Dishevelment Update, 10/02/2022

It’s been a year since I’ve posted about my dishevelment, mostly because once you get past a certain point, it’s just pictures of my messy hair.

But here I am in 2022:

Do not be deceived: this photo was taken after wearing my hair up in a bun all day, so that when I finally loose it it falls in glorious tumbles of luscious locks.

But lest we forget, this is where we started:

I was originally thinking about getting it cut after Alchemy this year, but then the guys at The Longhairs announced their support of and participation in The Great Cut 2024, and I thought, you know, we’ve never been to San Diego. That could be fun.

So I bought the t-shirt and will be uncutting my hair for another year and a half. Then we’ll take a vote on how we want me to look.

GUVCH: Salers

Last spring, as I played with the Savoy Cocktail variations, I used the Savoy’s Fernet Branca Cocktail as the starting point. It’s simple recipe: 1.5 oz gin, .75 oz each of Fernet Branca and sweet vermouth.

It was, as I expected, not at all to my taste, but it spawned a whole new zone of experimentation, which I am calling the Grand Unified Vecchio Cocktail Theory, in which you use the proportions of the recipe for the Fernet Branca cocktail and substitute another amaro.

Here’s where it got interesting:

Gin— Even if we ignore the subtle differences in different brands of gin, differences that I am too lazy to learn to distinguish with any refinement, we still have the different types of gin that we can play with:

  • London dry gin
  • old tom gin
  • Genever
  • botanical gin
  • barrel-aged gin

These different types involve dryness/sweetness, more or less juniper, added flavorings. Within those categories, of course, are scads of different brands of gin, of which I have about 30.

Sweet vermouth— Lots of these available, but I decided on three:

  • Carpano Antica
  • Cocchi di Torino
  • Punt e Mes

Again, the differences are in the herbals used.

Amari— Where do we begin? Whole books have been written about this category of herbal distillations. Suffice it to say that I have more than two dozen amari and have barely scratched the surface.

If we do the math, we have 5 [kinds] of gin x 3 vermouths x ≈24 amari, which gives us 360 possible combinations. The gin-loving soul thrills to the very idea.

I’ve had a blast testing out my Grand Unified Vecchio Cocktail Hypothesis [GUVCH], and the results are very promising. Here’s my most recent one.

Salers Cocktail

Salers is an aperitif, gentian-based, bitter and vegetal, with some citrus notes. I bought it recently because it was mentioned in a couple of recipes, and I decided to plug it into the GUVCH. The results were quite pleasing.

a cocktail coupe with a drink in it, backed by the bottles of the ingredients used: Salers Aperitif, Cocchi di Torino vermouth, and Hayman's Old Tom ginSalers is unusual for the GUVCH since it is a clear aperitif, while most amari that I have are darker.

  • 1.5 oz gin, in this case an Old Tom gin
  • .75 oz Cocchi di Torino vermouth
  • .75 oz Salers Aperitif

Stir with ice, strain into a coupe. Garnish with lemon zest.

It is light and refreshing. You’ll want more than one.

The Pencil Lesson

Let’s see if I can still write.

Decades ago I had an idea for a classroom research/writing lesson, probably upper elementary in nature but very adaptable to middle and high school grades. I called it The Pencil Lesson, and its ulterior instructional goal was to make students aware of jobs/careers other than “astronaut” or “marine biologist” or “NFL quarterback.”

Overview: After examining an ordinary No. 2 pencil for its component parts, students are guided through the research into how each part ends up in the pencil. As they do that, students should become aware of the employment opportunities at each step of the way. (N.B., the point is not to interest students in these specific careers but to make them more aware of the multiplicity of jobs represented in our everyday surroundings.)

Engagement: Create a TikTok-like video showing how pencil erasers are planted like seeds to grow the new crop of pencils. (N.B., I’ve done lessons like this where a class absolutely fails to detect the bullcrap. Be prepared.)

After the video, allow students to yuk on it, then ask the Essential Question: Where do pencils come from?

In small groups, have students “analyze” a No. 2 pencil. What are the constituent parts?

  • wood
  • graphite
  • paint
  • ferrule
  • eraser
  • stamped lettering
  • glue (to hold the two halves of the wood together!)
  • other?

After whole-group discussion, assign each group one of the components. Have them brainstorm/imagine the path that component must take before it ends up in the pencil. (It’s probably most effective for them to work backwards from pencil to source.) Emphasize that not knowing specific steps is to be expected; just put a big ??? in the chart and keep going.

From there, each group researches their putative process, filling in the ??? segments and fine-tuning the segments they thought they knew.

At this point, you might ask each team to present their findings to the class so that everyone is up to speed on how we get pencils.

For upper elementary, this much of the lesson might be enough. If so, make sure that you promote discussion of the jobs involved in each step. For middle and high school students, you can push that aspect of the lesson by having them list the workers that are required to produce the component at each stage, and if you’re really dedicated, have each student pick one job and head to the federal Occupational Outlook Handbook and prepare a short report on the job’s requirements/training/salaries/prospects.

And there you have it: a massive research/writing lesson that could easily take a couple of weeks in your class.

Followup: Let a few months elapse, then ask if students have been looking at objects around them and imagining what it takes to bring those objects into existence. Classroom discussion/sharing, etc.

A rant about gin

I wish to make a complaint.

Prohibition ended in 1933. So why is it illegal for me to buy this gin?

Sure, if I walk into the General Store at Grand Canyon, I can buy it there, but I certainly can’t buy it at Kroger here, nor at any Kroger in the state of Georgia.

Not only that, even though Coweta County finally repealed Prohibition last year — 90 years late — and we are starting to get our first liquor stores now, I can’t buy it there either, nor at any liquor store that I know of.

Why is that?

I’ll tell you why: the Georgia Alcohol Dealers Association. Go read their page. They control what the liquor stores in Georgia can and can not sell. If Thumb Butte Western Sage Gin is not on their list, stores can’t sell it and you can’t buy it.

Not only that, but GADA is determined that you can’t buy it directly from the distillery either. (Go read their page!) The very idea of grocery stores having a liquor section gives them the fantods. PROTECT OUR PACKAGE STORES is their entire raison d’être — consumers be damned.

Why is this? These bottles are filled with legal substances. Why is it illegal for me to buy them? I need answers.

(I must give a tip of the hat to Rep. Matt Brass, who is otherwise a rightwing dinglehopper, for introducing multiple pieces of legislation to free us from all this nonsense.)

Grand Canyon 2022, Pro Tips

It’s taken me a while to get to this post, since I’ve already done several on the topic, but here’s a recap.

Note: No pro tips for Santa Fe.

Grand Canyon

Go. Please plan to stay at least two days. You can, as many do, drive in, take a few photos, and be on your way, but that is just losing a piece of your soul.

Stay in the park if you can. That way, when the tourists go home at 5:00 you will have the Canyon to yourself. However, if they don’t have any rooms, staying in Tusayan — the hamlet just before the park — is fine.

If this is your first time, then stop in Tusayan first to see the iMax movie about the Canyon. Also, the Pink Bus tours are worth it, especially the sunset tour.

Hop that Blue Route shuttle and ride it all the way around. Learn where All The Things are.

Drive out to Desert View and the Watchtower, then drive back to the Visitors Center or Village, stopping at every overlook.

Don’t miss the sunset.

Any of the restaurants are fine. El Tovar Dining Room is expensive. The restaurant at the Best Western in Tusayan is surprisingly good (at least it was during our prior visits; we didn’t make it there this time). Cocktails, however, are basic. (Note: The entire world is suffering from supply chain issues, so give the poor bartender a break.)

Yes, you should buy that t-shirt/coffee mug/tschotschke.

Top pro tip from this visit: Stop at a Wal-Mart in Phoenix or Flagstaff and buy those cheap camp chairs. Pop ’em open rimside, then sit and watch the canyon. You can thank me later.

Grand Canyon 2022, the Swag Edition

Before we get to my conspicuous consumption, two more photos from Monday morning as we walked to breakfast:

That youth has his horns coming in. (They looked crooked; is there orthodontia for racks, or is this poor thing doomed to a life of mockery and disdain?)

So, in Santa Fe, almost immediately as we walked from Las Palomas to the Plaza, I found this beautiful silver medallion:

Navajo-made, it seemed a perfect piece to wear to Alchemy as we take GALAXY for its first burn outing.

On the Plaza, I found a hat similar to the one I was wearing, but nicer.

The brim is wide enough to shade my nose (some basal cell cancer concerns there) and the ventilated crown is nice.

And then we found a very nice hat for evening wear:

I may have a thing for hats.

As we walked Canyon Road’s galleries, hoping to be taken with some new piece, I found a new earring:

Sweet little infinity signs. (For those wondering, I have only the one ear pierced; I have a little box of “spares” for the second one.)

This time as we walked Canyon Road, we ventured into the little side pockets of smaller galleries, where we found Jeffry Schweitzer, an illustrator.

This sweet little book is barely sixteen pages long, but the sentiment is heartwarming. Jeffrey doesn’t know it yet, but he may be the illustrator for my children’s book.

On Thursday, the International Folk Art Market was, as I said, a disappointment in general, but I did find these desert bells from Africa:

They have the most beautiful tones with long-lasting resonance. I regret not getting a few more of the smaller ones to use on my Wilder Mann outfit for Alchemy.

And then there was the Panama hat.

Handmade in Ecuador — which is where Panama hats are actually from — its wide brim and general snappiness made it a no-brainer purchase. You will have admired it in several selfies over the last week, I’m sure.

On to Grand Canyon, where the General Store provided me with two essentials:

…light (this is a little camp lantern; you can pull the top up for a brilliant LED lantern, or push a button for the top to become a flashlight. Very useful on darker-than-usual paths.) … and…

…gin! I ran out of Western Sage a while back and just recently ran out of Desert Rain, so I was gratified to see them still available. Western Sage may be my favorite gin. (There will be a rant about this later.)

Generally when we travel, especially out west, I look for lizard sculptures for my collection. This trip I hadn’t seen any that demanded my attention, until Friday night at El Tovar. There I found this little guy:

A closer look:

Incredibly, that is not paint. It is the technique known as millefiori, “a thousand flowers,” most often associated with Venetian glass. If you’ve ever made or seen pinwheel cookies (or sushi!), you’ve seen the simplest version of this: you create long tubes of dough/glass/clay so that when you slice it the slices have patterns in them.

What you’re seeing on this lizard is astoundingly meticulous layers of polymer clay, sliced thin and applied to the basic lizard shape. This lizard is handmade, albeit not in the U.S.; we saw some large sculptures on Canyon Road that used this technique and they were stunning (and expensive).

At Desert View we came across these stone sculptures:

Just as I collect lizards, my Lovely First Wife is drawn to elk. It’s one reason she gladly returns to Grand Canyon, where they are as numerous as squirrels.

Finally, I could not resist:

Grand Canyon National Park map socks! Am I cool or what?

NEXT: PRO TIPS!

Grand Canyon 2022, Day 6

First, a video from Day 5 that I forgot to upload:

[This post is a day late because we were flying home yesterday. Duh.]

The Western Tanager joined the chipmunk in wishing me a good morning.

Today we took the Blue Route shuttle to the Visitor’s Center and walked back to the Village, a distance of a couple of miles.

The views are as usual awesome.

This is at Mather Point, at the Visitor’s Center, probably the only view most people get of the Canyon — and that’s fine, if unfortunate.

Here’s a longshot of the viewing platform. See the tiny little dots? Those are tourists.

And here we are, being not-tourists.

The more time you spend at the Canyon, the more curious you become about its ecology. The area is in a long-term drought, and there are stresses associated with that, but on the whole the life there is adapted to that environment. Here’s a dead juniper:

Only it’s not dead.

Not even close.

Lizards abound but are difficult to get photos of.

Panorama.

The photos take themselves.

This is looking over at Bright Angel Trail, which starts at the rim by our cabin and goes all the way down to the Colorado River and then back up to the North Rim. [NOTE: Do not attempt.] There are people on this trail. You see them, right?

Even with binoculars, they were hard to see.

Our plans for the afternoon were to eat a nice lunch, then take the Red Shuttle back out to Hermit’s Rest to watch the sunset, ending with snacks at Hermit’s Rest and a nice shuttle ride back to the Village.

That’s not what happened.

The restaurant at Yavapai Lodge at which we wanted to lunch wasn’t actually open for lunch, so we settled for their Tavern… which was not quite the best meal we’ve had there. We soldiered on.

Here’s the waiting area for the Red Shuttle:

What you’re not seeing is the dozens of people waiting for the shuttle, part of the estimated hundreds making their way to Hermit’s Rest — which is not a large area. After waiting for a while as more and more people joined the line, we began to realize that 1) it was going to be way too crowded up there; and 2) waiting for a bus to get back after sunset was not going to be fun.

So we decided to bag that idea. Why not just walk/hike up to Trailview Overlook, the first stop on the Red Shuttle, and watch the sunset from there?

I should have taken photos of the very steep and precipitous trail up there, but we were too busy trying to stay alive on this .7 mile climb to care about that.

Here’s the view from up there:

It is, as advertised, a view of Bright Angel Trail and the Village.

You know what’s not visible from Trailview Overlook? The sunset. It would have been behind the forest up there.

So we hiked back down and just walked back up to El Tovar to our usual spot.

However, even this chaos was a good thing, because as we walked up the hill past Thunderbird Lodge and the mini-herd of elk who have taken to dining there, we heard a loud, high-pitched whistling call.

It was one of the mother elks, who had been so focused on her grazing that she and her baby had become separated. (It was similarly focused on a patch two lawns up.) She was calling it, and it responded. My Lovely First Wife actually got footage!

That made the whole venture worth it.

The sunset did not disappoint.

We then retreated to the bar at Bright Angel Lodge — they call them “lounges,” not bars — where we gifted our chairs to Christine, our bartender, who was delighted.

I have mentioned that the cocktail game at Grand Canyon is not, shall we say, elevated. Here is the bar at Bright Angel (and it’s not a lot better at El Tovar):

I decided to challenge myself to come up with a cromulent cocktail using these bottles and the typical bar collection of juices, sodas, etc. Christine abetted me in this crime.

Dear reader, I failed. The pinkish bottle in the middle photo is a prickly-pear-flavored vodka, and since one of my hits is the Prickly Pear Daiquiri, I brainstormed with that one. I avoided rum, since that would have been reduplicative. The best I could do was 1 oz brandy, 1/2 oz PPF vodka, and lime juice, and — boldly — a salt rim. We tried a second one using bourbon. Neither had any body to it.

Christine added Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice to both, and that helped, but on the whole I would have tossed them in the sink at home. Oh well. Xanterra, if you’re listening, my offer to serve as artist-in-residence cocktail consultant stands.

One last thing: At the bar the night before, one of the TVs was playing by-god cornhole championships (of which, I kid you not, there are multiple). They made the golf on the other TV look thrilling. This night, the TVs were playing car races, which are also mind-bogglingly boring.

We teased Christine about not having cornhole on the agenda and settled in for snacks and cocktail failures. But then…

This is the Lucas Oil POWRi National Midget League. They spend their couple of laps skidding around the curve of the dirt track.

But that’s not the most ridiculous thing. Here’s the lineup for Heat 6:

Emerson. Chance. Ryan. Kyle. Brannigan.

Kaylee, for Cthulhu’s sake.

Every heat was like this. It sent me into a giggling fit that attracted attention. (FYI, Kaylee came in third. She’s adorable.)

It was time for bed.

I’m not going to blog about getting home, other than to say: Yo, SanTan Brewery & Pub at Phoenix Sunport, dudes, fix your “order from your phone” thing so that it doesn’t randomly add cheeseburgers and an IPA to my order of chicken fingers. Poor server had to fix it all. And if you’re going to feature your Saint Anne’s Citrus Rose Gin[1,] you should probably try to get some vendor at the airport to sell it, not to mention having it as an option on your “order from your phone” thing.

Next up: the swag report, and pro tips.

—————

[1] Coming soon, a rant about liquor distributorships.

Grand Canyon 2022, Day 5

We watched the Canyon again today.

We did so by driving out to Desert View, on the eastern end of the park, and then stopping at nearly every viewpoint on the way back.

The main attraction at Desert View, other than the Canyon, is the Watchtower, designed by Mary Colter back in the 1930s. Like the Canyon itself, it is endlessly fascinating to watch: Colter’s vision of an organic structure resulted in stonework that at first appears random, but upon closer examination is intricately designed.

The whole area is being redeveloped in concert with the Eleven Associated Tribes to feature an Inter-Tribal Cultural Heritage Site, hopefully to be open next year.

The view from the Watchtower is, of course, spectacular.

It’s the point at which the Colorado River does a hard right and heads west, dropping some 300 feet almost immediately.

We found a shaded spot, popped out our camp chairs, and settled in for some Canyon watching.

There, unbelievably, trails down there.

We have questions for Park Rangers. For example, in this next photo, if you find the rapids on the left side, right above them is a little white spot on the cliff. Even with binoculars we could not tell what it was, since it’s surrounded by completely black rock.

I will not insist that you participate in our stop-by-stop Canyon watching, but I’ll share some things.

Another view of the mighty Colorado River. As a fellow watcher commented, “It doesn’t look that big to have done all this.” Of course, it’s a matter of scale — the river is about 300 feet across.

Flowers.

At one of the stops, thistles:

The junipers are laden with berries…

…which got me to thinking. Some enterprising entity, perhaps the Eleven Associated Tribes, could ethically harvest juniper berries and package them for people who are interested in distillations and infusions, i.e., teas, essential oils, gin.

One would not offer just the juniper, of course. There’s desert sage…

… piñon trees, germander, all kinds of herbs and plants that could be harvested and sold to the likes of me.

At one of the stops, a trio of ravens greeted us, and after they hung around a bit, I shared my water with them. Always — always — make friends with the ravens.

I’m not sure what this shrub is, but its blooms are nice. Is it juniper? All the other junipers were in full berry.

Even the dead trees are picturesque.

My Lovely First Wife adventuring out onto a promontory. A bit.

One last panoramic view:

Back at the Village, we decided on a multi-phase plan. First, we’d check out the Hopi House for a couple of items we’re still looking for. Then we’d slip into El Tovar’s cocktail lounge and have a drink and a charcuterie to tide us over. Then we’d sit out and watch the sunset, which is always the main event. After that, we’d retreat to the Bright Angel Tavern for a light supper.

The gang was back.

Including this goober. How the hell did he get into a fenced-in garden?

Not only that, but when we came back around from Hopi House, he was gone. Over charcuterie, we asked the waitress if she knew how he did it. Yep, all of them know just to push their way under the fence. Later there was another one in there.

After we finished our cocktails, my Lovely First Wife suggested that I run back to the cabin to get the chairs while she paid the bill. (It is not a short distance back to the cabin.)

That’s okay. I got to see the fawn suckling.

It’s eating grass, but it’s still dappled and still wants its milk.

We settled in to watch the sunset, and now I will walk you through how the Canyon is one of the most watchable places ever.

Your establishing shot:

(We were joined by this little bug, who trundled back and forth in front of us the whole time.)

As the sun sets, the Canyon goes darker…

…and darker…

…while the sky above remains brilliant.

This sunset had an extra bit; since the sun was behind clouds while it was setting…

…when it finally sank to the horizon, its light escaped the clouds and…

… the Canyon was lit again, for a moment.

The sun…

…the Canyon…

…and then, behind us…

So, just your typical sunset over your typical Canyon with your typical rainbow with your typical elk grazing all around you.

Finally, the sun set.

We headed back down to Bright Angel Lodge, where we greeted our bartender Christine and had a light supper of fish and chips. We told her of our sunset experience and she commented that camp chairs are on her list to acquire, so we immediately offered her ours. We can’t take them back with us and we were wondering how best to gift them to someone else. (Apparently there’s a gear swap kind of thing, but we can just give ours to Christine.)

One more day!

Grand Canyon 2022, Day 4

After breakfast, we hopped the bus to go over to Market Plaza, and I was startled to be warned by the bus:

It took me a long moment to realize it was the bus driver’s name.

One of my goals in coming here was to replenish my supply of local gins:

Mission accomplished.

Once we secured our purchases back at the cabin, we walked down to the Red shuttle to head out to Hermit’s Rest.

Neighbors greeted us.

I don’t think they were actually getting ready to head down into the Canyon — heat advisories for the bottom are off the charts — so perhaps their trainers just bring them over here to keep them in the habit.

A selfie while waiting for the shuttle, in my new Panama hat.

Our goal in heading out to Hermit’s Rest was to be away from the hustle and bustle of the Village and to sit and watch the Canyon. (We took our purchased-at-Walmart-in-Flagstaff-for-$5.99 lawn chairs for this purpose.)

[A chipmunk just jumped up on the wall next to me, greeted me, and chirped along its way.]

Which is a nice segue back to Hermit’s Rest, where we started by getting an ice cream from concessions and sitting to eat. Victor joined us.

Who’s Victor, you ask?

The most dangerous beast in the Canyon, your ground squirrel. They are fearless and opportunistic, and you must not feed them. Which of course two boys from Russia were doing, so Victor and his cohort were all over the place. I’ve found that if they’re insistent, just blow in their little faces and they get the hint.

Victor, after getting the hint:

We moved on out from the concession area towards the Hermit’s Rest trailhead and found a spot in the shade with a relatively unobstructed view of the Canyon, and we sat.

We sat for over an hour, just watching the Canyon: it changes in the light every minute, and if you nap (or blog) and then look up, it’s a completely different place than when you last looked.

A strange and wonderful thing! We were sitting there when we noticed a sundog above us.

It was faint, but it was large. There were two segments, so I got up to take a better picture, and behold: it was actually the outer of two rainbows.

This is a good vacation.

Eventually we headed back to the cabin and rested up. We dressed for dinner at El Tovar and began walking up to the Lodge while the sun was setting.

We turned a small corner and…

… a young elk trying to drink from a leaky water pipe. The southwest is in the worst drought ever, and the wildlife is suffering along with the humans, so it wasn’t surprising that this animal took advantage of our infrastructure. People were fascinated and respectful, although as we moved on to El Tovar there was one girl who seemed to be moving right up to the beast.

Dinner was lovely, though the dining room was very hot and stuffy. After dinner we stopped at the lounge for a final drink before heading back to the cabin:

l to r: an Ellsworth Kolb (named after one of the brothers who relentlessly photographed and promoted the Canyon back in the day), which is brandy, Amaretto, clove, and cinnamon, and which I have been told I need to replicate ; and a good old gin and tonic.

I will say that I am a little surprised that the cocktail game at Xanterra’s establishments isn’t stronger. At the very least, shouldn’t they be offering the local gins and vodkas in their cocktails? They should hire me as an artist-in-residence for a year to up their game.

Anyway, heading back to the cabin we encountered: a gray fox on its evening rounds; three young elk grazing by El Tovar; two baby elk curled up in front of the Thunderbird Lodge; and their mother, sitting across the sidewalk and watching us calmly but alertly.

Grand Canyon 2022, Day 3

My view this morning as I blog:

There is a difference between traveling and vacationing. When you travel, you’re Going To All The Places and Doing All The Things. When you vacation, you don’t. Usually when I blog about these things, we’re traveling, but this is a vacation. I’m determined it’s going to be a vacation, and so far my Lovely First Wife agrees with me. (It was a close call when we drove past Petrified Forest National Park on our way to Grand Canyon, but we tabled the idea.)

So you will have to forgive me if these posts are not as detailed, interesting, or amusing as they usually might be.

Day 3, Santa Fe. The International Folk Art Market (IFAM) is quite the org, despite not making it clear on their website that although the festivities did indeed begin July 5, the actual market didn’t open until July 7. We drove to the location where IFAM had shuttle buses to drive us to Museum Hill, hopped aboard the bus, and had a pleasant conversation with a nice Texan lady, whose husband’s stoicism became understandable as the journey wore on and it became apparent, after she repeated the Ali McGraw story, that she had some kind of memory loss.

We were there on the special “early bird” tickets so that we could do the Market and then hit the road to Arizona and not end up pulling into Bright Angel Lodge at midnight. Here’s the line to get in:

It moved quickly enough. Here’s a uninteresting shot of one of the tents:

There were over 100 artists from all over the world. You may be thinking of “folk art” as being somehow primitive or lacking on polish or sophistication, but the wares of this market were nothing of the kind. All “folk art” indicates is that it springs from a folk tradition, not from the art academy.

Again, I failed to take many photos, but here’s an extravagant example:

There were a lot of textiles and jewelry, baskets and useful objects, and a smattering of purely decorative items. I had expected to be overwhelmed with things that needed to come home with me, but there was actually very little that appealed.

Part of the problem was that everything was extremely expensive. There were some really funky straw hats from Africa that I could have worn to a burn, but not for $250. The first woven shirt that appealed to me was $500. You can see why I could resist purchasing. I did walk away with an actual Panama hat (from Ecuador, of course) and a couple of brass temple bells for the labyrinth, but even there I imagine I could find the same objects for a lot less money elsewhere.

Another problem, at least for me, was that most of the merchandise was far more professionally produced than I was comfortable with. I mean, do folk artists always sew laundry care tags into their shirts? I just didn’t sense a lot of folk in the art.

And so, regrettably, we can not recommend the International Folk Art Market as a Thing To Do. The Folk Art Museum is, of course, one of the most amazing places you will ever visit, but the Market is for very rich ladies who decorate.

We hit the road, down I-25 and across I-40 to Flagstaff. Because I was driving, I don’t have any photos of the amazing landscapes through which we drove. After we switched off, I did manage to wrangle a shot or two.

In Flagstaff we stopped at our favorite little hippie crystal store to buy silver chains for some of our new jewelry — yes, we have a favorite hippie crystal store to buy silver chains in — and then at Wal-Mart for a few necessities like a couple of camp chairs so we can just sit here and watch the light change over the Canyon. Then it was a beautiful drive up Hwy 180 to Valle — again, we were practically the only car on the road — and on up to Grand Canyon.

::deep breaths::

We moved into our Bright Angel Lodge cabin, strolled up to the Lodge, and had a light supper at the bar, making friends with the bartender and a couple of park employees, and feeling that urge to chuck it all and come here to work.