The Hundredth Meridian

A Journey to the Bottom of the World

The plane took off to the east out of Denver, banked steeply right, and came round on a southwest heading: over Pike’s Peak, the Sangre de Christo Mountains, and the Great Sand Dunes National Monument; across the San Luis Valley, the upper Rio Grande, and the San Juan Mountains; over Chaco Canyon, with a view of Shiprock Peak and the Chuska Mountains to the west; over Gallup, New Mexico, and on across the Painted Desert and the Little Colorado; over the Mogollon Rim with its dusting of snow, the Salt River winding in its steep-sided gorge, and the Superstition Mountains on our approach into Phoenix.  At Sky Harbor, I transferred to an America West De Haviland and continued the journey north, above Camp Verde, Cottonwood, and Sedona (with a salute to Col. Jeff Cooper in Paulden) off the left wing.

Tom Sheeley awaited me at Pulliam Field in Flagstaff.  We shared an abrazo inside the terminal, and I felt the grizzly-sized hump of muscle below his neck from the training he’d been doing all winter.  Tom hoisted the expandable soft-sided suitcase containing my backpack, camp equipment, and clothing, and preceded me through the door and into the parking lot.  “We’re going to Chili’s,” he said.  “Bet you can’t handle one of those thirty-ounce beers.”

We took a seat at a table in the bar and waited for Cory to spot us.  When she came in...

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