CLON-X and Roe v. Wade

As with Brainwash, CLON-X began as a spark lit by a canine nose for trouble. My trusty partner in crime at the time – Shotz, also a giant schnauzer – not only gave me the spark for Brainwash, but not long after, the opening chapter for CLON-X, which I squirreled away for a future Darcy McClain and Bullet thriller.

For Brainwash, we were cleaning up trash in the arroyo of our vacation home in Taos, New Mexico, when Shotz unearthed a floppy disk. Unable to contain my curiosity, I had the contents of the disk loaded onto a USB. Imagine my surprise when the data turned out to be classified documents from Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL). 

In the case of CLON-X, Shotz sniffed out a trash bag stuffed in a drainage channel near our home in Texas. In reality, the remains in the bag were a poached deer. In fiction, those remains became the pulverized body of renowned geneticist Cate Lord. 

Once the spark has flared, there’s little that can deter me from a book deadline. Or so I thought. But the best laid plans can still go awry. With a projected release date of late 2019 for CLON-X, I had no idea that Covid lurked in the dark shadows. As I stated in my blog post of 9/22/22, when you can’t control the outcome, you simply persevere.

In reality, the pandemic and the hardships many people faced in dealing with the virus far outweighed the importance of fretting over a book. Nor could I have anticipated that, beyond the pandemic delays would come another unforeseen event – and one that would launch the plotline in an entirely different direction. 

On June 24, 2022, in a 6-3 ruling, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years. This decision transformed American life, reshaped the nation’s politics, and led to total bans on the procedure in at least eleven states.

For CLON-X, the Supreme Court ruling was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it threw my storyline into a tailspin, the domino effect cascading throughout the entire subplot based on the topic of abortion. On the other hand, the timing of the Supreme Court decision gave me the opportunity to bring the subject matter current, although it furthered delayed the book’s release.

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Texas: Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo and Canyon, Texas, and is the second-largest “grand” canyon in the United States. It is roughly 120 miles long and has an average width of 6 miles, but at some points, it’s 20 miles wide. 

The canyon system, which is part of the Caprock Escarpment, was formed by millions of years of water erosion by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and the West Texas wind. The cliff walls descend some 800 to 1000 feet to the canyon floor, but with sixteen miles of paved road the park is easily accessible by car or motorhome. 

After a hearty breakfast, we packed Bullet into our SUV and drove the three and a half miles to the only entrance to the park. With the high season winding down, the park was relatively quiet – only a few RV campers and three lone tent dwellers as far as I could tell. But I was on a photoshoot quest and not seriously counting park occupants. 

Whenever we exited the SUV, it was time for divided attention. Framing the perfect shot – absolutely! And I think I captured some good ones. But I also had my attention focused on the ground, as in where I stepped. My biggest concern: rattlesnakes. Thankfully, I didn’t encounter any. 

Some 150 years ago, buffalo herds roamed this area, and the canyon was a retreat for the Quahada Comanche, one of the most powerful and ruthless Native American tribes. Chief Quanah Parker, the last of the Quahada Comanche warriors, fought the battle of Palo Duro Canyon not more than 20-miles east of the Doves Rest Cabins in September 1874. The fight brought an official end to the US/Indian wars and the peace that allowed settlers to occupy this last remaining freedom-outpost of “uncivilized” land in North America. We will learn more about Quanah Parker in a future blog post devoted entirely to the Comanche chief. 

Unfortunately, during my visit to Palo Duro Canyon I did not have the opportunity to even glimpse the elusive Aoudad Sheep that roam the canyons. Learn more: https://www.texaspanhandlebirdnerd.com/post/aoudad-sheep-in-palo-duro-canyon

Read more and view more photos of Palo Duro Canyon at: https://jefflynchdev.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/spanish-skirts-of-palo-duro-canyon/

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Texas: Doves Rest Cabins

Canyon view from one of the cabins at Doves Rest.

A few months back, a fellow giant schnauzer owner had suggested that Palo Duro Canyon was the ideal overnight spot to break up the twelve-hour drive from our home in Texas to our destination in northern New Mexico. 

After he showed me a couple of shots he had taken of Palo Duro Canyon, I was sold. Photo opp, I thought. I also took our friend’s advice and booked a cabin at Doves Rest. The cabin we chose allowed pets and was picture-perfect for photographing the canyon’s West Rim.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Cruising along State Highway 217 (Palo Duro Drive), we were so busy chuckling over the name of a general store in the area – the Sad Monkey Mercantile – that we missed the turnoff to Sunday Canyon. When we caught sight of the entrance to Palo Duro Canyon, we knew we’d gone too far and retraced our route. 

A mile down Sunday Canyon Road, we turned onto Lighthouse Trail and soon came to the gated entrance to the cabin. We entered our security code into the keypad, parked in the driveway, and began unpacking a few things for our two-night stay. 

Our first order was to secure Bullet inside the cabin. The resort management is careful to point out, in their FAQs, the dangers of the nearby cliffs.

“Cliff danger:

The beautiful cliffs around our cabins are made up of Caliche (hard baked clay) and it crumbles under foot. The sheer drop-offs run anywhere to 50-feet to over 200-feet. We ask you to take this under consideration when you bring small children.”

Having spent all day in the car, Bullet was content to sack out on his own bed near the picture window in the living room, in full view of the canyon cliffs.

On our first night at the cabin we had only one thing on our agenda—nothing! We carried our drinks to the flagstone patio to watch the sunset and relax. 

“Great choice,” said hubby as he settled into an Adirondack chair to enjoy the pleasant evening. Great choice indeed: private and peaceful, exactly what we needed after a seven-hour day of driving and exploring Caprock Canyons State Park. 

The brilliant, colorful sunset slowly melted below the canyon rim, and a crisp breeze crept across the patio. Then thousands of stars studded the dark Texas sky. Tomorrow, we’d explore Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

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