a remembered trip to craggy Utah ::::
A few years ago, my mother and I drove across the country for 3 weeks, visiting relatives and national parks. It was a bonding trip, complete with a shattered car window from hoodlums while we were in the car, quite a bit of canned tuna fish, and sleeping in our van in Walmart parking lots when camping wasn’t available. We made this trek across the country with a few goals: 1) a break before I started my residency training ; 2) to visit relatives, and 3) to run. I trained for a marathon during that time, carefully planning my daily run around the weather, the landscape, and sometimes spontaneously when I could see an infinite stretch of horizon.
My favorite place on that trip is still southern Utah with its expansive vistas, the textured colors, and clean, bright air. Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon sit in a red, arid desert scattered with hoodoos, sandstone fins, pinnacles, spires, balanced rocks, and arches. I still remember both places well: there are tall arches and tinted pillars of orange-red-yellow dotting the landscape. Pinyons and gnarled juniper pop green into the red of the sand. Dusty green-gray clumps of stiff grass and shrubs lounge across the great expanse of sandy terrain with intermittent patches of dark knotty crust. Picturesque panoramas are in every direction. The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, the oddly monikered weathered rock pinnacles, scatter the canyon. I imagine these hundreds of hoodoos as people in the amphitheater, waiting en masse for an important event. A photo only captures a tiny square of color in something so vast, not even coming close to what one actually sees.
I plan a run surrounded by these rocks and after 9 miles, I’m gritty with dirt, sand, and salt crusts my skin. My shoes filled with sand and my socks stained. I could feel the soft sand piles move in my shoes as I ran up hills and around curves. The colors in the mountains and hills don’t make it seem like dirt, just layers of different spices thrown into craggy towers. Some of the hills are woven with the differently hued sandstones, dripping down the hillsides like paint. Dry air cools me quickly while I run and I revel in the mix of red grit and dried salty sweat on my skin. It feels so earthy but clean like the air, even under my nails and between my toes. I have an urge to roll in it. The sand is so fine, I would shake out red dust from my running shoes for days afterward.
For months, the red dust remained in my running socks despite numerous washings in the laundry. I painted my living room the color “Bryce Canyon.” I have a penchant for running my hands through red dirt any chance I get. And my craggy feta-walnut dip, ever so slightly, brings me back still to Bryce, to Arches, to the otherworldiness of it, the textures, the pops of green. Time to escape; time to delve into a feta-walnut dip. No red dirt needed. Plus, it’s a perfect post-run snack, salty and full of nut fat to replenish calories.
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup walnuts
- ½ cup milk
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- drizzles of olive oil
- cayenne pepper (optional)
- Chop parsley finely.
- Put all ingredients into blender or food processor and blend well. Drizzle a little olive oil in with processor running.
- Put dip into bowl and drizzle with olive oil just before serving.
- Serve with crackers, pita, vegetables.
- Can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It will harden some when cool, so allow to come to room temperature before serving.