2018: Week 20

22nd May 2018
This last week has been exhausting, exhilarating, sombre and enjoyable all at the same time.

Monday: The day started much earlier than it should as our hotel in Denver, Colorado was struck by lightning shortly after midnight. After a long day of travelling that was most unwelcome, especially as the strike hit more or less above our rooms! It sounded like a bomb going off - there was a burning smell and we were all evacuated until the Fire Department had been to check everything over... we were back in bed a couple of hours later before getting up at 6am to prepare for the flight out to Moab, Utah.



On arrival we picked up a hire mini-van... and since the condo wasn't ready for us we went for a little adventure around Arches National Park. As a first taste of a new place goes this was pretty damned spectacular!





That evening I was driving again to pick up Abra from Moab airport - still trying to get my head around this driving in the USA thing!

Tuesday:

Another day, another adventure. This time we headed up the Colorado river to see some aboriginal American petroglyphs that were carved onto the cliffs from 8000 years ago by the Anasazi people. They were pretty spectacular!



We also went to look at some ancient dinosaur footprints on the Poison Spider Trail, had a mooch about Moab town and ate way too much.

Wednesday:

Graeme arrived and was collected from Green River, Utah - which turned out to be a bit of a road trip! We had a bit of a chill out, another mooch about town, another epic eat at the Moab Brewery (along with a couple of their beers) before heading out for the evening to watch a Bluegrass gig in an open air theatre.






Thursday:

Graciella and David arrived and we took a trip up the Colorado River again this time on a Jet Boat which was loads of fun, and gave us a chance to see a bit more of the area (18 miles up river).



After finishing on the river we headed off in the other direction, eventually stopping off at Castle Valley Winery... where we had to sample some of their wares. It was very good! The place had a real Wild West vibe about it! Absolutely stunning scenery too!





That evening we went out for a bit of live Jazz.

Friday:

Raphael arrived in the morning having had some travel issues the previous day, it was good to meet him - and this was the day which we had really come out for.

The morning was spent chatting and sorting ourselves out before heading up to Castle Valley once more to the cemetery. It was an odd experience - very good and certainly very Neil. The service was a Buddhist one talking about rebirth into a new life and calling on Neil's spirit to leave his body and move onto his next phase. Friends and family were called forwards after the service had finished and we carried Neil over to the grave and lowered him in before being handed shovels to back-fill. I found this experience of covering him over very cathartic, it took away a lot of the sorrow and was far easier than walking away from an open grave as we do in the UK. It added to that frontier feel of the whole thing, which was very in-keeping with my brother's life really. Abra, being the artist, created something of an installation on-top of the grave once we were finished.



That evening we had a BBQ, a few beers and chatted. We had made new friends with those closest to my brother over the last few years and rekindled old ones. All in all it was a good day, we celebrated the life of someone very special to a lot of people and sent him off on his journey in a way that I think he would have approved of.

Saturday:

Katie and Matt headed off, I dropped them at the airport where we ran into Raphael again on his way back to LA. Afterwards myself and Jen went for a drive up to the top of Castle Valley to take some photos and see what it was like further into the mountain region - it was a lot cooler, a lot greener and really rather pleasant.



After stopping in town for a bite with the rest of them we were back up Castle Valley again to read the notes from others unable to attend the funeral to Niel and then burn each one to send it on with his spirit. On the way back to Moab we stopped to get a couple of photographs - including this one of the oldest Cotton Wood tree in the State, where we also met the local nursury owner and had a chat about a tree for Niel and Abra's Dad Fred whom he is burried next too.



It was then time to start getting our stuff ready for the next morning and our return to Denver.

Sunday:

We left the condo and drove back up to Moab Airport, dropped the car off and set off for Denver, Colorado. We spent most the day sitting in the airport there - had some food and a great pint at the Chop House, read some books... then onto the plane late evening back towards Heathrow overnight.

I had taken a photograph of the area we stayed before we left to remember our home in the desert though.



Next week is going to be filled with jet lag, trying to get ourselves sorted out... probably a good bit of tidying the house, collecting the dog from the kennels and trying to keep up with the school run until half term! I suspect it is going to take a couple of weeks to get back into a routine after this trip since it has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster as well as extremely tiring. I am still on Moab time, so about 7 hours adrift of where I should be!

Rather than dwelling on the negative I am trying to make Neil's loss into a positive - trying to "be more Neil" and chase dreams and live the life that I want to live. After we lost my Mum to cancer a few years ago I fell into a pretty deep depression which I have been slowly clawing my way out of - only just starting to formulate an idea for my future. I want to embrace Neil's spirit as a catalyst to do this now, to make things happen. Hopefully I will get a start on this new life next week as I start to try and get fit and build up the experience I need to move forward with my plans and dreams.

Jetlag dependent of course.

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