Painted Desert Petrified Forest
Oct. 13, `70
Both Pat and Nina had classes the next morning, but before
they left they volunteered to give me a ride out of town. As they were about to drop me off outside the city limits, they decided to skip class and take me all the way to the next town. Since I already knew the pigs in Flagstaff were assholes, I was very appreciative. On a good stretch of highway, under a sunny sky, I said good-bye to
the trio, Pat, Nina and their dog Shotshe, and headed off to Texas. I got a ride right away, but not long into the ride, when the road sign read, “Painted Desert and Petrified Forest Next Exit,” I decided to take a little side trip. After walking up the exit ramp and getting on the highway to the scenic areas, I began to wonder if I had made the right decision.
The desert was all around me, and except for some sagebrush and a few cacti, no life could be found. The wind was blowing sand in my face and it was a cold wind at that; there wasn’t any traffic and the park entrance was more than a mile away. I walked the entire distance, eating sand all the way. Once at the entrance to the twenty-five mile long park, I found a snotty Park Ranger waiting to
take my money. I had walked my last mile, so I decided to wait for a ride in front of the entrance.
It didn’t take long to discover that this idea was a bad
one. From the few cars that passed me, the only response that I received from the tourists (nobody in the cars looked under one- hundred-years-old) were assorted looks of disgust. I was beginning to hate myself when the Park Ranger, after stepping out from behind his bulletproof booth, told me I couldn’t hitchhike on park soil. If
I wanted to hitchhike, I would have to do it back at the interstate exit ramp. Apparently, he didn’t like my looks, or he thought I was scaring the tourists away. Either way, I was more than a little disturbed as I dutifully obeyed, but when I picked up my gear and started walking down the highway, a Triumph sports car stopped and a beautiful chick offered me a ride. She, like me, did not intend to
come to this park until she saw the park sign on the interstate.
Sherry was heading to Las Vegas where she worked as a
showgirl. As I was stashing my gear behind the seat, the next words out of her month were, “Do you have a driver’s license?” As I climbed behind the wheel, she readied herself to take in the sights of the park. As we passed through the gate, I wanted to scream at the asshole ranger for being such a prick, but I kept my composure and with a big smile on my face transferred the money for both of our admissions from Sherry’s hand into the outstretched hand of the Park Ranger. I gave the Triumph some gas and never looked back. Perhaps it was the weather, or my mood, or maybe the park was really as shitty as it appeared; whatever it was, I wouldn’t recommend
going out of your way to drive through twenty-five miles of dessert where the only scenic stuff was sparsely scattered pieces of petrified tree trunks. The best thing about the whole excursion was driving the Triumph.