Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The P. S. I Love You Southwest Memorial Tour Part One

 Waxing Gibbous Moon

Two days ago I returned from a long (4,000+ miles) car trip from San Juan Bautista, CA to Yosemite to Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The primary purpose was to attend my dear sister Pat's memorial service. Pat (aka P. S. I Love You) passed away in mid-August, a couple of months shy of her 80th birthday. It took a while to figure out a date when most people could attend. On September 23, her ashes were buried beside her husband's remains in a Veterans' Cemetery in Grand Prairie, Texas. 

I don't particularly like going to funerals, but showing support for my sister and brother and cousins and Pat's extended family was the right thing to do. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed being there and seeing everyone. To say we put the "fun" in "funeral" would be an irreverent overstatement, but there were lots of teary smiles and sincere laughs shared by the group. It really was cathartic for me. Maybe that's a better word than "fun." Pat was a really fun person, though, so maybe not. Maybe fun-eral suits her just fine.

Just in case she DID like the idea of me remembering her by celebrating her life, I decided to make a long tour out of this project, stopping at places that I thought she might get a kick out of seeing. What follows is a pretty long summary of where I went and what I saw. And who I visited, too. One thing I am sure of is that if you have an opportunity to see someone you care about, especially if they're "in a certain age group," take it. You don't know when or if you will get that chance again, especially if you are "in a certain age group," too.

Yosemite National Park

Several years ago, Pat visited me in San Juan Bautista and I drove her to Yosemite Valley to see the Springtime waterfalls. We spent one night there in a Curry Village heated tent cabin, which I am certain she had not experienced up to that point. The next day she bravely climbed around for a few minutes on some slippery boulders at the base of Bridalveil Falls. I held my breath as I watched her get down and walk back, laughing nervously. Bravo, sister!

This time I camped at Hodgdon Meadows and hiked the trail up to Carlon Falls, near Hetch Hetchy. I didn't expect to see much water if any at this time of year, especially in the middle of a mega-drought. But I was pleasantly surprised when the falls were gently flowing into some really inviting pools. I sat and offered up some of my best thoughts there, calling in the water spirits from all directions to bring Pat love and happiness. 

The next morning as I drove slowly east through the park, I spied a doe next to the road and I came to a stop. The deer paused its movements, looked right at me, and lifted its upper lip with a very reasonable facsimile of a female mule deer smile. I will go to my grave saying that was Pat, or at least Pat's courier. I laughed out loud and slowly pulled away. 

Beatty, Nevada

The next stretch past Mono Lake and Benton Hot Springs into Nevada down to Beatty was a beautiful drive along Hwy 6 and Hwy 95 with a few back roads thrown in for good measure. This part can only be described as mostly mining town funky with country rock overtones. I loved it, even if it was excessively warm. 

Hackberry, Arizona

Interstate 40 through northern Arizona covers some really beautiful territory, bypassing most of the old and iconic Route 66 haunts. But if you take the time, you can jump off the express lanes and head for the cool stuff. Hackberry, not too far east of Kingman, is the best of the best if you ask me. Seligman has more cool places, but Hackberry's one Route 66 roadside building is Arizona's most outstanding. Pat would have loved this stop for sure.

Homolovi State Park

A few miles outside Winslow is Homolovi State Park. There are Hopi ruins to explore and wild burros to greet and a soothing sunset vibe that is hard to beat. It is "such a fine sight to see." Breakfast at The Falcon Restaurant in Winslow is a real treat, not to be missed.

The next leg took me into New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, where I will continue in Part Two.

Peace and Love at 70 mph,


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