Sunday, April 24, 2011

Busman's Holiday, Part 3: Southern Utah

John Steinbeck, in Travels with Charley, said that Yellowstone National Park is "a wonderland of nature gone nuts." So is southern Utah. Click on an image to enlarge it.

Church Rock, north of Monticello, Utah, features three divisions of Entrada sandstone: the uppermost Moab tongue caps a thick Slickrock member, with the Dewey Bridge member as the base.

We spent a day at Arches National Park. According to an "artist in the park," whom Michele characterized as "a bumptious lass," a photograph of the Three Gossips is a requirement of all who enter. We did not want to be arrested or sent home, so we took a picture.

Michele and Frankey enjoyed the scenery.

Here's an arch in the making.

A balanced rock.

Sandstone formations with the La Sal Mountains in the background.

A Shoe and Kev Special.

One of more than 2000 arches in the park.

More arches. Click to enlarge and see the people.

Delicate Arch is the most famous formation in the park. We couldn't go on the trail to it with Frankey, so we just enjoyed the view from below.

A cliff wall and desert varnish at Park Avenue.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Busman's Holiday, Part 2: Traveling with Frankey

Traveling with Frankey can be fraught with excitement. She's an enthusiastic, bouncing passenger. She can lower the rear windows by stepping on the window buttons, which is a real heart-stopper if you're driving over Glorieta Pass at 75 mph. She can also activate the hazard lights when you drive down Central Avenue; the flashing lights tend to alarm the pedestrians and alert members of the LAPD, who eat downtown to sustain the slender thread of life. And she can knock the car out of gear when you're backing out of the driveway.

However, having finally shed the shackles of reason, we decided that it would be a good idea to take her on the road trip to Utah. To keep her safe in the back seat, I bought her a harness that buckles around her; just feed the seatbelt through a loop on the harness and latch it, and Frankey is confined to the back seat but can still see out the windows and comment on what's going on in the front seat. She rode in it very nicely from the pet store to home, a distance of a good 2 miles.

When we set out for Utah, we didn't use the harness. In EspaƱola, she decided that sitting on Michele's lap would afford her a better view, not to mention a closer barking proximity to large trucks and motorcycles, all drivers of which are known to be packing heat. Once we reached highway speeds on the way to Chama, she calmed down, things were peaceful once again, and our ears stopped ringing. Until a motorcyclist appeared behind us and followed us into Abiquiu. Frankey stood on the back seat and barked through the rear window until the cyclist passed us.

Dogs prefer to ride shotgun.

When we got to Chama and switched drivers, I told Michele that for safety's sake and the sake of our sanity and hearing, I was going to put Frankey in the harness. As Michele pulled out of the parking lot at the visitors center and headed west toward Pagosa Springs, Frankey joined me in the front seat. Our little Houdoggi had slipped out of the harness within seconds.

From then on, she was free to move about the cabin. She was pretty quiet on the highways, but whenever we slowed to go through a town, she came into the front seat and sat on the passenger, or stood on the center console, one foot on the driver's shoulder, and peered intently ahead. When we left Cortez, Colorado, on the way home, she fell asleep with her head on Michele's shoulder. That was really cute.

A travel break at Dove Creek, the Bean Capital of Colorado

We took nice walks every morning and evening, and most of the shops we visited were dog friendly. Maria's Bookshop in Durango had cookies for their dog visitors, and Frankey got lots of pets from the staff of The King's English in Salt Lake City.

Frankey enjoyed the broad streets and sidewalks of Salt Lake City and the grassy spots around downtown. She didn't bark at the trucks on the street—unless they were near our hotel, in which case they were intruders and needed to be warned off. She barked at only one person, a street guy who was teasing her.

Frankey liked the pet-friendly accommodations we booked. The Doubletree in Durango provides a water dish, mat, and bag of dog cookies, and the staff of the Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City always greeted her warmly after our jaunts around town. She didn't seem to be bothered by noises outside and slept peacefully on her blankie every night.

The view from our room in Durango

Ike had always disliked elevators, but Frankey didn't mind them. We were on the 11th floor of the Hotel Monaco, and Frankey always stepped into the "zoom room" with no hesitation. When we got to our floor, she marched right down the hall to our room.

Frankey at the Hotel Monaco after a day of urban hiking

We visited Arches and Mesa Verde National Parks and obeyed the pet rules: dog on leash, clean up wastes, and go only where a car can go. Frankey really liked all the new smells, and we didn't feel constrained at all.

Mom iz not constrained. Mommie Shelbert iz not constrained. I iz constrained.

Now that we all understand how we travel, what we like to do, and where we like to sit, the three of us will take another road trip.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Busman's holiday: part 1

Every year we go to the annual conference of the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association and get together with our fellow booksellers to discuss business, exchange ideas, learn what's hot, and talk books. Every year we say that we're going to visit our colleagues' stores. And this year we did.

Last week Michele, Frankey, and I went on a busman's holiday to southern Colorado and Utah to visit Maria's Bookshop in Durango, Colorado; Arches Book Company in Moab, Utah; and Sam Weller's Bookstore, The King's English Bookshop, and Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The wonderful thing about independent bookstores is that they reflect the spirit and interests of their area. You won't see the homogenized, strip-mined selections that you find in the big chains. Instead, you'll find a carefully curated selection of general books and specialties, and attentive staff members who actually read. And you'll probably come home with a carload of books you didn't know about that some passionate booksellers recommended to you. (So Sophie was resting on the axle on the way home. Big deal. That's why we got the heavy-duty suspension.)

Maria's, for example, features books on railroadiana and regional archaeology, history, and culture. If you want everything Edward Abbey, guides to the gnarly activities in southeastern Utah, geology of the Colorado Plateau, and Native cultures, the Arches Book Company is your store. Sam Weller's has purt neart everything; Shoe and Kev would love the bottom floor, which is filled with maps and geology books, including rare and out-of-print books. You want Mormon history? They have more Mormon history than I ever imagined. The King's English is passionate about their local and regional authors. At Anne's recommendation, I got a copy of Curious Masonry: Three Translations from the Anglo-Saxon by Christopher Patton; it's a gorgeous little book with an embossed cover and the text, in Anglo-Saxon and modern English on facing pages, printed on laid paper. And at Ken Sanders Rare Books, I unearthed a first edition of Witter Bynner's Grenstone Poems with his bookplate, which was designed by Kahlil Gibran.

Coming next: Traveling with Frankey, or How Did She Slip out of Her Harness? I Thought She Was Fastened to the Seatbelt