First of all: No, “Part II” is not intended to imply that you must have already read “Part I” to understand what the hell is going on here. It’s a road trip, not one of the later seasons of Lost.
Second of all: You should read “Part I,” though, really.
So, here’s where we’re at:
When I left off, Kaylen and I had just completed a quick set of 20 squats in our hostel room (gotta get the blood flowing) before heading out to scour the town of Flagstaff for two reasonably priced ponchos. It was all part of the Plan, the infallible, brilliant, and terribly original Plan, as illustrated below.
- Chill a six-pack of Mexican beer.
- Buy ponchos (preferably handmade and sold on some kind of sacred ground by amicable Native Americans… but we were willing to grudgingly compromise on that point).
- Find sombreros or cowboy hats or some alternative variation of headgear that would strike a satisfactory balance between both Mexican and Western styles.
- Borrow/steal my sister’s yellow mariachi guitar (is that a thing? Well that’s what it looks like).
- Perch ourselves precariously atop the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, armed with all of the aforementioned props, and take pictures of our ridiculous selves.
- Tag ourselves in these pictures, share them on our smartphones (presuming there’s 3G service at the Grand Canyon – our plan was highly contingent on there being service) and eagerly await the surging multitude of likes and comments.
Well, let’s just say it didn’t end up playing out quite as we had hoped. But we’ll get there.
Flagstaff, as we were pleased to discover in the crisp but heavily overcast light of day, is actually a very cute little town, apparently bursting at the seams with Northern Arizona University students. (You’re welcome for that little factoid; meticulous attention to seemingly trivial details such as these will drastically improve your Jeopardy game). And, who knew, we had practically tripped over Historic Route 66 – which has something to do with the dust bowl or covered wagons or the Joads… right? Anyway.
We parked the Altima in some gravel by some train tracks and wandered into a gem of a thrift store where I found a perfectly hideous bulky denim jacket for $10. I also debated, but ultimately decided against, stocking up on “gently used” Danielle Steele novels at ten cents a pop, then commiserated with some friendly Flagstaff townies about the persistent rain. After all, that’s what traveling is all about, isn’t it? Socializing with the locals? Putting yourself in their shoes?
We did end up finding sufficiently sack-like ponchos at a sporting goods store called Peace Surplus (no Native Americans, unfortunately), then stopped at a health food store with an enormous cow painted on it so Kaylen could pick up some more dried seaweed and other assorted strange snacks. I waited in the car while she shopped – the rain was really starting to come down – and ate regular old peanut butter filled pretzels as I tried not to think about the forthcoming possibility of slipping on wet rocks and plunging into the Colorado River. But fear not… [insert relevant inspirational quote here].
She finally hopped back into the car with her box (yes, box, not bag… it was probably biodegradable or composted or something else equally annoying) full of allegedly edible odds and ends, and we hightailed it eastward on the I-40, Grand Canyon bound. (About time, you’re probably thinking. But I gotta keep you in suspense. It’s my duty, as a budding blogger, to keep my readers wanting more. Ya know? ;-)).
Perhaps this is the appropriate time to note that throughout the duration of our trip, maybe due to the extended periods of driving, I developed what I am taking it upon myself to diagnose as a temporary travel-induced pathology. I found myself compelled to address Kaylen, in the silences between conversations, with sudden sentences that began, “Did you know…” and ended with complete and utter bullshit. It wasn’t even subtle:
- On the way to Flagstaff: “Did you know they use a different currency in Arizona?”
- On the way to the Grand Canyon: “Did you know that seeing the Grand Canyon adds five years to your life?“
- At the Grand Canyon: “Did you know that this is where they filmed the Hunger Games?“
- And, not entirely the same but certainly related, the title of my Grand Canyon Facebook photo album: “Mount Rushmore.”
Luckily, Kaylen laughs at all my jokes. Even when they’re tasteless and vulgar. (See the title of this post).
Words cannot begin to describe my excitement as I slowed our trusty Nissan to a stop next to the ticketing booth at the National Park’s entrance. Well, that’s not entirely true, I was excited, but also considerably peeved that we were forced to pay $25 to see something that simply existed. How can anyone just call dibs? Now that I think about it, it probably has something to do with the fact that the Grand Canyon is carved into the earth rather than protruding above it, like a mountain. Fact: If the Grand Canyon were a mountain, anyone could see it for free. Its concealable depth is therefore exploited and we must all suffer the consequences. It is an American outrage!! …I’m getting off topic. Typical.
At least the park ranger was cute. He really pulled off that Indiana Jones look, with the outdoorsy fedora, aviator sunglasses and mysterious smile.
Okay, maybe all the two have in common is the hat. Well, that and they both enjoy exploring dark corners of the earth.
Well that’s all for now. Guess there’s gonna have to be a Part III. Here are two more pictures, to prove that we did, in fact, make it there. And, spoiler alert, we had a ROCKIN’ time.