Seated in the Park Ranger Jeep the night is still warm,
A short time later all is well, and our ill guest, her husband, park ranger, co leader and myself drive back to the hotel in silence. We provide extra Gatorade and water to the extremely dehydrated guest, fall into bed and curse our luck in the morning when the alarm rings to start our lengthy day of cycling in the 105F heat. The last long day of trip, the last full day of my last Death Valley departure from a Spring skirting between Nevada and California.
The lumps from the Buffalo Gnat bites are slowly fading, the remaining evidence I was in Death Valley so long fading along with my sunburnt nose, chapped lips and sleep deprivation. I shed a tear as I said Good Bye to Ed, my favorite Bellman, waved at the restaurant staff after too many meals in the dining room to count. One of the waiters tells me that the staff bets what dress I am going to wear: the black wrap, the black and yellow, or the green twist. I am unsure if this is a sign I have become too predictable, if I need to expand my formal attire, or if I have lead one trip too many times. I open my mouth at dinner the final night to order. Gary is our waiter, born in BC, raised in Washington. I tell him he is a Fake Canadian because his name tag says "Gary, British Colombia, Canada".
"The Spinach Salad with no bacon and balsamic dressing on the side?"
I flush, embarrased. I need to change up my appetizer as well?
"We're going to change that on the menu and re-name it the Holly Salad," Gary smiles, "because all your guests seem to order it the way you do, too."
If that wasn't worth four trips, a presearch, a half a night awake with a medical emergency and an ankle swollen up to the size of a baseball, I don't know what is.