Ammo Grrrll is on the road again in NO MOUNTAIN FOR OLD LADIES – Big Road Trip – Part 1. She writes:
When Dodge hits 114, it’s time to get out of Dodge. I have stayed in the Dusty Little Village for several summers, as a kind of Arizona gang initiation, while Max Cossack, the prolific novelist, has gone elsewhere for a variety of reasons. So it’s not like I’m not tough enough to deal with 114, it’s just that I choose not to.
We love Prescott, way up in the mountains and 20 degrees cooler on average than the Dusty Little Village, but this year we formulated a new plan. Why not go on a big circuit, visiting parts of this great and beautiful land we had not seen much of before, cadging free housing with a few old and new friends? We planned to spend Fourth of July Eve with our libertarian friends John and Ramona in Bozeman, MT – the picture of the berries and whipped cream-covered red, white and blue flag cake sealed the deal. We also wanted to include a couple of weeks back in MN visiting Daddy and our son and family. And finally catch the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City which Mr. AG has never seen.
We preferred not to drive more than 450 miles a day, give or take, so then it became a simple math problem, making the stops and distances come out right to fit with pre-arranged dates.
Our first stop was St. George, Utah, gateway to Zion National Park. Not to be missed, we were told, and not without reason.
We checked into our hotel, and asked about things to see. Jim, the young male desk clerk said that, sadly, parts of Zion were closed due to too much flooding. The gentleman did not mention hikes or kayaking or rappelling as alternatives. No. Here is what he said exactly:
“There is a pie place in Veyo, Utah, about 15 miles from here that has the best pie in the world.”
He took one look at me and the first word that came to his mind was “PIE!” And unlike the professionally offended, I was not only not upset, I was grateful. At the tiny little pie place that was strictly takeout, they had a line longer than the first day of an iPhone upgrade. After a long deliberation with people behind me in line clearing their throats like a mass allergy attack, I chose the Raspberry Rhubarb and floated to heaven. May God Bless Jim, the desk clerk, and all his relatives, living and dead.
We did, however, decide to visit something called Gunlock Falls. I suppose I was attracted, at least in part, to the name. You can Google it, of course, and see how lovely it is. A large group of people, mostly parents with young children, plus a handful of geezers like us, were peering over the edge of a steep cliff. Evidently, one had to go DOWN before one could cross a little stream and then go up another steep, rugged incline to where one could view the falls.
There was an apparently treacherous path down that had a few large rocks embedded in fine, red silt. Some athletic teenagers were scampering – but carefully – down this path without breaking a sweat. My husband decided to go back to the car for his climbing gloves. To my certain knowledge, he had used them perhaps once or twice in 20 years and they were probably in about the same shape as OJ’s famous crumpled glove, only with less blood. Multi-talented Max is also a fine piano player and takes very good care of his hands.
While he was gone, I decided to surprise him and go down the trail myself. Gingerly, I took the first step and slid about 18 inches while frantically grabbing the nearest rock and hanging on for dear life. Oh. So, this fine red silt is also slippery. Good to know.
You know how those nature shows always feature gazelles being stalked by things like cheetahs and the cheetahs are smart enough not to choose the young, tender gazelles who can run fast and kick and bite? Yeah, they always look for the sick, old and infirm gazelles, the kind they can easily cull from the herd. The kind that later – in a tasteful, distant shot – they show being devoured by a pecking order of hungry predators: the original killer, then his wife, children, and good-for-nothing relatives, then smaller mammals, various bone-cleaning birds, and finally, worms. Something to look forward to.
Heck, I remember one show we watched in which a mountain goat, barely out of the womb, ran and ran and ran and ran on a thin precipice and evaded capture by a wily coyote for a very long time until the coyote just gave up and decided to go look for a gecko. Must have been terribly disappointing, like when you have Thai food on the brain and you get there and find out it’s closed on Mondays and have to get pizza instead.
So Granny Ammo, the chubby arthritic mountain goat of late, late middle age, made her way down the trail, bent over and sideways, one cautious and terrified step at a time, while trying to think of a good story to tell the ER people that made more sense than what I was doing.
And eventually I reached the bottom and the little stream that needed to be forded! By this time, a stunned Mr. AG, had noticed that his scaredy-cat wife had somehow slid and crawled and grappled her way to the bottom. Color him shocked but impressed!
So now I’m at the bottom and there’s nowhere to go without being Medi-Vacced out, except UP. The path was slightly less steep going up and the reward at the top promised to be great. But, first, the little stream. It was wider than it looked, and deeper as well. Kids in flip-flops seemed to be stepping from stone to stone, but the stones looked slippery and I envisioned a mighty crash and a broken hip, with a merciful drowning being the only alternative to death by humiliation. I made a snap decision to just WALK across IN the water. It came over my ankles and made my socks and jeans a handy catch-all for the fine red silt for the rest of the walk, but at least I was in one piece. As the man who jumped from the 80th floor was heard to say at each floor on the way down: “So far, so good. So far, so good.”
And then UP UP UP. Many small children offered assistance to the struggling old stranger, giving me hope for the country. I reached the summit with great satisfaction, every muscle in my body shaking, and admired the beautiful falls and adjacent reservoir. The people at the top pointed out a MUCH gentler way down that went around the reservoir and back to the parking area. NOW YOU TELL ME! We walked about a mile in beautiful Utah, sun shining, gentle wind blowing, and me feeling like I had just climbed Everest. Call me Hillary.
The next day I threw out my filthy shoes. Every single thing on my body hurt, including my hair, but I was filled with an irrational exuberance. On to the next adventure.