Thursday, July 21, 2005

July 21, 2005
Robert Ray got peeved this morning about the looming deadline on CGII. Feels rushed. Wants to do a good job. Feels hung out to dry by tardy artist types (that would be me). I called Theresa at Tri Star and got an extension for us. Takes a bit of pressure off. Good cooperation all around.

Finished and tweaked Florentino Cruz and Birdcage copy. Meghan had suggestions on Allen Street map. Hammered those changes. Got Gus lined out on one more map of the Earp exodus. It’s quite confusing all the places Wyatt’s Vendetta posse goes to and blows through, and I asked him to give us a blow by blow, day by day map quest of their itinerary.

And speaking of itinerary, Tomcat asked me to put together a personal itinerary for his trip with Christina. Here it is en toto:

The Christina Southwestern USA Extravaganza Tour

Day One: Flag to Vegas
• West of Ashfork on I-40 take the Old Route 66 turn-off at milepost 139. You are now travelling on the longest stretch of existing Route 66 highway left in the country. Billed as The Mother Road, the original Route 66 went from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. In the 1950s it was packed with tourists heading to California, but in our family we were going eastbound, from Kingman, like Lutheran lemmings swimming upstream, on our way to Iowa so we could eat five times a day and talk about crops.

• Seligman, home of the classic Sno-Cap drive-in. It’s worth stopping and getting a milkshake here. The signs inside are so awful they are funny and if Juan Delgadio is still alive (he is one of the founders) he will insult you and call you names (I’m not making this up).

• Peach Springs: it was here in 1947 that my father ran a Whiting Brothers gas station on the west end of town. When I was three, I became fascinated by a washing machine wringer and put my hand in it when my mother wasn’t looking. The wringer ate my arm all the way up to the elbow where it ground on the meat there until my arm broke the machine. My father, Tommy’s grandpa, had to put me in a car and drive to Kingman to the nearest doctor. Dr. Arnold had to graft skin off my butt to put on my elbow. To this day I can fart out of my arm (not really, but I threaten to do it whenever I’m wearing a short sleeved shirt).

• Valentine: Tommy’s grandmother, Bobbie Guess Bell Cady, worked in the big red school house on your right. We lived in Kingman and she drove up here every day when I was just a small kid.

• Hackberry: Tommy’s great, great, great grandmother is buried in the cemetery here. Her name was Dolce Guess and she died about 1912. The cemetery is over on the left side of the road, about a half mile away, next to a grammar school, very small. You should be able to still see it.

• The Hackberry bridge: This bridge was built on a curve, which is very unusual for a bridge. Since the road was narrow and only two-lane, many people hit head-on here and died. The highway department put up crosses for each person that died, and they finally had to stop doing it at about #13, because there were too many, and it was too distracting and more people were killed looking at the crosses and taking their eyes off the road and hitting head-on.

• The Kingman Airport: this was built during World War II as a training base for US fighter plane pilots. Allen P. Bell (known as “Poppy” to T. Charles) was drafted into the Army Air Corp and sent to this base on his twenty-first birthday. When he got off the troop train, in downtown Kingman, he allegedly said, "I’ll never come back to this hell hole!" There were 10,000 GIs stationed at this base and at that time Kingman only had about 3,000 people and only about 300 available females of dating age. Rancher and cowboy Bob Guess had five daughters who lived in Kingman. Bobbie Guess was one of them. She could have her pick of 10,000 young, handsome fly boys. She dated Captains and fighter pilots but she picked a buck private from Thompson, Iowa named Allen Bell. When they met at a dance, he said, "What’s your name?" and she answered, "Guess,” and he said, "Hell, I don’t know, Gertrude?" Her name was Bobbie Guess and they married in 1945.

• Kingman, Arizona: the town where I grew up and graduated from high school in 1965. Poppy, Tommy’s beloved grandpa is buried at the Mountain View Cemetery on Stockton Hill Road. Take the Stockton Hill exit and go into the Wal-Mart, or K-Mart and buy a toy car. Get back in the Escape and take it south of the free-way on Stockton Hill Road. About a mile or so down you’ll come to the Mountain View Cemetery on the right, pull in the main gate. Poppy’s grave is in the southeast corner, about three rows from the street. It says, "He loved cars" on the flat headstone. Put the model car on the gravestone, say a prayer for Poppy and tell him what the hell you’re doing in this godforsaken part of the country with such a good looking girl. He’ll get a laugh out of that, and you’ll feel good for visiting him. He always really liked Tommy because secretly, I think Tommy reminded my father of when he was young.

• So-Hi Estates: where Poppy lived his last years. Tommy and Deena visited here many times. It’s not necessary to stop, but be sure to wave.

• Chloride: rip-roaring mining town from the early 1900s. It has been featured in several movies including "The Badlanders" with Alan Ladd, and a biker movie starring Jack Nicholson.

• Dolan Springs turnoff: Tommy’s cowboy cousins, Craig Hamilton, and his dad Billy Hamilton, have a ranch out here and Tommy and Deena spent one summer playing cowboy and scuba diving at Lake Mohave (over those mountains to your left).

• Hoover Dam: one of the world’s tallest dams, built in the 1930s during the American Depression when everyone was out of work. The legend that several workers fell to their deaths in the concrete forms as they were setting up, and their bodies are still in there, is not true. I believed this urban myth growing up and told many people. You’re welcome to start telling the story again.

• Boulder City: this is the town built for the people building the dam. Very pretty oasis in the middle of some of the most rugged, forboding land on the entire North American continent.

• Las Vegas: everything you’ve heard about this town is true and it’s even worse. Vegas is what Kingman would look like if a bunch of hillbillys inherited $13 billion dollars and said, "Hey, let’s build something groovy." You want to get to the "Strip" and park somewhere and walk down the area from about Caesar’s Palace out to Excalibur. Everyone is walking in this area. It’s like a huge open air mall, and the newest area where the Wynn Hotel is (you need to go inside it’s supposed to be decadent beyond belief!). Check out a cheap show in one of the lounges, and then get out ot town ASAP.

• Colorado City: on the way to Saint George, this area is called the strip because technically it’s a part of Mohave County (Kingman is the county seat), but it’s so isolated that it’s become a haven for polygamists (religious nuts with multiple wives). Many Mormon men here have 20 or 30 wives and you can see them walking along like dutiful autowomen, shopping for their man. A recent raid and indictments may have cooled their ardour, but look out for an extra wife for Andy. I know he’d like it if you brought one home for him.

• The Mountain Meadows Massacre: this is a sad, sad, place where a bunch of Mormons massacred a group of Missourians on a wagon train in the 1850s. They killed everyone but some little kids who they then used as servants. The kids would see other women wearing their mother’s dress, etc. You don’t want to go there, but just be aware that this is the kind of country you are travelling through. Kind of creepy, no? No wonder Tomcat is an agnostic!

• Zion Park: a stunning park with magnificent peaks and vistas. Be sure to drive up in there and take in the view.

• Panguitch Lake: T. Boy has the angle on a cabin. Very fun place to camp or stay.

• Panguitch, the town: little Mormon town, very pretty. John D. Lee is buried here. He is the only one executed for the Mountain Meadows Massacre (many beleive the church sold him out). He is the namesake for Lee’s Ferry also, which you may see when you leave the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

• Kanab: many movies were filmed up here, including “Maverick” starring Mel Gibson. Pretty country.

• The North Rim: 4.5 million people visit the Grand Canyon every year, but only about 10% go to the north rim. It’s way less crowded and the view is still spectacular. I want a full report since I’ve never been there.

• After leaving the North Rim, take 89 east to Marble Canyon (you’ll see the turnoff to Lee’s Ferry and you’ll turn to Tommy and say, “See that’s the guy they killed for the Mountain Meadows Massacre”).

• If you want to see Marble Canyon Dam you’ll need to backtrack back to Page. That is up to you. If you do go back to Page to see the dam, and you are going on to Kayenta and Monument Valley, I would take 98 over to Kayenta. From Kayenta you take163 up to Monument Valley. This is the setting for many Westerns including “Once Upon A Time In The West” where Sergio Leone cut between Spain and here. Kind of bizarre when you think about it, but in the movie you don’t even flinch at the continental divide.

• From Monument Valley take the cuttoff to Many Farms (it’s about ten miles out of town, going northeast). We’re now going to Chinle at the mouth of Canyon de Chelly. This is where Kit Carson rounded up the Navajos and sent them on their "Long Walk" to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. That experiment failed miserably, so after about ten years they were allowed to walk home and they’ve been here ever since. Don’t expect to see a statue to Kit out here. In fact, don’t even mention his name while you’re here. If it’s late and you need a place to stay, the Thunderbird Lodge is the best. Nice little cafeteria, etc.

• From Canyon de Chelly, got south to I-40 and take it towards Holbrook, but be sure to take the Petrified Forest cutoff and take it south through this amazing phenomenon. Don’t steal any of the petrified wood as it brings a curse on your family.

• In Winslow: take the business detour and stop downtown at the corner. You know, the Eagles song where they sing, "I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl my lord in a flat bed Ford slowin’t down to take a look at me." They have a statue to the dude, on the corner (imagine that?) and it’s so bad, you need to stop and take a picture for your homeys back in Spain.

• That’s it! It’s been an incredible trip. You’ve seen some spectacular country, learned a thing or two about a wacky country and the boy who drove you through it. Namastay.

"The road is the only thing."
—a famous author when asked if it was the road getting there or arriving at succes that was more fulfilling?

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