I know nothing. At least that’s what Sgt Schultz used to insist on Hogan’s Heroes in the olden days. His I-see-no-evil comment was usually in response to the POWs latest shenanigans. My not knowing was more the result of a quiet mind, the gift of hours traveling through the colorful emptiness of autumn’s deserts, canyons, valleys and the forested mountains crossing the Continental Divide enjoyed on our recent Southwestern road trip. I am repeatedly appreciative of this quietness every time we visit one of our favorite four corners of the world.

We thought nothing of driving for hours on very lightly traveled secondary roads. Well, nothing until I smelled something burning as we headed east out of Cortez toward the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park.  The temperature gauge rose steadily toward the danger zone. Retracing our route back to Cortez, we plugged “mechanic” into our GPS and followed directions to one of only two auto repair shops listed in the area. Maxwell Automotive was open, wasn’t busy, and promptly diagnosed the problem – a cooling system nearly empty of fluid. Solution? Think nothing of it. A new radiator. But was there one in town or would one have to be shipped in over night from Denver? A quick phone call. Yes, there was one at a nearby auto parts store.

Nothing to worry about. It would take only a few hours to pull the old radiator out replacing it with the new one. Nothing to keep us from continuing on with our intended itinerary except renting a car for our excursion through Mesa Verde that included frequent stops at overviews to marvel at the ancestral Puebloans who climbed down from the mesa tops to build elaborate multi-storied dwelling in beautiful hard-to-reach sandstone alcoves.

Returning to Cortez mid-afternoon, there was nothing more to do than reclaim our wonderfully repaired van, thank the repairmen profusely, and return the rental to the airport on our way out of town. In short order, we were again on scenic, seldom traveled, secondary roads headed for Kayenta and Monument Valley. Nothing stirred my gratitude more than realizing how fortunate we were to have had car problems where we did. No problems with cell phone or GPS service. No waiting for tow trucks in the middle of nowhere. No anxiety about mechanics too busy or unscrupulous to deal with. No stress over available radiators. Considering the thousand miles or more of empty road wayfaring we drove, we are beyond grateful for the grace we enjoyed being waylaid where we were.

Long shadows alternated with sunset’s golden lights across Monument Valley while we settled into The View Hotel, nestled atop the rim of this vast natural wonder within the Navajo Reservation. Standing on our balacony there was nothing to do but delight in the changing glow sweeping over reddish sandstone buttes and spires in the near distance. But that was nothing compared to the 3 1/2 hour tour of the Monument Valley’s epic potholes and bumpy back country with our endearing Navajo guide. It, he, was clearly the highlight of our trip. And so we headed for home.

But thousands of miles of nothing on my mind can lead to a kind of deeper listening. A spirit-prompted, paying attention to a “nothing” that finally is a “something.” Suffice it to say that after a week or so of 24/7 there was an unexpected, unpleasant “dust-up” which surprised and dismayed us both. And suffice it to say, with the Mechanic adjusting a few loose screws, we ended our road trip in a much better place, having missed some epic potholes, surviving a bumpy, barren stretch of back road. Our homecoming was a high. The boon we returned with from our road trip, a surprising souvenir, was a deeper appreciation of our maturing partnership.

There’s nothing like the unexpected wonder of grace!

If you’ve enjoyed a favorite road trip in the past, what bumpy times balanced and added to the delights? What kind of opportunities came out of moments of crisis? What have been some of the boons, those “surprise souvenirs,” you’ve brought home from a trip?

Looking forward to hearing about your journeys.



2 comments to Nothing

  • Barbara McNutt

    You are a poet. I’ve been there but the telling did not sound like that. Blessings & love. Barbara

  • Driving with about 30 high school students and adult leader, three vans through the desert of Utah heading towards Moab. Huge lighting and thunder storm with a mass of rain. Queen, Bohemian Rhasody blaring on the radio. It was something. Felt God’s presence in the joy of rebel youth singing.

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