Thanks to arriving in Grand Junction much too early I have an extra hour or four hundred to spend in the environs of the town (see July 18's episode for the full explanation, I hate being redundant all over again). My host Barbara has been kind enough to help me pass the time in a manner non-analogous to the passing of a kidney stone. Followed by the two beats associated with "Law and Order" here is our story:
1. Visit the Farmer's Market: My legendary love of vegetables clearly proceeded me. Barbara suggested we head downtown (about two blocks) and check out the selection. I have to admit the scene was more like a street fair, with stands selling items such as burritos, hot sauce, and massages, all of which are not normally grown to maturity in a garden. There is also a variety of statues and artwork displayed throughout the main thoroughfare, most notably a memorial to Grand Junction's most famous writer, Dalton Trumbo. The controversial author of "Johnny Got His Gun" was black-listed for supposed Communist sympathies and has remained a debated figure even when portrayed by a hunk of metal. The statue shows the man at work, writing in his bathtub, an image considered risque by some.
2. Volunteer at the VA Hospital: I spent Friday meeting the staff at the Grand Junction Veteran's Administration Hospital. Ninety year old Betty led me about the facility. A saucy lass from Texas rocking a lacy gown and an elegant broach, she managed to introduce me to seemingly hundreds of employees and patients. With my sponge-like memory I soak things in and then wring them directly out. I expect to be thoroughly embarrassed when I return on Monday and know three names.
I will remember one soldier for certain, a man named Paul who served during the Korean War era at Okinawa. A welder, miner, and long distance truck driver, the multi-talented gent was also a demolitions expert. As a private he was given dynamite and ordered to simulate the noisy conditions associated with anti-aircraft fire. When the moment of detonation came a general's jeep was way too close, resulting in a mud bath for the high ranking officer. Paul was asked by his corporal why he still hit the plunger with such an important man nearby. "What the hell, they can't bust me down to a lower rank," was his response.
3. Visit a Monument: The Colorado National Monument to be precise. The park was the dream of visionary John Otto, thought by many to be a crack addict long before the invention of the drug. Some men are just ahead of their time and so too with Otto who did manage to get the canyons and arroyos acknowledged as an important natural resource not to be defiled by man. In those days there were some exceptions to this defilement rule. A road was built using copious amounts of dynamite to mold the rock into a more useful shape. Even with explosive alteration a dizzying combination of ess turns and switchbacks resulted, easing a travelers journey to Glade Park only somewhat. Tourists these days travel on Rimrock Road and the old route has become the Serpent Trail, a chance for hikers to enjoy the beauty of No Thoroughfare Canyon at a more leisurely pace. Barbara and I partook of the offer early Saturday and there was much rejoicing.
4. Kayak on a Raging River: Barbara suggested we should spend the afternoon with her friend Kevin rolling along the Colorado. I'd heard tell this river is somewhat fast and rapid-laden and I've never run a kayak in my entire life, but I was buoyed by the moral support of many of my homeboys who have often encouraged me to "Go big or go home" whatever the hell that means. Fortunately the water level was low thanks to the poor snows and my tubing skills translated to other inflatable flotation devices, which apparently can be operated even without the assistance of a twelve pack of Bud Light. We rolled the lazy, muddy water with ease, the only trauma coming after when I realized I had failed to put sunscreen on a couple of body parts which are not regularly exposed to solar radiation. Touch me and I'm gonna scream is no longer just a My Morning Jacket song.
5. Meet My Idols: After conquering the mighty Colorado Barbara, Kevin, and I visited Palisade Brewery to sample some of their wares (I highly recommend their Dirty Hippie). On the drive over I heard from Karen and Jerry, two other ADT hikers whose journal I read religiously while preparing for this trip. They were in town and would like to meet up with us. I recognized them immediately as they emerged from their vehicle. Karen's long white locks flow like cottonwood fluff in the breeze and Jerry's beard busts my poor scraggly chin bush down to the bottom in the ranks of the great mountain men. Their kindness matched their intimidating good looks. They have an extra stroller which their daughter will be mailing out for my use in the desert, they bought Barbara and I dinner (Kevin left early), and they suggested a great desert-neutralizing device, the Chrome Dome, which I will hopefully exhibit for you in the near future. For now let's say the moment I go Full Hobo is nigh.
I could have talked to Karen and Jerry for hours and hours on end. In fact, I still am even though they are no longer around to listen to me. I'm in training you see, trying to get ready for hallucinations induced by the loneliness of the desert in advance. You never can be too prepared.
O miles/something total miles