Dawn and I said our good byes, cleaned out the Casita and went to the Lodge for lunch. Scott Laws, the Operations Manager joined us and we had a pleasant hour debriefing and planning for future gatherings. Barbara, the Restaurant Manger also stopped by and I thanked her for last nights Banquet.
At 2:00 we were gassed and ready to go. We stopped at the Forest Gump turn off and took the obligatory photo. On the way to Moab I thought about Gatherings past and wondered if I would ever see my personal Holy Grail again. I thought back to the first time I’d come to Monument Valley more than a decade ago. It was May and the reservation was teeming with life, the wild flowers were blooming, and the arroyos were scoured clean. I remembered going down to the airstrip and setting up to launch west across the runway. My first cross country around Mitchell Butte and to the entrance of the part. The next morning when I flew deep into the park, circling the three sisters and spiraling down on The Hub that is the center of this sacred place. I thought of the solo flights that could have ended badly if I’d gone down without someone to retrieve me and the guys who had been injured and even died. Most of all I remembered the magic evening flights with the rocks a brilliant orange from the setting sun and the wings of my friends looking like butterflies playing in a rock garden. I’d been lucky, many dozens of flights without a hitch. Time to move on.