The T-Rex of Tsegi Canyon 2

February 11, 2016  |  Fantasy  |  Share

He wished for a moment his mother could have joined him, but Carla Coe was busy picking up her life after the loss of her husband. Privately, Leland hoped he’d be successful at last, if only to bring a smile to a face that rarely showed happiness these days.

Leaving behind a generous tip, Leland headed back to his vehicle. Henry, his yellow lab, waited in the passenger seat, his head stuck out of the rolled down window. The drive to the entrance station for the Navajo National Monument was quick, with few cars on the road this morning. The guy manning the booth leaned out when he recognized the driver.

“Hey, Coe! Long time, no see.” His wide face creased into a big grin.

Leland threw his arm out to strike palms in greeting ghetto-style. He’d known Abner Tso since he was a kid. They’d played together over the years.

“I’m gonna find him this time, Abner,” Leland promised. “Think of all the press and publicity it will bring the Monument.”

The big man gave a gusty sigh. “Money is what we need, Professor. There’s never enough every fiscal budget year…”

“Don’t I know it! How full up is the campground? I heard it was bustling.”

“Every campsite but one is taken. But your favorite area is available, and you can share facilities with Number 40. They’re Diné from down around Albuquerque.”

They spoke a little longer and then Leland set the Explorer down the road to the campground turnoff. He got on the ring road and turned off at a small dirt track about three-quarters of the way around. His favorite spot near the bend of Laurel Wash was there, bringing up memories of years gone by. It didn’t take long to set up his canvas tent, and put out a few cooking supplies near the fire pit. When he saw Henry lope off toward the nearest campsite, Leland thought he’d better follow him.

He found his dog gingerly sniffing a black standard poodle that was the same size. A middle-aged couple sat on lawn chairs. When Leland greeted them in Navajo, shy smiles marked their formerly reserved faces. Before too long, they were chatting away like old acquaintances.

“Well, I remember your father, lad,” the man, Floyd Bitsue said. “We used to come up here when I was a kid to see family at Shonto. They were my mother’s relatives. My dad liked to stay here because their place was so small. Your dad would either camp at this site or over where you are.” He went on to recount how his father and Leland’s used to play cards, and start swearing when their hands were poor.

“I learned a lot of good cuss words,” Floyd chuckled. He called the poodle over and Henry trotted along the other dog’s side.


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