childhood.” It is the present generationrnof seniors that is chiefly responsible forrnthe despoliation of the American landscapernb’ suburbia, shopping malls, superrnhighways, fast-food strips, and industrialrnparks to the point where almost no workrnof human hands in America today isrnworth anv response beyond a violentrnretch. Nothing in Arizona approaches,rnfrom an aesthetic point of view, thernbeautv of a 2,000-foot wall of slickrockrncliff, vet in Scdona—built at the outletrnof Oak Creek Canyon, in which ZancrnGrey (a remarkably sophisticated riietoricianrnwhen compared not just to bonisrnL’Amour but to most “serious” novelistsrnof the present dav) lived, hunted catanrounts,rnand wrote his horse operas—rnthe Bluchcads are hard at work, havingrnretired from everv other occupation, tornbring the culture and beauty of FerrernHaute, Indiana, to what was up untilrnyesterdav primeval wilderness. Thernproof of the failure of American civilizationrnis these pathetic aged children,rncreators of the American Century andrnthe richest and most fortunate generationrnin the history of the entire world,rnarrived at what is supposed to be the agernof wisdom with nothing on their mindsrnbut golf and dessert and no weaponrnwith which to confront their mortalityrnbevond a wallet full of credit cards.rnIn order to make an accjuaintancernwith Arizona at any time of year, yournhave to get out on the back—meaningrndirt—roads: disappear into the Indianrnreservations; poke around on the Mexicanrnborder, where the two-bit smugglersrnscamper across carrying greasy backpacksrnstuffed with cocaine and the big fish, onrnhorseback and armed with AK-47s, leadrntheir pack strings loaded with bales ofrnmarijuana through steep dark canvons;rnand slip over into Mexico to attend thernbullfights in Nogalcs, Sonora. In AguarnPrieta, contingent to the American cityrnof Douglas (founded in the earlv I900’srnby the family of the late Supreme CourtrnJustice), the Christmas decorationsrnremain for Easter, and if you tip therntabernero five bucks he will call the copsrnand maybe even draw a knife in your defensernwhen the other patrons lookrnsciuint-eved at you and mutter aboutrngetting the gringo. West of the townrnof Sells, capital city of the TohonornO’Odham, the Papago Indians are havingrntheir Spring Classic Rodeo, selling fryrnbread under ramadas covered bv ocotillornpoles while the musicians prepare for arnChicken Scratch dance in the evening.rnNear the crossroads hamlet of Why,rnnorth of Cabcza Prieta and Organ PipernCactus National Monument, not farrnfrom Edward Abbey’s secret grave, sluggishrnrattlesnakes awakening from theirrnwinter nap nip at your heels and redtailedrnhawks fan your shoulders withrntheir wings as you climb the hills amongrnrotting cacti for a better view of misshapenrniron mountains floating distantlyrnon their wide alluvial pediments.rnFour vears ago I bought a javelina licensernand went pig-hunting with myrnfriend Jim Rauen from Belen, NewrnMexico. We hunted long and hard inrnthe Burro Mountains in southwesternrnNew Mexico immediately cast of thernArizona line and saw nothing but tornuprnprickly pear surrounded by the tinyrnheart-shaped tracks of these small desertrnswine to whom the mysterious disappearancesrnof prospectors, desert rats, andrnmystical hippies have been attributedrnover the years. After season’s end, Jim returnedrnto Belen while I proceeded intornArizona, made camp in the desert inrnview of the Chiricahua Mountains, andrnwatched snow fall from black springrnclouds above the golden valley at sunset.rnAfter a supper of leathery steak, beansrnand chile, and a bottle of red wine, Irncrawled into my bag and slept until twornin the morning when a pod of pigs rootingrnup cacti around the tent woke me.rnStill, the best place—the locale du jour—rnin late March and in April is not in Arizonarnat all but in southeastern Utah, onrnthe verge of the canvon country in whichrnGrey set his Riders of the Purple Sagernand which Edward Abbev later nradernlegendary through many books and essaysrnand perhaps even a few well-intentionedrnlies. Canvonlands National Parkrnlies close to the heart of the region, butrnit is to be avoided if you arc travelingrnbv horseback and are addicted to cookingrnsupper and warming yourself at arnjuniper-wood fire instead of huddling,rnas ideologically minded backpackersrninsist on doing, over a tiny stinking stovernpowered by white gas and manufacturedrnbv socialists in Sweden.rnLavender Canyon begins—rather itrnends—as a wide grassy valley boobytrappedrnby prickly pear and bisected by arnsandy wash that, in early spring, carries arnthin sheet of moving water. The rightrnwall culminates in an imposing chimneyrncalled Sixshooter Peak; the left, arntall slickrock cliff, is interrupted at intervalsrnby tree-grown ledges like Babylonianrngardens. It is a 12-mile ride to camprnover an imperceptible gradient, on arncreek bed firm and smooth except forrnthe sandiest places. The horses, fat andrnsoft from a winter spent on the windyrnsteppes of Wyoming at temperatures torn40 and 50 below zero, are encouraged byrnthe warm sun and the cool water to arnbrisk trot that causes the tin pans andrnpots, the bottles of bourbon and brandyrnand wine, to chink cheerfully inside thernpacks strapped over the croup behindrnthe saddle. As the canyon narrows, thernmeadow is invaded by juniper and cedarrntrees, and presently a riverine cottonwood,rngreen like sea foam with spring,rnappears around a bend. Each year it isrnthe stopping place for lunch.rnThe rock walls close around a funnelrnof cooling air moving down canyon asrnthe sun declines and the watercourse entersrna series of tight turns grown up in thernswags with greasewood and sagebrush.rnThe horses respond to the loosened reinrnby breaking to a lope, and abruptly therncanyon opens to encompass a glade filledrnby slim cottonwoods, where it is joinedrnbv a box canyon screened by cedars andrnbox elders concealing high red walls circlingrna grassy park. The indentation inrnthe north wall, 50 feet above the canyonrnfloor, is crowded by the nests of bats andrnof cliff swallows and by broken rock;rnat one end a pair of graincrics, built ofrncarefully cut stone blocks, shows againstrnthe back wall of the cave, which six orrnseven hundred years ago was a village ofrnPrcmont Indians, cousins to the mysteriousrnAnasazi. We unload the horses andrnmake camp directly below the cave, insidernthe ovcrlip cut by flood waters intornthe base of the cliff.rnWhile my companion gathers woodrnfor a fire, I strip to nry shorts and race thernhorses bareback in the creek throughrnsprays of cooling water. Later we uncorkrna bottle of red wine and sit by the russetrnflames listening to the young tree frogsrnsing from the leafing cottonwoods, as arnfull moon rises above the canyon wallrnand above our heads the ghosts of thernancient Southwest murmur from theirrnruined home. Soon it will be time tornhead north and contend for a month orrnso longer with the protracted winter thatrnalone has protected Wyoming from thernfate that is overtaking Arizona. But herernand now, winter is finished, and we are inrnParadise. crn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn