Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dewey Bridge over Colorado River burns

Dewey Bridge is no more. (For now.) The bridge burned on Sunday, April 6, in a fire started by a 7-year-old playing matches. Seriously.

The first time I wandered into southeastern Utah, it was over the old Dewey Bridge. It was in the early spring of 1983. I was finishing up my first season of ski bumming in at Winter Park, where my life-plan of getting a good job in a city back East was dashed by the lure of the ridiculous mountains and their wacky towns. I was wondering what to do next, when I read Ed Abbey's Desert Solitaire. Well, you know the story from there ... had to go check out that surreal place he was describing ... which would only deepen my ski-bum psychosis into desert-rat neurosis, and later, river-running dementia.

First, though, I had to cross that bridge. The one that crossed the Colorado River, which that night, when I arrived at 2 in the morning, seemed a slow, dark, greasy slice of desert sliding under my feet as I stood on the dark wooden slats of the old suspension bridge. My car was stopped and silent on the bridge -- there was no traffic in March in the desert back then -- and I just stood there smelling the dryness and the aromas of tamarisk and silt and thick water and the rock. Perfumes I would never again be able to be far from.

I had crossed over, and there was no going back for me.

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