“The book American Gods wishes it was.” --Despina Durand

Thursday, October 14, 2021


As we got ready for the all-day cross-country jaunt from Hailey, Idaho/Sasquatchlandia to Farmington, New Mexico/Aztlán, Saigonesque scenes from Afghanistan dominated the TV. A cool wind from the east mixed with the smoke; maybe there was some fog in the haze we drove into.

A patch of naked, pale blue was devoured by the smoke as we headed back to Utah.

It cleared some as we came back to Moab. Without realizing it, while trying to get a picture of the smoke, I got a picture of some dinosaurs. While taking it Emily said, “Look! Dinos!” I didn’t see them until I looked at the picture later.

On the way to Cortez, there was residue of snow or hail in the ground.

And the Ute Mountain casino proudly announced that it’s OPEN 24 HOURS.

The next morning in Farmington, at the motel's complimentary breakfast bar, I overheard a hotel employee tell of how she’s afraid that doctors are using COVID as an excuse to harvest healthy people’s organs. As we left, I saw a sign: I MISS THE AMERICA I GREW UP IN.

We ran into similar sentiments in the nearby town of Aztec. It was cute and funky, with a store called Junque & Sister. Emily said we have to go back someday.

As we got back on the 550, a truck pulled a trailer with an AMERICA OR BUST sign.

When we got onto an Apache reservation, we documented a spectacular guerrilla mural in an abandoned structure. Nearby, past a hoodoo hill, was an elaborate shrine to a fallen biker who must have had clout with the tribe.

We went slow, and stopped for pics. That annoyed the hurried locals. Mike is an excellent cherchez le weird scout.

Eventually we checked in at the Inn By the Delta, where the streets twist around the Rio Grande, between a public library and tattoo parlor in Conquistador-founded Española. A lot of businesses sported bright, freshly painted signs.

The Mexican restaurant next to the Inn, La Fonda de Sol, doesn’t insist on dumping a mound of cheese on the entre. People get lunch while waiting to get their tattoos.

I read some of R. Ch. Garcia’s Death Song of the Dragón Chichxulub, part of which takes place in Española.

Later I dreamed I was trapped in a high tech yet satisfying theme park.

A walking stick (the insect) hung out on the window of Mike’s room. A snail made a trail across the sidewalk.

 And when we picked up brisket sandwiches for later at Rudy’s “Country Store” and Texas Bar-B-Q, the Jefferson Airplane's “White Rabbit” played.

In Albuquerque we got coffee at Blunt Bros. and bagels from Einstein Bros. I had the jalapeño bacon, and Emily had a spinach fortuna. Mike doesn’t eat breakfast.

It was around this time that we scattered Maggie’s ashes, in places I’m not mentioning, just in case there are some legal issues . . . It was magical. At one point some ashes went straight up and didn’t come down.

We also saw a lot of wildflowers, an old church, an abandoned bar, and a lot of the sights that she loved.


We visited Pie Town, which has shed the Trump paraphernalia it had last year. When we crossed the VLA it started raining. It always rains when we are there.


We also passed a place that sold books and ammo.


I got a Facebook message from Daniel Scott White with the email addresses of two interviewers that I made a point of getting in touch with. Gotta keep that self-promotion machinery running.


Highway 84 North is another road of geologic wonders. A wind blew in clouds that mellowed the light, thinning the smoke, cooling things down. Could we get rain? Snow?


A sign: WELCOME TO COLORFUL COLORADO, is redundant. Maybe it should properly be translated to “colored,” or “of color.”


In Pagosa Springs the signs announced MEE: HMONG CUISINE and KILL BLOCKS VIEW. I expected to see LAW OF GRAVITY STRICTLY ENFORCED.


Why now? Anything could be possible in a resort called Purgatory, and a town called Ouray. And in some of these Colorado towns, cannabis places outnumber liquor stores.


Some rain washed Colorado clean of the smoke, but there was still bug splatter on Zsa Zsa’s nose. The rain got so hard it was like being in a submarine.

Next day Mike led us through one of his “short cuts through a mountain pass” that twisted through a misty forest on a road strewn with potholes as clouds hung on the mountains.

In Vail, Mike set up at “Art on the Rockies Presents Vail Fine Art” which was in an upscale shopping mall.

Emily and I poked around some of the local towns, like Minturn and Leadville.

Lots of photographable funkiness and tourists, and weird vibes.

Emily bought some clothes.


Then she suggested we check out Aspen. Driving there was an adventure, as was finding parking. We finally put Zsa Zsa in front of a chi-chi supermarket with a homeless guy talking to himself, near a smashed and graffiti’d van.

The thrift store she found online turned out be too chi-chi, but I took a selfie in front of the Fat City Art Gallery.

I wonder what Hunter S. Thompson would think of the town now, where the only black woman on the street avoided looking at me, as if acknowledging my existence would harm her hard fought for status? Before we left we used the restroom down the kafkaesque hallway of the Chi-Chi Mart.

We eventually discovered that the window of our motel room looked out to a weird wall.

Then it was westward on Highway 70 through the -- haze? Smoke? Whatever it was, it wasn't as bad as it was before, and the landscape was getting pre-Grand Canyon-ish.

We took the 191 back to Moab. It seems that all roads lead to Moab.

We couldn’t resist the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding. Another place we keep coming back to. There’s so much in that one building.

Then we cruised over to Bluff, and the Kokopelli Inn that was empty when we got there, but more guests showed up overnight. Of course, we had Navajo Tacos.

Then we were homeward bound, through the Big Rez and Monument Valley, with the cinematic landscapes, abandoned structures, guerrilla murals, roadside shrines, people selling stuff.

And masks and social distancing were being enforced. After all, there was still a pandemic going on.

Then Emily said, “Quite a few deer sacrifices on this trip.”

Friday, October 8, 2021


Chicanonautica discusses words, at La Bloga.

Starting with Chicano:

Then to Latino:

And Latinx:

And back to Chicano:

Thursday, September 30, 2021


We didn’t have to go looking for a place to have breakfast. By the time we got up, a trailer had pulled up in front of the Silver Sage Motel. It was Bitsy’s Brew, Bitsy being a very friendly bulldog who insisted on greeting all the customers. The breakfast burritos were bizarre pre-packaged things, but the coffee lived up to the best-in-Moab hype the woman at the desk had given us the night before.

The smoke had cleared a bit, allowing us to take off to Ogden without much trouble. We cruised Barsoomian Utah, a place to let your dreams run amok and morph into new myths. The sky was actually blue.

For a while, then suddenly it was like hitting a wall of smoke. The rampaging dreams got nightmarish.

In Ogden, we ate at the Prairie Schooner Steakhouse. 

A picturesque joint with booths that looked like covered wagons.

Stuffed creatures, and wooden Indians were all over. Good, classic Country western music played. There was even a jackalope.

The food was good too.

The next morning wasn’t as smoky thanks to a cool wind from the east.

While listening to Em and Mike talk, I got an idea for a character for a surreal space opera: a human hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy who flies around selling stuff, who knows all the back roads and weird worlds.

We had mochas and muffins at Coffee Links. There was a FUCK RACISM sticker on a car in the parking lot, Aztec-inspired art and calaveras on the walls, and a T-shirt with a skeleton barista was sold out.

The air got clearer as we got into Idaho. We passed a sign: RATTLESNAKE PASS, NO SERVICES. My black T-shirt and ball cap had me blending in with the locals as the ambient music went from neo-hippie tunes at Coffee Links to “Redneck Yacht Club” at a gas station.

A billboard had a woman holding a mask at arm’s length, with a look of disgust on her face, and was captioned FREEDOM IS THE CURE.

This was in the wide open spaces, farm land . . .

We found a place called La Fiesta with good Mexican food and Mexican employees. This was outside of Aztlán, Saquatchlandia, a new frontier.

Hardly saw any masks in Idaho. Meanwhile, COVID cases were surging. The governor declared an indoor mask mandate.

The next morning, thanks to TV news in the motel, I found out that we were in the Gem State and the Magic Valley. Also, Cuomo had resigned and the Taliban was taking Afghanistan. I wondered if masks would come back into vogue, and wondered if my Americano from Dutch Bros. was decaf.

Mike’s van broke down so he had to rent one in Twin Falls, in a place next to a Stinker Station, from a guy who got a call, making his phone chirp, “IT’S YOUR DRUG DEALER!”

I’m also happy to report that there are taco trucks in Idaho. Later, we checked into the Hailey Airport Inn that’s next to a cemetery.

Next day we helped Mike put his booth together for the Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival. Writers should also be good all-purpose stooges. Being able to help out with things helps get you into places where you can get insider information, and observe people behaving naturally.

Afterward, Emily and I took a walk around Ketchum, which is famous for being the place where Hemingway blew his brains out. Now it's a place where rich people go to get away from it all, with an artistic bent.

When the festival ended for the day, Mike took us up to the Sawtooth Mountains, and the very different town of Stanley.

The next day was Friday the Thirteenth.

We picked up Barbara, the daughter of one of Mike’s friends, and a geology geek. I hope young people like her soon take over the world.

We went to the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Kind of like being on another planet, with the lava crunching under our feet.

We did most of the North Crater Trail and drove the car loop. We’ll have to go back there sometime.

It was smoky the next morning at the Airport Inn. We tried Black Owl Coffee in Hailey. They had nice cinnamon mochas and the egg bacon gruyere was pretty good.

There was also a weird artistic statement on mental health in someone’s front yard. Looks like Hemingway wasn’t the only one feeling suicidal in these parts.

The smoke was worse. We wandered around checking out thrift stores.

Back in Ketchum, Siri led us on a twisted walk in search of a place called Shangri-La. When we got there it was an empty store front.

That evening, Mike took us to the incredible abandoned mining town of Custer City. Rusted metal monsters and other relics from the past. Beyond steampunk. We didn’t get back until after dark.

Sun Valley was full of smoke the next morning. The Taliban was taking Kabul.

Mike told us about some of his weird dreams while we searched for the house of some people who wanted him to make them a $12,000 kitchen table/drum. It was a big house on a forest/golf course. When we got there, they weren’t home.

Emily and I spent the rest of the day resting at the motel, in anticipation for an epic travel day.