July 13th

July 14, 2009

We are nearing Phoenix, AZ, and Andy is still skeptical as to our surroundings being desert. With the appearance of tall cacti, he seems a bit more convinced.

We have, sadly, lost one of our traveling companions. Simone has been left in Santa Fe with Izzy, because I could not justify torturing her for a few more days and a few hundred miles in a hot car. I hope to be reunited with her again, but I think she’s already led a pretty thrilling life for a fish.

Santa Fe was lovely. I am so glad I got to meet up with old friends, hookah at the Cross of the Martyrs, and visit a hot spring for the first time. In fact, I did many more tourist activities in a 36-hour visit than I ever did in the four months of living in that city. I’ll do better at being adventurous in Australia. After saying farewell to Izzy, it was off to Sedona, AZ, which might just be the most beautiful place I’ve had the fortune to see. We camped at the top of the canyon, and in the morning explored the western-style down town.

Several hours later, it was time for the Grand Canyon. After the initial shock of seeing such a natural wonder, we decided to take a short hike into the canyon, maybe watch the sunset from a ridge a few miles down. And so the first part of the trek commenced. When heading down, we continuously ran into exhausted looking hikers, and somewhat smugly passed them. Little did we realize, they were climbing up, not down, and should have served as a warning. We had seen tons of signs posted about not trying to hike to the bottom of the canyon and back in one day, which was an interesting idea to entertain, even though we were going to heed their warning. After seeing desert squirrels (which are a fair amount more adorable than non-desert squirrels) and ample lizards, we made it to our goal: Cedar Ridge, 1.4 miles into the canyon. Resting in the shade, we crammed cookies into our faces, and drank loads of water, took photos in order to terrify Andy’s mother, and explored a bit. While climbing on a rock that seemed perfect for perching, I ran across an abandoned Swiss army knife, which is now in my possession.

And then it was time for the climb up. We set off, three smokers climbing steep switchbacks, and quickly realizing why all the other hikers we passed seemed so horribly exhausted. Not even a full switchback up the trail, my lungs were burning, and my heart was pounding. This 1.4 mile uphill climb would not even resemble easy. As Andy so astutely pointed out, it is fascinating how quickly the canyon can go from friend to enemy. One minute its, “Wow, look at how beautiful this earth is,” and the next its “FUCK THIS GODDMAN CANYON!” But water was running low and we had to make it back to the top before it ran out. I cannot speak for Andy and Uday, but every time there was a shady spot to rest, I almost found God I was so relieved. As we climbed, it got a little easier to go in longer bursts, but walking near the edge seemed less and less a good idea, since passing out seemed more and more probable. I know I’ve never been much for physical activity, but this was totally awful. My knees were sore, my hips popped with each step, and there was a throbbing pain in my toe. We reached the top and, after a while, that feeling of accomplishment started to set in. I for one didn’t think I was going to make it all the way to the top without a rescue team, but I did: we all did.

After dinner (which was over priced, but returned our energy), we took a quick rest, then went back to the top of the trail we had visited earlier to watch the sunset. And it was spectacular (photos to be posted later). I took off my sock, and discovered a sixth toe trying to bud, taking the form of a blister in its initial stages. So that’s why my foot has been killing me! Luckily I had that handy Swiss Army Knife from earlier, and used it to amputate. Seriously, this blister is half as big as the original toes itself.

And that’s the story of how I acquired something I should have had from the start of this trip, and decided, once and for all, that I am no longer a smoker. Because if I get trapped at the bottom of a canyon, and can’t walk my way back out without nearly suffering a heart attack, then I’m just asking to be vulture food.



  1. Canyons are cool! I’m glad you guys didn’t become vulture foods.

    Also, here’s this: http://secondpuppy.wordpress.com/. Even though I whine way too much. Loff!

  2. Come now, if I can haul my ass up to 11,000ft through the cloud forests and also hell, all the while taking cigarette breaks in the thin air, I have faith you can crawl out of a canyon without a heart attack.
    But I’m kidding. I’m happy for your not smoking. Hooray!

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