Walking on Hot Coals

I've wanted to return to El Malpais National Monument for twelve years. "The Bad Country" always beckons me. I need scruffy country with bare rocks and wide vistas. It is a bonus when I can smell the sage and wild flowers, the sun-warmed rock, the coating of dust+sweat+sunscreen+bug repellant. The fakey scent of Tang is linked with a sense of true return to nature.

Twelve years ago I bought the poster of La Ventana natural arch in El Malpais, and had it framed for the ex-man's office. I've enjoyed a small photo of La Ventana taken by Mike, who was going into 2nd grade. After the difficult hike back up to the arch I wonder how little Mike got such a great photo of the arch. I am glad to learn that he remembers that day...

After climbing back down from the arch I set off for the trail at Lava Falls. This trail was rough going, as it was across lava with fissures, craters, and falls. My ankles were a wreck. Not a place for an evening stroll!

The motel in Grants was next to the Walmart, so I dropped in to buy camera batteries. The store was full of poster children demanding affordable preventive health care. The town of Grants is dying. The change in twelve years is obvious. The economy based on Route 66 motorists and uranium mining has cratered. It was too sad and depressing to go tromping around taking photos of rotting neon motel signs. Be sure to watch "Destiny Turns On the Radio" sometime.

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