Robert's Rocks of Love

The day began like any other.. early and cold. Rowie hid underneath the blankets trying to grasp onto her last few minutes in dreamland, while I started to set up for breakfast. A few cars and old beat up RV pulled into the parking lot as the morning sky began to brighten.

“Let’s get a move on and eat after. I’m too bloody cold to sit still.” A muffled voice commanded from the back of the van.  

I wasn’t in the mood to disagree. So we layered up, locked up, and headed to the trailhead. Boynton Canyon was the last vortex on our list to visit.. And let me tell you, she did not disappoint. (click for Sedona hiking gallery)

As we made our descent back down the trail, we crossed paths with a lovely gentleman who stopped us in our tracks.  

He introduced himself as Robert, and asked if he could give us a gift. He then handed both of us our own heart shaped rock and said, "A love heart rock for you my dear, a gift for you from Mother Earth. The heart symbolizes unconditional love. Unconditional love is all that you will need to receive and give back to our mother universe."

We started a gorgeous conversation about the Sedona lands and his time spent walking through the red rocked country. Robert spoke beauty about the space which we were in, and how he visits everyday to play his flute as a way to give back to mother earth.

Although he was clearly on his way to the top of the vortex, we asked Robert if he’d be willing to play a song for us.. and just as soon as he started playing, the morning sun hit the trees around us. Melting the frost and filling the air with the sweet smell of mother nature’s perfume.

Cornelius and The Lost Boys

We woke up in an abandon church parking lot. The sound of a nearby neighbor's dog barking echoed across the desert, as we watched the sun slowly come up behind a single row of trailers.. We did it. We survived our first night sleeping in the van. I was eager to get moving that morning. Not just because we hadn't dare exit the van all night and I was about to burst, but because we were finally in Slab City, home of the squatter.

We pulled up to check out this little oddly situated library amongst the dirt and the rattlesnakes.

Here we met Cornelius. A 27 year old gal from Minnesota who calls the library her home. What an interesting woman this one. Dressed in dreadlocks and wearing her heavy fearless coat of attitude on her back. She says to me as she sips her black coffee, "look, ya'll can take a photo but I'm not gonna pose."

We all sat around the library's bar as she told her story of living life in Slab City. She spoke about the desert summer heat and the harshness of it on her body when it reaches 120 degrees in the summer months. (Can you imagine? Everyday.. for months! ugh.) This girl is a badass and by the way she kept looking at us and our sparkle spandex wearing, freshly showered faces, she also knew this. Maybe it was the kind donation of our coconut milk to stir into her morning caffeine hit that sweetened her lips. But after some back and forth about who we were and why we were there, she eventually warmed up to us.

As Cornelius gave us a tour of the land, she told us about her youtube channel. Through it she has been receiving support, as well as donations to an Amazon wish list where she can fund upgrades to the library.

Cornelius lives in her humble hippy way. She sleeps in her trailer, and spends most of her days working on building and maintaining the library in the city's community.

"I realized the other day that being here is like being in Narnia - there's times when one day can feel like weeks."

"But how do you afford to buy food?" we asked.

Cornelius explained how the EBT system supports the community with their food. She calls it an "autonomous collective" where the members of the community all pitch in their share to buy supplies to live off of. Which sometimes, if they play it right, is enough to get "the real goods."

"We're family. It's not the easiest lifestyle, but we have fun and we take care of each other."

This woman of the desert is living by her own means, doing exactly what she wants in her time and space, and not of one ran by the systemic western culture. As much as I couldn't live in the way Cornelius does, I admire the power that allows her to.