Blue Dodge and Old Herring

By John Smiley

[A “creative” piece written in 1967 for his English class; slightly edited.
The “blue dodge” is his 1955 automobile, a blue and white “Coronet.”
Below: comments in brackets]


Mark called me from L.A. and said "let's do something.” We had thought before about going to Colorado and so it was a natural choice. Mark was bringing some money, and I already had some (of course it turned out that neither of us had as much as we had hoped). We spent a day planning the trip. That same evening we (rather hurriedly) bought our groceries and left. Bonnie saved us by taking us over to El Rancho and buying us some groceries; otherwise we would have taken off with thirty pounds of potatoes and ten cans of pork and beans, and nothing else. [We somehow bought some frozen herring also, something I have never eaten before or since, and put it in the ice chest.]

With the car laden with enough junk to fill the trunk and back seat, we headed off at 10:30 at night on a quarter of a tank of gas. After a few miles it was necessary to fill the tank, which event turned out to be only the first of a long series. However, the wonderful car-cooler also needed filling (at no cost); the only time (we soon discontinued its use). [Note I had an antique device that fit in the car window and held water. You could pull out a soaking wet piece of cloth that would cool the car by letting the air blow through it, supposedly. It didn’t actually work.]

It was 2:30 and hot in Phoenix when two tired travelers searched among identical apartments for that one belonging to Gordon (Mark's Dad). We found it and woke everybody up. But it didn't matter. We stretched out on the floor in bedrolls, and woke up. We ate breakfast with Irene and her two little boys. They were like most 2-4 year-old kids except what little vocabulary they had was bilingual. "Pass the pan"..."I drop my cuchillo" etc.

Later we went swimming in a pool-bathtub. The water was warm, (everything was warm. The candle Mark brought actually melted sitting out in the car over night.)

That afternoon we left for Flagstaff. The old car did fine on the freeway - at low speed it got 20 mpg -but on the steep grades, especially in Black Canyon, where it was hot, the engine got a little overheated. The car wasn't really very overheated, but I stopped and put some water in the radiator (like a mother feeding her baby). We drove into Flag that afternoon, and stopped to see Bob Harris, who was at N.A.U. studying math. Then it was off to Sunset Crater and our first camp-cooked meal. It is noteworthy that the canned spaghetti boiled over - all over the stove - in the most grandiose setting - among the jagged remains of past volcanism and presided over by the Hopi Gods on the San Francisco Peaks. The occasion was an omen of great merit, but I didn't care.

We did not stay in the area to camp, which would have been the expedient, and therefore unpleasant, thing to do. I drove the car deep into Indian Country –cliché cliche- and then handed the wheel -"- over to Mark. I spread stuff around in back and went to sleep.

"Buzz.. .brrp.. .grind.. .crunch! 1J" was the sound I woke up to. It was the car's speedometer, my speedometer. My reaction was one of outrage; I had let someone else touch my BABY. Mark then explained what had happened, which soothed me a bit.

When we stopped for gas in Tuba City (there was a God-knows-what-reason-for GIANT Motel there) the attendant unhooked the speedometer so it would not rattle. We drove on through Indian Country, not knowing how fast we were going or how far it was between "watch for livestock next 50 mi." signs. [I also remember driving out of Tuba City on a bright moonlit night, and wondering how people drive safely when it is so dark outside. Then I realized I had not turned on the headlights!]

At Four Corners there was a group of kids sleeping right on the monument slab. We woke some of them up with our headlights. Mark got out and talked to them (he had been talking about the love-in at Monterrey and I was almost expecting him to start one right there, GIRLS OR NO!, which was a frightening thought. There weren't any. Then we headed on, through Cortez, a town so small that they don’t keep spare tires for DC3 airplanes (I know), to Mesa Verde N.P. [When I was younger my Dad and I flew from Tucson to Mesa Verde for a meeting. We landed in Cortez. On the way home we had to wait until a spare tire could be brought from Farmington. The plane was a venerable DC3.]

The headlights were again useful in waking up the ranger at the park gate. He let us in with the understanding that we would pay the fee in the morning. It was morning - 2:00 - and the campers already there, with the virtue of our headlights, knew it. Naturally Mark had to perform a rousing bedtime chorus on his guitar.

In the morning we ate some sweet rolls for breakfast, and ware invited over to have some coffee by the campers next to us. They were a pretty nice family, (naturally Mark used this as an example of true love, which led to much philosophical discussion).

We drove to see cliff palace, and took the free guided tour of the ancient abode of park rangers. The ruins were of course interesting, but we had both been there before. The ranger made a pun about Indian feet-prints or something and we laughed, about that off and on for days.

We drove on that afternoon to Durango, through uplands and meadows. That greenery hit me more than any other for the rest of the trip. It was GREEN. [You have to realize that to Tucson boys, any shade of green is startlingly vivid.]

In Durango the car was greased and the man fixed the speedometer. Then we headed for Vallecito Lake, a virtual Shangri-la in Mark's memory (it was a beautiful place) of his days spent near there at a summer camp.

We rolled around the lake for an endless amount of time until we finally reached a campground. It was full, so we went on, hoping to find a spot at a camp ground across a tongue of the lake. Unfortunately, the road, and it was the only one, took us up a side stream with no intention of coming back (it turned into a muddy jeep track, with no room to turn around in and vicious "no tresspassing11 signs). So we wearily jockeyed the car around and went back to that first campground.

Lake Vallecito is a beautiful place. The lake is big and blue, and has been around long enough to give it that "settled" look (which is very pleasant. Too many lakes look as though their beds had been blasted out with dynamite.). At that altitude the sky is very deep blue and the thunderheads form a striking contrast. The air was warm and soft and flies were buzzing.

We lazed around the campground for an hour or so, enjoying ourselves, and then decided to take off to the north and find a campground. We stopped at one of many little stores and I got out and got us some ice (and talked to the waitress in the store. I mentioned as we left that this wasn't such a bad place after all, and maybe we should stay, but we had already decided..) The ice was to preserve the frozen herring in the ice-chest so we would not throw it out, but it stank anyway.

From Durango we headed north through canyon-type scenery, the everyday thing in Arizona, But after a while the elevation became appreciable; the air cooled and there were some scattered spruce trees. We drove on over a small saddle and in front appeared some real alpine mountains, the kind you come to Colorado to see, We stopped at the next campground; a campground with a VIEW.

Besides the view, which was magnificent, the most noticeable feature of the place was the black soil, or mud. The campsites were fairly open and pleasant and there weren't too many people. There was a nearby meadow, with lots of flowers.

Speaking of flowers, Mark and I went wild. Flowers in the hair - name of a wonderful song - was only the beginning. Colorado has more flowers than any other, and so we want ripping through them like they were going out of IT only they weren't.

We stayed there for three days. After leveling the car off by digging holes for the wheels the first order of business was to set up the tent. (Some camper-neighbors asked "why are you leveling the car off by digging holes for the wheels?" and I gave them a very dirty look - can you imagine?) The tent is a heavy canvass renegade from the civil war, and is not easy to set up. The easiest part is to stake down the floor, even when the stakes on one side are set(?) in mud and those on the other in solid rock. The hardest part (did I only say 'hard'?) is putting in the corner-roof-rods. The tent is shrunken, but the steel rods aren't and difference is noticeable - it accounted for, new rip in the canvas.

I spent a great deal of time learning how to throw my knife at trees. One tree in particular had his barf all shreddy and mumble, a real dalmation. I never acquired the accuracy I wanted though at times I would get hot and hit ten in a row.

We met these two girls up there. They were from Douglas, Ariz (why would they want to leave?) and were, well, why did they leave? When Mark and I went a-flowering down this trail so did they, and Mark conjectured that they were following us but they weren't were they? They left the next day anyhow, after soaking in some of Marks guitar playing and our moldy camp.

Across the meadow, way across the meadow, were some giant mountings, all shimmery and glimmy in the final raise of the son. There was snow on them, mixing the colors of white, black, red, brown, and green, and intermediate colors thereof, into a real EYEFUL. And the sky was blue. I spent minutes gazing at the site.
It rained while we were there, and a few things got wet. There was something very funny that happened, including the loaf of bread's getting wet, but I can't remember it. All I know is that we got in the car all wet, laughing.

Mark met some kid from Chicago who also played the guitar and they discussed it while I whipped up some hamburger patties (which we ate with our fingers dirty little yellow fascist fingers). The kid was green with henry at our luck nature and we knew it.

We slept in the tent and found out that one of the air mattresses had a leak. But Mark didn't care. I slept on blankets for the rest of the trip. We finally left that campground.: Going up one of the grades leading to a pass on the other side of which is Silverton the car hit an all-time record (low) speed of 20 mph., and the machine was floored but the old dog car made it and I was proud.

We popped into Silverton {after following for 15 minutes some pansy easterner or something who braked all the way on the downgrade) with a load of dirty clothes. We stopped at an authentic run-down Western laundromat in Authentic Western Run-down Town. I washed the clothes (or watched them rather) while Mark ran off down the street. I talked to a native Texan kid who really liked it up there. "I really like it..." he said stupidly. When Mark came back he was all excreted and harble, but to this day I canned sardines.

We left Silverton headed for Ouray Pass or whatever it's called. The road wound up the canyon with a precipitous drop on (only) one side and the most Gorgeous Scenery all around. Naturally I was trying to take it all in and consequently I was hanging out the window all over the place and paying zero attention to the road, which must have scared Mark S. But it was beautiful. The mountains in that area are all scarred with mine tailings and jeep roads. With a jeep you could travel all over the place (called the San Juan Mts.).

There are plenty of 14,000 foot peaks in the area. There is snow on most of them, and so lower down there is water. (WATER; okaaay?). We stopped at Bear Greek Falls and appreciated the goshing torble. [Like green, flowing water is something to be marvelled at if you’re from Tucson.]

The road climbed to over 11,000 feet before going over the pass. At that altitude the air is really bracing and the sun is bright. Everything is green and CLEAN. It's so open it's like heaven or whatever.

The road climbed over the pass and wound down the other side in hairy curds, the tidest I ever seed. On severall extrusions you could not exell more than 10 m.p.h. (mini-poo-ha, a Navajo epitaph- or exultation). After a regular period the road rolled into Ouray, the Switzerland of the Alps or cheese. We stopped there for gas and filled the tires which were out of air with air. [Too clever!]

On Mark's recommendation we drove over to Box Canyon Falls, The place was decent but not cheap, considering all there was to see was a waterfall (of conceivable dimensions). However we made up for it by throwing rocks into the gorge for a while. It rained on us.

We drove up to a campground in search for a site ; to rest the car on for the night, but it was full! So we decided to travel on. We drove back down through the streets of Ouray and passed out through the bottom of the town.

Below Ouray the road leaves the mountains and heads right across sagebrush-dotted hills. It slowly loses altitude and enters the desert. Along the way the traffic was heavy and I was tired and I guess I pulled one of my hairy moves with the car because Mark jumped on me and cussed me out. I didn't say I was sorry, and oh hell, relations were strained between us for a couple of days.

We made it to Maroon Lake that evening, a long day. (Mark drove from Grand Junction) We parked in the lake parking lot, as there were no campsites left. Mark said "Look" and I looked up the mountain slope, "Flower children females" and they were. He got all excited, but I was rather SCEPTICAL. I WAS RIGHT it turned out to be a mother and her daughter. The mother was nice though; she fed us tuna sandwiches. She asked us if we wanted anything else and generally tried to get her daughter into the conversation and Mark said no as he thought the girl was ugly. She had a big nose but I didn't think, she was so bad, but I was tired and didn't say anything. I cooked us some pork and beans for dinner and then ate most of it as Mark had run off somewhere. We slept in the car that night.

The next morning the left rear tire was flat and so were we after a rough night. We got into an argument over whether the jack should be under the bumper or not (Mark was right) and we concluded it by having Mark put on the spare. His method included jumping on the wrench to make sure the wheel would not fall off, a point which provided me with some conciliation.

We drove down to Aspen and got the tire fixed. It cost $2 an indication of the higher prices in the mountains. [!] We walked around the place. It is quite an interesting town, there are all sorts of shops, and all of them have an "artsy" European air. The prices are correspondingly high.
Back out at the campground most of the campers had left (this was the case all over - most of the campers stayed only one night and then moved on). I went looking for a place for us and found it. It was the best campsite I have ever seen. We moved in right away.

The place was flat and covered with spruce needles so as to be relatively clean. The place for the tent was sheltered under a 100 foot spruce and relatively little rain could filter through; which helped –the leaky tent situation considerably. Maroon Creek ran by at the foot of the camp, providing us with clean cold water (as I found out trying to take a bath). The place was really secluded, for there were thickets of brush all around. The only invaders of privacy were occasional fishermen wading up and down the stream in their rubber hip-boots (except once a whole herd or floche of girl scouts flooded the camp. The reason, as I later discovered, was that a camp bus had parked right across the road from our camp and had burst open disgorging the mob. No great damage was done.)

The first day we were there we spent a great deal of time lying around out in the sun. I composed a letter at the time, rather fanciful but indicative of my thoughts at the time. Parts of the letter went like this (I never mailed it): “I'm sitting here by a tree with a knife in it, where I have bean throwing it, lacking anything else to do. Mark is playing his guitar. The water of Maroon Creek is roaring by, draining the deep blue lake, with dirty pink snow banks towering overhead. At a 30 degree angle above us is a jagged protuberance known as Pyramid Peak. There is no one else in sight.

“The sun is hot, the water is cold and the air is cool. There are flies, too.
The world is beautiful, did you know that? Flowers, birds, beautiful. Life is, living is. A place without life is beautiful, too, but only by contrast. “Is man beautiful?
“To me, beauty is truth, as is simplicity also. Barren rock is beautiful because of its truth. Rocks have no ulterior motives... opinion (?).
“Life is beautiful, not for its overwhelming complexity, but for that in contrast to its simplicity of purpose; living is enough motive.
“Man believes he is above life; above living; that there are things more necessary than it (conservatism). He is lost. For other life, living is everything. But humans have spare living which is not used.
“This is why man is great, why man can create...why man is not beautiful, or why man has a subtler beauty, hard to relate or understand It. I can't. I try but I can't. I will when I'm older, more adult, but actually I won't grow to this comprehension, I will merely change my field of view, and sacrifice my view of truth for subjectivism. It’s a shame, I want to believe in man and man's possibilities, but I can't.
“...I also eat, sleep, and climb mountains ...

Maroon Lake is interesting in its large size and very shallowness. You can seed the bottom all the way acroft the lake. The bottle is covered with sunken logs. Once upon a time the lake will fill up with debris and crap and become a regular mountain meadow.

The third day we were at the lake I decided to climb Pyramid Peak. It is 14,000-plus feet in elevation and is very steep all around. The register at the head of the wilderness trail showed the best way to go up, but it was with a photograph of the peak, and you could hardly even see the place from where the register is standing. So I was pretty much on my own.

I hiked up the wilderness trail, which heads to Snowmass Lake and the center of Maroon Wilderness Area, until it passed; the foot of Pyramid. From there I headed straight up the slope, and WAS IT STEEP. The angle was about 35-40 degrees in many places too steep to stand up. I struggled up hanging from little spruce trees and grabbing handfuls of moss. This was for some 1000 feet of elevation! (It seemed more like five thousand.) However, I pushed myself, and, in fact did not take a rest for about an hour.

When mountain climbing, especially at high elevations, it does more harm to your physical well-being to stop and sit down than to rest standing up (if you can call that rest). If you are in good shape and you are an experienced enough hiker to pace yourself correctly, it is amazing how much distance and elevation you can traverse in a couple of hours. I made it to the top of Pyramid in about two and a half hours, and I wasn't in such hot shape, either, having spent the last week driving or lying around. The peak is two miles and 5000 feet above Maroon.

On the way up I came across a spring, and could not resist stopping for a while and drinking some of the ice water and eating some of my lunch, which was a packet of chipped beef.(I usually have a bit more to eat but it was all we had that was portable.) I just laid back and watched the sky for about 15 minutes after eating, to let the water that I had drank warm up a bit inside. The sky was very blue, so much so that it was easy to imagine that I was partly in outer space, and the Earth was spinning around below. The sun at that altitude is very warm, but not hot in the least, and I just wanted to lie there all day. So why didn't I? Don't ask me or any other climber. They never give straight answers.

Above the spring the altitude really took effect, in terms of the vegetation, at least (in this respect, I got mine later, above 13,000 feet). There were no more trees, except for a few scraggling Bristlecones or whatever they were. My route led over huge piles of talus. I felt like an ant scrambling around in a sand pile. Finally I made it into the basin below the peak. I recognized it for what it was; the BOTTOM of the photograph down at the register. Directly above was pyramid, and the only route led up 20 degree snow banks.

(I zipped up snow and rock in a tiffle, only it wasn't. I incurred a welly-shaped rock and oogled it like an ice-axe, and wiff dis modus toiled my way up-wards. After about an loaf an hour I topped off on the ridge, from whence I could see barf directions, besides just up and outwards. It were like being on top of the whorled, only the peak was still there like obscenity. And it had ta be climbed... I was running outa gas at the extreme altitude.

I really was fagged out. I was WOOZY, and my stomach felt like water. Don't ask me why I kept going...remember what I said? But I did, and, even though it took half an hour to climb the last 200 feet (I didn't know they were the last feet!), I was soon THERE, in heaven or jail or which I couldn't say, being too zonked to know. [Pyramid Peak is over 14,000’, one of the higher peaks in the area. You definitely feel the oxygen deprivation.]]

I recovered in about ten minutes and looked around at the panorama. It's a real panorama when you can see nothing (but your feet) that doesn't focus at infinity. It is like being in an airplane. The only comparable place I have been is Mt. Baldy in the Santa Ritas; for some reason most other high peaks disqualify for one reason or other, like having an adjacent peak too near. [Mt. Baldy was one of our favorite hikes, located about an hour south of Tucson.]

I ate the rest of ray chipped beef and left. The top of a mountain you have killed yourself to reach is always anti-climactic, even when there is a good view. Besides, it was hailing, and there might be lightning. It took me about an hour to reach the bottom of the mountain, and from there about half to get back to camp. It rained most of the time and when I made it back to camp I was really OUT OF IT.

It rained for the next three days, letting up just enough for us to dry the bedrolls and tent and leave. During that time we went into Aspen twice; for some reason it was bright and sun-shiny there. There were hippies all over the place, and the ones we talked to were pretty groovy (not teenyboppers). We stopped in a record shop and spent a lot of time talking to other musicians (other musicians than Mark, I'm no musician myself). At a nightclub the Kansas City Soul Association was appearing, but we didn't stay to see them.

While it rained we spent a lot of time reading books. I read “The Lord of the Rings” and a James Bond book, the worst one I guess. It was “The Spy Who Loved Me” and it wasn't too hot. We read while sitting in the car, as it was too dark in the tent.

We tried to use the candle that had melted in Phoenix. It burned some, but generally just melted all over the floor of the tent. The tent itself leaked anyplace you touched it, and consequently our bedrolls got wet in places. We tried to dry things out by stringing up some of the pretty blue cord I brought to use as shoelaces and hanging our clothes from it. It did not help much.

The stove we used was a matching heirloom to the tent. First, when it was lit, it would flame up like burning liquid gasoline, and took about 10 minutes to warm up. In the second place it still stunk from the Spaghetti I spilled on it the first meal out (I tried to clean it out, but not very hard). Once it got going, though, it was too hot.

For breakfast I usually cooked us some pancakes of questionable composition. At least the syrup was edible; it was STORE-B0UGHT. One reason the pancakes were more like scrambled eggs was that there was no pancake-turner, I used my hunting knife instead.

We tried making biscuits several times, with our aluminum cookware and dog stove. I thought the moat successful ones were the ones I fried. The best meal we had was Mark's though. He made some potato-soup-stew and it was good. The only thing wrong with it was that it took an hour to make, so we had it only once or twice. This was, however, about the only time we used any of our 30 pounds of potatoes.

There were all kinds of birds and rodents around camp. Especially there were about 10 or 15 chipmunks who were incessantly swiping food and making themselves at home around camp. There was a squirrel who ate our crackers, right out of the box on the table. I surprised him once on the job, and when I lifted the cover he jumped to the ground in a hurry. There also was a friendly freeloading Robin.

There was a tree stump in the middle of the camp which was just right to build a fire in. It was hard to start, but was nice when it was going. Mark played some tunes, so everything was "a pretty country feelin’. The fire eventually burned out the rest of the stump, and wrecked the fireplace.

We finally got sick of the rain so we packed up and left. The rain let up enough to dry out the tent and other garbage, and so things were not too muddy. We went through Aspen, picking up some groceries, and then headed for Independence Pass.

The pass itself was fantastic. There was a thick fog and the place, as it was above timberline, looked like the moors in the “Hound of the Baskervilles.” We stopped at the summit at 12,000 feet plus and ate our lunch of cheese and lettuce.

It was driving from then until evening. We stopped at the bridge across the Rio Grande gorge, the “second highest steel arch bridge in the U.S.” (or so the sign said). It wasn't so hot, even if Mark did take a leak off it.

We drove into Taos and got gas. As Taos is a sort of Indian town Mark said "HOW" to everyone who passed us on the street. The dumb people must have thought we were nuts or just nuts. Then we drove to the Taos Ski Valley, passing many Indian-type villages and making the most of it. After driving for an hour up this CRUDDY dirt road we came to the end of it but we didn't know it was the end so we started up an even lousier road and had to turn back. We camped at a spot back down the road.

That night we were bored so we went serenading the whole valley. We walked down the dark road, dodging mud puddles (no kidding, in the dark you have to dodge them) until we came to the main lodge. We prowled -around the place, inspecting it, at 11:00 P.M. Finally we went to sleep that night, but not too soon. [and you wonder why young males get in trouble!]

The next morning we went on a hike. The trail was 8 miles up to Wheeler Peak, the highest in New Mexico, at 13,000 ft. It turned out that the bottom four miles was a passable road, going to a place called “The Bull of the Woods”. It was private property, with signs all over to show it. The trail went through high, open areas above the tree line, where there was a flock of sheep (Indian Sheep, the best kind.). Sheep are, as Mark and I decided, the world's craziest animal. They would sit or stand, whichever they were doing, and deliver an authentic Bronx cheer, which sounded very obscene, and then run off a ways, only to do an encore. Mark finally got mad and threw rocks at them.

The trail went by this small lake, still half choked up with ice and snow. It then zigzagged up a slope and topped out on a ridge. Down below on the ridge was a rock cairn of large size. I never did decide what it was.

By this time the altitude was hurting, especially to Mark, who hadn't been up on Pyramid when I did. We chugged on though, and came to summit with a rock pile marking it. From there I could clearly see Wheeler, a half a mile away. (I had thought the one pile was the peak, but no!) I made it to the place 15 minutes before Mark, so I just lay there in the bright sun with my shirt off and watched the clouds.

On our way back we came across a register we had missed on the way up, due to my recommendation that we leave the trail, and filled out the form inside. We put down that we were a party of yes and that our mode of travel was pogo-stick or something like that.

When we made it back to camp we were dead, and also very hungry. I wisely cooked some pork and beans (what else) but Mark made some what else. It took a huge gob of bisquick and lemons and brown sugar and sugar and honey and everything else in sight, plus burning out the bottom of the kettle. The result was a toasty dough or duff, which was good, but didn't make much of a meal.

The next day I spent most of my time reading and performing genocide on the local fly population. There was an inexhaustible supply of gullible flies, and I killed over 200 in a variety of ways. One was to flick them with a towel. Another was to cut their heads off with my pancake-turner-hunting knife. I also killed several by hitting them with rocks.

We left that place too (how about that?). We went through Taos and on the other side every car was being stopped and the driver identified. The cop also wanted to see ray car's registration. So I showed him.

Prom Taos we drove down to Santa Fe. The country around there is very open, yet it is green because of the high altitude (over 7000 ft.). It had just rained recently, so everything was clean. The canyon of the Rio Grande exposed the lava surface of the plain, and is very steep-walled, typical of lava-canyons. There are also many volcanic cones further north. We stopped in Santa Fe for gas and ice. By this time the herring in the ice-chest really stunk, and so did the rest of the trunk, but it was NOT SPOILED, so we didn't throw it out. We drove by all the adobe-Spanish-type buildings in downtown Santa Fe. Mark despises that type of architecture, but I rather like it.

There was a freeway through most of Albuquerque, and so we missed that town - which is fine with me; I don't like that place at all. We headed west on U. S. 66 late in the evening. The highway was being rebuilt (it needed it) and traffic was unbelievably heavy, so driving was really a pain. But we left the road after an hour or so and drove to El Morro National Monument. [I don’t remember why I was anti-Albuquerque, maybe just an anti-city prejudice.]

The road to El Morro was a total contrast to 66. We met maybe half a dozen cars during the hour's driving. Everything was still and the stars hung down. When we turned in to the monument campground, at 11:00 or so at night, there was a sharp dry wind blowing. Mark slept in the car, and I slept out under a Pinyon. Everywhere was the pungent odor of Juniper and Sage, a very refreshing EXPERIENCE.

When I woke up the next morning I was ten feet or more from where I went to sleep. I never remembered moving, though. It wasn't cold there, but cool. Later on we drove over to the monument headquarters and took their self-guiding tour around the place. The main feature there is the carvings people have made in the sandstone wall, a giant remnant that sticks out of the hill like a battleship (or ocean-liner, but not like a tug-boat). They carved their names, mostly. One fellow must have spent days doing his name; it was written in flawless script. Some Spanish man wrote how great he was, and than another guy who evidently knew him carved nasty stuff about him on the rock right next to the first man's writing.

There are also cliff-dwellings in the area. The chief attraction for all these old people was the water hole at the foot of the rock. Nearby, heading up the wall, were toe holes used by the Indians carrying their water ollas. From El Morro we drove to St. Johns, where we were to meet my family. They were having a family reunion, and we were in hopes of getting some food in exchange for potatoes. We waited around all day, after checking to see what day of the week it was, so as to know whether or not the folks were doing to be there. (I honestly had not even an idea of what day it was.) They showed up at Lyman Lake State Park. [Every July my Mom’s home town, St. Johns, Arizona, hosts a town reunion called “Pioneer Days.” People would camp at Lyman Lake. More stories about Pioneer days elsewhere.]

We stayed at Lyman one night. We went swimming in the lake, which was great. In the store there Mark got in an argument with the girl who worked there about Mormonism. She was, of course, a Mormon, and Mark used to be, and they argued about it for half an hour.

We drove home the next day. We went through the White Mts. and stopped only for an hour or so at Hawley Lake to see Rusty Detweiler. He was just sitting there in front of his cabin sanding down I can't remember what it was. [Rusty was a friend from High School, who I also had adventures with.]

We got home that evening. I threw all our junk in the back yard, and chucked out the PUTRID herring in the garbage. Then, as 1 had the house to myself for a few days, I just laid around, listening to the radio, 24 hours a day. [I doubt that last statement!]