This is one of my favorite places. We are in a lovely campground with green grass and shady elm trees on the banks of the Colorado river. It's a desert oasis.
Sandwiched in between two spectacular National Parks (Arches and Canyonlands) the town of Moab is Goldilocks size (not too big, not too small), with just the right amount of services, traffic, libraries, bookstores and tennis courts.
Yesterday was a resupply day; shopping for fish, a satellite tuner, haircut, new sewer hose, ashtray, tires and a new bar-b-que fork. We met James at the Verizon mobile phone store. He is a handsome and thoughly pleasant young man, age 26, who lived in South Florida for four years. We gradually discover that he has only learned to drive last year. I ask about bicycles and he says yes. We don't press, but he fits the pattern of a young Mormon who has served on a mission. You see them a lot in groups. They wear white, short-sleeve shirts with neckties and bicycle helmets. They travel in groups of three or four. Once they came to our house and gave me a special bible after I debated theology with them for an hour. It's in storage with everything else.
We rented a jeep next Tuesday to get back into the back country of Canyonlands. We cooked some salmon from a farm in Chile last night. It was perfectly fresh. I sneaked a free real estate magazine off the rack, while Mrs. Phred shopped for fish.
We feel very safe out here in the wilderness. It's different from our usual 3AM strolls though the inner city. I have learned that there are really only two things to worry about out here in the desert.
The first thing is human witches (also known as skinwalkers or shape-shifters). The Yeenaaldlooshii (it goes on all fours) shapeshifter has the power to assume the form of any animal they choose, depending on what kind of abilities they need. Most commonly they appear as coyotes or owls. You can tell a Yeenaaldlooshii in human form because its eyes glow in the dark. Never look a Yeenaaldlooshii directly in the eyes because that allows them to take over your body.
The other thing to fear here is chindi. These are spirits released from people at the moment of their death. The good parts of people end at death, but troubled parts continue to wander as chindi. Usually these are malignant forces or entities that manifest themselves most frequently as whirlwinds. The clockwise whirlwinds are benign and the counter-clockwise ones are evil.
You can get Ghost Sickness from a Chindi so never throw rocks at a whirlwind or call one by a name. Also, never enter a death hogan where someone has died. You can spot one of these abandoned hogans by the opening in the back that has been made to allow the Chindi to escape.