Labor Day Weekend Greetings from Howard Mesa

Silence and solitude in the middle of nowhere.

I’m writing this from the picnic table outside our camping shed at Howard Mesa. We’ve got 40 acres on top of a mesa up here, about 35 miles south of the Grand Canyon. It’s pretty much undeveloped land, with five miles of partially maintained dirt road between our slice of Arizona’s high desert and pavement. There’s only one house in sight and, as usual, it’s deserted.

The silence at this time of the morning — 6 AM — is astounding. It’s the kind of silence that makes your ears work overtime trying to hear something. And when there is a sound — like Jack the Dog lapping up his water right now — it’s almost deafening. You can play the radio here with the volume turned down to 1 and still hear it fine.

It’s absolutely beautiful up here. The sun has just risen, casting a golden light over the grassy hills around us. There’s been a lot of rain up here this monsoon season, so the grass is green and lush. Our horses are wandering around, grazing. The whole 40 acres is fenced in, giving them plenty of space, but they like hanging around the shed and are seldom out of view. Later on, we’ll catch them and go for a ride.

It’s also very clear today. Yesterday’s rain must have washed away the dust that sometimes lingers in the air. We can clearly see the mountains out by Seligman to the west and Mount Trumbull on the Arizona Strip nearly 80 miles away.The sun is just to the north of the San Francisco Peaks, leaving them in silhouette. My new windsock, which we put up last time we were here, is hanging limp right now, but I know it’ll be moving later, when the wind picks up.

If you’re reading this, it means that I’ve managed to get my little PowerBook to go online via my Treo’s Internet connection using a Bluetooth connection between the two devices. I always compose blog entries with an offline editor — I prefer ecto — and that’s pretty convenient up here. I finish up the entry, get the Treo online, and then get the PowerBook to use that connection. If you’re reading this, it means I’ve succeeded.

I may not blog much this weekend. It’s my last big break before I need to switch into high gear to finish my Leopard book. After that, Flying M Air’s flying season will be in full swing — I already have much of September and nearly all of October booked. So I plan to enjoy the weekend with a hike, a horseback ride or two, a trip into Flagstaff, and some chores around the shed, preparing it for the winter.

I’ll be sending photos to my TumbleLog throughout the weekend from my Treo. Check it out if you have an interest in seeing what northern Arizona looks like in early September.

And, of course, I’ll be tweeting. You can read yesterday’s tweets here each morning. If you do or don’t like this feature, be sure to track down the poll about it and vote. I’ll be acting on your responses to this poll sometime around the middle of the month, so don’t delay.

[composed on top of a mesa in the middle of nowhere with ecto]

What do you think?