Friday, November 28, 2014

The Grand Canyon and Vegas.

      Leaving Flagstaff Sunday morning following a pit stop at the local Starbucks we headed north toward the Grand Canyon. Forgoing the south rim, having been there before, I headed straight for the north rim. It was not some of my better work, I miscalculated badly After what seemed like innumerable hours passing dry, dreary terrain we hit HWY 89 southbound, opening up to some forested area, Darien didnt think the Canyon existed at all; "Are we just going to stumble into some giant hole in the ground?" No that's the meteor crater, further south I mused. But I  was beginning to think she had  a point. It had been nearly 4 hours and no sight of noteworthy scenery had been glimpsed. When finally we did reach the north rim it was literally like Darien described, glancing left I saw high walls punctuating a deep gully, opening up to extensive cavernous valleys. When we finally rolled into the lot. I paid the 30 dollar week pass at the automated machine. I was torn about whither to pay or not, no ranger was in sight and it was the same rate as a daily fare. I paid anyway, because I'm an honest, good citizen and I care about the maintenance, preservation and conservation of our National Parks. Yeah, that's what I convinced myself anyway. Heading off on foot, we hit the trail which expanded out to a long walkway with eye-opening canyon views on either side. It was definitely a trip of the senses, you couldn't help but goggle at the amazing terrain displayed all around you. It invoked peace of mind, as the high altitudes made one feel a reverent calm. At least that's how it hit me. Maybe the Grand Canyon hit you in different ways.
I couldn't get enough of it. Some tourists snapped some shots of us with the background canyon. I was unaware how out of shape I was until the return back. The route had a steep grade and my breathing was labored. After the 'climb' back to the car I decided to hell with paying $30 and just leaving, there's plenty of daylight remaining, surely I can make the south rim worth the hefty price of the fare. I was kicking myself for not hitting the south rim first. By the time we reached the Canyon again  the sun was already setting and we were witness to more dazzling scenery at the dessert viewpoint. Making our way along Darien snapped a pic of me reenacting my John Bunyun pose on the canyon edge from years prior.. I'm not going to lie, the shot was fairly badass. On several instances Darien wanted to be a daredevil and flirt with disaster by sitting on the canyon edge, each time she did, I was worried about her going 'whoop' right off. On one such instance I pushed my common sense aside and let my feet dangle over the canyon walls. The sheer extent of the drop below I found to be quite alarming, that combined  with being swayed by the force of the sweeping gale was enough to clear my senses without the needed asset of caffeine.It was invigorating but also scary as hell. It felt nice to be sharing these moments with a traveling companion. Last time I was by myself,  I felt something lacking, being able to share these experiences with another made all the difference. I could go back to Washington, lose my car, job and sense  of livelihood and be perfectly okay with it because I was perched precariously on a rock with a young damsel viewing the majectic scenery of the grand canyon with the wind wisping through my air and the sunset in the background. I could describe it no better than as a thin moment, where the veil of distance between this troubled world and the divine was 'thin' . We missed the turn for a viewpoint in the fading light of dusk  soon after and the next thing we knew we were outside the park. I was hoping to see the Canyon  under the starry night in the light of the full moon. It makes for picturesque scenery and was bummed things didn't work out that way. However we are going to make a return trip this summer and get the full Grand Canyon experience, hiking trails, camping and starlit moonlighted Canyon scenery. It will happen again. Mark my words:)

   We headed on I-40 westbound toward Vegas. It was about a 4 hour drive and we were both exhausted from a long day as we rolled into sin city. The lights and huge billboard displays were magnificent, just like I remembered it. I was a poor wayfarin' stranger, not loaded with cash or prepared to indulge in the full Vegas expierance, and things were not much different this time around. I had to make due with what I had which as this point was not a lot: a beater of a car and no money. While locating the strip I took a wrong turn into the Bellagio and found myself circling the roundabout I felt like an idiot. My car had  a white hood, with chrome tape and I was maneuvering around fashion glamoured celebrities and limousines. I felt like a mangy animal out its natural habitat and wished to remove myself from the scene as quickly as possible. I found parking soon after and we frequented some of the sights and sounds on the strip. The first attraction was a fountain that shot jets of water into the night in rhythm with  a symphony, it was located in the heart of a pool of water outlying the Bellagio Hotel. 
       I stood there perched over the rail transfixed for probably a half hour. The lights over the water combined with the harmonious background music was spellbinding.I glanced over at Darien to see her transfixed eyes like saucers, equally hypnotized. We eventually moved on to the Bellagio hotel and Ceasers palace both were decorated with ornate architecture. After being witness to such posh, we were greeted  by a vendor with a giant naked lady poster plastered on his back --how low do you have to stoop to represent this profession? And I used to think pulling weeds for neighbors lawns was low. Frequenting a local strip joint was not what I had in mind, there was usually a 4-5 drink minimum, being a lightweight already I decided this was not a good move on my part.  with plans to leave that night and had no desire to have my ass in a sling. Many people screamed by shouting "wheww yeah Vegas baby!" in close proximity. I didn't share the same level of enthusiasm due to my utter lostness and lack of clear direction. I feel like the whole point of Vegas is to make you feel trapped, like you can never get out of Vegas. After pushing through dense crowds of people for awhile with Darien in tow all the while holding her lil' hand and steering her around the drunk, strung out masses of inebriated humanity. However, on the way back I accepted a vendors offer for a buy-one-get-one free alcoholic beverage. While inside the bar I began feeling uneasy now Darien was out of sight, I returned illegally supplying the minor with a foamy IPA. She was almost 21 so I didn't feel too bad about it. "Now you can say you had a beer in Las Vegas Darien" We sat down on a flower pot and chugged our beers with the city lights all around. We both agreed we were exhausted and upon leaving Vegas, Darien became sentimental, "I'm feel like a lost lil guppy here in a large ocean. I'm just a poor homeless gypsy orphan girl from a small oklahoma town, people dont do these kind of things for me." I smiled and just said, it don't matter who you are or where you come from, you're never too poor, or too weak to set out on an adventure and see the world. That was my motto, hell I couldnt afford this, I'm a barista at Starbucks from a small eastern WA, town. People would ask me later how did you afford that trip? I'd just say, "I didn't"..

     For once I didn't  notice the couple kissing by the fountain or the staggering drunk ones processing their way through a 40, but I see a constellation and it reminds me of a story from my hometown. And that to me was enough. Away from the glamour of the big city lights and night life is where I find peace of mind. I was an admirer more of the natural elements than entertainment fabrications. It could have been the fact I was merely sightseeing, however I'd rather be traversing Europe, exploring the rich history of the Santa Maria del Fiore in Florance or snorkling in the Caribbean.In my perception: life and nature are similar concepts because nature is a microcosm of life; the study of how life acts and interacts within our circle of existence. When we take the time to examine the beauty of the world around us, we are able to see parallels within our own lives. It becomes a shrinking experience and we begin to think outside ourselves. All of nature moves in a spiral as do our personal lives. Not everyone responds to beauty in the same way; many are aware of it but don't allow it to light up the sentiment. Material possessions don't please the way the natural elements can. My curiosity about the earth transcends my curiosity for other things. Desiring to find natural beauty inherently lies within the core desires of our being. uninhibited, unequivocal untouched by the corrosion of the mind. and only subject to the whims and harmonies of the free floating elements of the species. Nature can present itself as soul stirring graffiti...I hope this euphony at the end tied it all together. But I regress; now, to the current circumstances of the trip--Outside of Vegas I found the nearest semblance of real civilization 3 hours away. I was too sleep-deprived and tired to risk driving further. I had  only gotten a few hours sleep the last couple days. I was running off fumes. I pulled over at some small shell station I think it was a town? Indian springs I believe it was called and we passed out for the night. The day had been quite eventful and the last trek of our journey was soon to be underway...

Next Blog Entry: (The last Trek of my Adventure)

First Entry: (The first Leg of my Journey)

Second Entry: (Oklahoma Bound)

Third Entry (Amarillo to the Grand Canyon)

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