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Photo my own.

First time I learned about the Valley was from an old skinny-dipper named Chip soaking in a cliff-side hot pool somewhere in Idaho. He told me about springs named “Wizard” and “Volcano”, about bats that skimmed the water at dusk, about humans that ate mushrooms and orchestrated softball games on the desert floor.

I left in the dark, 700 miles and a raspy-voiced girl called Honey between me and the Valley. I picked her up in western Nevada and lost her somewhere before Bishop. She described our destination like a buzzing child, holding the pieces like a carrot above me.

And it was dark again, twenty-some hours later, as I limped my rig along the mountain pass road, dodging boulders, skirting pits. Ass cheeks clenched and bouncing off the seat at every rut. The wind kicked up coming off the mountain. Cloud cover and maybe-trails and scrub brush. Then I saw it. The Bat Pole. I laughed out loud, a heavy and desperate laugh launched from my throat, startled at the sound. …


Rachael Renk

BA, MATC. Technical and business writer, adjunct instructor, usability nerd, extroverted-introvert, occasional poet, autodidact, Idaho native. @rachaelrenk.

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