A Cold Is A Brewing

8 02 2010

The drive back, for the most part, was pretty anti-climatic. We had planned to pass through Sedona before bunking down in Flagstaff for the night.

It was getting colder by the hour. When we got to the hotel in Flagstaff — another Holiday Inn Express — we rested in the room and Jim caught up on his daily dose of Fox News.

Although I was not very keen about getting out that night, Stallone, the young server from the Canyon was in town and wanted to see me again. We decided to meet at a historic hotel in downtown Flagstaff, or as the locals like to say, “Flag.” I can’t recall the exact name of the lodge, but they had a live band playing that night and it was a popular hangout for the college crowd.

Stallone was there with a bunch of his Canyon cohorts. They were lounging on the sofas in the lobby. Stallone informed me he had taken a room for the night. No telling how many people were expected to stay, but I didn’t feel like reliving another late night pow-wow with the Canyon crowd.

So Jim and I had a beer and we snapped some more photos with Stallone and his girlfriends. Stallone was very friendly that night. Sitting on my lap at the bar and all. He was so sweet, but it did make me a little nervous. We were in Arizona after all.

The Drive to Roswell

Jim didn’t want to stick around very long. We had quite a drive ahead of us. Roswell, New Mexico was the next destination and, as usual, Jim had the schedule planned out in precise fashion. The old engineer wanted to see the meteor crater and petrified forest on the way.

Temperatures continued to drop that morning. We left at dawn and it was a blistering seven degrees outside. Who knew Flagstaff got that damn cold?!?

Jim was determined from the start. He pushed hard that day. I remember asking for time just to wolf down the complimentary breakfast that morning. We made it to the meteor crater before they opened the gates. We were the first visitors in line. Jim promptly paid our entry fee and we went inside, looked around, snapped some photos and left. I wondered why the hell we even bothered. It was really just a big hole in the desert.

We spent a little longer in the petrified forest. This was much more sentimental to Jim. His family had taken him here when he was a youngster and he still had a faded yellow picture as proof. A skinny preppy kid, with wavy dark hair, sitting atop the petrified tree.

“They won’t let you do that anymore,” Jim boasted.

Indeed, the park ranger confirmed that we were not to be climbing on the petrified logs. Jim showed the ranger his photograph and she was impressed. What a job those rangers have. Must be fun as hell to come to work everyday.

We watched a short film about the forest and the message was clear — don’t take these rocks home with you. It’s a felony. The film also documented the wildlife in the forest. Coyotes, prairie dogs and such. The only creature we saw that morning, however, was a hungry black crow.

From the petrified forest to Roswell was pure hell. I must have sneezed a hundred times. I’m not kidding. The wind was picking up and snow covered the countryside. I drifted in and out of sleep. Not wanting to be a total bore,  like Gabe had been, I tried to stay awake and talk, but my condition was rapidly deteriorating. Jim realized this and he drove faster. Too fast, in fact.

I woke up and the car was stopped. Jim had pulled off the side of the road. We were in a small town a few hours north of Roswell. Behind us were the flashing lights of the law. Welcome to Vaughn, New Mexico.

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