First:"The Nuclear Catastrophe"-predicted what was to come. Then the actual Fukushima nuclear catastrophe validated terrible things actually can happen. A nuclear accident happened to occur in Japan–but could occur anywhere! "#Betrayal," shows the people deceived. Is the aftermath worse than the accident itself? Now..."Nuclear Road Trip". The terrorists want your country. They have a plan in place and have selected a city- they can far surpass 9/11.
Last month I published Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the UN. He, a prominent, famous, well recognized person warned us all. DO NOT TAKE NUCLEAR LIGHTLY. So, please, take the time to read and spread the word of a novelist releasing her third work saying the same thing. It is meant to be fun, enjoyable reading. But it says the same thing. Thanks in advance. And here is the Prologue plus the first chapter. If you like it, the link to order it is at the end. My thoughts - just another voice to get the word out to the world. Help, please.
Barbara Billig and Michelle McKeeth
is fiction, grounded in reality and fictionalized current events; it
will seem extraordinary at times. Right up until it becomes our true
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without the express written permission of the Author
except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. In
accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning,
uploading, electronic sharing of any part of this book without the
permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of
the author's intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the
This book is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the
product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright: 2014, by
Barbara Billig and Michelle McKeeth
BLOWHARD, Erich Schneider, was leaning over
his desk, looking into a mirror placed directly in the center. He
moved closer, and holding one nostril shut, sniffed deeply. The white
powder on the mirror disappeared in a rush, hitting his brain with a
jolt. He then inhaled through his other nostril; he loved the feeling
of the jolt and the subsequent high.
He leaned back,
thinking “aaahhhh,” when claxons began to reverberate loudly in
his ears at monitor #3. “What the F?” he thought, jumping up from
his chair. He glanced at the #3 monitor and saw the message:
radiation exceeding maximum levels of emissions from stack.
He quickly scooped up
the mirror, razor blade and the bag of white powder, folded a
magazine around them and put the magazine with its contents in a file
marked, “Classified.” This he stuffed into a desk drawer which he
quickly locked. It was an extra cost for the powdered form, but he
could afford it. Erich certainly did not want to do the work himself.
It was called being inherently lazy.
Going to the door, he
slid the deadbolt open and rushed past his secretary. “No calls,
Margaret, not until I make sure this is under control,” he called
out as he continued walking.
“What is happening,
Dr. Schneider?” she shouted anxiously, trying to be heard over the
ear-splitting noise. Margaret had heard one too many alarms blaring
since she began working for Erich. Each occurrence made her want to
quit and move west where there would be far fewer nuclear plants
surrounding her - in all directions. The Chicago area was rife with
“Nothing to be
concerned about, Margaret; it is probably just a bad sensor. But I
want those damned alarms shut off,” he said brusquely as he turned
into the corridor and headed for the main control room. “God, I
could use another hit; this place with its constant stress and
pressure is getting to me,” he thought to himself.
An employee wearing a
white lab coat was coming toward him. As they came abreast of one
another, the employee did a tight one-eighty, quickly swinging into
step with Erich. “We are lowering the control rods now, Dr.
Schneider,” he said loudly, albeit in a reassuring tone, searching
“Do NOT patronize me,
young man,” he stormed. “What is the chance it has a bad sensor?”
Dr. Schneider snapped, continuing to make his way quickly to the
“Not good. Probably
the same old, same old,” the employee answered.
“I do not know what
they expect of this 44 year old piece of crap. Can you believe they
renewed its license to operate until 2028? I cannot. How stupid can
they be?” Schneider’s face was red from the fast pace in tandem
with his anger. The effects from the cocaine weighed in heavily.
The main control room
was ahead and he jerked the door open. “Turn off that damned
siren,” shouted Schneider. “We got the message already. There is
a problem. Shut that damned thing off!”
The claxons were
finally silenced. “Ah,” he sighed, and thought, “The sound of
silence really can be wonderful.”
He looked around at the
various employees, most in lab coats, in front of the computer banks,
dials and gauges.
A young woman stepped
forward and said quietly but firmly, “The rods are dropped, sir. We
are going to have to shut it down, however.” Her voice sounded
almost like a whisper after the noise of the warning horns.
Dr. Schneider looked
apoplectic. “Pancorp is going to have a cow. A massive one…and it
is going to dump all over me,” he exclaimed. “The bad publicity,
the lost revenue from a shutdown, angry customers, and the cost of
repairs are bad enough. But the board and the shareholders will be
looking for someone to sacrifice. Are you certain?” he asked, a
pleading look in his eyes.
“Sorry, Doctor, but
once again it is definitely a leak in the cooling pipes. They are old
and have been patched in so many places already,” she shrugged. “A
temporary patch simply will not do; it needs to be permanently
repaired. We have to shut it down to remove the damaged section and
weld a new pipe in its place. This time the hole is too large. We
could replace all the piping, but that requires a permit. It would be
really expensive, and the plant would probably be down for a year -
at the very least.”
“Okay, okay,” he
waved his arms in the air, declaring defeat. “No big deal; and we
will not be down for a year replacing pipes. I will prepare yet
another press release,” Erich looked up, focusing a glare while
raising his voice. “No one here is to say a word to the media. Not
if you value you jobs,” he said, grim-faced. “In fact, no one,
and I mean no one,” he practically growled, “discusses this with
anyone outside this plant, including spouses, lovers - hell, even
pets! Is that understood?” he demanded, staring in turn at each
person in the room. “I am certain I can have you arrested for
treason if you do,” he assured them. “And you can enjoy
Guantanamo Bay for the rest of your measly little lives,” he turned
on his heel and stomped back toward his office.
When Dr. Schneider
returned to his office, Margaret was busy answering the plant's
phones. “Reporters are calling and asking what is going on—the
alarms can be heard outside the plant,” she told him. “And the
General Director of Pancorp called. They are sending five evaluators
who work for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the plant. He said
to make sure the leak is repaired by the time they arrive. Pancorp
wants to look like they care, but in order to downplay the
seriousness of the situation, the evaluators have been given two
weeks to arrive; they were essentially put on vacation. The plant,
however, is to remain closed until they have finished their
evaluation; the employees who were told to stay home are on paid
leave. And the rest of the employees will stay unless told
otherwise.” Margaret moved toward the keyboard of her computer. “I
will print out the directive which just arrived by email.”
Dr. Schneider gazed
blankly at Margaret for a moment, shaking his head in disbelief.
“They are giving them a vacation when we are shut down? What the
F?” he thought to himself for the second time that morning. He
entered his office and dug out his magazine. He really needed another
hit. Maybe two.
JAKARTIAN SAT IN the
Barnes and Noble Book Store in Joliet, Illinois, west and south of
Chicago. He was sipping the cheapest and smallest coffee the store
had to offer, which he had loaded with sugar and cream at their
expense. He sat watching the doorway. His name was really Jakarta,
but felt Jakartian sounded more sophisticated and Jakartian did not
make him sound like a city. He, as much as any other person, desired
A dark-skinned man
entered and casually glanced around the room before proceeding to the
order station. After a few minutes, he had a cup of something hot and
walked out the door into the parking lot.
stood up, and he too left the book store. He followed the
dark-skinned man as he continued around a corner within the covered
shopping mall, leading him to a more deserted section. There was a
vacant unit next to a music store where the dark-skinned man stopped,
looking through the glass at nothing.
and said casually, “Have you decided?”
The man responded, “No.
We are still looking at a dirty bomb, or infecting their software, or
“You have the
contact, though? That came through?” Jakartian asked softly, but
firmly for assurance.
“Yes. We believe we
have someone who will work with us. We have had many discussions.”
“Do I need to know
who?” Jakartian asked.
“No. No names. No
email. No phones. They
are watching everything. We are contacting each other through drops,
just as you were contacted.”
“But you can get the
virus for the software prepared.” Jakartian made it a statement,
not a question as he would not tolerate hesitation.
“Again, yes. We have
hackers just as everyone else does.”
“You know they allow
no strange personnel in these nuclear plants. They all have to have
security clearances. And they cannot bring in portable devices
either, as they are always searched.”
“Snowdon had security
clearances. How much good did it do them? None. And he was not
allowed portable devices either. Everyone thinks a rule makes it
“So what is next?”
“Look into the water
supply for the nuclear plant. Check out how the pipes bring it in and
from what source. And get drawings or photos of the blueprints. They
are public record. Look for vulnerable areas outside the facility,”
replied the man.
“All right. Give me a
week. Check my drop for the signal telling you I have the material
prepared.” Jakartian moved casually away, tossing his empty Barnes
and Noble cup into the trash.
The dark-skinned man
walked the other direction.
One: John and Aadhil on vacation
“WHAT DOES ROUTE
66 have to do with anything?” asked John
(Rocky) Rockford, a trim, solidly built 6' 5” tall man who exuded
strength, reliability and trustworthiness: a rock among men.
“Nowadays, it is no longer traveled with any degree of frequency.
It is not even on the maps anymore, although there is a movement to
put it back,” John smiled. “Did you know that parts have been
overtaken by Interstate 40?”
“Darn it, Bear, stop
licking me!” John grumbled for the umpteenth time, wiping his face
with a towel he kept at hand. “Remind me why we brought this dog
again?” asked John, although it was a rhetorical question and
treated as such by Aadhil, who just grinned at John. Bear licked only
John; it was a game they played. Well, Bear played anyway. He licked.
John complained. It worked. It was routine. It was funny.
“More than thirteen
million people now travel Route 66 each year, so that is probably why
it will go back on the maps,” responded Aadhil Nazir proudly.
“Over the years it
has been called, the “Will Rogers Highway,” “The Mother Road”
and the “Main Street of America,” continued John, ignoring
Aadhil’s comments. “And it stood as a symbol of opportunity,
adventure and exploration for all travelers. It represented the
golden years, when the world was still fresh and new, possibilities
were endless, and life was simpler. It was completed in 1926 - about
midway between WWI and WWII - but in 1985, Route 66 was officially
decommissioned. The familiar highway markers came down, essentially
closing the road. Oh, and it was also known for the song, “Get Your
Kicks on Route Sixty-six” That was from the song, and the
television show of the early 1960s, ‘Route 66’.” John was
smiling with glee.
John was on a roll now.
“Route 66 is a historical landmark. Its distance has changed over
the years, from 2,448, in 1926 down to 2278 miles in 1947, running
from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. It was the first
cross-country road built and used extensively for travel, especially
during the “dust bowl” years, which is somewhat ironic as it was
initially a dusty, unpaved two-lane road. Parts of Interstate 40
eventually rolled right over it, so now there are bypasses and
frontage roads. There are still many folks trying to make a living
from Route 66 on those bypasses and frontage roads. Indeed, in a
recent study done by the National Park Service, US Department of the
Interior, more than $132,000,000 is spent per annum in communities
along historic Route 66, shedding new light on the importance of
preserving it. Money speaks,” he finished.
Route 66 was important
to Aadhil Nazir. He wanted to better understand his country of
choice, and Route 66 represented a major role in the making of the
United States. He also wanted a much needed vacation, as did they
all, so it had everything to do with him, and ultimately, with all of
“You have stolen
my…my, I forget, but you have stolen it. Parade. That is it. Thief!
How do you know so much about Route 66?” he demanded, now
accusatory and suspicious. “You did not even want to come this way!
Bear. Lick!” Bear obligingly licked John who wiped the slobber from
his face with the handy towel while glaring at Aadhil.
John, “you have forced me to take a vacation and travel the dusty
trails, so to speak. I, therefore, read a little about it.”
“Some people have all
the nerves,” replied a disgruntled Aadhil. “But I bet that is all
“You have me there,
Aadhil. I‘ve given you everything I memorized from the guide book!”
“Good. Steal the
parade from someone else in the future,” he blurted.
Aadhil Nazir was
Muslim, still fighting for his place in a world. After twelve years
of residency in the United States, he knew Muslims were largely
disliked and automatically thought of as terrorists. Often he
struggled with the concept of how to convey the reality that
terrorists were a minority group, and not always Muslim.
Aadhil had very refined
and pleasing features, with prominent cheekbones, black hair and
nearly black, fathomless eyes. He was also a very good-natured, kind
and gentle thirty-one year old man. Many of his colleagues considered
him to be far too young to hold the degrees he had earned. Aadhil was
a genius who achieved his PhD in nuclear engineering at the ripe old
age of twenty-four. He accomplished this feat within a very
suspicious country in which he was only now a new citizen, even
though he had moved here at nineteen. He was 5’9”, of average
build, usually hiding his musculature under Muslim garments. Friends
and strangers alike found he always had their backs for a good cause
because he was also a loyal and caring person. “This is my parade,”
he declared, again wearing a determined look.
“Please stop the
truck, John. Bear-Lee-a-Dog needs to take care of his business and
have some water as he is thirsty,” Aadhil reached into the back
seat to pet his yellow labrador retriever, who looked rather dashing
in his red mesh ‘Service Dog’ harness.
“Did we not just do
“Quit telling of the
jokes, John. You know he has not done his business since before we
left, and he must be thirsty as well. I know I am.”
Once they had stopped,
Aadhil let Bear out the back door and began walking a short distance
from the road, with Bear glued to his side.
John watched them,
smiling fondly. Aadhil’s doctor had suggested to him that a
service dog might help Aadhil deal with the stresses of his job. The
doctor had written a medical need letter after Bear had been adopted.
The medical letter permitted Bear immediate access to any facility or
building. But the dog had progressed with more training far beyond
his initial service designations. He was, as far as John knew, the
only dog allowed within the walls of any of the sacrosanct nuclear
power plants in the entire world, making him quite unique.
Bear, beloved as he
was, even had his own harnesses in a variety of colors, announcing he
was a Service Dog and was entitled to be accepted within any
establishment. Aadhil kept Bear’s paperwork in his wallet, just in
case he was detained for any reason. He also had several sets of work
clothes, each with its own lightweight cooling system so Bear’s
core temperature could be maintained between 100̊ and 102̊ while
inside any plant. The dog’s work clothes were emblazoned upon the
sides with the words, ‘Service Dog’ as well and ‘Do Not Pet’.
These work clothes met two important standards. First Bear was
clearly designated as a Service Dog, permitting him entry anywhere.
And secondly the dog had a sterile uniform which controlled his hair
and dander while he was inside a nuclear power plant. The garment was
made of a very lightweight mesh with such small holes it appeared to
be a solid fabric. It was constructed somewhat like the pads
available for human beds which kept the dust mites at bay, but was
lighter. The material, which controlled his hair and dander, was
developed specially for him, and for the other dogs that might follow
in Bear’s footsteps. He had become quite the phenomenon within the
John was very fond of
Bear, but grumbled when the dog licked him, just because he could.
And it gave Aadhil a kick. Aadhil was his friend whom he had
sponsored for his American Citizenship. He was hoping the two other
team members they picked up in Albuquerque did not grumble about Bear
when they saw a dog was traveling with them. Bear had earned his
seat. Furthermore, as far as John was concerned, if either
complained, that person could sit among the baggage for all he cared.
When John died, he wanted to come back as a Bear-Lee-a-Dog IV, for
someone as amazingly wonderful as Aadhil. Of course, at thirty nine,
John hoped to wait awhile.
BACK IN THE CAR
John and Aadhil were continuing their conversation as they sped along
Route 66. “What are you talking about Aadhil?” John grumbled.
“Caribou in one sentence and the Morristown, Illinois, nuclear
power plant in the next? What do Caribou have to do with Morristown?”
John Rockford turned piercing blue eyes to the right, glancing at his
passenger. “Caribou. Really. They are in Alaska, and we are on
Route 66, which is not even in the general direction of Alaska. By
the way, it is a really slow way to travel,” he sighed.
A nervous passenger,
Aadhil Nazir, replied, “Please keep your eyes on the road, John.
Yes. Caribou. You know…2011,” he said.
“That was years
“Are you trying to be
one of the groups that dismisses what happened in 2011?” asked
Aadhil, he looked frustrated but slightly comical as the wind from
the open window spiked his straight black hair.
“No, you are aware I
know the significance of 2011. That nuclear disaster in Fukushima was
one of the major events of the 21st century, not to be dismissed
lightly. But I am on vacation now which is how I know you are not
dressed appropriately,” John displayed an impish grin, dimples
prominent, as he baited his friend. “He is such an easy target,”
“What is wrong with
how I dress?”
“Well, you are
wearing a t-shirt instead of a Kurta. And jeans? Really? I like your
Kurtas and white baggy pants; they look so comfortable.”
“I am on vacation,
also, remember? And I am American Citizen now,” Aadhil proudly
announced, a glint in his eyes. “So I will be wearing of the jeans
any time I want, and I want,” he retorted, with a curt nod. “And
you are trying to change the subject, my friend. Again.”
population has been decimated, John. The herd normally declines an
average of 3% per year, which is bad enough as it implies the herd
die-off, and it has been declining for a very long time. But since
2011, it has dropped by 28%, for an overall decline of 52% in just 8
years. The largest drop in the herd occurred during 2011 and 2012,”
Aadhil informed him, with a look resembling horror upon his face.
“This is why Caribou are important. They are very important to us
right now because of Fukushima. Studies have shown the airborne
radiation has increased from Fukushima,” Aadhil concluded.
“What importance does
it have right now?” John asked, still confused.
Morristown. Because of its leak.”
John shook his head,
frowning. “Well, that situation is under control at the moment.
They have closed the plant and fixed that leak; I thought we were on
vacation,” was John’s retort. “We are going to be very, very
busy once we get there, so we really need this vacation. Now.”
“We are, but the
Fukushima meltdown had a severe impact upon both sea life and of the
wildlife along the Western Coast of the United States. Don’t you
wonder what it has doing to the people who live there?” he
persisted. “And especially if they have been eating of the local
seafood. Morristown uses the same Boiling Water Reactors as Fukushima
did, but Morristown is so much older,” he commented, “and it has
the leaking of the radioactive particles and gases, which is why we
are traveling there now, and why Caribou are important.”
Aadhil slapped his
forehead. He was not to be deterred. “The Caribou are important,
yes, but what about the children? Who is to think of the children?”
Aadhil was so upset
John pulled off the road and stopped the car, giving him a
“What about the
children? What children? What are you talking about?” John could
clearly see Aadhil was agitated and about to panic, so he reached
behind the seat and unbuckled Bear, calling him to jump into the
front seat. Aadhil promptly wrapped his arms around his dog child.
“The children on the
Western Coast, especially in Washington, and now even in Nevada. The
Caribou and the children. In 2011, right after Fukushima, there was a
sudden and dramatic spike in the number of children born with the
horrid birth defects; especially the babies born with only the
partial brains, or none at all. And almost all died immediately, but
the parents suffered.” Aadhil wore a horrified look, and with good
John blanched. He was
completely focused upon what Aadhil had to say now, while silently
berating himself for getting sucked into this conversation. He was
not ignorant of the impact Fukushima had upon the populace; it was
not as if he did not work in the industry. But their colleagues both
in the United States and in Japan were almost fanatical in not
admitting anything was wrong after the Fukushima disaster. Their
state of denial was thought to be an effort to protect their jobs. So
much money had been invested in nuclear plants the government was
determined to continue their operation to generate profits. So
somehow various groups associated with nuclear had refused to see all
this information while in pursuit of their own goals.
Aadhil continued, his
face buried Bear’s in fur. “These occurrences decreased in 2012,
but are still happening.”
“I am so sorry,
Aadhil, and you are right. It is catastrophic!” he exclaimed. “And
Morristown, as you correctly pointed out, is a Boiling Water Reactor
just like Fukushima. As old as it is, it probably should be
permanently shut down.”
Aadhil tears streaming from his eyes, “and now, children in New
Mexico are endangered because of WIPP, the nuclear waste interment
pilot project treatment plant that is leaking there.”
“Thanks. Aadhil. One
of the primary reasons I enjoy our friendship is because you are such
a caring person; it is what caused me to want to be your friend. But
this denial of consequences from nuclear accidents is a problem
within our industry. It is good you have Bear. Perhaps, though, you
should work on your emotions a little more, Aadhil. You store so much
knowledge in your brain that you often become hyper-focused. That is
why I think you don’t want to forget the children. Not even for a
moment,” John added, sympathy clearly displayed in his eyes, along
with sadness for all those endangered children and their families.
John continued, “Bear
has an innate sense for knowing when you need him. I will move his
seatbelt and he can stay upfront with us for now. Of course, Bear
seems to sense that licking me will make you happy, so I will just …”
John grunted while tugging the towel from beneath Bear, “hang on
to this,” he smiled, dangling the towel in front of himself. As if
on cue—lick, towel, sigh, and a chuckle or two ensued.
John moved Bear’s
seat belt to the front seat and then restarted the SUV. They
reentered traffic and proceeded along Route 66. “So, my friend, we
must set these worries aside for now and move onward. Now, Morristown
had a leak, which is very serious as it released radioactive material
into the air. So, yes, we need to discover how and why, and fix this
situation. Permanently. What you may not know, since I have not
mentioned it, is that Pancorp is putting me in charge. I have the
authority to do whatever it takes to either fix that plant from head
to toe, or to shut it down permanently. This has been weighing
heavily on my mind since we were ordered to Illinois by the NRC. We
need to focus on Morristown, absolutely, and prevent more of the
“But right here,
right now, we enjoy our vacation and let work wait until we get
there. Trust me,” John said, “it will still be there once we
arrive,” John urged. “And they did give us this vacation time,
and we have not had a vacation since I cannot even remember when. So
we will use it as such. Then we will be relaxed and ready to hit it
hard when we get to the Morristown nuclear power plant,” he said, a
little more forcefully than intended. “You said this is a vacation,
so vacation. And just think of poor Bear,” he gave Bear a sad look.
“He has never been on vacation.” Lick. Sigh. Towel.
“This is true,”
replied a guilty-looking Aadhil Nazir. “Eyes. Road. Thank you.”
He gave Bear a big hug while Bear, never allowed to sit up front,
enjoyed the sights.
“What did you want to
stop and see?” John adroitly changed the subject. “Since this is
a vacation, after all, and I can see you have been bursting with
excitement all morning, where to McDuff?”
Aadhil looked very
confused. “Who is McDuff, John?” Aadhil looked at John, a little
worried about his sanity.
Small things made
Aadhil happy, and John was willing to oblige. They were on Route 66
after all, which was certainly not his idea; he would have rather
gone straight to Chicago to sightsee. That would have been a much
more relaxing and enjoyable vacation. Chicago was a thriving
“Why, you are McDuff,
Aadhil. It is a joke,” said John, realizing this joke, like so many
others, flew right over Aadhil’s head.
“Ah. I see,” he
said, although he really did not. But that was okay with him since
John thought it was funny. They were back on track for now. “Well,
when we go to Missouri, we need to stop in Fanning to see the “Route
66 Rocking Chair,” he responded excitedly. “It was completed on
April Fool’s Day as a joke and everyone thought it was funny
because who would be looking for a rocking chair off Route 66?” he
John could not help
himself. “Okay, I’ll bite; what is so special about this rocking
chair?” he asked. “They are a dime a dozen.”
“No, they are not,”
he replied. Aadhil could be rather literal minded at times. “A good
one is very expensive.”
Aadhil then looked at
John, a huge grin forming upon his youthful face, an unmanly giggle
escaping his lips and excitement glowing from his eyes. “This one
is 42’1” tall and 20' 3” wide, and weighs 27,500 pounds. It
does the rocking, although they have to keep it tied down as it would
be very dangerous if it begins to rock and falls over. It was
completed on April 1, 2008. I saw it on an annoying food show where
this man eats a ton of food,” he shuddered, “and looked it up. I
have been waiting for this for a long while.”
John smiled, a big grin
forming upon his face while shaking his head in amusement. “You
sound as if you are quoting text, but you are a font of information,
Aadhil. And are we planning to sit in this chair?” he asked.
“That fat annoying
eating machine did, but they had to hoist him up, so I do not know
yet. He is famous. We are not. I hope we can. I have my camera, and
four of us will be there to see,” he noted. “And the owner said
if anyone is to build a bigger one, so will he, and he will call it
“Mama Bear,” and the original would be the “Baby Bear.”
That did make John
laugh heartily. “More Bears! Will our Bear go to the top if they
let us?” Even he was looking forward to seeing the behemoth with
Bear sitting on the rocking chair.
“We must see first if
it is safe for him to be up so far from the ground,” responded
“What other sights
have you chosen for our vacation?” John asked, giving in to the
inevitable. “Or will we be bored until then? And where did you hide
your itinerary? I have yet to see one.”
Aadhil pointed at his
head. “Here,” he smiled. “is where I keep all good things,”
he winked at John. “No, of course we will not suffer boredom. Did
you know the original Route 66 was unpaved?” he asked, reverting
back to guide book mode. “And for your predilection,” he smiled
broadly, “we have The Rock Café, halfway between Tulsa and
Oklahoma City. The Rock Café had burned to the ground at one point,
but it was re-built from sandstone that was removed as Route 66 was
being constructed. It was completed the same time as Route 66 was
finished in Santa Monica. Now it is historically significant,” he
proudly informed John, “And do not forget that most people call you
Rocky, so you should be right at home there.”
“Ha! How many of
these sights you have so carefully chosen are just places for you to
eat to fill that bottomless pit you call a stomach?” laughed John.
Aadhil frowned at him.
“None, but this one is important to Route 66 and just happens to be
someplace where we can have an eat. It is a lucky happenstance, yes?
As will be the others,” he gave John an impish grin. “How far
have we traveled?” he asked.
“About 90 miles.
Why?” queried John.
Petrified Forest is 120 miles from Flagstaff, right off Route 66. It
should be our first stop because we need to take a break for Bear
every two hours,” he pointed out. “We are very close. I hope the
restaurant is tasty.”
John. “Are you planning on eating the restaurant, Aadhil?” he
“I do not understand
you John. Have you the crazies?”
John was chuckling.
“No, Aadhil; I was joking because you said you hoped the restaurant
is tasty, not the food at
“It is very clear to
me that you are trying too hard to be funny, John.”
John was still
chuckling but Aadhil continued. “Yes. Well, it is 142 miles from
Palo Verde to Route 66 by Flagstaff, and another 120 miles to the
Petrified Forest. Even you must be getting hungry, John.”
“Well, yes, but
please do not tell my friend, Aadhil, or he will start teasing me.”
They both laughed and
drove on in companionable silence. They had worked together for seven
years and considered themselves close friends.
When they were almost
to the desert area known as the Petrified Forest, they stopped at a
local pub to enjoy cheeseburgers smothered with grilled onions
surrounded by curly fries. John had a beer while Aadhil, as a Muslim,
drank water. Of course. Bear-Lee-a-Dog ate his kibble and slurped his
water with gusto. His water was bottled by a well-known US
manufacturer and cases of it were packed for him when he traveled.
His stomach, therefore, would not be exposed to possible upsets from
local water sources. After getting a tiny bite of burger as a treat,
the dog smiled and thought, “This vacation is pretty much fun.”
While they were eating,
John mentioned his sister, Chloe, who had once asked about petrified
wood. She wanted to know if it could be burned in the fireplace. “She
was born late in my mother’s life, and was only twelve at the time.
She was so upset when I told her it really is not wood anymore, but
rock. The striated colors come from the various iron and manganese
compounds in the rock. On a sunny day these produce vibrant reds and
oranges. The wood petrifies to become something else while still
maintaining the look of wood.”
“She gave me a look
full of horror because she thought it was just really old wood which
had dried out and become really hard over all the millennia. I think
it was a week before she would speak with me again,” he said. “Even
now, she still gives me the stink eye as she states, “petrified
appropriately sympathetic. Mostly. He could also see her side, and
hers was the more charming concept.
They had a fun
afternoon sightseeing through the National Monument with Bear. After
they exited the park Bear was allowed to go off leash so he could
sniff everything around him, and there was a lot to be sniffed.
Aadhil even allowed him to briefly chase a squirrel before returning
to the truck.
As they both approached
the truck, Aadhil attached Bear's leash, which Aadhil handed to John.
“Will you put him in and get him settled? I have a quick phone call
to make,” he said by way of explanation.
John nodded and proceeded
to open the back door for Bear so he could jump into the truck. He
was removing the leash but noticed Aadhil had moved a short distance
away. He could hear him speaking to someone. But the conversation was
in a foreign language.
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