Addy and I drove in to Flagstaff today. It was just today I noticed she had a patriotic colored mudflap girl decal on the back of her rig. Plenty of red white and blue wearing citizens in the city, and everyone was out on the street in the downtown area.
We did the mundane stuff first: Deposited my check at the bank, went to Safeway for staples. I had gone to the Backcountry Office the day before for a permit, with the intention of doing the cross canyon trek this weekend. So we also went to Babbit’s Backcountry Outfitters for a few items. After getting advice about where to eat from the tattooed man behind the counter we ate the best fish taco in a little alley-way eatery. On our way to an art show in the Flag park we couldn’t resist popping into a vintage clothing store complete with costume rental and pulp fiction postcards. We were due at a barbeque later in the day so it was tempting to think about what we could go dressed up as. This much fringed suede jacket and replica badge saying “Tribal Police” could have made things interesting, or I may have ended up as a badly drawn character out of a Tony Hillerman novel. No dis to Hillerman’s work. He’s my Nevada Barr murder mystery this summer. Strange deaths in breathtaking places. The art show in the park was average, with the most unique booth being a photographer who specialized in long exposures to create “spirit shadows” www.sheerentertainment.com Some free music in Heritage Square caused us to take pause in the warm Arizona sunshine. A trio specializing in surf rock (Bonsai Pipeline!) and early rock n’ roll provided entertainment—after we got over the fact that he was blaming women for taking over television. He had been trying to derive audience participation with the theme song from Bonanza with little success, so he tried the old trick of pitting men against women. Apparently women are to blame for the (feminine?) comedy of Frasier and the loss of shows like Dragnet, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza—where it’s okay to be 50 years old and still live with your Dad. The singer then tried to rile the crowd with insults like: “the six senior citizens in wheelchairs we played for at Aspen Peaks last week were livelier than you,” or “three drunk golfers would make more noise than that.” At any rate his music was fun.
We moved on to the 77th Annual Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture at the Museum of Northern Arizona where I had been hoping to see some Hopi reggae, but sadly realized that their website was on “Indian Time” and hadn’t been updated since 2007. It was up-to-date the day before the festival when I logged in to the internet to verify times, but no reggae this year. Instead the big attraction was Kiowa Gordon, born in Germany, but a member of the Hualapai tribe--of Grand Canyon West Skywalk fame, remember the Skywalk is NOT managed by NPS people! Kiowa landed a role in the Twilight saga's New Moon film, so he was there signing posters and looking pretty. I preferred the, er, high art, the Hopi clowns and the Navajo jewelry on display in the museum collection. I also discovered the work of Ed Mell, painter of the new west, similar to Serena Supplee in style.
We made it back to the Village after narrowly missing the back end of a mini van who thought fit to slam on its brakes in the middle of the desert for two roaming dogs. The dogs were cute, but twisted metal would not have been. Hopi spirits protected us. Our barbeque was at a permanent resident’s house, with the ulterior motive (besides being the 4th of July) being to show off the work of some local artists. There was a Pabst Blue Ribbon mosaic, some disturbing work involving manatees, and my favorite which was the perspective of two bison looking out from the purple-curtained window of a train, long rifle barrels pointed at the prairie, which was littered with, er, men. Call me a sick puppy but there was some deep commentary going on about how the West was lost. Speaking of dogs, Ranger Lori showed up at the BBQ, author of The Adventures of Salt and Soap in the Grand Canyon, sold in all the GCA bookstores. Salt and Soap were found wandering around the inner canyon, most likely dogs from the neighboring Rez (much like the ones we almost hit out on the plateau). Lori ended up adopting them and writing a children’s book about their discovery. Salt and Soap were also present begging Cheetos and bits of chicken. I thought about doing one of my Ranger Storytime Programs on Salt and Soap, trying in the problem of animal abandonment in Parks, but thought later I didn’t want to take on the cultural challenge of First Peoples perspective on “pets.” Just didn’t think that conversation would sit well with 2-6 year olds.
No fireworks were needed as a campfire sufficed, and entertaining stories and personalities won out over a trip down to Tusayan for their famed 32-float parade. The parade of humanity is always worth celebrating.
Jenny Gapp, has eighteen years experience as a teacher librarian, four seasons as a seasonal state park ranger assistant, and two summers adventuring with National Parks in an official capacity.