There’s a Guinea Pig in That Bag

There’s a supermarket that’s about 30 seconds from my front door. Which is great convenience-wise, but the problem is it’s geared towards mountain tourists and you’ll pay $8 for a Hot Pocket and $15 for a jar of Vaseline. Not saying I was shopping for either, in any particular order, ever. It was just for comparative purposes. Anyway, they have trouble keeping full-time help and mostly local high schoolers fill the role of check-out clerk. I frequent the establishment for their breakfast burritos and fine salad bar, and have gotten to know some of the check-out staff. That’s how I met Chuck. And Chuck was not a high schooler, He was just high. (His name has been changed to protect his identity.)
It started like any other unassuming check-out conversation, How’s your day? I like that brand, genocide in Myanmar, etc when we got on the topic of pot stickers, which I happened to be purchasing. Things took an unexpected turn.
Me: Have you tried this brand? They’re really good and inexpensive.
Chuck: No! But you know who has the best potstickers?? That Chinese place down a town over!.
Me: Really? I’ll have to check it out.
Chuck: Yeah! That place is awesome! And I don’t think the bartender knows how to make drinks, because he basically fills the glass with vodka and then puts a splash of Sprite in it. It’s crazy. I hang out around there and wait for them to open after every time I get out of jail. That place is awesome!
This also followed a previous conversation we had about doughnuts.
Me: (Holding a bag of doughnuts)
Chuck: What’s in the bag?
Me: A guinea pig.
Chuck: Haha! That’s awesome! That reminds of the time some friends of mine who were major stoners, got a guinea pig and let it run around their apartment. It made a huge mess and when their landlord found out, he got really pissed off and evicted them. They couldn’t keep it anymore, and didn’t know what to do with it. They didn’t want to throw it out or release it to the wild, so they put it in a paper bag and put it on this girls doorstep who they knew wouldn’t get rid of it. So they rang the doorbell and ran away, and the girl kept it and took care of it.
Me: It’s actually three doughnuts.
Chuck: Cool. I’ll give them to you for 50% off.
Me: Awesome.
Chuck: Have a great day!
Chuck is the nicest, friendliest, check-out clerk I have ever had, and is the only one I know that keeps a flask in the front pocket of his store apron. Chuck is one of my absolute, most favorite people, and I’m pretty sure I know why he’s working as a check-out clerk. I will gladly continue to purchase doughnuts from him.
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Rides with Mongrels

Part One

Recently we embarked on a two week road trip, that inadvertently had us discovering much of the American Southwest. We packed up our camping gear, backpacker packs, and two small dogs into the Jeep (Jason thinks her name is Bertha, but I personally think she’s more a Brunhilda. I call the Jeep Hilde for short.) Our true aim was Havasu falls, which we had managed to secure permits for.
Our journey began from our small mountain town in Colorado, and took us west to our first night in Moab. The balmy 75 degrees was a relief from the sleet/snow we’d been experiencing, which was wonderful right up to the lighting strike directly in front of our car followed by a torrential downpour. The fur beasts fought, positioned, and dominated for best seat in the back, with Henry largely serving as co-captain. A beautiful sunset and blustery night later, we continued south down through Monument Valley. As we neared the beautiful towering rock, we slowed down noticing something strange in the middle of the road. Hoards and hoards of Japanese tourists had descended into the middle of the highway and were laying down in the center of the road for group photos. When they sensed our approach, or their imminent doom, they scurried from the road just in time for us to see a film crew roll past us on one side, while a large group of runners passed us on the other recreating the iconic desert scene from Forrest Gump. Because why not. Meanwhile, the dogs went ape-shit in the back, because naturally they need to warn us there are people near by, or when people dressed up as movie characters happen to be collected en masse in the middle of nowhere. Rather than stop, we made a quick exit from the area and continued south towards Tuba City, straight to our lord of saving grace, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
We made a quick stop at the Flagstaff REI. Where there is a Wholefoods and REI, there will be white people. Us being a set of them. Show me a BD’s Mongolian BBQ, and they will come. $500 later, and almost purchasing an additional $100 worth of PFD’s for our dogs, we were on our way. I’m a little fuzzy on what happened next, but we stayed the night somewhere vaguely north of Sedona in the mountains. Maybe it was one of the vorticies that messed with my perception, I dunno. What was not messed with, was my sense of all the immaculately dressed little old ladies with their short white hair cuts that seemed to flood the town, taking in wine tastings, the austere beauty of the location, and the overpriced southwestern trinkets that were in abundance in every town within a 1,000 mile radius of us. We smashed a penny and I was happy. Onward! We stayed the night near Williams, AZ, and camped nearly on top of the old Route 66, which was weird. Williams was a trip. Jason had arranged for the dogs to be babysat for the one night we were in Havasu, so we tried to stay close for easier morning drop off. As we pulled into the area where we could find camping, we passed an old coach bus that had clearly been there for some time, complete with makeshift lawn furniture and decorations. I sincerely hoped nobody would come slash our tent in the middle of the night convinced we were after their meth. However, Jason managed to break the tent anyway so we saved them the trouble.
The next morning, as we pulled into the driveway of the dog sitters, we couldn’t help but notice all of the “Cavalry Baptist Bible School” signs that were stored next to the driveway. As soon as we entered the house, Wookie knew exactly what was up and starting barking and pawing at me fervently. A mountain of dog toys waited in the living room, and three large basset hounds erupted from the kitchen. Despite the scripture quotes decorating the walls, they seemed nice enough, and we escaped any biblical conversations. And at this point in the trip, I was happy to be rid of the boys. Hell, teach the dogs some scripture. Anything to make them fight less in the back seat. With that, minus a trip to a gas station bathroom later, we made our way to the Havasupai reservation.
Part 2 to follow