Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trips & Travels, Vol 3

Damn, I didn't mean to have a gap this big in between trip reports, but believe it or not I have been BUSY at work. However, I am determined to get this done, so here we go again.

All right. Last you heard, we were in California witnessing the loving union of our dear brother & sister-in-law. Then we went to sleep, woke up, packed, and once again hit the road. We were heading the Arizona & the Grand Canyon, but first I wanted to go to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. It is where the swallows return to roost every year, and supposedly "the jewel of the California missions." It was indeed beautiful, and we did what tourists do at such destinations, walked around, gawked, pretended to read the captions at a variety of historical markers, etc. After wards we ate some RFA (really fucking awesome) Mexican food near the mission. The town was very charming and so was the saucy pork I ate with corn tortillas. We swung by Trader Joe's to buy some car-food (I can't even talk about TJ's. I realize that I am 5 years behind on this, but good Lord! I couldn't even believe HOW CHEAP everything was. Food that would be considered swank and therefore expensive in Memphis, TN was amazingly thrifty. Not to mention our dear, dear friend Charles Shaw), then set off into the desert.

The desert was hot and dry. I know I'm blowing your mind here. I am not much of a desert person; some people love it, but there were really only parts of it I found appealing. It seems like every 70 miles or so you pop into a "town" that has a gas station and maybe a few small buildings, and you think "What in the fuck are these people doing out here?" and all of a sudden, even though I haven't even seen it, everything became very The Hills Have Eyes-ish, and I couldn't help but imagine the inhabitants of these outposts, their leathery skin, their desire for rape and flesh-eating. That's very unfair, I realize, and I hope some desert-dweller doesn't happen upon this blog. Sorry guys.

The next day we were visiting the Grand Canyon so we drove through the night until we were in the national forest about 30 minutes outside the GC. We had been schooled by G that camping in national forests is a free-for-all, and we were so tired and chilly that we just slept in the car. My mind raced for about five minutes with thoughts of bloodthirsty hillbillies before I dropped off into an uncomfortable night's sleep. I woke up off and on all night with a kind of anxious tightness in my chest, which I couldn't figure out since I wasn't THAT worried about being hacked to death in my sleep. The next day I figured out that the altitude was to blame, when walking 30 feet had me panting slightly.

OK, so the Grand Canyon. The first sight that greeted me was not the massive, stunning canyon itself, but actually a Japanese man pursuing a squirrel with a potato chip, making kissy noises. Despite the fact that there were only, oh, I don't know, 30 signs in the immediate vicinity asking that no one feed any animals. Past Mr. Japanese Potato Chip Man laid the Grand Canyon... Wow. "Wow" with a period behind it kind of summed up my feelings about it. Yes, it is huge and it's crazy how huge it is, and the colors of the cliffs are really gorgeous, but I wasn't as bowled over as I thought I would be. Maybe it was the haze that hung in the air that prevented us from getting a crisp view, maybe it's the fact that we are inundated with images of the GC all of our lives, but I guess I felt kind of underwhelmed? I know the preceding sentences make me sound like a spoiled bored baby, but don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to take a shit on our beautiful national jewel. For me, I just didn't feel overwhelmed, which is how I expected to feel. Brandon thought that perhaps my feelings would be different if we had the time and stamina to go down to the bottom of the canyon, and I can imagine how that would be so, so different and just BIGGER. We chose a trail to hike, the Bright Angel trail, which only went 1.5 miles down into the canyon. I say only, but when you're coming up that 1.5 miles and you're as physically inept as me, that 1.5 miles is humiliating as fuck. Especially when there are a lot of skinny French people everywhere. I'm not obese, but good Lord, I'm not French either. The most insulting part of the whole thing is that I'm pretty sure they were drinking cream instead of water to stay hydrated, and still they're just so lithe and JUDGEMENTAL.

You don't think I'm being paranoid about the French, do you?

I picked up a fantastic new bathroom book in the gift shop, Over The Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon. If you click that little link, you will see the really fantastic cover, which features both a rainbow AND a skeleton. This book answers the question "How many people have fallen off this shit?" and many, many more. Personally, I think the creepiest stories are ones of people dying from exposure, going off into the canyon terribly unprepared for the heat & dehydration. Although some of the stories of people falling off the rim made me pretty creeped out as well, given Brandon's propensity to leap around on rocks that are high in the air all in the name of photography. As his domestic partner, I certainly don't want to "break" him of anything, but man, oh man, sometimes these vacations that involve high altitudes make me wish I had some of his sperm frozen.

We said goodbye to the Grand Canyon on Thursday morning and headed north to our final destination: Zion National Park. B had gotten his info from his brother, who lived out west for a good while and went to a good number of parks out there; G & almost everyone we talked to agreed that Zion was The Place To Go... and they were totally right.

Ok, I am going to wrap it up in the next entry. Then I will be done talking about our vacation, and I'm sure everyone who did not go on a vacation this summer will be very pleased.


theogeo said...

You are so funny.

Clap, clap! More, more!

Bette said...

I remember that skeleton book in the giftshop! I'm fascinated by people falling off of international attractions. Your cream and frozen sperm comments made me laugh out loud.


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