Sovereign to Slick Rock
Friday evening I arrived to the Willow Springs Road, just north of Arches National Park and Moab. I pulled my mountain bike from the car-top rack, fastened the front wheel, and enjoyed a brief ride on the Sovereign trail, watching the sun set from a high slab of sandstone. My friends David and Becky arrived later that same night.

The next morning I rode on Sovereign again, feeling more able than the night before, riding to the first large drainage and then back to the car, just over one and a half hours round-trip.

Back in town, David, Becky and I road the Slickrock practice loop twice. I am pleased to find that even after more than two months off the bike, I was able to ride the full loop without stopping but for the first, up-hill sandtrap which continues to elude me despite my best effort.

That night I slept on top of a boulder at Big Bend along the Colorado river. Sunday morning I awoke with the sun and climbed for a little over an hour before heading south on 191 to the Canyonlands Needles District back country office where I planned a week-long backpacking trip in November.

Roasted Corn in Tuba City
I returned to 191 and continued south through Bluff, west to Mexican Hat, and then south and west to Kayenta and Tuba City where the Dine Fair was in its final day.

Never have I seen Tuba so full of people, commotion, and life. I ate roasted corn on the cob while I watched Navajo children dance to live drums. I was pleased to witness strong inter-generational support and interaction between toddlers, teenagers, and elders too. I purchased two gifts, just as a storm rolled in and night came on, the vendors quickly packing their crafts and goods.

I drove the remaining two hundred miles through Flagstaff to Phoenix, listening to two breathtaking stories on NPR, one about the role of nurses as holistic healers and the other an interview with the inventor of a synthetic bacterium which fights cancer, HIV AIDS, malaria, and cystic fibrosis.

Cancer Killing Bacteria

From an interview with Ananda Chakabarty by Dr. Moira Gunn on NPR’s Tech Nation

Ananda Chakabarty received the world’s first patent of a life form, giving us a modified bacteria which eats oil which has for more than two decades been used to help clean-up massive oil spills.

This unique bacterium has the inherent ability to thrive in a low-oxygen environment, as do cancer, malaria, cystic fibrosis, and HIV AIDS, the presence of oxygen reducing their growth rates.

It is my understanding that this is why my grandfather, while fighting cancer, was given incredibly high dozes of vitamin C directly into his blood stream in order to invoke the production of hydrogen peroxide which is toxic to cancer cells.

According to Chakabarty, this designed bacterium takes the native intelligence of three billion years of evolution and tolerance of anaerobic environments to the battle front, employing genetic know-how for the destruction of unwanted tissues.

While most modern approaches invoke one or two means of fighting the cancerous cells, this leaves many other channels for growth active and capable. Only with a multi-faceted attack, one that leaves the cancer cells without foundation for recovery, can the cancer be truly removed from its host.

Called “Azura” (spelling to be confirmed) for its blue hue, this synthetic life form may be the saving grace of many millions of lives. While the FDA is supporting this endeavor, the progress is of course careful and slow. As of the interview, Azura is being tested in five humans for whom all other forms of cancer treatment have thus far proved ineffective. Per the radio interview, they are gaining weight and appear to be recovering.

When the interview was over, I found myself nearly jumping from my driver seat, wanting to learn more for my own knowledge and at the same time, thrilled at the unbridled creativity and courage of individuals who see opportunity in the impossible.

The Road to Discovery
While I have driven from Loveland to Moab to Flagstaff to Phoenix many, many times and never I tire of the venture, for there is always something new.

Sometimes over the airways or satellite radio, but usually, immediately outside the car as the low, heavily laden clouds filter the sunset in way that may be described only as a master piece of color and composition; or as a woman quickly parks her on the left side of the road, facing into the traffic in order to give chase to her sheep who have found a hole in the fence and risk impact with a vehicle, a loss to her livelihood.

I long for a winter drive across the Navajo Nation, when thin layers of crisp white cover sandstone, sagebrush, and cacti and the peaks in Monument Valley appear to have sprung from a fanciful dream of a distant wonderland.

I cherish the dozen hours of uninterrupted, intense learning as I listen to half and full hour interviews or books on CD. These are the days in which I find solitude and at the same time, a connection to something greater.