VACATIONLAND 2 (excerpts)

III. Gallup, New Mexico

JR buys a turtle man
from a Navajo girl
at the Mexican buffet
diner. The food is
bad. Mr. Potato says,
"I think the turtle man
is the Zuni spirit for
Death to the White Man."
JR says, "That's
okay. I'm buying it
for my sister."

V. The Climb Back Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park

JR hopes to make it to the plateau,
or at least far enough out to see the condors
from underneath, above him and his father,
reckoning their next meal.  Two pairs of mates
have laid eggs! And JR hopes even more
that the adults get it right this time, though
the ranger says it make take several generations
of clutches for the parent condors to become
competent. So what does JR see? Fat desert
squirrels, many ravens, cliff swallows,
a big-eared chipmunk, and tiny, almost Florida
anoles and lizards. Mr. Potato and JR
return up the slope, pass a German couple,
rest, are passed by the German couple, pass
the German couple, rest, and it goes on.
Every time they pass and are passed,
everyone smiles, glad to say how hot
it is, thankful for being a little smart this
time, bringing enough water, and everyone
admiring how handsome this boy is, what a
swell dad he has, and how nice Germans
are in America. At this National Park,
everyone is thinking how good the world
is, sharing strawberries and waiting
for a sleight of wing overhead.