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  • On the greener side of Arizona the mountains that rise along the road are still scorched; some look covered in the toothpick spines of trees, others are just ash and shale. Some made it through the fires with burnt halves or branches, and in the more untouched places, white birch stands have sprouted in place of pine like bright scar tissue. Strange signs line the highway: a brown one showing a man walking on skis, another commands us to douse our fires. A few miles north, wildfires with the energy of atomic bombs are burning other woods and close other roads.

    We can feel the elevation in our joints and our ears. 8,000 feet, two Grand Canyons high, and our sea level knees ache and falter. We stop in the middle of the road and turn around to check if what we saw hunkering in the trees was a lion; it’s just a resting cow. We feel stupid and keep moving, through Flagstaff and over the Rockies, through towns like Twin Arrows and Meteor City. We turn off the highway and drive ten miles to a meteor crater that cost $32 to see, so we decide we’re satisfied with the view of the lip of the crater.

    A town called Joseph City on the Navajo reservation lands shows signs for gas but has only two 1940s pumps to show for them, and a lot of people on porches wondering why we're driving through. The speed limit signs allow 75 for the first time we can remember, and we tear to New Mexico as quickly as we can. We come to rest in Alamogordo, a few miles from a burial ground of old video game cartridges and fields of blinding sand.
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