Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image


Colorado really didn’t want us to leave Colorado, and did its damndest to follow us down to Phoenix. We got underway Friday afternoon, having spent the morning tidying up the house and making sure that everything else was in order. There was a snowstorm on the forecast for Saturday, and I really wanted to get over Raton Pass before the first flakes fell, tired as we both were.

The weather was gorgeous, and we got over the pass late afternoon, stopping in Las Vegas NM for the night. My intuition was valid: We awoke Saturday morning to a glowering sky and much lower temps. So we piled the Pack into the Durango and blasted south. By Albuquerque it had started to snow. We got onto westbound I-40 with the wipers still on intermittent, and got almost to Grants before things got ugly.

And once they got ugly, they got ugly fast. We could see the cell on Weatherbug’s radar. It went from nothing to red in almost no space at all. The glowering sky became a blizzard in the space of half a mile or less. Visibility was only a few hundred feet. Predictably, there were crackpots blasting past us at 80+ MPH. I considered stopping, but the right shoulder was relatively narrow and we were a biggish target. So we slithered on, with snowflakes the size of “Have a Nice Day” stickers splatting against the windshield.

As quickly as it began, it ended. The splatting and slithering, however, were not over. We got another hundred miles or so, and crossed the state line into Arizona, before the skies opened again. This time it was sleet. The cell wasn’t as intense, but it was a great deal larger, and I white-knuckled it for over forty minutes until it faded out into rain and then mist. The universe suffers no shortage of crackpots, all of whom were determined to get to Winslow by noon or die trying. A couple of them had to be doing 90…in a sleet storm. What was truly boggling is that we only saw one car in the ditch, with no evidence that it had rolled or struck anything else.

Fifteen miles past Winslow the sun came out. By the time we got to Flagstaff it was 4 PM and the roads were dry. We spent the night at a Quality Inn that was just a notch and a half shy of false advertising. The rooms didn’t even have fire sprinklers, and the outside stairways to the second floor were falling apart and roped off with yellow “Police Line” tape.

The next morning it was sunny, and four degrees above zero, mostly par for Flagstaff in mid-December. We hung out in Flagstaff until the Sun had had some time to work on the road ice. But once we blasted south on I-17, the sky was clear and the pavement almost entirely dry. We got down the Mogollon Rim with knuckles no whiter than usual, and rolled into our new driveway at 2:30 PM.

Colorado wasn’t quite done with us. We emptied the car under cold (by Phoenix standards) but clear skies, and after an excellent meat lovers’ pizza at Humble Pie, we mostly sat around reading trashy novels and trying to make our hair lie flat again after a long day of dancing with freezing storm cells. I dipped into Monster Hunter Nemesis, trying to dope out what it is that makes Larry Correia’s adventures so damned good. In short (for this volume at least): Monsters, guns, endless action, more guns, and, well, Frankenstein as a sort of paranormal Man in Black. I powerfully recommend the Monster Hunter International series, with one caveat: Start at the beginning. There are running jokes, background character arcs, and much else that will leave you scratching your head unless you start with Book 1 and go from there.

Come Monday morning, the Arizona Sun was gone, and it was once more cold and raining. It rained off and on most of the day. This morning, it was 30 degrees with a frost on everything exposed to the sky. Like I said, Colorado didn’t want to let us go. Phoenix barely gets frosts in February, much less before winter actually begins. We didn’t mind; frost kills scorpions, and the fewer scorpions around here, the happier I’ll be. Besides, if Global Cooling ever becomes a Real Thing, I’d rather be here than Up Nawth, staring down blizzards every weekend and monitoring with a nervous eye. My hometown was once under a mile of ice, and whereas I often think it’s only what they deserve, I’d just as soon not have Robert Frost’s (!) marvelous little poem come true. (My long-term research suggests that hate trumps desire.)

We’re doing errands today, and generally vamping until tomorrow morning, when The Big Truck O’ Stuff shows up and things get aerobic again. We don’t yet have Internet at the house and are waiting for Cox Cable to dig a new trench from the node in the alley to the house. So again, what you see here has been uploaded from a coffee shop or restaurant, which we at best will visit once a day. I’ll be a little scarce until Cox builds our own personal Information Superhighway. Then again, it’s not like we won’t have enough to keep us busy between now and then, whenever “then” happens to be.

There’s much to write; in fact, not writing at length for over a month has left me very antsy. It’s almost a physical need, and right now it’s not being met.

I’ll keep you posted as best I can. In the meantime, I gotta go throw a couple of old bedsheets over my oranges, lemons, and limes. The world may be warming somewhere. It’s sure as hell not warming here.


  1. Barbara says:

    Here in Maryland it was in the 60s today and sunny. He may have been joking but the weatherman I watch said it would be 70 again on Christmas eve. I’m not complaining about the warm weather.

  2. Ruminator says:

    If you elect to stay in Flagstaff again, I can recommend the La Quinta there. It’s not cheap, but is dog-friendly and has been clean and welcoming every time I stayed there. IIRC, there’s a Perkins or other restaurant within walking distance of the LQ that was decent enough (but not dog-friendly :).

    I know about the writing thing too. But I keep a paper journal and that usually gives me enough to still the need to write every day.

    Enjoy the new digs… and Boo on the scorpions.

  3. Mike Weasner says:

    Welcome (back) to Arizona! We had 1″ of snow on Monday here at 4370′ in southern Arizona (just north of Tucson). Lows down to the upper 20s. Highs into the 40s. Snow still hasn’t yet all melted.

  4. Sabrina says:

    That’s El Niño for you and you just missed the 4 inches of snow that landed on your old doorstep while we got 9 1/2 and then some here at our place. Eric worked from home yesterday. We miss you and carol and the pack.

  5. Rich Rostrom says:

    …not writing at length for over a month has left me very antsy. It’s almost a physical need…

    Robert Heinlein once tried to quit writing. He’d paid off his mortgage, quarreled with John W. Campbell IIRC, and thought that he should go do Something Important in engineering. He announced his decision at a soirée of the Mañana Literary Society. Anthony Boucher laughed, and then asked him “Do you know of any author who has actually quit writing?” Heinlein mentioned a few names. Boucher said “They’ve stopped publishing, but have they stopped writing?”

    Heinlein brushed this off. But over the next few weeks, he started having trouble sleeping, his digestion went to hell, and he was increasingly bad-tempered – for no apparent reason. Then one night he had an idea for a story, and decided to write it up. He put a sheet in the typewriter, started banging away – and suddenly realized that he felt much better.

    Boucher was right – he couldn’t quit writing. He had become physically addicted to it. Heinlein put this into The Cat Who Walks Through Walls; the protagonist, Colin Campbell, tells a prospective spouse that he is an addict – to writing.

    1. Lee Hart says:

      I’d say this is true for anything you love. Once you have found your passion in life, you won’t (in fact, you CAN’T) give it up. Whether it’s writing, or music, or programming, or engineering in my case, it will become a part of you; of who you are.

    2. Carrington Dixon says:

      Clark Ashton Smith pretty much quit writing in 1935. He died in 1961. He seems to have channeled his creative energy into the visual arts for that last twenty-something years.

    3. Erbo says:

      That story was in Expanded Universe. The relationship between Heinlein and Campbell is critical to the story. See, Heinlein had paid off that mortgage, but Campbell didn’t want him to quit writing, because he was one of his best suppliers of material. Heinlein basically said, “OK, I’ll keep writing them as long as you keep buying them, but, once you bounce one, I’m done.”

      Campbell eventually did bounce one, and Heinlein promptly gave up, and, as he started working on other things, that’s when he noticed the signs of ill health you mention. Then Campbell dropped him a line, saying, “Why haven’t I heard from you lately?” Heinlein reminded Campbell of what he had said. Campbell then said, “Let me look at that one story again.” Heinlein sent it back to him, and Campbell replied with a list of changes to make to the story (that Heinlein described as “fiddle changes that Katie Tarrant could have done, if told to”). Heinlein sat down to make the changes…and discovered that he felt better. And that’s when he realized that Tony Boucher had been right all along.

      1. TRX says:

        In the version of events as presented in “Grumbles from the Grave”, Heinlein not only didn’t come across nearly as well. He came across as a total headcase. My sympathies were entirely with Campbell there.

  6. Tom Roderick says:

    Just compared the Colorado Springs WX with yours. Looks like you escaped just in time. Welcome south and out of the land of white Christmas. I have only seen ONE in this area in 68 years! Have a Merry One!

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