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.”