Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Last Day Blues: Pandemic Road Trip Part 16

"If you want to know where to get good coffee in any town," Michael advised, "ask a cop."

Not that we went looking for one. It's just that we were looking for morning coffee, and we saw a police officer. Michael asked, and the fellow told him "Look for Wanderlust Cowgirl Coffee" (another drive-through style place). "My son Troy works there. Tell him Micah sent you."

For a good fifteen minutes I thought Micah was named after the mineral. Then I recalled the name is in the bible.

Troy was wearing his mask and social distancing like a good guy -- he only took it off so I could take his photo. And he is a most excellent barista, so stop in if you're passing through.

What's funny is that my Mom had already had a 16-oz caramel hazelnut decaf latte at Sevier Valley Coffee, and two hours later she wanted another one. So we found Wanderlust Cowgirl Coffee in Panguitch and got her another one. After all, that little lady needed all the calories she could get. Come to think of it, I may have had a second one, myself.

My email notes were the most phoned-in of the entire trip:


Paria Beach, Lees Ferry 

In my defense, Utah is so crowded with wonders, you're not going to feel compelled to point your eyes at a phone. For instance, as we headed south on HWY 89, we passed Big Rock Candy Mountain.

It has its own convenience store, too.

Yet somehow, I ended up taking more pictures of small town stuff than of geological wonders in Utah. Like nifty buildings.

And this one over here.

And that one over there.

Oh look, there's another one.

Looka the nice porch.

And the gorgeous public building, upon which considerable moolah and care were lavished.

But wait, there were also these wacky vehicles.

All in the same yard.

In Hatch we saw a couple of hitchhikers.

Our plan was to drive through Kanab and into Arizona. From there 89 becomes 89a and veers around the southern border of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, mostly because a gigantic erosion feature called Grand Canyon makes it impossible to go straight south. Michael wanted to show us one of his favorite fishing spots, Paria Beach at Lees Ferry, in Marble Canyon.

Rivers are cool, especially for the sediments they erode and deposit, but the features I find most interesting are washes. They epitomize the desert. "Water has been here, but not right now, and not for you, sucker. Until the moment you're not looking, and then you're gonna drown."

I especially love the rocks you can find in washes.

By the time we left Lees Ferry, the day was waning. I was already pretty sure we wouldn't make it back to Flagstaff in time to turn around and leave for Phoenix, but at least we were able to get the rental car back and not get charged for an extra day. We went to the market with Michael and got steaks, and family cooked up a wonderful supper. Ernie and I ended up back at Michael's workshop for the night. Full circle.

For the record, you can see an amazing number of stars in the night sky over Michael's workshop. You can see through our galaxy and into the next one. I stood there and reflected on two weeks of road trip wonder. I started to scheme about the next one. Part of it would have to pass through New Mexico, so Mom could see her radio telescopes at the VLA again.

That's never going to happen. 

The night of the 13th wasn't a good one for Mom. By the next day she was herself again, and she was so ambitious when we got home to Phoenix, she cleaned out a couple of drawers. But she started to decline steeply after that. The day after Thanksgiving, she couldn't even speak. That's the case about every other day now.

She did the two things she was still hanging on to do. Honestly, I think she would go on another trip if she could. Her will is still strong. It's her body that's giving out. I respect her decision.

Tomorrow, the Aftermath. Spoiler alert: there's an amazing amount of laundry.

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