Thursday, September 07, 2000

Worldcon Chicago Thursday #2

Jackson WY to Grand Junction CO 430 Miles

While my first inclination was to head south via Salt Lake City, to make use of the interstate, I realized the more direct route would be much shorter, and would also give me the opportunity to visit Dinosaur National Monument, which I had passed by several times in the past.

The road itself was soothing, with many canyons, and lakes. But once again, along the Flaming Gorge canyon area, there were the signs of a massive grass fire. For many miles, the land to the right of the road was bare earth, populated with black sticks, all that was left of the sagebrush. On the right, the vegetation was untouched. I wondered, in this day and age, the highway system provides an extensive barrier system against grass fires. What would it have been like before the roads, when there were no firefighters to slow the fire's progress?

Interestingly, I saw little or no evidence of firefighting among these ashes. Only near ranchland did it appear that an effort was made to halt the fire's progression.

The Dinosaur National Monument was quite a spectacle. An historic dig site, an ancient riverbed upended at a 70 or 80 degree angle, had been roofed over by the park service. All this century, full dinosaur skeletons had been removed from the site, but still there were many more. Seeing this graveyard of stegosaurus and allosarous and others, still in the rock was quite a sight.

The travel time was productive for me, and in addition to the hour long Burger King stops, this night I gave up on making more miles so I could sit at a McDonalds with outdoor tables and write out an outline for seven related novels.

Of course, people watching was fun as well. This McDonalds had a large playscape, and inside there were three boys about 12 or 13. At the same time, three older boys, about 14 to 16, came by for drinks. As they left, the older boys commented to each other that the younger kids had just left their bicycles by the door, where they weren't safe.

One of the older ones, with mischief in mind, turned back, picked up one of the bicycles, and just waited there until the boys inside noticed him. In a panic, they came out to rescue their bikes. However, the older boy was bigger, and their complaints were cautious, especially as the other two older boys had returned to watch. The younger ones were seriously worried, and I ached to tell them that the older boy was just playing with them.

Finally, the instigator was ready to leave, and now he had to find a graceful way to back down. By comparing bicycles, and finding something wrong with each of them, he left without taking any of them. The younger set were of course relieved, but offended at the judgement on their bikes.

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