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Flagstaff, Arizona

Travels in the Grand Canyon State

On a Grand Tour of the Mountain West in September of 1984, Tom Jones and I had completed the
first leg of our journey (Houston, Texas to Meteor Crater, Arizona; then a one-night rest stop in Flagstaff).
Next stop was the Grand Canyon, where we intended to hike down, touch the Colorado River, then hike
back out again. We would then proceed to Grand Teton National Park to attempt the Grand Teton. It was
no pun intended that we referred to this vacation as a Grand Tour, however. We had trained for it by hiking
the railroad tracks for miles at a time throughout Houston, and climbing as much as one can in Southeast Texas.

The morning we left Flagstaff, there was no hint of trouble from my 1975 Volvo 245 DL. I was grooving to a
cassette tape when the music began to slow down. I popped the tape out, figuring it was getting tangled
in the machine, but the tape itself was intact. Curious. I put it back in, but it played very slowly, then it just
quit playing. I glanced at Tom, who asked me what was going on with the tape deck. Of course, I didn't know
what it was doing either. Moments later, the engine died, just like the tape deck. We were 42 miles Northwest
of Flagstaff, basically in the middle of no where. The car wouldn't start. The battery was dead.

I bought this car in 1983 for $1500
A pleasant day
for a long walk
9 September 1984
The body sat crooked on the chassis, from a previous wreck
Tom was so bored
he took car pics
9 September 1984
The Volvo's left rear quarter panel was 50% body putty
Rescued by
Golightly's Towing
9 September 1984

After some discussion, I volunteered to try to hitchhike toward Valle, about fifteen miles away. I just started
hiking on U.S. 180 until somebody picked me up, a dad driving with his wife and two small children. They dropped
me off at a little gas station. Did they have a mechanic, I queried. The attendant only said that today is Sunday.

Oh. Dang.

He suggested I try to get the vehicle back to Flagstaff, and he wished me good luck. I started walking back
toward the Volvo, hoping I could get a ride. It wasn't too long before a guy in an El Camino stopped and
offered me a ride back to Flagstaff. He drove that truck like a stunt pilot, or maybe a fighter pilot. Fastest
I'd ever gone in an automobile. I can't recall if we stopped to tell Tom I was getting a tow truck in Flagstaff.
Doesn't matter; that's what happened. By the time I arrived back at the Volvo with Golightly's Towing, Tom
had written a dimestore novel's worth of lamentatious prose on his spiral notepad.

We thought it'd be easy getting a Volvo alternator in Arizona. Waiting for one cost us two nights at a cheap
flop in Flagstaff, until the mechanic had had enough of us hanging around his shop. He wouldn't talk to me
anymore, because I wanted to keep the whole car Swedish. The mechanic held up an A.C.Delco alternator
before our eyes. Jones told him that would do the trick. I started to protest when the mechanic approached
my precious car with a hacksaw. He told Tom to get me out of his garage, this wasn't going to be pretty.
Tom hustled me out toward the parking lot. What was Rolf, my regular mechanic, going to say?!

San Francisco Peaks are an ancient caldera
Humphrey's Peak from
our breakfast eatery
10 September 1984
Humphrey's is the highest peak of the group
Humphreys Peak
12,637 feet
10 September 1984

While we were marooned in Flagstaff, we spent a little time trying to decide if we wanted to attempt
12,637-foot Humphrey's Peak. As it turned out, we'd need a vehicle to get there. It rises about 6,000 feet
above Flagstaff, just begging to be climbed. Well, we never did climb it. An hour after the mechanic
bastardized my pristine Volvo innards, we were on the road for Wyoming, bound for the Tetons...

2011 EBBoykin, Jr

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