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Maud, geologic assistant

Dec 5th, 2015
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  1. Maud, Geologic Assistant
  2.  
  3. >You've gotten your new assignment from your boss.
  4. >Almost 1000 square miles of detailed geologic mapping work.
  5. >1000 very rugged, arid square miles.
  6. >No partner or assistant.
  7. >Not sure what you did to piss him off...
  8. >One of your coworkers told you to look into buying one of those technicolor ponies that have shown up on the market.
  9. >They are supposed to be reasonably intelligent, and physically able.
  10. >So, you looked on the online sales sites.
  11. >You spent hours searching, and found what looked to be a good fit.
  12. >A pony with a 'cutie mark' (something about inherent talents) of a rock, and their profile said they appeared to enjoy talking about rocks and minerals.
  13. >And a decent price to boot.
  14. >AND, in Grand Junction, which is on your way to where you are working.
  15. >You contact the seller, and arrange a pick up in two days, right on schedule for getting to work.
  16.  
  17. http://i.imgur.com/XM8Ov8O.jpg
  18. >Driving through the Rocky Mountains has always brought you joy...
  19. >The high, snow capped peaks, the alpine forests...
  20. >It just makes you feel right with the world.
  21. >Though, purchasing another intelligent being does make you rather uncomfortable.
  22. >Assuming the profile is accurate, you should atleast be putting the pony into an environment they are comfortable with...
  23. >Moreso than the sex slave, home assistant, or heavy labor markets most of the ponies seem to get thrown into.
  24. >The further west you continue along the interstate, the more dry the landscape becomes.
  25. http://i.imgur.com/E28nFpo.jpg
  26. >When you eventually reach Grand Junction, the valley floor itself is quite green, thanks to the Colorado River, but you can see the high plateaus around are parched...
  27. >You drive your work truck to the pony trader's warehouse, on the northern edges of town, and show your paperwork to the man guarding the front gate.
  28. >You park, and go into the front office.
  29.  
  30. >Waiting at the front desk is a pony... A female, you guess... Lavender coat, very pale grey mane, violet eyes, cutie mark of a flower...
  31. >"Mr. Ymous. We are expecting you. Please, follow me."
  32. >You lift your hand up to speak, but choose to say nothing, and follow the pony.
  33. >She leads you down a hallway, to 'Sales Room C'.
  34. >"Have a nice day, Mr. Ymous."
  35. >You step inside the room, and there is a man, filling out some paperwork, and sitting in a cage filling one side of the room, is the pony you are purchasing.
  36. >Maud. A gray coat, violet hair, and turqoise eyes, and as promised, a rock on her flank.
  37. >"Just a little bit of paperwork, and she is all yours, Anon Ymous."
  38. >The man hands you a clipboard.
  39. >"Just sign here, here, initial here, then sign and date here, and that will complete the sale."
  40. >Maud looks to you, looking slightly pissed off... Not the bright happy eyes most ponies you had ever seen have.
  41. >You take the clipboard, and fill in where the salesman indicated, and return it to him.
  42. >After looking it over, he smiles, and hands you a leash, and a large folder.
  43. >"Congratulations on your purchase! Here is a leash, and some important documentation... Proof of ownership, legal responsibilities, general care information..."
  44. >You take the leash and documentation, and turn to Maud.
  45. >She appears to be looking you over.
  46. Alright, Maud, lets hit the road. We have work to get ready for.
  47. >She sighs, and steps up to you, allowing you to attach the leash to the harness she is wearing.
  48. >You lead her out the open gate of the cage, then out the front of the warehouse, and out to your truck.
  49. >She looks oddly at print on the side of your vehicle.
  50. >"United States Geologic Survey?"
  51. Yup. Im a Geologist, Maud. I have... brought you under my supervision to be my assistant in the field work I do for a living.
  52.  
  53. >Maud continues to stare for a moment.
  54. >She then replies in a deadpan.
  55. >"That's good. I like rocks. I actually have a Rocktorate in Rock Science."
  56. >Wait what?
  57. A... Rocktorate? Is that anything like... a doctorate?
  58. >She responds in what you guess is her normal speaking voice... very monotone.
  59. >"I guess. It means I went to a university for a long time to study rocks. And minerals."
  60. >Holy shit, you just paid $2000 for a pony with what could very well amount to a Ph.D.
  61. Well, Maud... Let's uh... get into the truck, and I can explain what we are going to be doing for the next month before we get a break...
  62. >You open the passenger side, and motion for Maud to enter the truck, unclipping the leash from her harness.
  63. >You then move ro the other side, and jump into the drivers seat, then turn on the engine (and air conditioning).
  64. So... Maud. You would consider yourself an expert on rocks and minerals?
  65. >"Yes. I especially like sedimentary rocks... They make me sedimental."
  66. Thats... Gneiss.
  67. >You reach down to the small storage space in the truck's door, and grab a chunk of rock you picked up along the interstate earlier, then hand it to Maud.
  68. >"Yes... Anon, was it? It is Gneiss."
  69. >You smile at your terrible pun.
  70.  
  71. >You also see a small smile across Maud's face... Though her eyes still look tired... or pissed off... or something.
  72. >It doesn't last, and she resumes her resting 'lack of care' face.
  73. >Her demeanor kind of reminds you of Daria.
  74. Well, since you seem to be... possibly more knowledgeable than myself... Let's get down to the core of what the work we are going to do.
  75. >From the center console, you pull out a folded map, and open it up.
  76. http://i.imgur.com/0RsElIX.jpg
  77. This is the San Rafael Swell. We are going to be mapping the entirety of it on foot, at a very detailed scale. This is the old geologic map. I assume you are familiar with these?
  78. >"Where I come from, I don't think I've seen anything like this map..."
  79. >That gives you some relief... Apperantly the world these ponies came from isn't big on detailed maps like humans.
  80. Ok... The different colors on the map represent the different rocks that outcrop on the surface.
  81. For example, the gray with the red slashes across it, with the Pkc is the undiferentiated Kaibab Limestone and Coconino Sandstone.
  82. When we get to there on the map, we are going to find where those contacts are, and differentiate them for newer maps.
  83. >You pull out a quadrangle map that matches up to the spot you were pointing at on the larger scale map.
  84. See, this small section here on this map is scaled up to cover this entire sheet here, Maud. We will need to fill in the detailed geology on this map.
  85. That includes faults, strike and dip of beds, unique minerals we might find... The whole shebang.
  86. >"I guess that makes sense. I suppose we are going to be looking at sedimentary rocks then?
  87. That's correct... There may be a few igneous rocks exposed on the flanks of the swell, but that's not gonna be the biggest part of what we are looking at.
  88.  
  89. Oh... And the squiggly lines on the map... Those are contour lines. They show the surface topography of the land on the map. If you were to walk along one, you would be staying completely flat.
  90. >You shift the truck into drive.
  91. Buckle your seatbelt, Maud... And take a look at these maps while I drive. We are going for a supply stop, since this city is the last real bastion of civilization before we reach the wilderness.
  92. We need to buy food, so think of what you might want to eat, and if you need any specific supplies... We should be able to find all of that before we head out.
  93. >You drive the truck out of the parking lot, nodding to the guard at the gate, and begin driving towards the ultimate supply location in a small city like this; Wal-Mart.
  94. >While driving, Maud is carefully studying the old maps... Easily over 50 years old at this point.
  95. >AFter about 15 minutes of driving, you arrive at the Wal-Mart Supercenter...
  96. >Camping equipment, food, clothing... Not necessarily the best of any, but having it all in one place is damn handy.
  97. >YOu park the truck, and turn to Maud.
  98. Alright, ready to pay a visit to the store? You thought of anything you might need?
  99. >"Clothes."
  100. >You cock your head to the side in confusion.
  101. I... was under the impression ponies generally didn't wear much clothing?
  102. >"I always wore a smock when working. Pockets to stick things, and protection from the sun and plants.
  103. I suppose that makes sense... I always wear long pants, even in the heat of the summer when doing field work. We'll see what they have at the store, here.
  104.  
  105. >Wal-Mart, as always, is fucking miserably crowded.
  106. >You lead maud with the leash attached to her harness...
  107. >You don't entirely trust her to not run off yet, and most stores have rules about such things.
  108. Alright maud, they should have a small section of pony clothing over here... You gonna need a hat to go with it? The sun out here in the desert can be rough.
  109. >"I guess so. I've never been much for hats, but I never spent much time in the desert."
  110. So, a hat it is.
  111. >You come across the pony clothing section.
  112. See anything that fits your needs, Maud?
  113. >She walks up, and looks through a rack of earth toned pony smocks
  114. >She pulls out a moderate beige one.
  115. >"This will do, Anon."
  116. >You point to a nearby shelf of hats designed for pony heads.
  117. Grab a hat too. Wide brimmed, with a strap so you won't loose it in the wind.
  118. >She goes and grabs a light beige wide brimmed boonie hat.
  119. Nice choice.
  120. >You put both her selections into your cart, and head to the grocery section.
  121. So, what kinds of food do you want that don't need to be kept cold, Maud?
  122. >"Hay. Apples. Stuff like that."
  123. >Sounds easy enough to please...
  124. >"Why no cold food?"
  125. Well, Maud, there's only one thing I keep cold while doing field work... But we'll come to that later.
  126. >Maud follows obediently as you lead her around the food section.
  127. >Pasta, canned soup, oatmeal, rice, beans, granola bars...
  128. >All wonderful things to have so you can have atleast a few days before you need to make the 2+ hour drive back here.
  129.  
  130. >However, there is one last thing you need.
  131. >The one thing that you are willing to get to a podunk ass gas station every other day to pay out the ass to maintain ice for.
  132. >Beer.
  133. >Nothing beats finishing a hard day of field work, sitting around a campfire, and drinking a nice cold beer.
  134. >Nothing.
  135. >Sure, the physicists and chemists might call geologists a bunch of alcoholics (and they are probably right), but bring them out for a hard day in the field, and they won't disagree with your sentiment once you get back to camp.
  136. So, Maud. You drink beer?
  137. >"I drink Cider. They didn't really have beer where I come from. Previous owners drank beer though. It was OK."
  138. Good to hear. This is the one thing thats worth carting ice out in the the Utah desert. You'll probably like some of it after a hard day's work out in the field.
  139. >You grab 2 30-packs of Coor's.
  140. >Pleb tier, but damn it, as tired as you are gonna be, you aren't gonna give a shit.
  141. >And its not as bad as going for Natty Lite like everyone did in college.
  142. >No need to visit the camping and outdoors section on this trip... You are already stocked up on fuel, and your equipment otherwise is in good working order.
  143. >After purchasing your goods, you return to your truck, turn it on to get the AC cranked, and let Maud inside the cab while you load your new supplies into the back.
  144. >You elect to keep a camper shell on the bed of your truck...
  145. >Keeps stuff dry in the event of shit weather, and can work well as a place to sleep if you leave enough room.
  146. >At the moment, you didn't leave enough room.
  147. >After loading the beer into your expensive, well sealing cooler, and tossing the non-perishable foodstuffs into crates, you take the smock and hat for Maud up to the cab.
  148. >You begin drive the truck up to the interstate, to proceed to the west.
  149.  
  150. >While driving, you begin to discuss the finer points of Human vs Pony Geologic techniques and studies.
  151. >They didn't seem all that big on large scale mapping for whatever reason.
  152. >But, she seems to have a pretty good grip on rock and mineral identification, especially on the igneous and metamorphic side of things.
  153. >Her sedimentary basis is a little more shaky, especially with the level of detail you want, but you are sure that with time and practice, she will become quite effective at that as well.
  154. >When you stop for gas, right before entering the interstate, you pull out a few of the rock classification schemes you are going to use.
  155. http://i.imgur.com/S2sPPpp.jpg
  156. >Dott for your sandstones, Dunham for your carbonates, of course.
  157. >Once you finish refuelilng, you head out on the interstate in earnest.
  158. >You open up a discussion about the rocks you see to your right... The Book Cliffs.
  159. >You try to start talking to Maud about Sequence Stratigraphy... a subsection of the study of sedimentary rocks that was developed by geologists studying these cliffs.
  160. >But you have a hard time conveying the concepts involved other than concentrating it to its most simple essence.
  161. >'The levels rose, the sea levels fell, and it all happened a really long ass time ago'
  162. >Perhaps, when you get some time off, you'll have to take her through there and show her those outcrops.
  163. >Eventually off to the south, you can see the La Sal Mountains, towering over the Paradox Basin.
  164. You familiar with Laccoliths, Maud?
  165. >"I can't say that I am, Anon."
  166. Well, thats what we call an igneous body that was injected between sedimentary layers... Kinda has a mushroomish shape.
  167. Them tall snow capped peaks off to the south there, thats a big ol' Laccolith.
  168. >"What kind of igneous rocks are up there?"
  169. Im pretty sure it's mostly porphyritic diorite... Nice place to go hiking. Cool, even in the summer.
  170.  
  171. >Eventually you reach the true last bastion of civilisation; Green River.
  172. >A small town of roughly 1000 you could resupply at...
  173. >Too bad the selection at the local grocer is small, and the prices high.
  174. >However, driving all the way from Denver, and stopping a bit on your drive through the Rocky's, you decide to pick up a camp site here in Green River.
  175. http://i.imgur.com/D5Y6nmu.jpg
  176. >The state park is cheap, and has significantly more facilities at your disposal than what you'll have starting tommorow.
  177. >Showers, toilets, running water in general, electricity, all become invaluable resources you just don't have much of doing your kind of work.
  178. >As you exit the interstate to drive into the city, you notice Maud looking a rock you pulled out of your back seat earlier.
  179. Ya alright, Maud?
  180. >"This rock reminds me of Boulder."
  181. >You raise your eyebrow.
  182. >"Boulder. He was my pet rock. Before..."
  183. >That still doesn't make sense...
  184. >"I miss my family."
  185. >Oh... OH! Oh...
  186. >Shit, how are you gonna deal with this?
  187. Uhh... Sorry... I wish I could help you there, but I really don't know how.
  188. >"That's fine. You are a nice human, and you at least want me to do work I know and enjoy. That's better than I've had to deal with in years."
  189. >"I'm sure my family is so spread out... Finding them would be impossible anyway."
  190. >Your heart...
  191.  
  192. >You arrive at the Green River state park, and pay for a site for the night.
  193. >Before you drive past the gate, the attendant informs you of a few things... Particularly...
  194. >"And remember, no ponies in the shower house. They can use the toilets near your campsite, but she isn't allowed to use the showers."
  195. >Rats... This is the last chance for that for probably a week.
  196. Alright... Whatever.
  197. >You drive into the camping area after putting the piece of paper that identifies your truck as having paid for a site for the night onto the dashboard.
  198. Sorry Maud... Apparently no shower for you tonight.
  199. >"That's fine, Anon. I was able to be bathed this morning before you picked me up."
  200. Yeah, well, this is the last shower chance for probably a week. Starting tomorrow, we are gonna be in the heart of the swell, and we are only gonna come out when we need gasoline and ice.
  201. And thats only to some shit gas station here or Emery if we are too far west... Fuckin 110 miles of no services on the god damned interstate...
  202. >You pull into your spot for the camp site, and stop the engine.
  203. >The sun is getting low in the sky.
  204. You familiar with tent camping, Maud? I got a tent for you, and a tent for me. Also, got you some good warmer weather sleeping stuff as well... Some small cots to keep us elevated off the ground while we are sleeping.
  205. >You think back to the first (and last) time you slept directly on the ground at this elevation at this time of year.
  206. >Like sleeping on a god damned frying pan.
  207. >Shit doesn't get bearable until like 4 AM, and by then, you don't have that long before the sun rising wakes your ass up.
  208. >A cot that only keeps you a few inches off the ground makes a world of difference.
  209. Alright, lets set up for the night, and used to the equipment before we are out in the wilderness.
  210.  
  211. >After about 15 minutes, you manage to have 2 tents setup, and ready for habitation.
  212. >In that time, you also have managed to set up your mobile kitchen...
  213. >A large box that opens into a nice, easy 'chuck wagon' you can set on a folding table, plus a 2 burner propane stove.
  214. You like rice and beans, Maud?
  215. >"I have eaten rice, and I have eaten beans, and found them acceptable."
  216. Alright then. We are gonna have...
  217. >Fuck.
  218. >Ponies are vegetarian.
  219. Uhh... Vegetarian cajun red beans and rice.
  220. >You'll have to cook your sausage on the side and mix it into your portion.
  221. >The camp site luckily has a water spigot located at it, so you can top off your water stores in your truck, and get all your cooking and cleaning done without tapping into that.
  222. >dried onion, dried garlic, cajun seasoning... delicious, tasty, and easy to do in the wilderness.
  223. >And tastes great on beans and rice as a sort of soup.
  224. >While you are cooking, Maud dons her newly purchased smock, and digs through some of the small rock samples you have piled up in the back seat of the truck's cab.
  225. >"That's granite. Thats a nice piece of quartz. Thats rhodochrosite. That's syenite."
  226. >Her knowledge, and despite her monotone voice, great enjoyment of geology puts a smile on your face.
  227. >"Quartz with molybdenite... neat. It has Hexagons."
  228. >After finishing up your cooking, including hydrating up some dry sausage for your part of the dish, you call Maud to the camp site's picnic table.
  229. Aight, Maud, Dinner.
  230.  
  231. >She looks at you, and puts down a piece of rock you keep shoved in a small cubby on the driver's side.
  232. >Not a specimen that can be found in Colorado, but it makes you feel closer to where you grew up.
  233. http://i.imgur.com/d7nzJGV.jpg
  234. >"That's a wierd piece of rhyolite. Is that blue quartz?"
  235. Yeah... Llanite from Central Texas. Only one outcrop thats publicly accessable, and even on private property there isn't much of it. Not many places you find something that looks like that.
  236. >You don't want to tell her its also called the Babyhead Rhyolite, or the story behind that name...
  237. Human igneous petrologists are silly, and like to make up lots of extraneous names for their rock types. It is just a wierd porphyritic rhyolite. Fuckers make life too hard on themselves.
  238. >You sigh.
  239. Or, more likely, they make it miserable for anyone not in their little clique to understand what the hell they are talking about.
  240. Anyway, dinner is served.
  241. >You put about half of the food into a bowl, and set it for Maud, then mix some sausage in the rest, and dump it onto a bowl for yourself.
  242. >... How the hell do ponies eat food like this without hands?
  243. >You take a few bites of yours, and watch Maud.
  244. >She just kinda... Sticks her face in it, and eats.
  245. >Huh... simple enough.
  246. >Her face is even clean when she looks up, and speaks to you.
  247. >"This is acceptable. Thank you for cooking."
  248. >You both finish eating, and you use the faucet to clean up all the cookware and bowls used.
  249. >The sun is just about down at this point, so you decide its time to build a little camp fire, and get your drink on.
  250. >You pull a few logs out of the bed of the truck, and some kindling, and build a fire in your sites fire ring.
  251.  
  252. >You also grab your folding camp chairs, and set them out.
  253. >Once you get the fire started, you invite Maud to sit in the other empty chair.
  254. >She jumps into it, and sits in it, much like a dog might.
  255. >Its a bit on the small side, but it still works.
  256. >You chug your first beer.
  257. >Life is good.
  258. >You stand up to grab another beer.
  259. Maud, you want a beer too?
  260. >"Sure, why not."
  261. >You go back to your cooler, grab two more beers, and carry them back to the camp fire.
  262. >You pop both of them open, and set one in Maud's cup holder, and sit down in your chair, and begin to sip your own.
  263. So, most of our work is gonna be in detailing out the members the Chile and Moenkopi. Most of the other stuff shouldn't need quite as much work.
  264. >You take another sip of beer.
  265. >"How do you get all these wierd names for these rocks? Why not just call them sandstones. Or Limestones."
  266. Well... The names come from the place where someone first described them. And we give them such names, because we want to map them over a large area, and names make it easy to keep track of them on the large scale.
  267. >"Makes sense. I guess."
  268. Eh, it might make more sense once we get out and start mapping stuff, Maud.
  269. >You take another sip of your beer, and look up, enjoying the beautiful night sky.
  270. >Out of the corner of your eye, you see Maud manage to grab her beer, and down that sucker in one quick gulp.
  271. >Damn... Pony knows how to drink.
  272.  
  273. >"That's different beer."
  274. Yeah, its cheap shit. Tastes nice after a day of work though.
  275. >"I like it."
  276. >Seems Maud has good taste in cheap ass beer.
  277. >You sit silently around the campfire, enjoying the ambience.
  278. >Eventually, you check the time.
  279. Damn... about time to go to bed.
  280. >You stand up, and stretch, and then proceed to get some water to dump on the fire.
  281. Remember, Maud, your tent is the Yellow one. I'll wake you up in the morning.
  282. >She walks up to the tent.
  283. >"How do I open it?"
  284. >Aww shit... You forgot zippers take a reasonable amount of physical dexterity to operate...
  285. >Atleast it means she won't be able to wander off in the night without making a lot of noise messing up the tent.
  286. >You move and open the zipper, allowing Maud entry.
  287. >After she steps inside, you zip the door shut.
  288. Gnite, Maud.
  289. >"Good night, Anon."
  290. >You open your tent, and lay down on the cot.
  291. >Pulling up your phone, you set a 5:30 AM alarm.
  292. >Always best to get up, and camp taken down, and on the road before the day gets too hot.
  293. >You set your phone into one of the tent's storage pockets, and let the sweet embrace of sleep overtake you.
  294.  
  295. >You awaken to the screeching of your phone's alarm.
  296. >Up, and at 'em... Time to get up for a day of proper ass field work.
  297. >Silencing the alarm, you roll off your cot, onto the hard ground, and dig around for your change of clothes for the day.
  298. >Long khakis with cargo shorts, a light colored, long sleeved, light material shirt, and wool socks.
  299. >And a sturdy pair of boots, of course.
  300. >You hear rustling coming from the nearby tent.
  301. >The alarm must have roused Maud as well.
  302. >You change out yesterday's clothing for todays, then unzip the door to your tent, and stand up, and get your first good stretch of the day in.
  303. >After properly tying up your boots, you go over and give Maud's tent a light shake.
  304. Hey, you awake in there Maud?
  305. >"Your alarm is quite loud."
  306. >You unzip the tent slightly.
  307. When you are ready to come out, you should be able to open it up by sticking your hoof through that hole and kinda pushing to the side.
  308. >You move over to your portakitchen.
  309. >Time for everyones favorite morning start... instant coffee!
  310. >You light the stove, then fill a pot with water, and then set it onto the burner.
  311. You take coffee, Maud?
  312. >"Coffee is an acceptable morning stimulant beverage."
  313.  
  314. >Within a few minutes, the water is boiling. You turn off the stove, and pour the water into two waiting mugs.
  315. >You scoop in some coffee crystals, and stir.
  316. >Tastes awful, but is quick and easy.
  317. >You move to begin taking down your tent while you wait for the coffee to become not mouth scalding hot.
  318. >Within a few minutes, your tent is down, your equipment ready to be stowed, and your coffee, ready to drink, and Maud is stepping out of her tent.
  319. Up and at 'em, slowpoke. We need to get on the road soon so we can to get more stuff done before it gets too hot to be walking around. Coffee is on the picnic table.
  320. >As Maud moves to get her coffee, you move to take down her tent.
  321. >Its a little easier... She doesn't have excess clothing to pack up, so you just need to roll up the sleeping bag, collapse the cot, and tear down the tent.
  322. >You manage to get it all taken down in a few minutes, ready to pack in the truck.
  323. >"Anon, this coffee is terrible."
  324. Yeah, it's instant coffee. Quick, and easy, even if it tastes like crap. Gets ya going better than regular coffee... the little bit of rage you get from the bad taste adds a nice edge.
  325. >You chuckle.
  326. Here, have a granola bar, Maud.
  327. >You grab and open a granola bar for yourself, while you load everything into the back of the truck.
  328. >Maud nibbles the granola bar slowly as you stow the stove and kitchen hutch.
  329. >Looking about the camp site, it appears you have everything packed and readya to go, and no trash left behind.
  330. Aight, lets get in the truck. You can finish your coffee and granola bar once we hit the road.
  331. >Maud looks at you, then moves and jumps into her side of the truck.
  332. >She appears to have figured out how to get the door, and seatbelt to work pretty quickly.
  333.  
  334. >Jumping into the drivers seat, you crank up the engine, and get on your way.
  335. >Today's gonna be a good day for science.
  336. >On your way out of town, you stop and fuel up the truck, and while doing so, refill your ice in the beer chest.
  337. Alright Maud, say goodbye to civilization. Its time to get out into some true wilderness.
  338. >Maud looks at you for a moment, then looks out the window at the gas station.
  339. >"Goodbye, civilization."
  340. >You start up the engine again, and accellerate down the road, and onto the interstate onramp.
  341. >In the distance, you can see the flatirons that mark the obvious debarkation of the San Rafael Swell.
  342. That's it Maud. The eastern edge of the San Rafael Swell.
  343. >Maud looks down at the geologic map she pulled out from yesterday, then back up at the horizon, then back down at the map.
  344. >"So, Anon, if I understand this map correctly, this big white bits are the 'Navajo Sandstone'?
  345. That would be a correct assessment, Maud. Looks like you are picking this map thing up pretty quickly.
  346. >"It is a good way of showing all this information on one piece of paper."
  347. >You spy the ever infamous '110 miles, no services' sign on the side of the interstate.
  348. http://i.imgur.com/FBANaz1.jpg
  349.  
  350.  
  351. >Slowly, the cliffs before you grow larger and larger, until you finally reach where the interstate climbs onto the swell via Spotted Wolf Pass.
  352. http://i.imgur.com/3pD10xo.jpg
  353. >Maud is transfixed, looking out the window as you approach the narrow gap the highway runs up.
  354. >Rapidly, you climb up onto the top of the flatter portion on the middle of the swell.
  355. >In the distance, you can see various canyonlands and plateaus off to the side of the small plain the interstate runs across in the middle of the swell.
  356. http://i.imgur.com/jfQXuWy.jpg
  357. >You eventually come to an exit to the interstate, and you figure you should start here on the eastern side today.
  358. >Turning off, you leave pavement into a rough gravel 'road', and nod as you come to your decision on where to start.
  359. Black Dragon Canyon.
  360. >"You have dragons here?"
  361. What, no? Dragons aren't real, they are mythological creatures. Someone just named the canyon we are gonna start working at after one. Probably cause of the dark veneer on the rocks.
  362. >"Oh. That's good. Dragons make field work more difficult than it needs to be."
  363. >The fuck?
  364. >You continue driving, eventually arriving on an even more rough trail that leads down into the canyon.
  365. >You drop the truck into 4WD, and pull onto the less maintained trail.
  366. >You twist and turn across the terrain, slowly dropping off the top of the swell again.
  367. >Reaching where the Moenkopi outcrops, you slow down, and look around.
  368. We should set up camp around here... Can't camp too much further into the canyon, and there's a few decently flat places to make camp.
  369. >"You know best out here, Anon."
  370. >Ahead, you see a small plateau of Chinle that the road snakes around.
  371. >The far side of that will get you some shade earlier in the day...
  372. >Looks like camp to me.
  373. http://i.imgur.com/4qnpRVk.jpg
  374.  
  375. >You pull into your selected camp for at least the next few days, and you pull together your day pack and other equipment.
  376. >Camelbak with 3L reservoir.
  377. >Backpack, stowed with sports drinks on the side.
  378. >'utility belt' with hammer hook, hammer in said hook, notebook pouch, and compass.
  379. >Even with fancy technology, nothing beats an old school analog compass for durability and reliability.
  380. >Same for a good old fashioned waterpoof notebook.
  381. >However, modern technology still gets into your toolkit.
  382. >You keep a high accuracy GPS for recording locations down to the meter scale, that you can tie in with the notes in your notebook.
  383. >It also has topo maps for the region loaded onto it, so in the event you get lost, it can be a great navigation aid.
  384. >Maud has also disembarked from the truck.
  385. >For her to carry...
  386. >Some canteens for water, and a few small pouches.
  387. >Shit, next time you go into Grand Junction, you are gonna need to get her some more equipment for carrying stuff.
  388. Alright, Maud, I got some canteens for you to carry your own water supply, and here's a few little bags you should be able to lay over your back...
  389. Ain't got much to put in them now, so I guess you can be in charge of hiking specimens we pick up around in them.
  390. Anway, we'll set up the tents and stuff later. For now, lets get out there, and get started on this project.
  391.  
  392. >There is still quite a bit of morning shade in the area from the big Navajo cliffs to the east of you.
  393. >You decide to start moving down towards the wash below the campsite, and looking at the outcrops along it.
  394. >Once you arrive, you get a nice little outcrop to start working with Maud on.
  395. So, Maud, can you describe this rock right here?
  396. >She walks up, strikes the wall of rock with her hoof, and a perfect sized chunk breaks off.
  397. >Damn... she don't need to carry no hammer with her.
  398. >"Its sandstone."
  399. Any other details?
  400. >"It has ripple marks. Its kinda red... Kinda brown."
  401. Grain description? Use that little plastic card I gave you yesterday.
  402. >Somehow, beyond you, she pulls out the little plastic grain size card with her hoof, and sets it on the rock chunk she procured.
  403. >"It looks like its fine grained."
  404. So, I know you were reading the map, do you know what part of the Moenkopi this should probably fall into?
  405. >"It said that the upper Moenkopi had sandstone like this. So this must be the upper Moenkopi."
  406. I agree with your assessment of the situation, Maud.
  407. >You pull out your GPS, and mark your location.
  408. >Then, you grab your new field notebook, and open it up to page 1, and begin to write.
  409. Location 1. Upper Moekopi... Finegrained sandstone, Quartz Arenite, ripple marks... Alright, looks good.
  410. Lets continue down this wash, and make a stop every few dozen yards, or if something obvious changes.
  411.  
  412. >And so, continue you did.
  413. >Eventually, however, maud asked you a question that baffles you.
  414. >"Where are all the gems?"
  415. Wut?
  416. >"Gems. In Equestria, gems are common. I haven't seen any gems, or even any sign of them, since we have been walking down this dry stream."
  417. Thats... Interesting. Gems aren't terribly common, especially not coming out of sedimentary rocks like this. In Colorado, there's a few places you can find 'gem' quality specimens, one I can think of off hand here in Utah...
  418. But no... No gems lying everywhere.
  419. >Man, this world the ponies comes from sounds like some kind of magical fantasy land... Gems everywhere, dragons...
  420. >The sun rises higher and higher in the sky, the air temperature getting warmer, and becoming quite hot.
  421. >You check your watch, and its about lunch time.
  422. Alright Maud. Lunch time. I got more granola bars, and some apples. We can have something a little more substantial for dinner.
  423. >"Okay. You were right about it being hot out here. A break sounds good."
  424. >You find a tiny bit of shade, despite the height of the sun, given by a small cedar growing over the edge of the small slot canyon you are sitting in.
  425. Good shade trees are a rare commodity at this elevation... Bleh.
  426. >You take a seat, pull out lunch for yourself and Maud, and enjoy a nice break from working in the heat of the day.
  427. >Eating granola bars, drinking tons of water. you break into your sports drink.
  428. >You are moving at a pretty good rate down this valley.
  429. >Going down each wash, you should be able to find the details you need pretty easily...
  430. >All the old maps are based on aerial photography, not some poor schmuck out here in the field.
  431. >All that missing detail.
  432.  
  433. >You and Maud continue moving down the canyon after finishing lunch.
  434. >She's probably the best partner you've had in the field.
  435. >Knowledgable, suprisingly strong, and able to get around really well.
  436. >And the small talk about the differences are insightful...
  437. >She is damn good at on the spot identification, and when you run into a change, she is able to tie it back to what she's seen really quick.
  438. >Lets you focus on the note taking, and map sketching.
  439. >You've gotten up to 75 locations marked on the GPS with notes taken, and its about 4 in the afternoon... Probably time to make the trek back up the canyon to the truck.
  440. Alright, Maud, I think thats a day. Lets head back to the truck. I'll probably be easier if we get out of this wash, and back up to the trail.
  441. >"Sounds OK."
  442. >You still aren't sure what to make of the eternal Daria vibe you have coming from Maud.
  443. >It's tough to tell if she is being sarcastic, or he is just really really that monotone.
  444. >You climb up out of the wash, and easily find the offroading trail, and begin walking back uphill.
  445. So, Maud... If you don't mind me asking, how did you end up in Grand Junction.
  446. >"Sorry, Anon... I do mind. I don't want to talk about it."
  447. Uh... Fair enough. How about all them gems you talked about?
  448. >"Oh yeah. In Equestria, there's gems in the rocks everywhere. The unicorns use them for magic, I think."
  449. >Magic.
  450. >You had heard of the ones with horns having magic abilities.
  451.  
  452. How does that work... Magic?
  453. >"I'm not too familiar. I'm an Earth Pony."
  454. So what... Unicorns only get magic?"
  455. >"Yes. Earth ponies have their own talents though."
  456. >You'll have to do more searching on this crap when you get back to a place with an existant internet connection...
  457. >You ain't got data worth a shit on the swell.
  458. >Out here, the interstate barely has voice coverage.
  459. >Eventually, you reach the truck, and you set up what is to be your camp for the next few days.
  460. Drop the specimens we picked up today in the back seat while I get tents set up, Maud.
  461. >You drag the tents and sleeping stuff out of the back of the truck, and find a nice flat, gravelly, not rocky spot for the tents.
  462. >You've done this so many times now, you get the tents and cots set up in real quickly.
  463. Aight, Maud, what do ya want for dinner? I was thinking something with couscous.
  464. >"Whatever you cook is fine, Anon."
  465. >You think for a moment.
  466. Even if it has meat in it?
  467. >"I don't really like meat."
  468. >Bah... More work cooking stuff separately.
  469. I guess I'll cook some couscous and some beans.
  470. >Maybe mix some canned chicken into your portion...
  471.  
  472. >Beans, onion and garlic flavored couscous, and some chicken for yourself.
  473. >As far as you can tell, Maud liked it.
  474. >Atleast, she ate all her portion.
  475. >After you ate, and the sun was just touching the, you pulled a little bit of firewood from the back of the truck, and built a fire ring out of rocks.
  476. >"Its so warm... Why build a fire?"
  477. Well, the air gets a little cool out here at night, but its more than that.
  478. The fire, its entertaining, and comforting. The dancing light of the fire just has some kind of... magic.
  479. >"I guess that makes sense."
  480. Also, smelling like campfire is much preferred to smelling like hot sweaty ass when there's no bathing.
  481. >"That also makes sense."
  482. >YOu do feel a bit crusty after hiking around for the day... But that's the price you pay for getting to enjoy wilderness like this.
  483. >Once the fire was rolling, and you and Maud both had a beer, and the cooler set within arms reach, you discuss things with Maud.
  484. So, what did the tectonics of your world look like?
  485. >"Tectonics?"
  486. Wait... did you not know about plate tectonics in Equestria?
  487. >Maud just looks at you, saying nothing.
  488. >You sigh.
  489. I suppose it shouldn't suprise me if you didn't really care so much about wide scale mapping, tectonics might not be a thing...
  490. >Shit, the maps you are working on updating actually predate widespread human acceptance of plate tectonic theory.
  491. >You've talked to older geologists who can remember the first people they worked under balking at the idea.
  492.  
  493. Well, Maud, the world we see is what we call the crust, a thin layer of rock basically floating on top of a bunch of hot, gooey rocks.
  494. The rocks the crust sits on, the mantle, is kind of like silly putty... and as you might very well observe, the crust is rather solid and hard.
  495. They crack, and break into big chunks that kinda slide around on top of this hot goopy stuff.
  496. Where plates come together, you get mountains. Where they spread apart, you get volcanoes and stuff.
  497. Atleast, thats the basic gist of it... When we are done with this project, I got a bunch of books you might want to look into.
  498. >You both drink beer, and enjoy that special kind of relaxation you can only find around a campfire and a clear night sky.
  499. >A thought hits you.
  500. You know what Maud, when we are done with this project, you might very well be the first pony to get their name on a published paper.
  501. >Maud looks at you, almost cocking her head slightly.
  502. >"My name on a paper?"
  503. Well, yeah. You are knowledgeable on the subject at hand, and you are helping a good chunk with making the work move along quickly.
  504. >She still stares at you.
  505. ... How do academic publications work in Equestria?
  506. >"You write books. I never finished a book."
  507. >Fucking wierd ass ponies...
  508. Ok, how stuff tends to work, especially these days, is anytime people collaborate on research, they all get their names stuck on the paper thats published when its done.
  509. >YOu stand up, and go and grab a bulletin out of the center console of the truck.
  510. Here's a paper I'm credited as an author on... See, A. N. Ymous.
  511.  
  512. >"Why does having your name on a paper matter?"
  513. Having your name out there is a way to increase your respect amongst your peers in your field. Prove you know what the fuck you are doing.
  514. >"And you'd put a pony's name as an author on your paper?"
  515. Shit, Maud, to be honest, you are doing more work than most credited authors on a paper do. Most of the time, a top line author doesn't do any of the damn work, and takes all the credit.
  516. Thats what's nice about not being directly in academia...
  517. >At that, you finish off your current beer, then pull another one out of the cooler.
  518. Of course, that assumes my boss'll let me...
  519. >You pop open your new can, and take a swig.
  520. You have a last name, Maud?
  521. >"Pie."
  522. Maud Pie? Not the strangest last name... A lot of people might not even realise M. Pie is a pony's name.
  523. Still though, you deserve it if we can keep up the pace we had today.
  524. >Maud sips her own beer.
  525. >"Thank you, Anon. Today has probably been the best day I've had since coming to your Earth."
  526. >Ooof.
  527. Uh, glad to hear that.
  528. And, sorry to hear so much of the rest of your time here was... less than ideal.
  529. >Maud stares at the campfire, and takes a drink from her beer.
  530.  
  531. >As the fire begins to burn low, you take a look at the time.
  532. >Bed time.
  533. Alright, Maud, I think its bed time.
  534. >You stand up from your chair and stretch.
  535. >After a good stretch, you grab your head lamp from your pocket, and put it on.
  536. You gonna lay down as well, Maud? If not... I think I got an idea for making it so you can more easily work the zipper on the tent, actually.
  537. >You go and dig a little bit through the cab before you find what you thought up to help Maud.
  538. >Extra shoe laces!
  539. >You go and tie them through the little handles on the zipper, giving something Maud could either grab with her mouth, or hooves.
  540. >As you are doing this, Maud comes up behind you.
  541. >"I think it is about a good time to go to bed."
  542. Yeah, alright. These strings ought to help you get in and out of the tent yourself.
  543. >"That's awfully trusting of you."
  544. I suppose... But, honestly, where are you gonna go from here, Maud. There ain't anything out here for miles.
  545. >"I know. I appreciate your trust."
  546. >You nod to Maud.
  547. G'nite.
  548. >You move over to your tent, crawl in, and lay down on the cot.
  549. >You set an alarm for 5:30 AM.
  550. >After a long hard day of field work, you fall asleep quickly.
  551.  
  552. >Just like yesterday, your screeching alarm wakes you up right on time.
  553. >You roll off the cot, and change into your clothes for the day...
  554. >Today you go for a nice pastel shirt.
  555. >A new pair of pants... You'll hang the pair you wore yesterday on the truck's fron't bumper.
  556. >The sun will help make it less... icky to wear again tomorrow.
  557. >You lace up your boots, and you can hear a little rustling coming from the direction of Maud's tent.
  558. >You then open up the door to your tent, and enjoy a good stretch.
  559. >The light of pre-dawn lights up the outline of the cliffs towering above camp down the canyon, and a near perfect silence fills the air.
  560. >God, you love your job.
  561. Morning, Maud. Im gonna make some oatmeal for breakfast. You got any additives you prefer? I got raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon...
  562. >"Raisins are OK, I guess."
  563. >You put a pot on the stove, and fill it with water, enough for instant coffee and oatmeal.
  564. >You fire up the stove and go sit in your chair around the now cold fire ring.
  565. >Maud unzips her tent, and steps out, and also zips the door shut as well.
  566. >Your little addition to the tent looks to make it easy for her to take care of it herself.
  567. >You are gonna have to get her more clothing next time you head into town... One smock isn't gonna work out well...
  568. >Its gonna get real nasty real quick.
  569.  
  570. >After a few minutes, the pot of water is boiling.
  571. You want some coffee this morning, Maud?
  572. >"I guess."
  573. >You grab your two coffee cups, fill them with hot water, and instant coffee crystals.
  574. >You also get two bowls, and dump in some instant oatmeal, then add water till it gets to just the right consistency.
  575. >Measuring is for chumps. And chemists.
  576. Alright Maud, two bowls of oatmeal, two cups of coffee.
  577. >You set the stuff down on the table, near the stove, and move both chairs from the fire ring, to the table.
  578. >At this point, you mostly take your oatmeal plain... Too much effort to add more stuff.
  579. >Its just calories you get you up and ready to go in the morning.
  580. >You still grabbed the raisins out of the back of the truck for Maud, though.
  581. >As the sky gets brighter, you start to hear a little bit of activity from the (relatively) nearby interstate echoing around the canyon.
  582. >Large trucks using air brakes as they head down the pass, the occasional roar of a truck climbing the opposite direction.
  583. >After finishing up breakfast, you do a quick rinse of the bowls and mugs with your limited water supply.
  584. >You also refill your camelbak reservoir, and Maud's canteens.
  585. >You also grab a few granola bars, and a replacement powerade for the one you drank yesterday.
  586. Alright, Maud, you ready to head out for another day of field work?
  587. >"Sure. Where are we headed?"
  588. Well, I was thinking we could either head further down black dragon canyon, or go up a little more.
  589. I guess going up would be a good choice today... We can pack up camp, and drive down, and work the canyon on the way back to civilization tommorow.
  590. >"Going back to town already?"
  591. Well... I want to get some more supplies for you, and we can restock on water and fuel, and possibly do a bit of laundry.
  592. >"What supplies were you thinking for me?"
  593.  
  594. To be honest, you are gonna need more than just one shirt to wear, Maud. The one you have is gonna get icky.
  595. I was also thinking of getting a camelbak for you as well. They are damn handy for grabbing a drink without having to stop so much.
  596. >"I agree those would be useful things to have, Anon. Thank you for thinking about my needs."
  597. Though, that means today is probalby gonna be particularly warm... Not gonna be as much cover uphill from here.
  598. >You both load yourselves up with your equipment for the day, and begin hiking a little up hill.
  599. >Within about 15 minutes, you can see the higher points to the west of you being lit by the rising sun, but down in the valley you are in, you are still in the shade.
  600. >You spend the day mapping in the higher elevations from your current base camp, working in the Moenkopi and lower Chinle, working out the detailed contact.
  601. >Two days, and you have pretty much the entire drainage of the Black Dragon Wash maped out.
  602. >And still, Maud is the best damn field work partner you've ever had the pleasure of working with.
  603. >The perfect balance of serious commentary and general bullshittery.
  604. So, Maud... Woudl you be offended if i used 'meat' flavored stuff for some of the dishes I cook? Not necessarily actual chunks of meat, but like...
  605. Chicken boullion flavor in stuff like couscous and rice and shit.
  606. >"I guess that's OK... I mean, I CAN eat meat, but its not my thing."
  607. Well, when we get to the store, we can look through stuff you would consider acceptable.
  608. Though, tonight, I think, I'm gonna cook some pasta with tomato sauce... Nothing offensive to your sensibilities there, right?
  609. >"I guess so."
  610.  
  611. >Upon returning to camp, you start boiling a big pot of water for pasta.
  612. >You dig two beers out of the cooler, and stick one in Maud's chair's cupholder.
  613. >You immediately shotgun your beer, then grab a second, and repeat.
  614. >Thinking back to your college days, you think back to the best drinking game ever... Whiffle Chug.
  615. >A stupid campfire drinking game... It invovled the person playing at that point, chugging a beer.
  616. >Everyone around them counted, how many seconds it took to chug the beer.
  617. >Then, they had to spin, head down on a whiffle bat a number of times equal to the number of seconds it took them to chug a beer.
  618. >After completing the spins, they would assume a batting position, and someone would pitch them a crushed can to hit with the whiffle bat.
  619. >To win Whiffle Chug, the people you are hanging with would have to hit more times than they would miss.
  620. >In your experience, no one ever wins a game of Whiffle Chug.
  621. >However, everyone has enough of a sensible chuckle to make of for the loss.
  622. >But, with just you and Maud, a game of Whiffle Chug isn't really possible...
  623. >The beer is no longer ice old.
  624. >You have to rely on the alcohol to make you feel not like shit, rather than having the extra boost from the ice coldness of the drink.
  625. >All your fucking ice is melted at this point.
  626.  
  627. >While waiting for the water to boil for the pasta, you drag a few logs out of the back of the truck, and build a fire in the fire circle you created yesterday.
  628. >Learning about the differences between this world, and the one Maud came from has been quite interesting.
  629. >Maud's demeanor is still a complete enigma to you, however.
  630. >So... Dour. Grim.
  631. >Most ponies you've interacted with previously atleast tried to put on a happy face over how shit their situation is.
  632. >Maud is just... There.
  633. >Neither happy nor really sad.
  634. >After a few minutes thinking, you stand up, and go check on the stove, while Maud takes her seat by the fire, and pops open her beer.
  635. >The water is boiling, so you dump the pasta in, and stir.
  636. >Within a few minutes, the pasta is done.
  637. >You drain the water out off to the edge of camp, and you just dump a jar of pasta sauce into the pot.
  638. Dinner's ready.
  639. >You split the pasta in to two separate plates, and set them onto the open part of the table.
  640. >Maud comes from the camp fire, and chows down on her plate, as you dig into yours.
  641. >A thought crosses your mind.
  642. So, we'll probably spend tommorow night down in Moab. I think you'll get a kick out of some of the stuff around there.
  643. Plus, they ought to have all the stuff we need for resupplying there.
  644.  
  645. And the morning after that, we could maybe pay an early morning visit to Arches.
  646. >"Arches?"
  647. Arches National Park... Big chunk of land set aside as protected for people to go visit. Has big ass rock arches.
  648. >"Sounds interesting."
  649. We should be able to get up early, see a few of the important sites, and still get back up to these parts to keep on mapping.
  650. >A sunrise hike to Delicate Arch should be fun... Only 3 miles on foot round trip.
  651. >And it's a damn impressive piece of natural beauty.
  652. >You also consider Dead Horse Point state park...
  653. >The views are impressive, but that might be a bit of an awkward place to explain the name of to Maud.
  654. >You sigh.
  655. >Humans really are a bunch of assholes...
  656. >Such is the way of the world.
  657. >After finishing up food, you clean everything up and assume your general evening habit.
  658. >Drinking beer, and sitting around a nice campfire in the wilderness.
  659. >Maud sits near you, also staring into the fire, silently.
  660. >Eventually, you both settle into your tents for another night of restful sleep.
  661.  
  662. >In the morning, you are, as per usual, awoken by your alarm during the pre-dawn.
  663. >You roll out of your bed, and get dressed for another day of field work... Going down to the lowest part of Black Dragon Canyon.
  664. >For breakfest... Today shall be pancakes.
  665. >Because instant pancake mix is the shit, especially out in the middle of no where like this.
  666. >You put the frying pan on the stove, and rub it down with cooking oil, then let it preheat.
  667. >You add some water to the mix until it has the perfect consistency.
  668. >Measuring water is for plebs.
  669. Pancakes for breakfast, Maud.
  670. >YOu can hear her rustling about in her tent.
  671. >"Kay."
  672. >Now, the frying pan is headed up enough, you start pouring out batter, and letting the pancakes get all nice and fluffy as they cook.
  673. >As they finish, you flip them onto a waiting plate, and pour more batter into the pan.
  674. >Maud opens her tent, and comes out.
  675. Feel free to grab a few pancakes, Maud. Got syrup on the table. No butter though...
  676. >"Thanks, Anon. I do always enjoy pancakes."
  677. >Soon enough, you use all the batter, and it becomes your turn to dig in.
  678.  
  679. >After finishing up breakfast, you proceed to the worst part of pancakes while camping...
  680. >The mess syrup and batter make on dishes.
  681. >Atleast this afternoon, you'll be able to top off your water supply when you get to Moab.
  682. >You also tear down camp... YOu won't be coming back to this one, and you can move the truck to not have to walk so far.
  683. >Before you head out for the day, you do a quick review of the old geologic maps, and look at the topographic maps.
  684. >Ooh... You are gonna be passing by some adits dug into the Chinle...
  685. >You dig out a small electronic device from the cab of the truck and stow it into your backpack.
  686. Question for you Maud... You familiar with the concept of radioactivity?
  687. >"I can't say that I am."
  688. >You wonder if her world lacks radioactivity... She is seemingly very knowledgeable about detailed mineral chemistry. SOmething about magic...
  689. Then we might have a treat for you today. Possibly some mineral's you've never seen before... Or, atleast, you were missing out on an important property of them.
  690. >You continue to restock your backpack for the day.
  691. >"What minerals?"
  692. Ill show you when we get there... There's some old mines we should be going near. Should be able to find some stuff to collect.
  693. You ready for the day? Water, and such?
  694. >"Yeah. Lets hit the trail."
  695. Jump in the truck... We are gonna park a little further down, and move the truck as we map today.
  696.  
  697. >You drive down the trail, until you get down to where you stopped off previously, and find a decent spot to stop the truck.
  698. Alright, lets get some mapping done before we head into town.
  699. >You map along the hillside, moving up to where the old adits were on the map.
  700. >Soon enough, you can see the telltale signs ahead of you of an old prospect...
  701. >Tailings, rough old path you might have once been able to take a vehicle up.
  702. >Rusty hulks of old unidentifyable equipment.
  703. >You continue to mark rock contacts as you both hike up the hill.
  704. >Eventually, you can see the actual tunnels, cutting into the steep cliffside towering above you.
  705. >You walk over to one of the tailings piles, and pull out the device you picked up earlier from your truck.
  706. >Upon, activating it, you are greeted with the familiar beeps of the geiger counter.
  707. >As you wave it near the tailings pile, the scattered beeps crescendo into an electronic squeal.
  708. Yup. Old uranium prospect.
  709. >"Uranium?"
  710. Uranium. Radioactive, unstable atom containing immense ammounts of energy.
  711. Back in the 50s and 60s, people came out here and ran little uranium prospects out of these cliffs.
  712. >You hold up your geiger counter to Maud.
  713. >The beeps drop dramatically as you move it away from the tailings pile.
  714. This is a geiger counter... It lets you detect ionizing radiation. Which you get from things like uranium.
  715. >"That's different... I don't think we had anything like this in Equestria."
  716.  
  717. So, what you are looking for here for the uranium minerals is most likely going to be sort of a yellow crust on the rocks.
  718. And be careful... Try not to breathe in dust if you knock an up, and don't pick up stuff with your mouth.
  719. >Don't want Maud to get some terrible heavy metal poisoning...
  720. The mineral we are most likely to find is carnotite, possibly tyuyamunite as well.
  721. There's plenty of other uranium bearing minerals, but they are less common.
  722. >"Interesting... Can I see the geiger counter?"
  723. >YOu shrug.
  724. Sure, here ya go.
  725. >Maud gingerly grabs it with her mouth, and begins to walk around, pointing the detector at various objects around the area.
  726. >You do your mapping notes for this area, and mark it on GPS, and eventually move up to one of the mine openings.
  727. >Maud follows behind you, and sets the geiger counter down carefully on the ground.
  728. >"So, you seem slightly worried about the dangers of this stuff. Why?"
  729. >You never did give a very good explanation for radiation...
  730. Ionizing radiation... is not terribly good for the DNA in large doses, plus whats more relevant in a place like this, is worrying about heavy metal poisoning.
  731. Lead, uranium, vanadium, cobalt... All stuff you can find atleast some of in these ore deposits. None of it good to be inhaling.
  732. >"I see. You looking inside here to see if there is anything neat to grab?"
  733. >You pull a flashlight out of one of your cargo pockets.
  734. Yup. If you are coming in, watch your head.
  735.  
  736. >You turn on your small flashlight, and shine it down the old mineshaft...
  737. >Theres a few timbers, still looking almost new thanks to the desert climate, supporting the ceiling.
  738. >The air inside is pleasingly cool
  739. >Shining along the wall, you can see the telltale yellow line of uranium mineralisation.
  740. >You duck your head, as you step several more meters into the tunnel.
  741. >Maud is following behind you... Her shorter stature makes following you an easy task.
  742. >As you reach what looks like the back, you see before you what you had hoped for.
  743. >Colors besides yellow, and some actual crystals rather than a simple yellow crust.
  744. >You see small flashes of greens, blues, oranges and pinks on the wall.
  745. >Jackpot.
  746. Alright, Maud, that looks about like what I came up here to find, as an aside to the mapping.
  747. Can't say for sure what all these little crsytals are, but this is a nice chunk of stuff to take as a souveneir.
  748. >You contiue up to the wall, and pull out your trusty rock hammer.
  749. >Before you swing, you pull your shirt up over your face...
  750. >Not ideal, but will do a reasonable job of blocking any dust you dont want to breathe.
  751. >With a few hits, you get a nice clean chunk off the wall.
  752. Sweet. Lemme stash this in a bag in my backpack...
  753. >"Is it safe to keep in a packpack?"
  754. Eh, its not too bad. I wouldn't want to carry it around in my front pocket on a daily basis, but, I have places at home to safely store this kinda stuff for the long term.
  755. And, stashing it in a box behind the drivers seat is fine too.
  756.  
  757. >Not too much to the mine... just a single straight tunnel.
  758. >You head back up to the entrance, and reenter the sunlight.
  759. >And heat of the day.
  760. >You continue a little ways down the cliff face, with Maud in tow, to the other mine shaft indicated on the map.
  761. >The second mine shaft didn't have nearly as nice of a suprise waiting for you at the end.
  762. >No nice specimens to collect.
  763. >After digging around a little more on the surface, you begin trekking back down the hill, mapping as you go, noting all the relevant contacts.
  764. >Luckily, you already have a good idea of where all the contacts are, so you can move fairly quickly.
  765. >Eventually, around lunch, you loop back to the truck.
  766. >You dig out your chairs, and set them up in the little amount of shade the truck can provide.
  767. Alright, lunch time, Maud. After we eat, we can take the truck down the narrowest portion of the canyon...
  768. It should be pretty easy, considering most of it is gonna be Navajo Sandstone.
  769. >"Then we head back to civilization?"
  770. Yup. Get some more equipment for you, showers for the both of us...
  771. Maybe go somewhere we could get some good beer instead of the shit we've had the last few days.
  772. >Yeah... the brewery...
  773. >You both continue to munch on your lunch of granola bars and sports drinks.
  774. >When you finish, you stand up, stretch a little bit, and jump into the truck, cranking on the engine.
  775. Stow your chair and jump in on your side when you are done, Maud. Im gonna stash a few things, and look over a few maps real quick.
  776.  
  777. >After finishing up Black Dragon Wash, you begin the trek to Moab.
  778. >You start by driving to a dirt onramp onto the interstate.
  779. >As you approach, you drop the truck from 4WD into 2WD, and you turn out onto the interstate, accellerating up to speed.
  780. >You look to your fuel gage...
  781. >Should be easily enough to get to Moab.
  782. >"So, Anon. What kind of house do you have for when you aren't doing work like this?"
  783. I got a decent house in the suburbs of Denver... I have a guest room I'll make into your room, when we are done with this project.
  784. I'm gonna have to go back to the office, and draft up a map using all the data we are collecting.
  785. >"What am I going to do while you do that?"
  786. >You pause.
  787. I'm... Not entirely sure? I might be able to talk the boss into letting you work on the project with me at the office, if you'd like that.
  788. Otherwise... You'll have to probably hang around the house.
  789. >"Ok."
  790. >Soon, you reach your exit from the interstate, and begin driving south.
  791. >The road drives across a wide plain, and you can see the La Sal Mountains growing in the distance, beyond Moab.
  792. >Eventually, you drive down into Moab Canyon.
  793. >Maud is looking out the windows at the towering cliffs of red rocks to the right of the truck.
  794. There's a big ass fault that runs right down this canyon. Thats why the one side is so much taller than the other.
  795. >"I see."
  796. >soon, you come by the entrance to Arches NP.
  797. Look at that faulting right there, Maud. How about that, eh?
  798.  
  799. >As you speed past the exposed faults, you are quickly able to see the desert metropolis of Moab, across the Colorado River.
  800. >Roughly 5000 people live in this (relatively) green valley, and its a hell of a tourist destination.
  801. >A true Mecca for mountain biking and offroading, especially for those Jeep lovers out there.
  802. >And to people into geology, its also a wonderland of sights to see, and rocks to collect.
  803. >Now, to find a campground...
  804. >You are fairly familiar with most of the campgrounds, so you start visiting them in your preferred order.
  805. >And luckily, you find an open spot at your most preferred... One right in the middle of town, so you are easy walking distance from everything.
  806. >AND, they don't mind ponies using the facilities. So, good for Maud.
  807. >You pull into your assigned spot, and set up the tents.
  808. >Once you have a basic setup, you turn to Maud.
  809. So, ready to do a bit of shopping? My favorite outdoor equipment store is just up the road from here.
  810. >"We walking?"
  811. ...Nah, we want to refill the water. This store has free filtered water available, so we want to take advantage of that while we can.
  812. >You return to the cab of the trick, with Maud following closely, and you drive out onto the main road, and up a block to the equipment store.
  813. So, first, lets get you some more equipment. Last time I was here, they seemed pretty pony friendly in their stocking habits.
  814. >"Thats good. Maybe they will have some light cloth stuff like you wear that will fit me.
  815. Yeah, that would be ideal... In this kind of heat, having the right stuff to wear can make all the difference between comfort and misery.
  816.  
  817. >Stepping inside, the cashier greets you.
  818. >A kind of young desert 'hippy' thats common in places like this.
  819. Hey, you got a section for pony sized outerware, man?
  820. >"Yeah, dude, over to the back left. Got lots of clothes and stuff for ponies, ideal for our climate."
  821. Alright, cool. How about camelbaks?
  822. >"We got less selection on those, but to the right, where the human ones are, at the bottom, we got a few pony fitted models."
  823. Thanks, man.
  824. >"YOu got any other questions, just ask, bro."
  825. >You nod to the cahsier, and move into the store.
  826. >Sweet, they literally have the same shirts you've found to be the best for field work, but pony fitted.
  827. So, Maud, these are probably what you want. Go ahead and pick two, that'll bring you up to 3 shirts to cycle through.
  828. >Maud looks through the rack of shirts, and grabs pink and aqua colored smocks.
  829. >"I think these ones will work."
  830. Alright, now for a backpack.
  831. >You lead Maud over to the backpacks, and you see several designed for pony wear at the bottom.
  832. >Only one of them has as large of a water reservoir as is ideal for the work you are doing.
  833. I think this one will do the best, Maud.
  834. >She looks at it and nods.
  835. >"Looks good."
  836. >You head back to the front of the store, and purchase the clothing and backpack.
  837.  
  838. >After paying you nod to the cashier.
  839. I'll be back in a minute... Need to fill up my water jugs.
  840. >"Aight, dude."
  841. >You walk out the truck, and stow the purchases in the back seat, and grab two of your 5 gallon jugs, one already drained, the other half empty.
  842. >You carry them into the store, and set them on the large waiting basin with hoses for occasions like this.
  843. >"So, dude, you adventure with your pony?"
  844. >The cashier looks at you and Maud.
  845. Uhh... She's my work assistant. Doing field work up on the San Rafael Swell.
  846. >You shrug.
  847. I guess some people might consider it an adventure.
  848. >"The work is acceptable, entertaining compared to my previous... positions."
  849. >"Cool, dude, cool."
  850. >Quickly, the jugs are filled, and you nod to the cashier.
  851. See ya, dude.
  852. >You grab one jug, and Maud grabs the other.
  853. >You stow them in the bed of the truck, and jump back in the cab.
  854. >Maud follows on the opposite side.
  855. Well, we got a little time to kill... I suppose Dead Horse Point State Park might work as a decent place to visit this afternoon.
  856. >"Dead Horse Point?
  857.  
  858. Its, uh, a place with a hell of a view of the canyonlands near here.
  859. >Maud shrugs.
  860. >"If you say so."
  861. >You drive the truck out onto the main road, and begin the drive up to Dead Horse Point.
  862. >You have to drive a bit north out of town, before turning off onto a road that leads up a narrow side canyon, up onto the plateau formed by the Moab Fault.
  863. >Within about 40 minutes, you arrive at the park gate.
  864. >The gate attendant sees the USGS symbol on the side of your truck, and waves you through.
  865. >The perks of driving a government vehicle.
  866. >You drive through the park, past the visitors center, and up to the eponymous point, looking high over the Colorado River.
  867. >Finding a nice parking spot, you jump out of the truck, and lead Maud to the main overlook.
  868. So, Maud, from this overlook, you can see the deeply incised Colorado River, the La Sal Mountains over there, the Abajo Mountains off to the south...
  869. Some potash mine drying pools down there...
  870. >Maud nods, then goes to read some of the signs posted.
  871. >After a few moments, she speaks up.
  872. >"That's terrible..."
  873. >Shit... She probably read how the point got its name.
  874. >You walk over to her.
  875. Read the story for how this place supposedly got its name, eh?
  876. >"Yes."
  877. >You look around... No other people.
  878. Human's are assholes, Maud. Even moreso in the past, it seems.
  879. >You lean against the railing, and stair out at the vista before you.
  880. >"I know."
  881.  
  882. I do what I can... I know you are legally... my property.
  883. >You sigh.
  884. I won't make you work with me, if you choose not to.
  885. >"Anon, don't worry about it. Your work lines up with my special talent. Working with you is the best I could hope for in this world."
  886. But... You always sound so... uncaring... melancholy?
  887. >"Oh, that? I've always been like this, Anon. All the stuff we've done over the past few days has been almost as much fun as..."
  888. >Maud pauses for a moment.
  889. >"Home."
  890. >You continue staring out... something about this vista is incredibly soothing for the soul, you feel.
  891. Come on, Maud, lets go to the gooseneck overlook.
  892. >Maud falls in walking behind you.
  893. >You come to the nice viewing platform built for taking in the most famous view of the park.
  894. >Maud steps up beside you, looking over the railing.
  895. >"Even if humans are assholes, they do good making stuff like this available to those who want it."
  896. Yeah... The idea of parks like this are fairly recent... Only about 150 years.
  897. >"Thank you Anon..."
  898. >You look to Maud, oddly...
  899. For what?
  900. >"For being the kindest human I've met."
  901. >You both stand there, as the sun gets lower in the sky.
  902. We best head back to town, Maud... Need to restock a bit on groceries, and ice. And we need to pay a visit to the brewery...
  903.  
  904. >Upon arriving back in Moab, the sun was just about to set over the large western cliff that towers over the town.
  905. >You go to the grocery store for a resupply while you are in town.
  906. There any non-perishables you can think you would want, Maud?
  907. >"Discounting magic, the food you have prepared so far is quite acceptable. Similar stuff should be fine."
  908. Would you uh... be alright with meat flavored stuff? No meat in it, though...
  909. >You look to the shelf and grab some chicken flavored rice-a-roni.
  910. Something like this. I mean, in Japan, it would totally be considered vegetarian...
  911. >"I guess I can try it atleast once."
  912. Alright, we can do a trial run with this, then.
  913. >You put the box into your cart, and continue grabbing general non-perishables.
  914. >You eventually reach the beer section, and grab another 30 pack.
  915. I think we are good... We can grab ice at the checkout.
  916. >You reach the front, purchase your goods, and return to the truck.
  917. >THe first thing you do is grab the cooler, and open it up and dump out the excess water from your melted ice.
  918. >After the water's gone, you dump in the new 30 pack, along with your new ice.
  919. >You also throw the other groceries you purchased into the back of the truck.
  920. Alright, how about something nice for dinner for once.
  921. >You jump in the truck, and prepare to drive back to camp.
  922. >Maud assumes her spot in the truck, and you proceed back to park the truck at camp.
  923.  
  924. Alright, just gotta go across the street Maud... We are gonna have some dinner at the Brewery.
  925. >"Sounds fine."
  926. >You walk over to the nearby crosswalk, and cross the main road through town, and right into the brewery.
  927. >The hostess, a pony, greets you.
  928. >"Welcome to the brewery, table for two?"
  929. Nah, we are gonna grab some seats at the bar, thanks though.
  930. >You begin to walk towards the bar
  931. >Maud looks the pony over for a moment before following you.
  932. >You grab a stool, and pull out one next to you for Maud.
  933. >Maud takes her seat.
  934. >You look at the beer selection on tap...
  935. >The bartender approaches, and asks for your order.
  936. I'll... take the oatmeal stout. What do you want, Maud?
  937. >"I don't know..."
  938. Eh... She'll have the Hefeweizen.
  939. >The bartender goes and fills your order.
  940. You'll like it, Maud.
  941. >"I guess we will see."
  942. >You grab a menu sitting nearby, and take a look.
  943.  
  944. >You are probably gonna go for a sammich... Or burrito.
  945. >Luckily, they have a lot of proper vegetarian options for Maud...
  946. >The vegetarian chili they make here is pretty badass, you remember from previous visits.
  947. Well, Maud, they do have some good vegetarian stuff here. The chili is pretty rockin.
  948. >You pass the menu to Maud.
  949. >Maud looks over the menu for a few moments.
  950. >"I guess I'll take your advice. You haven't led me astray yet with your advice."
  951. >Just then, the bartender returns with your beer, brewed in the tanks you can see across the bar.
  952. >"Gonna order any food?"
  953. Yeah, I'll take the burrito, and she'll have the chili.
  954. >"Alright, I'll go put that in for ya'll."
  955. >You grab your glass of beer, and take a nice, long drink.
  956. >Maud grabs her's, and gingerly takes a drink from the glass.
  957. >You see her eyes widen slightly, almost imperceptably as she takes the drink.
  958. >"This is beer?"
  959. Yeah. Wheat beer. Pretty good, eh?
  960. >"Why don't you have this in your cooler?"
  961. Because, one, it's expensive.
  962. Two, repeated heating and cooling that may come with a cooler in the wilderness will ruin beer.
  963. There's not much to ruin with Coor's, but the deliate deliciousness of something like that, would be a sin to let go bad.
  964. Though, we can maybe grab a six pack on the way out for you... Just gotta make sure you drink it fairly quickly.
  965.  
  966. >As you look around the bar, and restaurant, you don't see any other ponies about besides Maud and the one working the hostess station.
  967. >Not that suprising, you suppose...
  968. >As far as you can tell most ponies are kept as labor, and not ever taken to an establishment like this.
  969. >Maud is going through her beer fairly quickly...
  970. >She must really like this beer.
  971. Hey, maud, if you like that one, you might like this one.
  972. >You push your beer over to her.
  973. Oatmeal stout. Sweet, dark, delicious.
  974. >She picks up your glass, and takes a swig.
  975. >"That is also good."
  976. Drink on up then. Maybe the bartender will let you sample some of the other ones...
  977. I dunno how much you'll like the hoppier beer.
  978. >"Hoppier?"
  979. Yeah... The bitterness in beer comes from a plant called hops.
  980. I'm not the hugest fan of super hoppy beer, but it can be an OK thing sometimes.
  981. >Maud then chugs the remainder of her hefeweizen, and waves at the bartender.
  982. >"Yeah?"
  983. You guys do flights? She wants a flight of each of your beers besides the hefewizen and stout.
  984. >"What he said."
  985. >"Alright then."
  986. >The bartender pulls out a long wooden stick with a number of little slots, and then pulls out matching small cups.
  987.  
  988. >Skillfully, the bartender moves down the row of taps, pouring a series of small glasses for Maud.
  989. >"You want anything for yourself, mister? Your food should be out pretty soon."
  990. I guess I'll take a hefeweizen... Something extra refreshing.
  991. >"Gotcha."
  992. >The bartender pushes the row of small cups in front of Maud, and moves to get you your next pint, as you finish off the last of the porter.
  993. >After putting your next beer down, she runs back towards the kitchen, and returns a few moments later with your dinners.
  994. Mmmmm... Burrito... Dig into your chili Maud, its good stuff.
  995. >Maud was picking up one of the small glasses, labeled as an IPA.
  996. That's gonna be the hoppiest of them all, Maud.
  997. >She takes a sip as you dig into your burrito, knife and fork style.
  998. >"Tastes kinda like flowers. Flowers are good."
  999. Good to know.
  1000. >Maud then proceeds to try some of her chili.
  1001. >"It's spicy."
  1002. Is that a bad thing?
  1003. >"Its OK. It's tasty."
  1004. >Good...
  1005. >You dig into your burrito, and drink down your beer.
  1006. >There's a few other people stting around the bar as the evening goes on.
  1007. >Fat tourists, people here to ride bike trails, people here to do some hardcore 4x4ing...
  1008. >Some look a little uncomfortable with Maud sitting at the bar, but most are willing to entertain talking with strangers at the bar.
  1009.  
  1010. >After Maud finishes her flight, she has discovered IPAs and hefeweizens are her favorite.
  1011. >You've enjoyed another few hefeweizens yourself while having some general chatter around the bar.
  1012. >One of the people sitting at the bar is here to hike, and is a bit of a rock hound.
  1013. >They were really intrigued by your story with Maud, and you gave them some good places close to moab to collect rocks and minerals.
  1014. >"You'll have to take me there sometime, Anon."
  1015. >Maud's gotten... kinda drunk, and its loosened her up a bit emotionally
  1016. Well see, next time we get a day off from mapping... or we can come spend a few days here when we are done with the project all together.
  1017. >"I would like that."
  1018. >Eventually, you decide its time to head back to camp.
  1019. Aight, Maud. Tab is paid off, lets head back to camp. Wea get up for our early morning hike.
  1020. >"Alright Anon. Where we going for our early morning hike anyway?"
  1021. >You stand up, and begin to lead Maud.
  1022. We are gonna hike up to Delicate Arch to watch the sunrise. You'll like it.
  1023. >Maud almost stumbles a little bit as you lead her out of the restauraunt and across the street, back to your camp site.
  1024. Alright, Maud, you sober enough to go take a shower?
  1025. >"I can definitely bathe myself, Anon."
  1026. OK then.
  1027. >You dig a towel, and some soap, and stick it in a bag for Maud.
  1028. Here's a towel, and some soap. Go get cleaned up.
  1029. >You grab your own toiletry bag and towel, and go to the mens shower.
  1030. >Luckily, this time of day, there ain't to many people showering, so you got the place to yourself, and it sounds as though the ladies side is empty as well.
  1031. >And it looks like they even have dedicated pony shower stalls here too. bueno.jpg
  1032. >You pick a stall, and go turn on the water, to a nice pleasant warm temperature, and jump in.
  1033. >The feeling of a shower after so many days of no bathing is indescribable...
  1034. >And soon, you hear what you assume is Maud turning on her shower on the other side of the wall.
  1035. ***
  1036. >Life is good, and a nice warm shower just makes everything better.
  1037. ~~~~~
  1038. >The next morning, you are awoken by your alarm, set for 5 AM.
  1039. >Should leave plenty of time to get up, pack up, eat, and get up to the arch before sunrise.
  1040. >You get dressed, get out of your tent, and move over to shake Maud's tent.
  1041. Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey!
  1042. >Huh... not really something she's necessarily into... Oh well.
  1043. Rise and shine!
  1044. >You hear a few grumbles from within the tent.
  1045. >"I'm awake... I'll be up and out of my tent in... a moment.
  1046. >She sounds a little rough... Must be a pony hangover.
  1047. We gonna do fast food breakfast, so once you get up, and your tent down, we can hit the road.
  1048. >You begin tearing your tent down as you can hear Maud shuffling around in her tent.
  1049. We gonna do the breakfast of champions... McDonalds.
  1050. >It's cheap, quick, and calorie rich, also reasonably tasty.
  1051. >Good stuff for being out in the field, in your opinion.
  1052. >As you are finishing up stowing away your tent, Maud steps out of her tent, wearing one of her new smocks.
  1053. A little hung over this morning, Maud?
  1054. >"Maybe just a little bit."
  1055. Well then, another perfect reason to go to McDonalds. Get some powerade with... whatever you order.
  1056. >YOu think for a moment.
  1057. Do you eat eggs?
  1058. >"I will eat eggs, yes."
  1059.  
  1060. >After stowing all the equipment in the truck, you leave the campground, and drive basically across the street to McDonalds.
  1061. >What should Maud get...
  1062. You ever had any food from here before, Maud?
  1063. >"Can't say that I have."
  1064. Then... You probably want like and egg and cheese muffin or biscuit.
  1065. >"Your advice hasn't led me astray yet, Anon."
  1066. >You head out of the truck, and head inside the restaurant.
  1067. >Since it's still damn early, its not too crowded, mostly a few old farts drinking coffee, and other people up for early morning bike rides or hikes.
  1068. >You step up to the cashier with Maud in tow.
  1069. Uhh, yeah, I'll have the... breakfast burrito combo, and an Egg McMuffin combo, hold the ham.
  1070. >The cashier puts in your order, and gives you your total.
  1071. >Fucking fast food is overpriced this close to the national parks...
  1072. >After paying, you get your two cups, and head over to the softdrink fountain.
  1073. >You fill both up with blue powerade, and carry both over to a table.
  1074. >Maud follows.
  1075. Sit here real quick, food should be out real quick.
  1076. >By the time you reach the cashier again, your food is ready to go.
  1077. >You grab the tray its on, and return to Maud.
  1078. >Upon sitting down, you grab your burritos and hashbrown, and push the rest of the tray to Maud.
  1079. >She manages to unwrap her sandwich, and begins to eat it, while you dig into your burritos.
  1080. >In very short order, all the food is devoured, and drinks, drank.
  1081. Feelin' any better after eating?
  1082. >"Yeah, a little... Can I get more of the blue stuff to drink?"
  1083. Sure, gimme your cup, I'll go refill both of them.
  1084.  
  1085. >You go refill your cups, and return to the table.
  1086. Finish it up, and then we can hit the road. Gotta get out to the earch early.
  1087. >Before the sun rises.
  1088. >Maud quickly downs her drink again, and you follow up doing the same.
  1089. >"I'm ready. Let's go."
  1090. >You throw the cups and wrappers in the trash, and head back out to the truck.
  1091. >You begin the fairly short drive out town to the national park entrance.
  1092. >This time of day, before sunrise, there's no one actually watching the park entrance.
  1093. >You drive through the open park gate, and begin twisting and turning your way up through the darkness onto the plataeu to the north of Moab Canyon.
  1094. >Passing famous views, like Park Avenue, the Petrified Sand Dunes, and Balanced Rock, all of which only the vaguest can be seen in the dim light of a distant dawn.
  1095. >Eventually, you reach the empty parking lot for the Delicate Arch trail.
  1096. Here we are, Maud. Let's grab our packs, and we can begin the hike. A mile and a half up, and the same back.
  1097. >You both grab your previously prepared camelbaks, and begin your twilight hike.
  1098. >You pass across some low lying gravel hills, before reaching the slickrock portion of the trail...
  1099. >This part of the trail is only marked by scattered stone cairns, marking the way up the barren tilted rock face.
  1100. >During the daylight hours, this is can be an incredibly brutal walk, but the coolness of the night air takes away much of the stress.
  1101.  
  1102. Alright Maud... At the top of the big open rock face. Just a little more, twisting through some small canyons.
  1103. >Maud silently follows your lead.
  1104. >You then reach the final portion of the trip...
  1105. >The narrow cliffside path that leads to the arch itself.
  1106. >You both silently walk up the path, slowly climbing along a single tilted bedding plane of the sandstone.
  1107. >As you near the end, you take a look at your watch.
  1108. >Perfect timing... About 15 minutes until the sun rises, fully illuminating the terrain around you.
  1109. >Eventually, you reach the final break of the cliff to your right, and you can see in the very dim light, the 65 foot tall Delicate Arch.
  1110. >And, you and Maud are the only beings to make this early morning pilgrimmage to this landmark today.
  1111. Alright, Maud. This... this is what we came up here to see. Delicate Arch.
  1112. >Maud looks around at the terrain around her.
  1113. The sun will be rising fairly soon. So, find a comfortable spot to sit and watch the show.
  1114. >You jump up onto a sandstone mound, then down the otherside, sitting at the edge of the bowl shaped depression that sits next to the arch, facing south.
  1115. >Maud comes and joins you nearby.
  1116. >You both simply sit and wait, taking in the views around you as the twilight slowly brightens into day.
  1117. >Eventually, the moment you were specifically waiting for... The moment you make this early morning hike for... arrives.
  1118.  
  1119. >The sun peaks over the cliffs in the distance, casting a brilliant glow across the land, making the red of the rocks even more intense than usual.
  1120. >You can hear Maud gasp.
  1121. >"By Celestia..."
  1122. >You throw her a look...
  1123. >That was the most emotion you had ever heard from any words she has ever spoken.
  1124. >You can see a single tear rolling down her face.
  1125. >Looking back to the arch itself, the way the dawn light plays across the illuminated side that you can see from this side makes it almost appear like a glowing portal.
  1126. >God, you live visiting this place.
  1127. >It makes you feel at ease.
  1128. >The desolate beauty of the deserts of the Colorado Plateau are unlike anywhere else in the world.
  1129. >As for Maud...
  1130. >You THINK she is having similar feelings, based off how she spoke...
  1131. >But you can't be sure.
  1132. >The stillness of the grandeur unfolding before you is broken by the sound of footsteps coming up the trail behind you.
  1133. Heh... Sounds like someone else tried to get up here for sunrise, but didn't quite make it.
  1134. >Maud seems to snap out of a trance at your words, and she listens to the footsteps as well.
  1135. >"Thank you for brining me up here Anon..."
  1136. >Maud whispers
  1137. >"This means more than you could possibly understand."
  1138. >You nod.
  1139. Want to go take a closer look at the arch? You can go right up to it.
  1140. >You stand up to stretch, and while doing so, you can see the source of the footsteps you heard.
  1141.  
  1142. >A cute 20-something couple.
  1143. >They young lady is actually wearing a park ranger uniform.
  1144. >You nod at them as they step up onto the block of sandstone above where you were sitting.
  1145. >"I take it you are the fellow with the USGS truck?"
  1146. Yup. Decided to take a sunrise hike up to the arch before I headed back into the field.
  1147. >She looks towards the arch, and notices Maud walking towards it.
  1148. >"You have a pony?"
  1149. Yeah... She is my field assistant.
  1150. I brought her up here, I figured she'd get a kick out of seeing the arch at sunrise.
  1151. >"Interesting... She any good in the field?"
  1152. Really good, in fact...
  1153. As far as I can tell, she holds a Ph.D. equivalent geology degree from her world.
  1154. She has picked up human theories and field methods amazingly quickly.
  1155. >The park ranger nods.
  1156. >"I didn't put the ponies as having much higher education like ours, but I guess it doesn't suprise me."
  1157. >You shrug.
  1158. As far as I can tell from my own interacitons with them, they are quite intelligent.
  1159. >"I suppose... I haven't run into too many outside of 'personal assistant' ponies people bring into the park, and the few that work in town."
  1160. >"They don't exude a terrible amount of intelligence... but I suppose its not the best cross section of ponies to judge by."
  1161. >You at her response, as you pull out your phone.
  1162. >As Maud steps under the arch, you take a snapshot of her setting her hoof on it.
  1163.  
  1164. >You then give a simple farewell to the ranger, and walk around the bowl to the arch itself, near Maud.
  1165. Alright, Maud.
  1166. When you are done, we can start heading back to the truck.
  1167. There's a few other easy to get to places in the park you might enjoy seeing while we are heading out.
  1168. >"I'm gonna look around for a few more minutes, if you don't mind..."
  1169. Go for it, Maud. I'll be sitting back by the end of the trail, taking in the sights as well.
  1170. >YOu walk back around and take a seat on a sandstone ledge, relaxing while you wait for Maud to finish her sight seeing.
  1171. >The ranger walks up to you and asks you a question.
  1172. >"So what kinda work are you doing?"
  1173. Doing some detailed mapping in the San Rafael Swell.
  1174. >"I see..."
  1175. >"I noticed you don't keep her on a leash?"
  1176. I trust her. We work together in the wilderness, away from easy access to help.
  1177. She enjoys the work we do, and I trust her if something ever happens and I require help.
  1178. >"Interesting."
  1179. >You sit in silence once more, observing nature around you.
  1180. >Soon enough, Maud returns.
  1181. >"Alright, Anon, I'm done looking. Let's go."
  1182. Alright then.
  1183. >You proceed to lead Maud back to the parking lot.
  1184. >You pass a few other early morning hikers making their way up to the arch, and you politely nod at them as they make their way up the path.
  1185.  
  1186. >After reaching the truck, you jump in, and rev up the engine.
  1187. Alright, on the way out, we can hit up Balanced Rock, Sarah's Cock, and Park Avenue.
  1188. >Well, you cant actually walk up to Sarah's Cock... But you can definitely point that hoodoo out.
  1189. >"Sarah's Cock?"
  1190. Yeah, there's a funny story to that... It's mostly a hoodoo that looks like a big penis.
  1191. >"Then why name it after a chicken?"
  1192. >You stiffle a laugh as you put the truck into drive, and begin making your way to the next stop.
  1193. It's... a human euphemism. Don't think about it too much.
  1194. >Within a few minutes, you arrive at the parking lot for getting a good look at Balanced Rock.
  1195. >Maud is looking out the window, getting a good look at all the terrain we drove past in the darkness previously.
  1196. Alright, Maud. Balanced Rock.
  1197. >She looks out the window at the large tower of rock before you.
  1198. >"Is it really balancing?"
  1199. Nah, not really... Just looks like it, seeing the larger rock on top of the narrow column.
  1200. They are definitely cemented together, not just balancing.
  1201. >You look to Maud.
  1202. You wanna hike up to the base, or are you just fine with observing it from here?
  1203. >"Looking from here is fine... It's definitely impressive."
  1204. Yeah. Almost 130 feet tall, if i remember correctly.
  1205. >"Not as impressive as the arch, though."
  1206. There's plenty of arches in the park... Delicate is probably the most famous.
  1207. >You point behind Balanced Rock.
  1208. Back thataway is Double Arch, and The Windows.
  1209.  
  1210. >After a few minutes of appreciating the Balanced Rock, you begin the drive past your next stop.
  1211. >A few miles down the road, you pull off onto a small pullout on the side of the road.
  1212. That one.
  1213. >Maud looks out the window.
  1214. That's Sarah's Cock.
  1215. >Maud shrugs.
  1216. >"I guess it does have sort of a phallic shape going on."
  1217. >You think to say more, but stop yourself.
  1218. Yup.
  1219. >After about a minute of observing the giant rock, shaped like a dong, you pull back onto the main park road.
  1220. Alright, one more good stop before we hit the road, and go back to doing field work.
  1221. Park Avenue.
  1222. >Continuing along the road, you pass over Courthouse Wash, and the large monoliths that lay near the road.
  1223. That one's the Tower of Babel, and that one is The Organ.
  1224. >Maud silently looks at the cliffs around the vehicle.
  1225. >Soon, you make the large turn around, and reach your last stop in the park today.
  1226. >Park Avenue.
  1227.  
  1228. >You pull into the parking lot at the top of Park Avenue.
  1229. Alright, Maud, this is a nice short walk to get a good view of this canyon. Lots of impressive hoodoos going on here.
  1230. >"Alright."
  1231. >You both leave the truck, and make the short trek down the nice paved path to a spot with a pleasant overview of the valley.
  1232. My favorite hoodoos in here is the one over there that looks like its flipping you off, and the other one that looks like a giant cock'n'balls.
  1233. >"Flipping you off?"
  1234. Oh, uh... human term for a rude gesture. Raising your middle finger and pointing it at someone is considered rude.
  1235. >"Humans are wierd..."
  1236. Eh, it doesn't even mean that everywhere in the world. Just a cultural thing.
  1237. >"Still, this isn't as good as the arch."
  1238. Yeah... Its still iconic here though.
  1239. Anyway, when you are done, we can hit the road back to the San Rafael Swell.
  1240. >"Alright, lets go."
  1241. >You nod, and walk back to the truck, and once you both get into your seats, you begin your drive back to your study area.
  1242. >As you leave the park, and turn north onto the highway, Maud speaks.
  1243. >"Thank you for taking me on the sunrise hike. I don't know how much you know about pony culture, but that was a... meaningful experience."
  1244. I'm honestly not too well versed, but I did hear you say something about a 'celestia'.
  1245. >Maud pauses for a moment, then speaks again.
  1246. >"Celestia was the Princess of the Sun. She ruled peacefully over Equestria for centuries."
  1247. >"In my world, the sun doesn't just come up and down like it seems to here... She used her magic to raise the sun, and for a long time, the moon as well."
  1248. >Magically raising and lowering celestial bodies? That's kinda odd.
  1249. >But, you think you can see the connection as to the meaning behind seeing the sun rise in such a beautiful place.
  1250.  
  1251. Thank you... That gives some insight into how you responded this morning.
  1252. >"It brought back good memories of the Summer Sun Celebration."
  1253. >Then, Maud returns to silence, and spends her time looking out the window.
  1254. >When you reach Green River, a little bit before lunch time, you decide to get one last bit of refueling in before getting into the wilderness.
  1255. >You also top off your ice supply.
  1256. >Gotta keep the beer cold.
  1257. >After finishing up your final resupply for a while, you jump in the truck.
  1258. >You ought to have enough supplies to last atleast a week.
  1259. Alright, this time, we are gonna head to the far side of the San Rafael Swell, and do some mapping on the eastern flank.
  1260. >You begin driving, and you can soon see the tell tale faceted spurs of the Navajo Sandstone begin to grow on the horizon ahead of you.
  1261. >Eventually you reach the swell, and, after leaving the interstate, find a nice camp near where you start a short day of mapping.
  1262.  
  1263. >After a few weeks of mapping, and the occasional trip into town to restock, you find yourself driving for yet another restock trip into Green River.
  1264. >While driving along a rough, hilly, gravely road, the handling of the truck suddenly changes.
  1265. >You continue driving slowly, eyebrow raised, looking back and forth.
  1266. >Fuck...
  1267. >This feels like...
  1268. >The back left wheel is dragging.
  1269. >Shitcunt.
  1270. >You stop the truck.
  1271. Wait here for a moment, Maud.
  1272. >You step outside the truck, and move back to look at the rear driver's side tire.
  1273. >As you suspect, the tire is flat.
  1274. >You let out an angry roar.
  1275. God fuckin damn it... Worst fuckin' place to have a god damned flat tire.
  1276. >You kick the flat tire out of rage.
  1277. >Then, you go up and dig the tools for changing the tire out from behind the rear seats.
  1278. >"What's wrong?"
  1279. Got a flat tire...
  1280. On a not flat rough surface...
  1281. >You lean your head back and let forth an angry grow.
  1282. Get on out the truck for now...
  1283. The less weight we have on the suspension while I'm lifting it up, the better.
  1284. >Maud steps out, and you find her looking at the flat tire after you finish digging out the tools.
  1285.  
  1286. >You move to the back of the truck, and begin the arduous process of lowering your full size spare tire from under the truck.
  1287. Fuckin' god damned bullshit...
  1288. >You feed a long metal tube through a hole in the rear bumper of the truck, trying to fit it into the socket for the tire winch.
  1289. >After fiddling around, and not managing to get to work, you say fuck it, and crawl under the truck, and fit the damn thing at the winch rather than trying to shove a long thin stick into an equally thin hole.
  1290. >Once its in place, you begin lowering your full size spare from its stowed position under the bed.
  1291. >"You alright?"
  1292. >You respond to Maud with an angry groan.
  1293. >Soon, the spare tire is freed, and you pull it out.
  1294. >You convert the tools from the winch configuration to the configuration for removing the bolts holding the now flat tire in place.
  1295. >Before you start lifting the truck, you start working on loosening the bolts.
  1296. >Most of them loosen easy enough...
  1297. >But one has decided to just really piss you off.
  1298. >You push with all your might, but it just doesnt want to budge.
  1299. >You grab onto the wrench, and manage to get your feet up onto the flat tire, and use both your arms and legs and your fully body weight to try to get the damn thing to move.
  1300. >Maud looks on while you are doing this.
  1301.  
  1302. >"Can I try?"
  1303. >You let out an exasperated, rage filled sigh.
  1304. I guess, push it that away to get the damn thing loose.
  1305. >You step aside to let yourself calm down for a few moments.
  1306. >Turning around, you look at the terrain around you.
  1307. >"Got it."
  1308. >wut?
  1309. >You spin back to look at maud, who appears to have sucessfully loosened the last bolt.
  1310. >"Was easy enough."
  1311. The hell? How strong are you?
  1312. >"Pretty strong, I guess."
  1313. Well, thanks... Now, stand back. I'm gonna lift the truck up so we can switch the tires out.
  1314. A non-flat, gravelly road is not the safest place to attempt this, but there aint any flat place nearby, and there sure as hell aint any flat stable surfaces...
  1315. >You look back under the truck trying to determine the best place to stick the jack.
  1316. >Luckily, there is a nice sized tip of a boulder sticking out of the ground that should work for your purposes.
  1317. >You stick the jack in place, and begin to lift the truck.
  1318. >once lifted enough, you quickly remove the bolts, remove the god damn flat tire, and replace it with the spare.
  1319. >You start to tigthen the bolts by hand, then lower the truck.
  1320. >With a great sense of releif, the truck returns to the ground, no horrible jack related accidents having occured.
  1321.  
  1322. >Once the truck is safely on the ground, you use the wrench to a final tightening of the bolts.
  1323. >Then, you begin another process that is sure to piss you off...
  1324. >Stowing the flat on the winch, and lifting it back into place.
  1325. >God, you fucking hate changing flat tires while offroading...
  1326. Alright, Maud... Back in the truck.
  1327. >You both get back into the truck, and turn it back on.
  1328. We are probably gonna have to take a little longer than planned trip back to civilization for fixing this, Maud.
  1329. >You drive, and soon arrive at the interstate access.
  1330. >Pulling up your phone, you look for the nearest place that will have tires that will fit the truck.
  1331. >Not Moab.
  1332. >Despite all the offroading people do there, there's only one shop that does tires and suspension work.
  1333. >And its always busy, and always expensive.
  1334. >From where you are at, it looks like the best place to look is gonna be Richfield.
  1335. >Several tire stores, and a wal-Mart.
  1336. Right, we are gonna go to Richfield, Maud. Its further west from here, and we get to drive over the Wasatch range.
  1337. A lower part, addmitedly, but still.
  1338. >You pull the truck out onto the interstate, and begin your drive to resupply, and ensure you have another tire ready to go incase you get another flat.
  1339.  
  1340. >As you drive up and across the Wasatch range, you think about how you should spend the night...
  1341. >Both yourself and Maud are kinda funky.
  1342. >Since you visited Moab to get clothing and a new camelbak for her, you've been roughing it, only going into Green River to get supplies at the grocer there.
  1343. >No showers, baby wipes and camp fire only, final destination.
  1344. >You think you should splurge tonight.
  1345. >You are gonna stay in a Motel 6!
  1346. >Maud, as usual, is looking out the window, observing the mountains as you drive through them.
  1347. I think I'm gonna get us a hotel room tonight, Maud. It'll be good to have real beds, and a proper shower to stay in.
  1348. Also, television and electricity. Good to get all the electronics charged without having to use the power inverter...
  1349. >"I can't remember the last time I slept in a real bed."
  1350. Uhhh... Sorry about keeping that going with all the camping.
  1351. >Maud shrugs.
  1352. >"You are sleeping in the same thing I am while out camping. And the cot is honestly better than a lot of what I've slept on in this world."
  1353. >Silently, you shudder at that thought.
  1354. >Man, people are assholes...
  1355. Sorry 'bout that. When we are done with this project, you'll have your own bed and room at my house to look forward to.
  1356.  
  1357. >Soon enough, you arrive in Richfield, Utah, center of civilization in the Sevier Valley, with a mighty population of 7500 people or so.
  1358. >But, they have some large shopping centers, and more importantly for you today, places that will have tires for your truck.
  1359. >First, you find the local Motel 6, and rent a room for the night.
  1360. >The unicorn pony running the desk at the Motel 6 looks at you strangely, and seems rather offended by your strong smell and unkempt appearance.
  1361. >After paying for the room and getting the keys, you look at where the nearest place to get a new tire on your phone.
  1362. >A few buildings down, in fact...
  1363. >You return to Maud, who was waiting in the truck.
  1364. So, lets go get the truck fixed, then we can both get bathed, and hopefully by then the truck will be done getting looked over.
  1365. Then, we can try to find something to eat. I don't think we'll get anything as good as the brewery...
  1366. >You probably want to find something cheap...
  1367. >A thought hits you.
  1368. >Probably the best fast food restaurant to go to with vegetarians.
  1369. >Taco Bell.
  1370. >You drive the truck just down the road to the tire place, and park in front of it.
  1371. >A young man dressed in a dark blue coverall comes out and greets you.
  1372. >"What can I do you for?"
  1373.  
  1374. I need a replacement tire. My rear driver side got a flat as I was offroading this morning.
  1375. >The man working the store looks at the replaced tire.
  1376. >"Yeah, we should have that. Lemme take a look at yer other tires."
  1377. >He moves around to the other side, looking at the other tires on your truck.
  1378. >You take a look at the front drivers side tire.
  1379. >Fuck...
  1380. >The tread depth is getting a big low.
  1381. >Atleast it's not your personal truck, so work will cover the cost, but its gonna make this all take longer.
  1382. >The attendant comes around and speaks to you.
  1383. >"Sir, I think you might want to replace all your tires at once... The tread depth is looking a little shallow, especially if you are offroading."
  1384. Yeah... You are probably right. I'll replace all 5 tires...
  1385. >You go into the truck, and dig into the middle console.
  1386. >Your company vehicle card, for occasions such as this.
  1387. Alright, put it on the card. You got the same style of tires in stock, right?
  1388. >"Yes, sir, I think we should have all that."
  1389. Excellent. Im gonna head back to my hotel room on foot. Ill probably be back in around 2 hours or so to get the truck picked up.
  1390. >He nods.
  1391. Lemme grab some stuff out of the bed, and I'll give you the keys.
  1392. >You dig around in the back of the truck, and grab what you need now; toiletries and a clean change of clothes.
  1393. >You then call Maud, and toss the keys to the truck at the fellow working the store, then begin walking back to the hotel, Maud in tow.
  1394.  
  1395. Oh man... Looking forward to this shower.
  1396. >You look to Maud following behind you.
  1397. >Her light purple hair is looking pretty messy.
  1398. >Both of you are gonna need to spend quite a bit of time making everything clean.
  1399. >You definitely won't get rid of the campfire smell... That can take a week or more to fully cleanse from your body.
  1400. >But cleaning the dirt and general filth removal should be more than doable for the both of you.
  1401. >You walk up to your room, and drop off your bags on the bed.
  1402. Alright, Maud, I'll let you take the first shower.
  1403. >"Thanks... Do you have any soap?"
  1404. Well, here, they should have soap and shampoo dispensers in the shower. You might need a lot, but there should be enough.
  1405. >"Sounds convenient. I've never been in a human hotel."
  1406. >She walks back into the bathroom, and shuts the door.
  1407. >You flop down onto a bed, and turn on the TV.
  1408. >Within a few minutes, you hear the water turn on, and the sound of the shower curtain being pulled closed.
  1409. >You find the weather channel, see what the extended forecast for the region looks like.
  1410. >Luckily, the dry summer weather looks to be holding out.
  1411. >You don't want to be out in that wilderness when a storm comes through...
  1412. >It may not rain much in the desert, but when it does, hoo boy...
  1413.  
  1414. >Eventually you settle on watching the world news.
  1415. >Always good to learn of the goings on in the world around you.
  1416. >After roughly half an hour, you hear the shower turn off.
  1417. >It'll be your turn soon.
  1418. >Another few minutes, and Maud steps out, towel wrapped around her mane and flank.
  1419. >"I am done in the shower."
  1420. Alright, awesome, TV remote is on the bedside table if you want to watch something else.
  1421. >You dig out a change of city clothes, and head into the bathroom.
  1422. >...You are probably gonna have to spend some time in the laundry room of the hotel this evening.
  1423. >Oh well... shower time.
  1424. >It's been far too long... And as the water hits your body your nose is hit with the concentrated stank of campfire.
  1425. >Mmmmm....
  1426. >You spend about 15 minutes showering.
  1427. >Stepping out of the shower you feel nice and refreshed.
  1428.  
  1429. >After drying, and getting dressed, you step out of the bathroom.
  1430. >Maud is lying on the bed, watching the news on TV.
  1431. Alright, you ready to go get something for dinner?
  1432. >"I am getting kind of hungry, Anon."
  1433. Well, let's go to Taco Bell... They are quick, cheap, easy, and have decent vegetarian options.
  1434. You'll probably want to get like a bean burrito or something, Maud.
  1435. >"You think the truck is ready?"
  1436. We can go check. And, when we are done with dinner, we are gonna need to do some laundry.
  1437. >You grab the remote, and turn off the TV.
  1438. >Maud steps off the bed, and follows you as you walk towards the door.
  1439. >You step outside, and walk back to the vehicle repair shop.
  1440. >The truck is sitting in front of the shop.
  1441. >That's a good sign.
  1442. >You walk inside, Maud in tow, and see the guy who greeted you and took the truck.
  1443. >"Ah, good to see you sir. The truck is ready to go."
  1444. Ok, cool. You put the charge on the card?"
  1445. >"Yes, sir."
  1446. Alright.
  1447. >The man working the store hands you your keys, and wishes you a nice day.
  1448. Alright, Maud. Dinner time.
  1449.  
  1450. >You begin driving across town to where the map on your phone indicated the Taco Bell would be.
  1451. >Similar to many smaller towns in Utah, the lowest portion of the valley is somewhat green, and arable, with desolate, but beautiful mountains rising to the East and West of the North to South running valley.
  1452. >To the West is some beautiful low red and beige hills capped with trees.
  1453. >To the East, and slightly more distant, are some higher, more rugged peaks of the Wasatch Range.
  1454. >Maud silently looks out the windows, from side to side, marveling at the variety of mountains, as far as you can tell.
  1455. >Within a few minutes, you reach Taco Bell.
  1456. Alright, Maud. This is a fast food restaraunt. Its cheap, but most stuff here is fairly tasty.
  1457. Their refried beans are vegetarian, so that should fit in with what you are willing to eat.
  1458. The bean burrito is like, beans, cheese, and sauce wrapped in a tortilla.
  1459. >"What exactly is a tortilla?"
  1460. >Man...
  1461. >She has been missing out if she's never gotten to try mexican food.
  1462. Its like... A thin bendable piece of bread you can wrap stuff up in. It's common in Mexican cuisine.
  1463. >"I see. I've never tried Mexican cuisine. In fact, you've expanded the food I've tried by quite a bit Anon."
  1464. >Oof.
  1465. What were you fed before you came to work with me?
  1466. >"Mostly hay and cheap grains.. Occasionally fruit and vegtables."
  1467. Well, is what we've been eating out in the field acceptable?
  1468. >"It's fine. I understand the limitations of getting stuff that will stay in the truck for extended periods. All the pasta and grains are more than acceptable. The sauces are good too."
  1469. Alright...
  1470.  
  1471. >You both walk into the restaurant, and step up to the counter.
  1472. >Its fairly early for dinner, so there isn't anyone before you in line.
  1473. You OK with the burrito, Maud?
  1474. >"I guess. I don't really know what anything else here is."
  1475. >You nod, and move up to place your order.
  1476. Uhh, yeah, I'll have 3 soft tacos, a bean burrito, and two soft drinks.
  1477. >The person working the counter takes your order, and gives you your total.
  1478. >After paying, they hand you two cups, and tell you your food will be ready in a few minutes.
  1479. >You hand one cup to Maud, and keep one for yourself, and head over to the fountain machine to get your fill.
  1480. >Fuck yeah, Baja Blast Mountain Dew.
  1481. >You could probably use some caffiene.
  1482. >As you fill your cup, Maud looks up at the possible drinks she can choose from.
  1483. >"Anon, what exactly are all these flavors?"
  1484. >Fuck.
  1485. >Your breakfast trip to McDonalds a few weeks back was probably her first and therefore only other experience at a fast food place.
  1486. >And all she tried there was Powerade.
  1487. Well... You might want to put just a little bit from one in your cup and try it till you find one you like.
  1488. Most of them are gonna be pretty damn sweet, though.
  1489. >"Are any of these beer?"
  1490. >You let out a fairly loud chuckle.
  1491. Nah, Maud... stuff that has alcohol in it tends to be controlled, not openly accessable like this.
  1492. >You chuckle.
  1493.  
  1494. >"But that one says root beer."
  1495. Well, most root beer isn't actually beer, or alcoholic. It also doesn't taste much like beer either.
  1496. >"Human's have such odd naming conventions..."
  1497. >You roll your eyes and set your drink down on a table, before heading back to the counter to collect your order.
  1498. >She is right about that sometimes, though...
  1499. >You bring the tray of food back to the table, and Maud joins you, cup full of... something.
  1500. So, what did you decide on, Maud?
  1501. >"Root beer. It tasted OK when I sampled it."
  1502. Alrighty, well, here is your burrito. If you want it to be spicy, here's some hot sauce.
  1503. >You proceed to dig into your tacos, covering each one with fire sauce.
  1504. >Mmmm... you don't tend to have much of anything spicy out in the field.
  1505. >Maud picks up her burrito, and takes a big bite.
  1506. >She chews for a few moments, then swallows.
  1507. >"Burritos are good."
  1508. >She digs into her burrito, and you continue eating your tacos.
  1509.  
  1510. >After finishing up your dinner, Maud and yourself return to your hotel, and proceed to pay a visit to the laundry room.
  1511. >All the clothes were in pretty dire need of a proper machine wash.
  1512. >Occasional rinses mixed with shaking stuff down after drying on the front bumper bar, with a touch of febreeze only does so much.
  1513. >You take the large sack of your and Maud's field clothing and dump it all into the largest washing machine they have available.
  1514. >Maud followed you to the room, currently not wearing any clothing.
  1515. >Ponies not wearing clothing is pretty common, but she said she wanted to get one of her 'shirts' back on as soon as they were clean.
  1516. >You dump in copious amounts of detergent, and set it for the strongest cycle.
  1517. >"So, you have machines that do all the washing?"
  1518. Yeah, its been a pretty long time since washing clothing by hand was really a thing. I mean, some of my grandparents did it in their youth, but even they had some mechanical assistance.
  1519. >You silently shudder.
  1520. >Your one grandmother lost some of her fingers in an accident with an old hand cranked mechanical washing mashine...
  1521. >"Interesting. In Equestria, it was either done with magic, or by hoof."
  1522. Well, here, we just wait once we start the machine. This'll probably take about 40 minutes, then maybe an hour in the dryer.
  1523. >You pull out some of your field notes, and a clean topo map, and review some of the work you have already done with Maud while you wait.
  1524.  
  1525. We've done a pretty good job following the changes in the Chinle...
  1526. You can see the Temple Mountain Member get thicker here, and then pinch out over there.
  1527. >"So, what does that mean?"
  1528. Well, where it's thicker, we are probably looking at being closer to the depocenter for that part.
  1529. The part where it thins then pinches means we are looking at the furthest that sediment was carried away from the source, probably down to the Southwest.
  1530. >"I see."
  1531. >You are interrupted from reviewing your notes by the buzzer of the washing machine, signaling its completion.
  1532. Alright... Time to flip the load.
  1533. >You set the map and note books down, and open up a dryer.
  1534. >You check the lint trap.
  1535. >Fucker...
  1536. >The last person who used it didn't empty the lint. Gross.
  1537. >You dump the old lint in the trash, and replace the filter, and leave the door open.
  1538. >Then, you move the pile of wet clothing from the washing machine into the now prepared dryer.
  1539. >After dumping a few quarters in, the dryer starts, and you return to discussing the new details you've worked out so far in your mapping with Maud.
  1540.  
  1541. >The next morning, after a restful nights sleep on a real bed, you find yourself back on the road, driving towards the San Rafael Swell once more.
  1542. >You are suprisingly, about 75% done with the mapping you were sent out here to do.
  1543. >Another few weeks and you should have collected all the data you need to build the updated map of the region.
  1544. >"So, Anon, how much of your time to you spend out in the field like this overall?"
  1545. Honestly, not as much as I'd like. I have to spend most of my time working in an office...
  1546. Paperwork, working with remotely collected data, stuff like that.
  1547. Assignments like this are a nice change of pace I try to take when I can get 'em, even if this one was particularly large.
  1548. >"I see..."
  1549. >You drive for a few more minutes.
  1550. >Maud isn't looking out the windows... She is staring forward at the dashboard, seemingly deep in thought.
  1551. You alright, Maud?
  1552. >"What am I going to do when we aren't doing field work?"
  1553. >You pause to think for a moment.
  1554. Well, that's somewhat up to you. I could try to get you to come into my office to assist me with projects there, if my boss allows it.
  1555. You could always just kinda do your own thing while I am at work.
  1556. >You think for a moment further.
  1557. A few times a month, I will do day trips, or single night trips to do some field work. You can always come assist me on those.
  1558. >You sigh.
  1559. I'm sorry, you might be kinda bored a lot if I can't get you into the office.
  1560. >"How big of a yard do you have?"
  1561. Meh... reasonable size for the area. Why do you ask?
  1562. >"I might be able to try my hoof at rock farming again... It was the family business."
  1563.  
  1564. >Wut?
  1565. Rock farming?
  1566. >"Yes. Move rocks around. Grow gems. Mine useful materials for poni-..."
  1567. I... Dunno if that quite works around these parts. But, if you want to, you can try it. I'll get together any supplies you need.
  1568. >Fucking ponies and their wierd ass magic infused world...
  1569. >"Thank you, Anon."
  1570. >Maud then resumes her usual driving activity of looking out the window at the mountains that surround the vehicle.
  1571. >As you approach the San Rafel Swell, you think to where you still need to work.
  1572. >Cedar Mountain...
  1573. >One of the higher points, located at the far north end of the swell.
  1574. >You need to go take a detailed look at the Morrison Formation up that way at the very least.
  1575. >As you approach the swell, you take an early exit before the interstate rises onto the highland, and drive up the state highway to Castle Dale.
  1576. >This road takes you up a valley lying between the Western flank of the San Rafael Swell and the Wasatch Range.
  1577. >The road passes through several small towns, each surrounded by irrigated crops despite the arid climate.
  1578. >Dem mountains catching rain and snow.
  1579. >"How do you human's grow so many plants in a place like this without magic?"
  1580. Irrigation. The right kinds of crops. Careful management of the precipitation that falls up in the mountains and comes down to these valleys.
  1581. >"Interesting."
  1582. People have lived in this climate for a long time, even without our modern technology. If you are cautious and prepared, it's quite doable.
  1583.  
  1584. >Soon enough, you reach the small town of Castle Dale.
  1585. >Upon entering town, you drive into the first gas station you see before refueling for the last time before driving up into the wilderness of the swell.
  1586. >As you start pumping fuel, you speak to Maud through the open door.
  1587. There anything you can think of us needing before we head out into the wilderness?
  1588. >"The water jugs are full, and we have plenty of food. I think we are good, Anon."
  1589. Alright, sounds good.
  1590. >You continue pumping for a few more moments before the tell tale click of the pump stopping as the tank is filled.
  1591. >After closing the tank, you grab the receipt and jump back into the cab.
  1592. >You toss the receipt in with the others after noting the mileage.
  1593. >Gotta keep track of that for the accountants back at the office, or they will rip your head off.
  1594. Let's hit the road then, Maud. We are gonna start up at the top of the mountain and do some measuring, then see what we can get from the bottom.
  1595. >You pull out back onto the main road, and drive just outside of town before you turn onto a rough country road.
  1596. >The further you move from the highway, the worse the road surface becomes, before it turns completely into a gravel, and the hills of the swell rise before you.
  1597. >Behind the nearest hills, you can see Cedar Mountain itself rising.
  1598.  
  1599. Right, so while we are driving up onto the top of this mountain, let's discuss how we are gonna take care of studying these tall cliffs.
  1600. You are gonna have the simple job, Maud. You get to stay at the top, and I will talk to you on the radio with what I need you to write down.
  1601. I am going to repel down the cliff off the whinch cable, and when I get to the bottom, you will have to turn the whinch on to pull me back up.
  1602. >"Sounds simple enough. How tall are these cliffs?"
  1603. Roughly 1000 feet from the top of the ridge to the valley floor... But, the rope I have attached to the winch is only 500 feet.
  1604. That ought to cover the actual cliffs though, so this should work out fine. We should be able to reach the rest on foot from the bottom.
  1605. >"Alright. You'll have to show me how the winch works, though."
  1606. Oh, that's easy enough. You should have no problems with the controls.
  1607. >Maud nods, and looks as excitedly as she seems to be able at the large mountain as you approach.
  1608. >Despite the high point of the mountain being 1000 feet above the valley below it along a precipitous cliff, it's suprisingly easy to get up on top of.
  1609. >Cedar Mountain sits along the northwestern most edge of the surface expression of the San Rafael Swell, and the large cliff gently slopes up from the valley Castle Dale sits in.
  1610. >You eventually arrive on top of the large plateau around lunch time.
  1611. >Up here there is actually some developed camping, near a large overlook.
  1612. >A few campsites are maintained, and there's even some fucking toilets.
  1613. >Vault toilets, but still.
  1614. >This time of year, the camp looks to mostly be empty.
  1615. >Too hot for most folks, though the elevation here will make it much more pleasant than places you've been staying.
  1616.  
  1617. >You park next to a picnic table, and drag out some stuff to make a nice hardy lunch.
  1618. >Beans and rice. And some hot dogs, because you need to eat that shit quickly before your ice melts.
  1619. >Maud drags out the chuck box, while you grab and set up the stove.
  1620. >She is the best damn assistant you've ever had.
  1621. >Seems to like the work more than most grad students.
  1622. >More competent too.
  1623. >Though you still feel... awkward about having her forced into working with you.
  1624. >She said she didn't mind, that this is the best thing she could have imagined awaiting her in this world.
  1625. >Sadly, this kind of work doesn't keep up.
  1626. >Hopefully, your boss might be able to find stuff for her to do around the office, and maybe net you a pay raise.
  1627. >You worry that such work might not be so fulfilling for her.
  1628. >Field work like this is rare...
  1629. >Most geologists find themselves chained to desks in places like Houston, sitting in front of big work stations sorting through data.
  1630. >As you are cooking, Maud interrupts you.
  1631. >"Are you alright, Anon? You look... Deep in thought. And kinda worried."
  1632. >You sigh.
  1633. I'd say both of your observations are correct, Maud.
  1634. >"Is everything alright?"
  1635.  
  1636. I worry about you. You are driven when it comes to field work, and I worry about how you are going to handle not working like this, Maud.
  1637. I feel bad enough that by law you are my property, and that you might have to be lonely and bored out of your mind all the time when I'm not doing field work.
  1638. >"Anon, I have come to terms with my place in this world. After as many years as I spent as a slave to other humans, your treatment of me makes me wish for little more."
  1639. >"You treat me as a friend, and in many ways an equal. I'm still learning the intricate details of how you think about geology, but thats fine."
  1640. >"We eat the same food, drink the same drinks, and you allow me clothing. The smock you purchased for me on the day you picked me up was the first article of clothing I've had since arriving on Earth."
  1641. >Maud pauses for a moment.
  1642. >You feel a little better after listening to Maud.
  1643. Well... What more do you wish for?
  1644. >"It may not be practical out here, but I'd like to get makeup... Eye shadow. I always used it at home..."
  1645. That should be easy enough once we return to civilization.
  1646. >"I'd... Also like to see if I can find out what has become of my family."
  1647. I'll see how I can help there as well... You might be able to use the internet to try and find them.
  1648. >"I've heard of this 'Internet', but have never used it. Some of my previous owners spoke of it a lot."
  1649.  
  1650. Well, being out here in the wilderness, I don't get much use of it. But I'll give you free reign of it when we get back to Denver.
  1651. Hell, I'll even get you set up with your very own computer in your room. I have the stuff lying around to get you a workable desktop for internet browsing.
  1652. >"I would appreciated that. I miss my parents and my sisters..."
  1653. >Maud's face, which you have gotten much better at trying to decipher the suble clues from, takes on a sad demeanor.
  1654. Well, we probably got another week out here before we have all the info we need.
  1655. And I think we can take a little detour before we head back to Denver. There's a few other national parks I think you might enjoy.
  1656. >A loop around Bryce canyon, Zion, and the north rim of the Grand canyon would be a nice little vacation before you head back home.
  1657. >"That would be nice, Anon. Still, Pinkie, Marble and Limestone... I miss them."
  1658. Your sisters?
  1659. >"Yes. Hopefully this Internet will let me find them."
  1660. Ideally, Maud, you will be able to figure out where they are, what they are doing, and keep in communication with them.
  1661. >Assuming their owners allow them access to the internet...
  1662. >Some people allow their ponies such luxuries, others, do not.
  1663. >You feel more calm now, and your talking about the powers of the internet seems to have relaxed Maud's fears.
  1664.  
  1665. >With a radio clipped to the front of your harness, and your harness hooked onto your descender, which is hooked onto a long rope, you begin descending the face of Cedar Mountain.
  1666. Alright Maud, GPS mark 2354, we are looking at Upper Cedar Mountain formation, over.
  1667. >"Anon, I am right here, you don't need to use the radio. But, mark 2354, Upper Cedar Mountain."
  1668. Good.
  1669. >The terrain is still mostly flat, but impassable to the truck, so you are staring here.
  1670. >You should be dropping down the cliff soon enough, as you walk away from the truck.
  1671. Alright, Mark 2355, contact between the upper and lower Cedar Mountain, over.
  1672. >Maud's voice crackles over the radio.
  1673. >"Mark 2355, Upper and lower Cedar Mountain contact."
  1674. Alright, sounds good, continuing downward.
  1675. >You continue downt he cliff, marking the contacts, noting elevation, GPS location, and thickness of units to better be able to map the units along this cliff.
  1676. >Eventually, you reach the end of the line, just above a pretty good sized cliff of the Curtis Formation.
  1677. >Pretty good... You should be able to get a nice complete map once you get to the bottom and take a closer look at the units below you now.
  1678. >You hit the button on the radio and with a click you speak
  1679. Alright, Maud. Im at the end of the line. On my mark, begin pulling up the rope. Over.
  1680. >"Understood. Ready when you are, Anon."
  1681. >You take a deep breath.
  1682. Mark.
  1683.  
  1684. >The rope begins pulling you uphill.
  1685. >Right now, you can get a little ahead of it along this steep slope.
  1686. >Once you get to a cliff, you will have to walk up the wall of it.
  1687. >Should be easy enough.
  1688. >The process ends up taking roughly 15 minutes, but is fairly effective.
  1689. >Not too much effort.
  1690. >You are ready to move across the face of the mountain, and go down again, seeing if anything changes much as you traverse from one end to the other.
  1691. Good work, Maud. That worked out well.
  1692. >"It was easy enough."
  1693. I think we got time for another one or two down the road before we set up camp for the night.
  1694. >Maud nods and moves to the passenger side of the truck as you stow your extra equipment in the back seat of the truck.
  1695. >You drive a little ways up the road, reaching a dirt landing strip.
  1696. >There are quite a few of these scattered around the swell for some reason.
  1697. >However, the end of this one goes right off the cliff, making it a perfect spot to park the truck, and make another trip down the side of the cliff.
  1698.  
  1699. >After repeating the process twice more, the sun is getting awfully low in the sky.
  1700. Alright, I think we are good for today Maud. Let's go set up camp.
  1701. >"Understood."
  1702. >You start up the truck, and drive back down to where you had lunch.
  1703. >Still no one else around at the camp sites, so you have your pick of the place.
  1704. >You grab one between the bathroom and small overlook.
  1705. >That'll be another nice place to go in the morning with Maud.
  1706. >The sunrise should be spectacular.
  1707. >You drag out the tents, and Maud grabs hers, and manages to set her own up while you set up yours.
  1708. >She's gotten pretty good at setting it up over the past few weeks.
  1709. >Makes your life easier that she can handle her own tent.
  1710. >After the tents, you set up the kitchen, and build a fire.
  1711. >For dinner, you prepare some arbitrary mix of beans and rice, with a little bit of meat mixed in with your share.
  1712. >Easy, and it keeps you going.
  1713.  
  1714. >Sitting around the campfire, you lean your head back, and look at the clear night sky above you.
  1715. >Even with the campfire sitting before you, you can clearly see the milky way streaking across the sky.
  1716. >Nothing like a night sky that isn't tainted with the light pollution civilization brings to the world.
  1717. >"What are you looking at, Anon?"
  1718. A nice clear visible night sky.
  1719. >"Does the night sky not always look like this?"
  1720. Nah, Maud... Big cities have lots of lights that light up the streets at night, making it hard to see all but the brightest stars.
  1721. Most places, you can't even see the Milky Way.
  1722. >You wave your hand across the sky following the general path of the milky way.
  1723. >"The Milky way... Is that what you call the big light splotch that runs across the sky?"
  1724. Yup.
  1725. >"The night sky in Equestria was really different looking."
  1726. How so?
  1727. >"There were lots of stars, but no big light splotch like that. Also, our moon was controlled by a princess rather than kinda doing its own thing."
  1728. >Huh... So, one of their princesses was in charge of the sun, and another their moon?
  1729. >Interesting.
  1730. >"What exactly is the splotch anyway?"
  1731.  
  1732. It's a big concentration of stars of the galaxy in which Earth and the Solar system resides.
  1733. >You point towards Sagittarius, fairly far south over the nearby cliff.
  1734. That bright area of it right there is the galactic center. I'll probably have to get you some astronomy texts when we get home.
  1735. I imagaine a lot of what I just rambled off didn't make any damn sense to you considering how different your world is.
  1736. >"That would be fine. Getting a better idea of how this world really works would be nice."
  1737. >You nod, and continue looking at the summer night sky.
  1738. >Soon, you stand up to grab another beer.
  1739. You want one while I'm up, Maud?
  1740. >"Of course, Anon."
  1741. >You grab two beers out of the cooler, and after handing one to Maud, you crack yours open, and take a nice long swig as you return to your chair.
  1742. Life is good.
  1743.  
  1744. >You awake the next morning before sunrise, to the sound of your alarm, as usual.
  1745. >Rolling out of bed, you stretch, and prepare for the day.
  1746. >You can also hear Maud rustling in her tent.
  1747. >She's gotten prety good at waking up with your alarm before you even get out of your tent.'
  1748. So, Maud. Get up, and I think we have a treat this morning at the overlook nearby.
  1749. >You can hear a few nonsensical mumbles as Maud prepares to get out of her tent.
  1750. >After a few good stretches, you dress yourself for the day, and crawl out of your tent.
  1751. >Moving over to the stove, you light it up, and stick a pot of water on the burner.
  1752. >As the water starts to boil, Maud comes out of her tent, and walks over to stand next to you.
  1753. Ready for some coffee before we take a short hike?
  1754. >"I guess."
  1755. >You take the two coffee mugs, pour some instant coffee crystals in both, and add some of the boiling water to each cup.
  1756. >You also make two bowls of oatmeal with the remaining water.
  1757. >After looking at your watch, you notice you've timed everything perfect.
  1758. Alright, Maud. Let's let the coffee and oatmeal cool down a little bit. Let's go over to the overlook.
  1759. >"Another nice place to watch the sun rise, Anon?"
  1760. Should be. I've never been up here for a sunrise, but we should have a very nice watching the sun rise over the Book Cliffs and the Tavaputs Plateau way off to the east from this elevation.
  1761. >As you walk over to the overlook, you can see the telltale signs of the nearing end of the morning twilight.
  1762.  
  1763. >Within a minute of your arrival, you can see the sun rise far to the east, over the mountains of the Tavaputs Plateau that climb several thousand feet higher than the high point you find yourself on now.
  1764. >Maud stands next to you, looking at the sun rise.
  1765. >Ever since you took her to the delicate arch hike at dawn, you've tried to find good opportunities to watch the the rising of the morning sun with Maud.
  1766. >She seems to greatly appreciate it, bringing some positive feelings of her former life to her current existence.
  1767. >This high point is probably the best place you've been since Delicate Arch.
  1768. >The wide valley below you, cut through with narrow canyons, is unspeakably beautiful with the intense red of the dawn brightening the existing colors of the rocks.
  1769. >Maud nods her head, and then speaks.
  1770. >"This was a good choice for watching the sun rise, Anon. Almost as impressive as the the arch."
  1771. I figured you'd like it.
  1772. >You both spend a few more minutes taking in the natural beauty before you, then you return to camp to enjoy your breakfast.
  1773. >There's a few more cliff traverses to do, then some general checking the contacts up on Cedar Mountain today.
  1774.  
  1775. >The day has arrived.
  1776. >You've collected all the field data necessary to create updated, more detailed geologic maps of the San Rafael Swell.
  1777. >The last points you've mapped are in the rusty red canyons of Keesle Country, at the far south end of the portion of the swell enclosed by the rocks of the San Rafael Reef.
  1778. We're done, Maud. The mapping I was assigned to complete, and you have assisted immensely with, is finished.
  1779. Once we pack up, we are gonna take a short sight seeing trip before we head back home to Denver. Gonna take a trip down the Sevier Thrust Belt, and eventually down to the Grand Canyon.
  1780. Then, we can head up and spend another day in Moab. We can get some growlers from the brewery to take home. I know you like their Hefewiezen.
  1781. >Maud's eyes subtly show some excitement, and a slight smile grows at the corner of her mouth.
  1782. >"Sounds great."
  1783. The Grand Canyon ain't the deepest in the world, but it its probably the most visually impressive.
  1784. >"More than these places I've seen so far?"
  1785. Very much so, Maud. Humans travel from around the entire planet to see it. And pictures of it don't do justice to seeing it in the flesh.
  1786. We can also pay a visit to Bryce Canyon, and Zion as well... They are pretty much on the way. And are all very nice to take a look at. Lots of nice geology.
  1787. ***
  1788. >After a long drive on some rough dirt roads, you eventually reach the interstate once more, and drive west, back across the Wasatch Range.
  1789. >You pass through a familiar city... Richfield.
  1790. >This time, you continue south to the very small town of Sevier, and break off the interstate onto a side highway.
  1791. >Another few hours brings you to the road that breaks away from the highway to Bryce Canyon.
  1792. >You drive up to a small range of hills, covered in trees, a distinct break from the grassy valley you had been driving up.
  1793. Maud, you hungry?
  1794. >"Yeah, kinda. Its a bit past our usual lunch time."
  1795. Indeed. There should be some nice picnic areas ahead in the national forest on the way to the park. If I see a good one, we can stop.
  1796. >You eventually pass from the grassy fields into the hills covered in trees.
  1797. >The hills, past the initial ridge, are remarkably red, and weather to form many interesting hoodoos.
  1798. >A nice small preview for Maud of what is to come at the national park.
  1799. >A little ways in, there is a Dixie National Forest Visitor Center, which includes some nice shady picnic tables at the far end of the parking lot.
  1800. >You park the truck at that far end, and step out.
  1801. I'm thinkin... Rice-a-roni and green beans for lunch Maud. Sound alright for you?
  1802. >"That's fine for me."
  1803. >You move around to the back of the truck, and drag out the folding table, and portable kitchen, and set to work preparing some lunch.
  1804.  
  1805. >After the food is finished, you put it onto some plates, and move to a nearby picnic table.
  1806. >Maud and yourself sit down, and you both dig into your rice-pasta dish, and green beans.
  1807. >"These cliifs are really pretty, Anon.
  1808. Indeed... Wait till we get to the overlooks at the national park proper though... Definitely more impressive than what you see around us here.
  1809. >Maud takes a few more bites of her lunch, then responds.
  1810. >"If its a more impressive version of this, I'm definitely looking forward to it."
  1811. We should be able to enjoy the setting of the sun there...
  1812. >Maud enjoyed watching the setting of the sun, but it didn't seem to hold quite the same reverence in her heart to the rising of the sun in the morning.
  1813. >You both finish up your lunches, and proceed to clean up the portable kitchen before stowing it back into the truck.
  1814. >After cleaning and stowing, you jump back into the truck and continue your drive to Bryce Canyon across the Paunsagunt Plataeu.
  1815. >Another fairly short drive brings you to the park entrance.
  1816. >You pull up to the entry gate, and speak with the attendant.
  1817. Howdy. There any spots open in any of the camp grounds for tent camping... For someone working for the USGS.
  1818. >After saying that, you put on the biggest smile.
  1819. >The attendant looks at your truck, and your traveling partner.
  1820. >They give you a shrug.
  1821. >"Ain't nobody staying at the group site over at the sunset camp. Figure you can stay there overnight."
  1822. >The attendant hands you a parking permit marked for the group camp site.
  1823. Thanks.
  1824. >You drive the short distance down the road the Sunset campground, and the parking area for the group campsite located there.
  1825.  
  1826. Alright, lets get our tents set up, then we can go take in some of the views here in Bryce Canyon.
  1827. >You open the bed of the truck, and pull out the tents and sleeping equipment, and find some nice flat spots within the group campsite for setting up your tents.
  1828. >Once all that is finished, you give Maud a nod.
  1829. Right. The overlook we want isn't too far of a walk. So, lets take a walk on over there, and we can do a nice little hike down into the canyon, and come back up to the rim for watching the sunset.
  1830. >"Alright."
  1831. >You lead the way down the road to the foot path that avoids the rim trail, but still brings you to Sunset Point.
  1832. >You want the view to be as spectacular as possible, and the points are probably the place to cause maximum impression.
  1833. >After roughly ten minutes of walking you arrive at the overlook point.
  1834. >"Wow. It is like that other canyon, but way more impressive."
  1835. Indeed. Lots of nice hoodoos. That one over there, we call Thor's Hammer.
  1836. >Maud steps up to lean on the bannister at the edge of the overlook to get a better look at the scene before her.
  1837. >Nothing like some interestingly shaped erosional remnats to get a geologist excited.
  1838.  
  1839. >After spending a few moments taking in the vista before you, you turn to Maud.
  1840. So, you want to take a nice little hike down among the hoodoos while we wait for the sun to set?
  1841. >Maud looks downward right near the overlook.
  1842. >"Huh. There is a trail. Sure, sounds like a good plan."
  1843. >You lead Maud to the Navajo Loop Trailhead, just below the Sunset Point Overlook.
  1844. Careful, the trail is a bit steep.
  1845. >You descend down into the canyon, walking down many tight switchbacks, twisting around the rock fins and hoodoos and miniature canyons.
  1846. >You eventually reach the floor of the canyon, and you can look up and see it all from a very different angle.
  1847. >Coming down to the bottom is always pleasing, as the whole place does take on a very different view.
  1848. >"So, what's up with all these rocks?"
  1849. They were a bunch of rocks deposited in a lake. And the freeze-thaw cycle gives us the cool looking erosional patterns as the ice pushes the rocks apart in their vertical joints.
  1850. >"I see."
  1851. >You look at your watch.
  1852. We ought to head back up soon if we want to get a good spot for watching the sunset, Maud.
  1853. >Maud looks up at the sky.
  1854. >"Let's head back up then."
  1855.  
  1856. >You reach the top of the canyon, and grab a nice position along the rim of the canyon.
  1857. >Within a few minutes the sun gets low enough in the sky to cover the entire canyon in a pleasing red glow, making the already red rocks even more beautiful.
  1858. >Eventually, the sun falls below the horizon, covering the land in a dark red that slowly turns into a dark purple, sillhoueting the pine trees that line the edge of the canyon.\
  1859. Alright, time to head back to camp and get some dinner put together.
  1860. >The sun is down, but there is still enough light to navigate your way back to camp.
  1861. >Once you get back, you direct Maud to start the camp fire while you set up the kitchen and begin working on cooking some pasta.
  1862. >Can't go wrong with pasta and tomato sauce.
  1863. >By the time the water is boiling, Maud has managed to get the camp fire going pretty good.
  1864. >After you dump the pasta into the boiling water, you move to the cooler, and grab an ice cold beer.
  1865. >After cracking it open, and taking a nice swig, you move to stir the pasta while it cooks.
  1866. >Maud follows you shortly after, and grabs herself a beer as well.
  1867. >She's gotten pretty good at using her hooves to access beer on her own.
  1868. >"So, what's the plan for tommorow, Anon?"
  1869. Hmmm...
  1870. >You pull out your phone, and take a look at your calendar.
  1871.  
  1872. >Bleh.
  1873. >You might have to skip out on Zion National Park tommorow, and head straight down to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
  1874. Gonna leave here tommorow morning and ride on down to the Grand Canyon's north rim. Gonna find somewhere to spend tommorow night there.
  1875. Then, I think after that, we can head back to Moab, spend the night there and maybe do some more sight seeing there, then take the interstate across the Rockies and end up home.
  1876. >"So, not stopping at... Zion was it?"
  1877. Yeah, I dunno if we can squeeze that one in on this trip. Maybe next time I get some time off, we can come back out this way.
  1878. >"Fair enough."
  1879. >You stir the pasta further, and pull out a noodle to see if its done yet.
  1880. >Perfect al dente.
  1881. >You turn off the stove, and grab your handy colander, and drain the water from the pasta.
  1882. >After returning the pasta to the pot, you dump a jar of sauce onto the still steaming hot pasta.
  1883. >Bam. Dinner.
  1884. >You split the pasta into two separate portions, and move them to a picnic table near to the campfire.
  1885. >Beer, pasta, and a good friend.
  1886. >A nice way to spend an evening in the great outdoors.
  1887.  
  1888. >The next day, around lunch time, you have managed to make it to the small village of Jacob Lake in Arizona on the Kaibab Plateau.
  1889. >You enjoyed watching the sun rise in bryce canyon, and and did a little bit of hiking before hitting the road to the grand canyon.
  1890. >This town is the last gas station till you enter the park, so you figure it's a good place to stop and refuel, and grab a granola bar for lunch or something.
  1891. >Though, there is a restaurant here.
  1892. >Fuck it, hot food someone else cooked.
  1893. >It's been a while since you've had any of that.
  1894. Alright, Maud. We gonna fuel up here, then go over to the little restaurant there. They make damn good cookies, and have all kinds of sammiches for lunch.
  1895. >Maud nods, looking around at the forest surrounding the gas station.
  1896. >Definitely the greenest place she's been since coming with you.
  1897. >You fuel up the truck, and then move it over to the front of the Jacob Lake Inn.
  1898. >Stepping out, you walk to the entrance, and greet the hostess, a late teen.
  1899. Table for two, please.
  1900. >The hostess looks at you, looks at Maud standing beside you, then back to you.
  1901. >She gives you a dirty look.
  1902. >"Follow me, please."
  1903. >You can hear her mumbling under her breath, something about filthy sinners.
  1904.  
  1905. >You are lead to a table for two, and each handed menus.
  1906. >Looking over the menu, you see what you want right away.
  1907. >Maud's options are a little less varied than yours, however.
  1908. Looks like unless you want to start eating meat, Maud, you are kinda limited to the garden burger, the grilled portabella, the cheese sandwich, or the vegetarian sandwich.
  1909. >Maud looks carefully at the menu
  1910. >"I think the garden burger sounds pretty good, I guess."
  1911. >You nod, and shortly, a waiter comes by to take your order.
  1912. I'll take a diet coke and the house special, no tomato.
  1913. >The waiter then turns to Maud.
  1914. >"I'll have root beer and garden burger."
  1915. >The waiter nods.
  1916. >"Kay, I'll put that in, and it should be out shortly."
  1917.  
  1918. >"So, what was that lady at the front ranting about 'sinners'?"
  1919. Uhh... If I were to guess, she uhhh... probably got the wrong idea of our relationship.
  1920. >Maud cocks her head as she looks at you.
  1921. Some humans have strong religious convictions, and look at uhh... laying with a 'beast' to be high on their list of 'shit you don't do'.
  1922. >"Humans are wierd."
  1923. >You shrug.
  1924. I suppose.
  1925. >While waiting for the food to arrive, you give Maud a detailed rundown of what look for at the grand canyon.
  1926. A lot of the thickness is a bunch of relatively flat lying sedimentary rocks starting with the Kaibab Limestone, which you should recognize as one of the lowest units from the swell.
  1927. That's Permian in age, so roughly 270 million years old. The lowest of the roughly flat rocks is the Tapeats Sandstone, which is Cambrian, so like 600 plus million years old.
  1928. Below that is a big unconformity that has a bunch of tilted Precambrian Rocks. They sit on top of the oldest rocks, the Vishnu Schist and the Zoroaster Granite.
  1929. They are roughly 1.7 to 2 billion years old.
  1930. >"And you said before you think the Earth to be roughly 4.6 billion years old?"
  1931. That is correct. What you see here in the Grand Canyon, with what you saw further north in the San Rafael area, is probably one of the most complete stratigraphic columns anywhere.
  1932. All exposed on the surface, too. It's one reason its such a great place to come and study.
  1933. >As you finish up your explanation, your lunch arrives.
  1934. >You both dig in, enjoying good food someone else cooked for you.
  1935.  
  1936. >After lunch, you proceed southward, to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
  1937. >The road passes through alpine pine forests and meadows.
  1938. >Some portions of the forest are dead, ravaged by forest fires.
  1939. >Roughly 45 minutes south of Jacob Lake, you reach the entrance to the park.
  1940. >As usual, you manage to sweet talk your way through the gate for free, and also get a camp site as well.
  1941. >To start with, you drive down to the camp ground and lay claim to your site with your tents.
  1942. >You then elect to pay a visit to Bright Angel point.
  1943. So, this is the most easily visited ovelrook here on the north rim, Maud.
  1944. >You walk past the visitor center, and Maud seems rather excited.
  1945. >She has caught small glimpses of some of the side canyons as you have driven towards the point, but when you begin on the trail proper, she is gonna be more impressed with the canyon proper.
  1946. >You reach the break in the thick trees, and you can catch glimpses of see the main canyon before you as you make the walk along the narrow fin of rock that juts out from the Kaibab Plateau into the sky.
  1947. >Maud pauses for a moment, looking at the narrow piece of land sticking out into the canyon with awe covering her face.
  1948. >"I can see why they call it grand."
  1949. Indeed, let us continue. Out at the end of this trail, you can get a much better view than back here.
  1950. >Maud snaps out of her awe driven stupor, and follows you.
  1951. >Ahead, you can see another technicolor pony walking beside another visitor to the park.
  1952. >This one, however, is wearing a harness, and is on a leash.
  1953. >Poor bastard...
  1954.  
  1955. >Maud follows you, looking from side to side, taking in the grandeur that surrounds her.
  1956. >As you approach the end of the path, she takes notice of the other pony.
  1957. >A stallion, with a coat that looks like he ripped the paint off a forest service truck, and a dirty blone mane, and a horn sticking out of his forehead.
  1958. >He apperantly takes note of Maud spotting him, and he hangs his head in shame.
  1959. >You notice some subtle reaction from Maud... Some shame of her own perhaps?
  1960. >The other pony is lead back towards the lodge and visitor center as you and Maud approach the overlook.
  1961. >Her eyes follow the other pony for a few moments, before she turns back, her face returning to show joy at the natural wonder before her.
  1962. >You point across the canyon.
  1963. That's the south rim visitor center over there... Only about 10 miles as the crow flies, but we'd have to drive significantly further to get around the top of the canyon to get down there.
  1964. It's also about 1000 feet lower in elevation. There's a big fault lifting this side of the canyon higher.
  1965. >Maud nods as she simply looks around at the view, and comparing it to the handy sign describing all the rock layers you can see from here.
  1966. >"It's spectacular... I've never seen anything like it, Anon."
  1967. That's why I brought you here. Ya done good in helping me work, and I figured you'd appreciate all this.
  1968. Once we get back to Denver, and I do my regular work, we can do weekend trips into the Rockies, but nothing super close is as impressive as what you see here.
  1969. >After roughly a half hour of Maud staring at the surroundings in awe, you tap her.
  1970. Let's head back to the lodge. There's a few other really nice overlooks and short hikes we can do this afternoon while we are up here.
  1971.  
  1972. >You wake up particularly early the next morning.
  1973. >Maud insisted we go watch the sun rise out from Bright Angel Point.
  1974. >After cooking breakfast, and packing down camp, you drive down to the lodge, and get a nice close parking spot, and return to Bright Angel Point in the dim pre-dawn twilight.
  1975. >You look to the east, waiting for the sun to illuminate the incredibly large hole in the ground before you.
  1976. >Maud excitedly (atleast, for her) stands up, leaning on the railing, looking out across the shadowy void of the canyon.
  1977. >The telltale signs of the coming dawn become more and more apparent, and soon enough, the sun peaks over the treelined rim of the canyon, sending bright illumination across the land.
  1978. >Maud gasps much like she did when you took her to Delicate Arch.
  1979. >You look around, taking in the scenery, while Maud simply stares in the general direction of the sun, her eyes darting around slightly.
  1980. >When you get home, you will have to take her to watch the sun rise from the top of Pike's Peak some time.
  1981. >Watching the sun rise over the great plains from over 14000 feet is always impressive.
  1982. >After another few minutes, Maud nods and speaks.
  1983. >"Alright, I'm ready to head out."
  1984. Excellent. We ought to get to Moab by lunch time. Maybe we can hike up to the La Sals, and if the air is clear enough, maybe get a good birds eye view of the San Rafael Reef.
  1985.  
  1986. >After hitting the road, and driving back through Jacob Lake, and driving down off the Kaibab Plateau, you reach Marble Canyon, and the Navajo Bridges..
  1987. >The upstream start of the Grand Canyon, and last road crossing of the Colorado until you reach the Hoover Dam way downstream.
  1988. >It's also a nice place to stretch and use the restroom before continuing to drive across the very empty desert of northeastern Arizona.
  1989. Alright, Maud. Restrooms here, no other good ones for a few hours probably.
  1990. Also, we can take a look at the old bridge here and walk across the start of the Grand Canyon.
  1991. >Maud nods, and walks to the designated pony bathrooms at the visitors center, and you pay a visit to the men's room.
  1992. >After you come out, feeling quite relieved, you take a look at some of the educational signs posted about the area.
  1993. >Something something Navajo Nation, something something Chocolate Cliffs.
  1994. >Shortly, Maud returns.
  1995. Ready to take a walk out on the bridge?
  1996. >"Sure."
  1997. >You walk to the old road bridge that just wasn't making the cut for modern traffic, and is now a hell of a viewing platform.
  1998. >A funny anecdote from your college days returns to you.
  1999. >One of your professors told a story about if you take a piss off the bridge, it basically will become a fine mist by the time it reaches the botom of the canyon.
  2000. >Almost 500 feet of windy canyon will do that.
  2001. >Sucks to be rafting down the river if someone's doing that...
  2002. >After a few minutes of enjoying the view, and stretching out a bit, you return to the truck, and hit the road again.
  2003.  
  2004. >Another few hours, and you reach a place almost anyone would recognize.
  2005. >Monument Valley.
  2006. >Maud takes interest in the large, impressive buttes that surround the road.
  2007. >"Are those big cliffs Entrada Sandstone?"
  2008. You got it, Maud.
  2009. >She spends some time taking in the views.
  2010. This is a place called Monument Valley... It's been used as a shooting location for a lot of films.
  2011. It is definitely a good slice of the terrain of the southwest.
  2012. >It also brings you back into Utah.
  2013. >The drive continues for several more hours, before you eventually approach Moab from the south.
  2014. >Since it's the last night, you decide to say fuck it.
  2015. >No more tent camping.
  2016. >Lets finish off this trip with a nice, cheap motel.
  2017. >You drive up to a motel that's within stumbling distance of the brewery.
  2018. >Because tonight is gonna be a heavy beer drinkin' kind of night.
  2019.  
  2020. >After securing lodging for the night, you look to Maud.
  2021. You want to go pay a visit to the mountains up above town here?
  2022. I know you said you wanted to take a look at some igneous rocks, and we didn't get to see much while we were mapping.
  2023. >"Yeah, last time we were here you said I could get a good look at some up there."
  2024. Indeed. Its maybe a 45 minute drive up to the top of the middle set of peaks, so lets drop a few things off in our room, then head on up there.
  2025. >Maud nods, and you grab your bag of city clothes and she grabs a bag of toiletries.
  2026. >After checking out your nice little room, and dropping off the stuff you grabbed, you return to the truck, and begin the trip up to Geyser Pass and Gold Basin.
  2027. >Driving south out of town, you turn off onto the road marking the way to the La Sal Loop road.
  2028. >Slowly, you climb higher and higher in elevation along a fairly narrow paved road.
  2029. >You rise out of the dry desert, into terrain covered in scrubby trees, before you turn off the La Sal Loop road onto a heavily worn gravel road.
  2030. >A few switchbacks, and you eventually come to the elevation where aspens grow, and the road is surrounded by thickets of them.
  2031. >Climbing even higher, the aspens give way to pines as the main tree on the mountainside.
  2032. >You come to another fork in the road, and you turn onto the Gold Basin road, away from Geyser Pass.
  2033. >A few more switchbacks, and you come to a field very familiar to you...
  2034. >You've camped up here quite a bit, right at 10000 feet of elevation.
  2035. >You look to Maud.
  2036. >She looks a little... off.
  2037.  
  2038. You feeling alright, Maud? The elevation getting to you?
  2039. >"Could be. My stomach hurts a little bit, and I feel a little light headed."
  2040. Yup. Sounds like some minor elevation sickness. Entirely understandable...
  2041. We just climbed about 6000 feet of elevation pretty damn quickly.
  2042. I know I used to get elevation sickness pretty bad before I got more acclimatized to it.
  2043. You still good to do maybe a little bit of hiking? There's some nice glacial features up here.
  2044. >Maud nods.
  2045. >"I think I can handle some, so long as its not too strenuous."
  2046. Alright then.
  2047. >Soon enough, you reach the end of the road, and park the truck.
  2048. This shouldn't be too bad at all... Maybe a vertical rise of a few hundred feet as we climb up into the basin.
  2049. Get a good look at some hanging valleys with cirques, some real nice moraines, and some real nice tarns.
  2050. >Maud nods.
  2051. >You lead the way up the path.
  2052. >Soon enough, you reach the various rock glaciers of the basin, and you get some spectacular views of this high glacial valley.
  2053. You familiar with glacial landforms, right Maud?
  2054. >"Yes. They do make for quite pretty places to visit."
  2055.  
  2056. >After an hour or so of slowly wandering around the basin, looking at all the various things there are to see, you decide it's time to head back.
  2057. >Maud is looking a little beat, and you are getting a bit tired yourself.
  2058. >Stupid elevation.
  2059. >After returning to the truck, you begin the slow process of rolling down the mountain.
  2060. >Luckily, the automatic transmission of your truck has selectable gears for occasions such as this.
  2061. >You slip the truck into second gear, and let gravity do the work for you.
  2062. >Another 45 minutes later, you find yourself back in Moab.
  2063. >Showering time.
  2064. You can go first Maud... Make good use of this to feel better. We got a night at the brewery ahead of us.
  2065. >Neither of you bothered to shower at the national parks...
  2066. >Stupid coin operated showers...
  2067. >You turn the TV to the local news.
  2068. >Always fun to watch the people work in rural TV studios.
  2069. >Soon enough, Maud finishes her shower, and you go take your turn.
  2070. >Again, the glorious clean feels wonderful, but the stank of campfire just doesn't seem to want to wash out.
  2071. >Oh well, tommorow, you'll be back home, and able to sleep in your own bed.
  2072. >And your guest room should be ready for Maud to take over too.
  2073.  
  2074. >After you finish your shower, you dress up in some clean clothes for while you are in the city.
  2075. Right. Ready for the brewery, Maud?
  2076. >"Yes. I look forward to drinking more of their delicious concoctions."
  2077. >You nod, and leave the room, and begin the short trek to the brewery.
  2078. >The same pony you saw last time you were here is still working the hostess station.
  2079. >She smiles.
  2080. >"Going for the bar again, sir?"
  2081. Indeed.
  2082. >"Go right ahead then."
  2083. >You walk with Maud in tow to the bar, and grab some seats right infront of the taps.
  2084. >You both order drinks, and food, and begin discussing various things with other folks sitting at the bar.
  2085. >A great time is had by all, and Maud hits the beer pretty good.
  2086. >"Yeah... I recognized that pony we saw yesterday at the Grand Canyon, Anon. He went to the same university as me."
  2087. >She lets out a well developed, bassy belch.
  2088. Nice one.
  2089. >"Couldn't remember his name, though. Shame he was all tied up with that harness thing. I'm glad you don't make me deal with that, Anon."
  2090. Yeah... It would demean the both of us, Maud.
  2091. >Maud smiles at your response.
  2092. >"I can't wait to really get on the internet... Hopefully I can find my sisters and see what they are all up to these days."
  2093. >Maud leans her head over onto you.
  2094.  
  2095. >"I love you Anon, you are the best human EVER! You are like my best friend. You don't make me do terrible things like suck monkey dick or other stuff like that."
  2096. >Damn. She is fuckin' trashed.
  2097. Bartender, time to tab out.
  2098. >The bartender nods.
  2099. >Maud lets out another impressive belch.
  2100. >"Anon... Anon... If I find out where one of my sisters is, would we be able to go see her?"
  2101. We'll see Maud.
  2102. >"Awesome."
  2103. >The bartender brings you your tab, and you pay, and begin to lead Maud back to the hotel room.
  2104. >She is definitely pretty drunk...
  2105. >She can stand up, but is definitly not walking in a straight line right now.
  2106. >Upon returning to the room, Maud jumps up onto her chosen bed, and lays down, giving groans of pleasure as she rolls around, crawling under the sheets.
  2107. >"I love real beds."
  2108. >Shortly after, you can hear the subtle snores of the pony.
  2109. >Damn... She musta been tired falling asleep that fast.
  2110. >Well, to be fair, you are pretty tired as well.
  2111. >You undress, crawl into your bed, and let the sweet embrace of sleep envelop you as well.
  2112.  
  2113. >The next morning, you wake up at your regular time as your phone alarm blares.
  2114. >From the other bed in the room, you can hear some pretty rough groans coming from Maud.
  2115. >She mighta' hit the bottle a bit too hard last night.
  2116. Feelin alright this morning, Maud?
  2117. >"Meh. I'll get over it."
  2118. >You nod.
  2119. Well, rise and shine. Today, we drive across the Rocky Mountains, and this evening you'll get to see your room in my house.
  2120. >With a groan, Maud rolls out of bed and walks into the bathroom.
  2121. >You get dressed for a nice pleasant day of driving.
  2122. >A few minutes later, Maud comes out of the bathroom, looking slightly refreshed, but still pretty tired.
  2123. Alright, grab everything, time to check out and hit the road.
  2124. >After leaving the room, and putting everything in the truck, you pay another visit to McDonalds for breakfast.
  2125. >Pretty much a reapeat of your last visit.
  2126. >After breakfast, you begin the 6 hour trek across the Rockies.
  2127.  
  2128. >As the mountains get higher and higher around the interstate, you decide to stop at everyone's favorite gas station chain with the funny name.
  2129. >Kum & Go.
  2130. >Good for refueling, good for grabbing some caffiene and a snack.
  2131. >Especially before driving through Glennwood Canyon.
  2132. >Prettiest damn section of highway on the planet, you think.
  2133. >Maud waits in the vehicle while you fill the gas tank up.
  2134. >Once its full, you nod to her.
  2135. Come on in and grab a gatorade or something. It always helps after drinking too much.
  2136. >"I'm fine Anon, but if you insist..."
  2137. >Maud steps out of the car and follows closely behind you as you enter the store.
  2138. >Sitting at the cashier is a pony.
  2139. >A bright blue pony with... rainbow hair?
  2140. >And wings.
  2141. >Fucking wierd ass technicolor ponies...
  2142. >"Rainbow Dash?"
  2143. >Maud speaks up from behind you.
  2144. >The pony working the cashier perks up and looks at Maud.
  2145. >"... Maud? Maud Pie? Is that really you?"
  2146. >Apperantly Maud and... Rainbow Dash, was it? They know each other.
  2147. >"Yes, Rainbow Dash. I didn't expect to see a familiar face well... anywhere."
  2148.  
  2149. >"Hey bossman, can I take my break now? Somepony I know just came into the store."
  2150. >A voice from behind the counter shouts at the blue pegasus.
  2151. >"Yeah, yeah, whatever Rainbow. Just make sure you clock your time right."
  2152. >"Yes! Gimme a minute Maud, and we can talk for a little bit."
  2153. >As the rainbow haired pony moves to clock out, and another staff member takes her position at the checkout, Maud asks you a question.
  2154. >"Anon, is it alright if we spend a little bit of time here. I haven't seen a pony I really knew in... Years."
  2155. Eh, no problem, Maud. We got plenty of time today. I think there are some picnic tables out in front you should be able to speak with your friend.
  2156. >"She was more a close friend of Pinkie's, but we were well aquainted."
  2157. Well, I'm gonna grab a drink and a snack. I'll get a gatorade for you, then I'll come join you outside if you don't mind.
  2158. >"That's fine, Anon."
  2159. >You spend some time looking around the store, as Maud heads outside, quickly followed by Rainbow Dash.
  2160. >Mmmm... Gas station corn dog...
  2161. >You grab two gas station corn dogs, and then get yourself an energy drink for you, and an ice cold gatorade for Maud.
  2162. >You proceed to the front of the store, pay, and upon stepping outside, you spot the two ponies sitting at a picnic table.
  2163.  
  2164. >"Yeah, Maud, I'm doing pretty good here. Worst thing is my owner makes me work at this gas station. Something about the name of the place and me working here makes him giggle like a filly."
  2165. >"That sounds good."
  2166. >"I even get to fly a lot when I'm not working... Atleast, as good as a pegasus can fly here on Earth."
  2167. >"Well, Rainbow, this is Anon. He like's rocks too, just like me. We have spent a while studying rocks. Now we are headed back to his house."
  2168. >"Oooh, how is his place?"
  2169. >"I dunno. He didn't buy me that long ago, and we've been camping west of here for the last two months."
  2170. >Oof... She seems comfortable talking about it, but it still bothers you that she is your property, and that's really the best she can hope for right now.
  2171. >"Say mister. You gonna let Maud have internet permissions."
  2172. Uhh, yeah. She hasn't really gotten to use it because well... I haven't had any access to it really either. But, she'll have her own computer at home, yes.
  2173. >"Awesome! We'll have to stay in touch!"
  2174. >"Speaking of that Rainbow... Do you know what's become of Pinkie?"
  2175. ***
  2176. >"Yup! She is living in some place called 'New Orleans'. She says she gets to help throw lots of parties there."
  2177. >You chuckle.
  2178. >Relief immediately washes over Maud's face.
  2179. >"That's good to know. What's so funny, Anon."
  2180. Well, if your sister likes parties, that's probably one of the best places for her to end up. New Orleans is a pretty crazy place.
  2181. >"How far away is it from your house?"
  2182. Far. Probably a 20ish hour drive.
  2183. >"Oh well..."
  2184. >Maud and Rainbow Dash contiue to discuss various pony things while you snack on your gas station corndogs.
  2185. >"Well, Maud, it's been good to see ya, but I think I need to get back to my job."
  2186. >"I understand. It's good to see you, Rainbow Dash."
  2187. >As the ponies are giving their goodbyes, you dig out your business card.
  2188. Rainbow Dash. This has my email address on it. Maud doesn't have any digital presence yet, but you can email me, and we can make sure you stay connected once she gets settled at home.
  2189. >Dash nods.
  2190. >"Thanks. Its good to run into humans who treat their ponies right, Anon. Hopefully, you can come back out here with Maud sometime..."
  2191. Yeah, I like coming out here to western Colorado. I'll see if we can arrange something next time Maud and I head out this way.
  2192.  
  2193. >Continuing eastward on the interstate, you pass through Glenwood Canyon.
  2194. >Eventually the sedimentary rocks forming the mountains give way to the crystalline basement rocks that form the most towering peaks of the Rockies.
  2195. >The terrain becomes more green, and you reach the pleasant alpine forests.
  2196. >Even now in the middle of summer, the highest peaks you can see from the highway are still covered in snow.
  2197. >You can even spy quite a few barren ski slopes from the highway.
  2198. >Higher and higher, the highway eventually reaches its peak.
  2199. >The Eisenhower Tunnel, the highest point in the US interstate system.
  2200. >Then begins the long downward trip to Denver.
  2201. Yeah, this area we are driving through now Maud is riddled with lots of old gold and silver mines.
  2202. >As you drive down the valley, you point out quite a few old mines, and their distinctive talus piles.
  2203. >Eventually, Denver comes into view from the low foothills.
  2204. >Home.
  2205.  
  2206. EPILOGUE
  2207.  
  2208. Dear diary;
  2209.  
  2210. That's how you are supposed to start this kinda stuff, right? Well, I have decided to write down a record of the happenings and goings on during my stay on Earth.
  2211.  
  2212. Firstly, my room in Anon's home is pretty nice. A comfortable bed, my own computer, and a space Anon lets me have to myself. He's also let me try to start a rock farm in his yard. I dunno how well it'll work, but it's a fun side project.
  2213.  
  2214. Speaking of work, I go to Anon's office a few times a week to review what he is doing on the map we did the field work for. Now, the entire thing is almost done, and he got permission to put my name as second author on the map. Apperantly, that will make me the first pony to be put on a scientific paper in this world. Which he says is a big deal.
  2215.  
  2216. I've also gotten ahold of Pinkie, and through her Marble. Pinkie is throwing lots of parties, and seems to be having a pretty good time. Anon said we could try to go visit her sometime. That would be great. Marble... She has internet access, but I don't like to think about what she has to do in her servitude. I've also been talking to Rainbow Dash. Anon said next time we head out to Utah, Rainbow can come camping with us. He talked to her owner, and came to an agreement to let us spend time together.
  2217.  
  2218. That's all for now.
  2219.  
  2220. -M. Pie
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