunk art. I tried my best not to cry as we pulled away. But deep down in my heart I knew that they would always struggle. They most likely would always cash their checks in the exact same supermarket. And chances are an older me would once again see them lying in the exact same spot.
As we drove through the Nation I looked out over the desolation of the place. I had been through the nation before, but not from this direction. It really seemed to be a wasteland. I felt anger. Anger that the United States Government thought they deserved to have the power to put my people on a land this barren. I wanted to yell. I wanted to fight. I wanted to…
“What?” I asked Garth, as I was about to fill out the application to study Indian Law and come to live with my people.
“We need to go back to Page.”
“Nooooo way,” Adam responded. And he was more or less speaking for all of us. The Nation itself is roughly 27,425 square miles and we were smack dab in the middle of those 27,425 square miles.
“Have you lost your mind?” I asked.
“You guys, by the time we get off the Rez we will be back in Utah. They stop selling booze in Utah at 6 pm. We won’t make it. We have to go back to get alcohol!” Now it had been a really long day already and we were all very tired. So of course we turned around and went back to Page. Why wouldn’t we?
Of course we pulled into the parking lot of the exact same supermarket. Luckily, not as many of the men were left on the lawn. But now I got to worry about how they were going to get home instead. My brain is going to explode! We piled out of the car, stretched once again, and went back into the store. But this time we went for booze.
“We’re going to need a cooler,” Jonathon pointed out. Of course we would need a cooler. We’re not stupid. Well at least I wasn’t.
“How about this one?” I asked pointing to a nice blue and white Igloo cooler.
“No I don’t want to spend that much on a cooler,” Garth told me. “That’s the one right there. Yep, that’s the cooler we need,” he said pointing to what looked like a Styrofoam cup. Only larger and more square. On a suck level of 1 – 10, this cooler went to 11.
“That’s not going to be very sturdy,” I said.
“Stacy, it only has to last us a couple of days,” he said to me patiently, but overly so. The way you talk to a child. So fucking cheap, I thought. There were four of us and we couldn’t even spring for a decent cooler. FINE!
With booze in hand we drove back onto the nation. As we got to the point where we turned around the first time we decided that we should probably light up one of the 3 remaining joints we had left. I’m sure the Navajo people would have wanted it that way. Come to find out much, much later that the Nation is not really open to the general public. You see it’s pretty much, no…it’s exactly Native American jurisdiction. That means that they don’t have to tolerate four stupid, stoned white people if they don’t want to. While it seldom happens, I’ve heard that there have been people who have been escorted to the Navajo Nation’s boundary and told not to come back. Now, I know I possess the ¼ amount of blood required by law to be a card-carrying member of the Navajo Nation. But I can tell you with all certainty that my accomplices did not. Luckily we didn’t run into any problems. Let’s just do a sum of all the laws we would be breaking, shall we? If you put them all together we would have some non-Navajos smoking pot on private property while transporting illegal alcohol across said private property, with a trunk load of enough drugs to fund a Mexican drug cartel for at least a week. We were possibly the dumbest people on the planet earth. Luckily the Nation is so spread out we didn’t come across another car for many, many miles and it wasn’t the po po. Oh thank you, Great Spirit.
And just as the sun was staring to go down I heard someone yell “ROCK FORMATION!” We had finally made it to Monument Valley.
“Now THAT’S a rock formation!” was all I could say as I stared into the great unknown.
To be continued…