Progress can be staggering. Look at how computers have advanced just in the past five years. Truly amazing.
But sometimes you need to look at the big picture to really appreciate the change.
Just 100 years ago outlaws and cattle rustlers were the only folks to frequent Southeast Utah. Today, the same area is a tourist Mecca that attracts people from all over the world. They come to explore this unique landscape in a multitude of ways: off-road, horseback, canoe, mountain bikes, motor home, raft, even aircraft.
I've always wanted to, but never have flown that most beautiful of areas. But, I'm sure that flying through Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and The San Rafael Swell are sites that remain etched into the memories of those who have made the flights.
I know, for a fact, that Monty and Willy will never forget their flights through that area. You just don't forget being turned into a crow and thrown off of the top of a butte. Note: To read the first two episodes of this tale click HERE.
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"When Juan threw us off the edge," Monty told me. "I thought we were history. My head was so unclear because of the peyote I wasn't sure if it was real or my imagination."
"Everything went into slow motion." Willy recalled. "When I thought we were gonna hit bottom and make a smoking hole, like the pilots say, we were still falling. And all the time, Juan kept saying:'You are crows. Act like crows and fly. You must fly if you want to save your lives. You must fly to The Mescalito.' I couldn't hear him say it. It was like he was inside my head talking to me."
"Yeah, his voice was inside my head too." Monty continued. "I thought to myself that he hadn't steered us wrong so far. Not that we had any other choices any way. So, I spread my new wings as Willy did the same. As soon as I extended my wings I started to slow down. Then we began to glide away from the butte. When we had gotten used to flying, we flew back to the top of the butte. We did all this without speaking to each other, flying on each other's thoughts. Juan was still standing on the edge he had thrown us off of."
"Without speaking," Willy went on. "I told Juan that we were ready for him to join us. We were flying a holding pattern over him. ‘I will not be traveling any further with you.' He said. ‘You two are now on your own. It is up to you to let The Mescalito lead you to the spirits that you are to meet. I have done my duty. I have prepared you and delivered you to The Mescalito. Now it is up to you.' And he began to walk to the trail that we had climbed moments earlier."
"‘I thought you were coming with us?' I asked Juan." Monty said. "Isn't that why you picked the peyote too? ‘I picked the peyote with you because there is no peyote where I come from now. I wanted to take some home with me. You know, a little souvenir. As for going with you: it is not up to me to be your guardian. I have been your benefactor. I have delivered you from the evil spirts of the desert and into the hands of The Mescalito. Your fate is now in his hands.' At that he turned and walked away. ‘Use your eyes and listen.' He said. ‘The Mescalito will beckon you and you will know him when he does.' And he faded from my vision like a puff of steam in the wind."
# # # # #
"For a while we just circled over Factory Butte not knowing what to do and how to do it once we got there." Monty said. "Up to that point we had Juan to lead us, let us know what we had to do. Now it was just us two again, flying on a wing and a prayer."
"Not that flying was all that bad." Willy said. "I had never felt so free. Without any prior experiences — well, except for a couple of times in the late 60's — I was able to fly what I thought to be intricate maneuvers. We were flying like a couple of the pilots in The Blue Angels gettin' into a little Dog Fight action before we realized that we had flown all the way to Hanksville. The headlights from a motor home towing a boat heading north on 95 and turning onto 24 towards Green River that caught my eye. My left eye. My right eye was looking at Mt. Ellen."
They landed on the top of a light pole at the intersection of Utah State Routes 24 and 95. After they had perched and folded their wings they thought to each other about how they would find The Mescalito. When the motor home had gone on and the air was once again silent they began to hear a sound.
"I recognized what the sound was right away." Monty said. "Now that I look back on it, it seems so obvious. At the time it just didn't make sense. Not that sitting on top of a light standard made a whole lot of sense either. I thought I was just hearing music because of the peyote. Then Willy thought to me that he heard it to. It was coming from the southeast. Maybe 20, 25 miles as the crow flies. So, that's the way we flew, looking for the guitar sound. Now I kinda was hoping that The Mescalito was taking us to a concert."
"We flew over Robbers Roost, one of the many old hideouts that Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid used to use." Willy went on. "Actually, they hid-out all over this area. Monty and I want to explore it with our friend and World famous treasure hunter, Chuck Majoon. Ya know, I think if we had been looking for some outlaw's lost cache then we would have found it. I felt like I knew all there was to know. And when we crossed The Dirty Devil River I knew right where we were being led to: Buckacre Point.
"Monty and I attempted to travers Buckaker Point once before, at night. That was an adventure that caused us to turn around on the narrow dirt road carved into the cliff face and spend a memorable night on the banks of The Dirty Devil before re-attempting to go across again. But, this time we flew right out to the point. Except we were way above the road. Maybe a thousand feet above the road on the point itself. And there on the point of the point was a man, with his back to us. He seemed to be looking towards Fiddler Butte and he was holding something in both hands. Something that looked like a goose."
"I felt what Willy thought he saw." Monty added. "But, I knew what it was before we ever got there. It was no goose he was holding. Even before he turned around to face us as we approached I could see it was a Fender Stratocaster. The neck was in his right hand with the tuning pegs pointing to the ground. We were about to land next to Jimi Hendrix."
"Glad you Cats could make it." Jimi told them. "Now dig: we don't have much time. We gotta burn the midnight lamp. An' you know what I'm talkim'bout."
"He said it like he was making a statement." Willy said. "But, I sure didn't have any idea what the Hell he was talking about. He put his guitar in a case and when he closed the lid, it just disappeared. I mean the guitar and case just sorta vaporized. ‘You cats are night birds now and ya'll got your little wings too.'
"Then he walked over to us, leaving the vaporized guitar and case where he had left it. ‘You can fly on your own. I'll fly with you on my . . . dragon fly.' And there, just like it had been there all along, was something that looked like a cross between an ultra-light and a dragon fly. Except it wasn't there until that moment."
"He was walking over to the head of the dragonfly, what turned out to be the cockpit," Monty went on to say. "When I said: ‘Are you The Mescalito?' He stopped and turned around. He just looked at me for what seemed like an hour. It felt like he was looking through me. Better yet, into me. It was like he was looking into me. Then he smiled and said: ‘Who ‘chu think I was, man, Adrian Belew?' Then he started laughing in that tee-hee-hee laughe that Jimi had. 'You cats just flew 25 miles across the desert to someone tha'-'chu don't know? Of course I'm The Mescalito. Let's fly on little brothers, we don't have much time, dig? And the wind's just right.' And stepped into the dragonfly's head."
# # # # #
"Monty and I flew off Buckacre Point and The Mescalito followed us." Willy said. "As we flew along The Big Ridge and high above Hatch Canyon he began to talk to us. ‘You cats wanna know why I look like Jimi Hendrix, don'chu?' He asked without using his mouth. ‘I chose Jimi because he's a cat that would gain your attention. Somebody from your collective memories. A tool like a TV screen so tha' chu'all might see me. I'm only spirit. Dig? Therefore, I got no body. So, I became Jimi Hendrix for your eyes. I also became him because I know him well. It was easier for me to morph. into him than it would be Jim Morrison. I don't spend a whole lot of time with that cat. But, Jimi and I have written a couple of songs together. I mostly just write the words. Jimi is the music man.'"
"He also told us that we were meeting three spirits but they would appear to us as one." Monty added. "He said that Juan was being literal when he said we would meet three spirits. He said: ‘In the Spirit World things exist on a different level then in your world. The three spirits will appear collectively as one entity. I do not know how they will appear. I just know that they will be as one when you meet them.' The funny thing was. Even though he still looked like Jimi he was starting to sound like Juan when he talked."
"We were just flying over Gunsight Butte when it occurred to me that we were a long way from Goblin Valley." Willy told me. "Why were we flying away from our camp when we could just fly back to the truck? That's when he really started to sound like Juan: ‘I did not call you to join me just to get you out of Goblin Valley. You are here for a purpose. Why do you think the goblins reacted the way they did? Why did they drive you like stray cattle to Juan who led you to me? Because you have been chosen, young ones. Juan did not lead you to me so you can get safely back to your camp. He led you to me so I could lead you to this meeting. Why did you even decide to go to Goblin Valley to begin with? Because you were called there. That is why you had the idea to come here only a few days ago.' That was the last thought that we heard from him until we got to The Island in the Sky."
# # # # #
"We landed above the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers on the very end of The Island in the Sky." Monty continued. "We had only been out as far as the overlook at White Crack Camp before now. Then again, this was the first time we had flown out here. Jimi, or The Mescalito landed near us. As he walked over to us, his plane dissolved into thin air. ‘You cats did that really well.' He said, sounding more like Jimi again. You fly like you've been crows all yo' lives. Man, it bums-me-out that I gotta take away your wings. But, you gotta stand tall when you meet the spirits.' Suddenly, we were human again. It happened it the blink of an eye. There was no sensation like I was growing. We were just us again. Flash. It did take a while to get used to being so heavy again after being light as a bird."
"Well, I hear my train a-comin'." Jimi told them. "It's been really groovy, dig? But, the new rising sun will be here soon and there's a red house over yonder. Ya know, I ain't been home to see my baby in 99 and one half days. The Spirts you are here to meet are here now, bold as love. If I don't see you no more in this world, I'll meet you on the next one."
"Then he walked away and vaporized like the guitar and dragonfly did." Monty said. "I could still see fragments of his yellow paisley headband when the ground began to rumble and the wind started to blow taking away the last of the headband. When I turned around there was this magnificent display taking place that reminded me of the Northern Lights that I would see from time to time while I was living in Maine. A lot of blue and green clouds that looked like they were electrically charged. The clouds were laced together by a gold energy band that surrounded the entire mass and filled in the gaps between the clouds."
"Now, if you thought the story has been weird so far," Willy said. "Then I don't know what to tell you about this scene. First of all, the spirits didn't talk to us. They didn't even think to us like Juan and Jimi. They sorta communicated by feelings. I thought hearing Juan in my head was out there. Now, I could feel what the spirits felt. Or, at least wanted us to feel. I've never felt anything like that. Ever! It was like stealing some one's emotions and experiencing them. But, I was also aware of my own emotions too. And Monty's. It was close to sensory overload."
"I sensed that the three spirits were not there to harm us." Monty continued. "It was more of a curiosity thing. I felt like I should be signing autographs or something. Which made me think that I should have asked Jimi for his before he disappeared. I also sensed that the three spirits were Land, Air and Water. And even though I knew that they were not there to harm us, I felt like we were in a dangerous position. I could tell that the three spirits rarely came to one place at a time. And with their combined powers anything could happen."
"That's an understatement!" Willy broke in. "We were in deep shit! I mean, the spirits didn't threaten us. I felt like they didn't want to harm us at all. It was just all that power. Way too much power. And Island in the Sky is a very powerful site to begin with. Yeah, I was gettin' sketchy. And when it began to rain and the wind picked up, I really got worried."
"I picked up on Willy's concern and was starting to get a little worried too." Monty responded "All those emotions and strengths. I felt like we were in a big ball of electricity. The spirits seemed to be feeding off of our emotions. I don't think they really intended to do that. But, that's what they were doing. They felt it too and were beginning to draw apart from each other. I could see that the gold band that held the blue and green balls was beginning to lift and pass away from them. That's when the proverbial poop hit the proverbial fan."
"It was Land that was pulling away from Water and Air." Willy continued. "Land was the gold energy. And as it pulled away from the others I felt like I was back living in Los Angeles. I mean, the ground was moving like the floor in a fun house. Except, I wasn't having any fun. I could feel the concern that Air and Water had with what was going on. And could tell that they were about to split-up too."
"That was the time to get out of there!" Monty went on to tell. "I don't know if it was the three spirits or our emotions mixing with theirs. But, whatever was causing all this was more than I wanted to hang for. Land, the gold energy, was heading to the west, towards the north end of The Maze. Even though I sensed that Willy knew my thoughts and feelings, I grabbed him and ran to the south to go around the other two spirits who were beginning to break-apart from each other. As Water and Air began to lift above us we continued to run, now to the north, away from the edge of the plateau."
"At that moment, I would rather have been back with the goblins." Willy said. "It was raining like it was coming out of a water cannon. A while earlier, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Now, we were in a thunderstorm. The wind was blowing so hard it was lifting me off my feet. If the wind hadn't have been at our backs, I don't believe we could have run against it. I've never been in wind like that ever. And the rain! It just continued beating on our backs."
"The ground felt so peculiar!" Resumed Monty. "It was shaking like crazy. But, the mud created by all the rain made it spongy under your feet. And it sucked at your feet so it really slowed us down. When your feet were in the mud you could feel the earth rattle all through your body. Of course, our heads were still a little spongy from the peyote. But, I'm pretty sure of the things that I felt. I wasn't too sure how Willy felt. For the first time since Juan threw us off Factory Butte I wasn't able to read Willy's thoughts. And I was pretty sure he wasn't able to read mine, either."
"Nope!" Willy asserted. "Dead connection. And I was glad to have a clear head for a change. At least I though I had a clear head. Everything that had gone on during the night felt like a lifetime. I still can't believe that we did everything that we did on that night all on that night. And why did I ever think the goblins were tough? We were trying to run on severely unstable ground, in a tornado. If the wind changed, we could've been thrown of the side and into Monument Basin or something."
"When the hail began, that's when we started to look for a place to hide." Monty proclaimed. "I've always heard of hail being the size of golf balls or even baseballs. Well, I didn't have the balls to make the size comparison with. Instead, Willy and I ducked behind a large outcropping of rock and hid from the maddening hail. We were sitting in the red mud, leaning against the rock and each other trying to catch our breath. When I began to choke a little, I realized that water was hitting the back of my throat while I was heaving, trying to breathe. It was raining again. At least we weren't being beaten by hail anymore. But, we were stuck there. We'd have broken something for sure trying to run on all that hail. Nope. We were staying there for a while."
"I couldn't see anything beyond Monty and the rock." Willy confessed. "Either before of after the lightning strike. But, for a brief second, I saw a bright blue-white flash that reflected off the hail on the ground. It was the brightest light I've ever seen. Like looking into the sun from the planet Mercury. Then, all I could see was red. I couldn't even see Monty and he was right next to me. I could smell electricity in the air. It was strong and permeated the air. I could taste it in my mouth. It was like putting a hundred 9-volt batteries on your tongue. My vision was starting to return a little. I thought I could see Monty. But, it looked like he was wearing a halo. I rubbed my eyes and noticed that the air was smelling different. Like the smell you get when you've leaned a little too close to the campfire. I knew then that it wasn't a halo around Monty's head. His hair was on fire."
"Willy started patting at the flames on my head just as my eyes were coming around and I saw Willy's hair burning too." Monty continued without hesitation. "We must have looked like Laurel and Hardy batting at each other trying to put out the flames. When we got the fires out, we grabbed hands full of red mud and rubbed it on our heads. Neither one of us was burned, but all of our hair was gone. Now I was really pissed. Chase me across the Utah desert with rocks, turn me into a crow, throw me off a cliff, fly me across the badlands of Utah and into Canyonlands I can deal with. Burn off my hair and we're going to tangle. Just as I was about to stand up and scream my anguish to the wind the second lightning bolt hit just next to us."
"I could feel the heat as the lightning charged the air and us with it." Willy recalled. "And the ground began to rumble beyond what I would believe possible. Since I was still blinded by the second bolt, I couldn't see what was happening. But, it felt like the ground we were standing on was tilting below my feet. Before I could even attempt to make sense of what I was feeling we were falling through the air."
"We were surely falling." Monty interjected. "And I was afraid that it would be a long drop before we hit the bottom. I couldn't see either. But, I was sure that the lightning bolt had caused the ground to break away from the rest of The Island in the Sky. It's funny to think about how fast those thoughts ran through my head as we tumbled toward what I was sure was the Colorado River or The White Rim. It didn't matter where we were falling to. We would be dead when we hit anyway. Then, everything went black!"
# # # # #
"When I began to come-to, I could still taste the lightning's electricity in my mouth." Monty continued. "There was dry ground underneath me and I wasn't falling anymore. I couldn't believe I had lived from such a fall. That's when I thought about Willy and opened my eyes. The sun was now up. Not for long, but I could see, no longer blinded by the lightning. I was on my back looking into the sky. I rolled my head to the right and there was a large rock formation right next to me that looked vaguely familiar. When I rolled my head to the left, I was looking at Willy who was about 12 feet away on one elbow looking at me. Well, I thought he was looking at me at first. I was looking at the red mud on his head and remembered burning all my hair off. I was reaching for my own baldpate when I realized that Willy wasn't looking at me. He was looking behind and above me. ‘What's wrong, Willy?' I asked in a weak voice. He didn't say a word. He just pointed behind me. When I rolled my head back to the right I knew what it was that Willy was looking at. I was too close to see it at first. Willy was further away and got a fuller view of the rock formation."
"I sure did." Willy went on. "And I couldn't believe my eyes. We were just below The Snowmobile Goblin. All that time and we were back in Goblin Valley. How the hell did we get there from Canyonlands? The whole night before had been a trip into the Twilight Zone without the theme music. And the morning didn't bring any better answers. I stood up and Monty did the same. We wobbled around for a second and walked to each other and hugged."
"‘Am I interrupting anything, gentlemen?' A voice said from above us." Monty resumed. "We both turned to where the voice had come from. It was Ranger Tim coming down from the observation platform. ‘Man you guys are out here awfully early. I just came up to make sure the trash cans have new liners in them and saw your truck. What the hell happened to your heads?' We told him what we had done. I don't think he believed us, at first, but he helped us up to the observation tower and had us follow him back to his house where his wife, Amy, made us breakfast and gave us coffee while Tim went out to do his rounds in the campground and valley."
"When Tim returned, he told us that we could use their shower and stay in their spare room." Willy continued. "Which we gladly accepted. A shower and a couple of nice warm beds was just what the doctor ordered. By the time I got out of the shower — we flipped for the first shower and I lost — Monty was already asleep. I looked out the window as I draped my towel over the back of a chair and could see Factory Butte standing proudly in the distance. I stood there for a minute thinking about climbing to the top and being tossed off the side like the anchor of a boat. I shook my head and crawled into bed. It was the next morning before we woke up."
# # # # #
When Monty and Willy awoke, the Ranger's house was surrounded with press and dignitaries. Tim told them that the Governor was on his way to give them a medal for bravery. And, well, I guess you already know the rest. I mean, it was on the national news and in papers across the country and Canada too.
# # # # #
I hope you've enjoyed reading this famous tale of the famous duo's. And I also hope that this accurate account of this celebrated adventure clears up a few of the mis-told versions that have been tossed about.
So, there you have it. All wrapped up nice and neat.
I guess that means I have to start writing about another one of the legendary Adventures of Monty and Willy.
Back to Base Camp
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