When I had a house in Moab, I used to get up in the morning, have a cup of mud, pack a lunch, then head out to points unknown and just wander with the dogs.
I worked part-time for the local newspaper, and since I was always out and about, I managed to find lots of news stories the editor wasn't aware of.
Sometimes a story would consist of interviewing some old timer, and other times it would be "real" news, since I covered the crime beat (such that it was), as well as search and rescue (SAR). The SAR beat could keep me pretty busy, as Grand County has one of the most active SAR groups in the country.
I covered lots of stories of base jumpers falling into the rocks, ATV drivers going over cliffs, hikers getting lost, rafters disappearing in the big rapids, bicyclists breaking legs—the kinds of things that always happen in an active outdoors area.
The emergency room at the local hospital actually has a chart showing the number of accidents for the season at each mountain biking trail.
But sometimes my day would include dropping by the office to listen to Sam Taylor, third-generation owner of the paper, relate stories about the early canyon country, some that I knew were tall tales—Sam's been gone a number of years now. Those were good days.
I explored a lot of the area in an intimate way, looking at every nook and cranny, which is really the way to get to understand an ecosystem.
There were places I knew so well I could tell you what grew where and when. I was always finding something of interest, whether it be an old sheepherder's stove, lithic scatter, or a rare penstemon.
I had several books on the flora and fauna and could tell you what everything was called, an art I've partially forgotten at this point. I knew where the jackrabbits holed up and where the bullsnakes lived and even could walk you to a coyote den or two. I have no idea how many miles I walked each day—sometimes not even one and other times a lot.
It was the best of times and in some ways the worst, as I had very little money and many bills to pay. This improved after I decided to sell the house, freeing me from a house payment and associated costs.
I've had some hard times camping, especially in inclement weather, but nothing can beat hearing coyotes yipping in the middle of the night or getting up to a stunning sunrise.
I'm currently in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, one of the nicest towns anywhere, with cool nights and days and stunning scenery, but the canyon country tugs at my heart and I'll be going back over there when it cools off, probably mid-September.
Moab's been discovered, but there are still lots of places where one can hide out and explore and watch the full moon rise over the distant mountains.
And there is lots of big desert close to Moab that the tourists aren't even aware of—places over by Price and Green River. Plenty of country for everyone.
As much as I love my home state of Colorado, maybe I'll give up the wandering life and move back over to the canyons one of these days. I guess that if I do, I'll still be wandering, but in a smaller way.