The Long Way ‘Round, Part 2

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From left to right: Free Bird, Daniel, Jake, Julia, a.ka. “Squirrel Girl”, somebody’s dog, me, and…Patrick, I think his name is?

Getting to Heber City would be no problem. It was the 20 + miles from there to Uinitas National Park that was worrying me. It was going to be hot, and I wasn’t sure if it made more sense to try to hitchhike or just hoof it.

I prayed about it, and the spirits told me that a ride was already being prepared for me, and that I needed to relax.

Once I got off the bus, I went to a dollar store to try to buy some extra water for my long hike.  An elderly woman parked in front of a pet food store called out to me and told me the dollar store was closed, and then asked if I was headed to the Rainbow Gathering. After we talked a bit, she said she’d like to give me a ride, but she couldn’t afford to use the gas. I told her I’d give her what money I had left (turned out to be $8) if that would cover the gas to get me up there. She said yes, and the next thing you know we were driving up to the Rainbow Gathering site.

She told me her name was Yvonne Divine; she was a Native American who had converted to Mornonism, and she told me a bunch of stories from her life – my favorite had to be about how when she was a little girl, she “rescued” two mountain lion cubs from a cave and brought them back to her house, only to be followed later by the mama mountain lion. Luckily no one was hurt, and the cubs were returned to their mother safe and sound.

After Ms. Divine dropped me off at the park, I found myself wandering through the bizarre world that is the Rainbow Gathering; the best way I can describe it is  if a bunch of hippies from all around the world decided to form their own country. People kept greeting me on the road saying to me, “Welcome home, brother,” and offering me hugs and drugs. I actually came across a “Hippie Roadblock” at which I was required to “Joke, Toke, or Smoke.”  I’ll let you guess which one I chose.

I finally found Daniel Suelo and Jake (another member of the moneyless tribe) later in the evening around dinner time – by that time, they’d been joined by an eccentric fellow named Daniel Divine who, among other things, said he was Alexander the Great’s court jester in a past life. Honestly, out of all the things he said during our week together, I found this claim to be the most believable.

The next day, I met Stephanie and Free Bird, and that, for the most part, was our group.  We spent our days sampling dishes  cooked by the various Rainbow kitchens, meeting and talking with random folks,  holding workshops of our own (hosted by Daniel) about moneyless living and gift economy, having dinner at the Main Circle, and spending our evenings either at drum circles or huddled around fires. It was a week of firsts for me: the first time I started walking around barefoot, the first time I wiped my ass with a rock, and the first time I ate live ants.

When it was all over, the moneyless tribe split ways: Steph and Free Bird went to California, Jake to Salt Lake City, leaving just Daniel and I. We hitched a ride back to Moab and within a couple days, I found myself in the cave I’d read so much about over the past year.

And that’s where I’ve been for nearly three months now.

We’ve been joined by others during these three months – some have stayed, some have left. There’s four of us right now (officially): Jake, who came back from Salt Lake, and Julia, who joined us a week after the Rainbow Gathering and has been with us ever since.  I’ll write about the others a little later.

And so what of my pilgrimage? What of the spirits? What of my quest for the Axis Mundi?

I still feel drawn to Mt. Shasta.  Whether it’s my ultimate destination or not, I feel drawn to it.  There’s a possibility that we’ll make for Shasta in the spring.  For now, it seems like I’m supposed to hunker down in Moab for the fall and winter with the moneyless tribe.  In this world – in this Middle-Earth that’s forgotten that it’s Middle-Earth – they’re the closest thing I have to a Fellowship of the Ring.  We’re still gathering companions, so in the meantime, I need to face whatever challenges need to be faced here in preparing for the winter,  learn as much as I can about the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and learn to walk with and communicate with the spirits more often and more readily., so that when the time comes to set off on the road again, I’ll be ready.

I also feel the urge to make a new mask.

And as I lie in my sleeping bag at night, reviewing all the paths I’ve tried to take and all the lives I could have lived, I know, for the time being, that all roads lead to this road. To the One Road.

To the Road that will eventually lead me to the Axis Mundi and beyond.

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