An Unconventional Start in Monument Valley


Finding and making reservations to park a 40’ Motorcoach can be an onerous task. Tim can tell you all about it.

So when I received the call from The Phoenix Business Journal to congratulate me for being named one of their “Most Admired Leaders,” I had some seriously mixed emotions. What an honor to be celebrated! But the honor was to be given at a dinner on May 16th, and that was perplexing.

Our Risk Blossoming Adventure 2019 was to depart on May 15th!

Should we delay our departure for two days?

What would that do to our itinerary?

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…
It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
– Vivian Greene

The Conundrum

Consulting with Tim, my fears were validated. Many of our reservations for BAM (our Motorcoach) were made 7–8 months in advance. Our RV spot at Moab, Utah was the last one available. While my thoughts swirled with potential and alternative solutions, Tim offered up a suggestion.    

“Let me think about this for a day or two, and then we can make a decision.”

So I took it off my URGENT list and went about my business and reserved the date of the celebration dinner on my calendar. All the while, I felt that something was going to have to be surrendered.

The Solution: Meet up in Monument Valley

The next day at dinner, Tim smiled and stated, “I think I have a solution about the start of our trip; it’s a win-win.”

I was ready to listen!

“I need to leave in BAM on May 15th, so we don’t have to re-plan our trip or risk losing some of our reservations. But if you are willing to wait until Saturday morning on May 17th, my good friend will fly you up to Monument Valley to meet me.”

YES!! An option that I hadn’t even considered. And an incredibly exciting win-win!! I was in!! And so it was settled.

Most Admired Leaders

And so, Tim left on May 15th, as planned. I was emotional watching him pull away for our adventure without me. But I was excited about the opportunity to catch up with him.

The Phoenix Business Journal’s Most Admired Leaders was a wonderful event, and I am truly honored to have been included. Celebrating with my “tribe” made the occasion even more special. My biggest surprise came when The Journal passed out their special edition chronicling the event, and my photo was front page.

Most Admired Leaders

Ready for Take-Off

Ready for Take-off

I was more than ready at 6:40 am on Saturday when our friend picked me up and we headed to Cutter Aviation at Phoenix Sky Harbor. There, we pulled up to a gate, it opened, and we drove out onto the tarmac next to a Cessna Caravan.

No check-in, no TSA, no standing in line. This really was a new, and fantastic, experience. We got out of the car, a porter took my bag, I climbed into the spacious airplane cabin, picked my seat, adjusted my headset, and settled in for the trip to Northern Arizona.   

You can bet that I was excited. I was full of anticipation.  Something told me this was going to be special.

By 7:15 am, we were airborne and on our way.

Wheels Up at 7:15 am

The View from Above Monument Valley

As a young girl, with my school-teacher parents, we spent a good portion of our summers exploring Northern Arizona, the Colorado Plateau, and the Four Corners region. Thus, I was familiar, from the ground, with the landmarks and terrain. What an unexpected delight and experience to see these familiar landmarks from the air. Our flight plan had us at 10,000 feet (compared to the 30,000 feet of commercial aircraft). We had a crystal-clear day, which made the experience so much more intimate than when I had flown over this terrain on a commercial flight.

It was a fantasy of scenery and perceptions.

The ever-changing terrain was like an epic fantasy movie. I didn’t know where to point my iPhone camera, so I keep on pointing and clicking—having no real idea what my photos might look like.

Monument Valley

I can only describe the landscape I was viewing from 10,000 feet as diverse and magical. And I found myself thinking about the millions of years of erosion that had taken place and created these breathtaking landscapes. The vistas look more like art than the snapshot version of the landscape you view when driving through each area.

Monument Valley Tribal Park

Our destination, Monument Valley, spans the northeast border of Arizona and Utah. It is a beautiful area of steep buttes, mesas, dramatic pinnacles, and red sand memorialized in so many early John Ford / John Wayne western movies.

Preparing for Touchdown

We had arranged to land at the small, private airstrip at Gouldings Lodge, located four miles from the entrance to the Monument Valley Tribal Park. Once the airstrip was in sight, I was somewhat surprised by the massive buttress of a wall located at the end of the runway.

Preparing to land at Gouldings

I was confident with my pilot, as he lined up for our final approach. Using the appropriate pilot protocol, he radioed in (no tower, no strip attendant) to alert any other possible planes in the area, his intention to land with a full stop. My mind retreated to a place where I acknowledged there really was no other alternative. There was no possibility of a “touch and go” here. With the gigantic wall at one end of the runway, your only options were to land in one direction and take off in the other.

The landing was perfect, and we coasted to a full stop right where Tim Bateman was waiting for us.

Willie waiting at the end of the landing airstrip at Gouldings


 “Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.”

– Louie Schwartzberg

What an amazing experience. What a gift! I am so grateful to my incredible pilot, the beautiful day, and nature’s inspiring beauty. It is a day that I will treasure. It was a day in which I had the opportunity to view my beautiful home state at 10,000 feet.

I am so grateful that I embraced this opportunity. Tim and I were together and ready to officially launch our Risk Blossoming Adventure 2019.

Ready to begin our Risk Blossoming Adventure 2019

Explore. Discover. Grow

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