Part 10: Heading Home
“Anything you have read about the Grand Canyon is a lie. Language falters and dies before the fact. The experience is inexpressible in words. The Grand Canyon is its own language written across space, causality and time. See how puny these words are. Do not believe them. Go there.” – Amil Quayle, Go There
Now that my readers are good and sad about the river adventure concluding in the last post, I figured it was time for a little bit of humor to lift you from depression.
This next part is from an email I had sent out to the group after having an excessive amount of free time in the airport due to some travel challenges my dad and I had from the get-go in Flagstaff. I have made some minor updates and changes to it since my original email to the group, but it is in mostly original condition
We were attempting to head back to Charleston and have run into a few snags already. So what do you do with your new found free time since the first flight of the day has been cancelled after they announced the wheel strut is leaking fluid, and you’ve been plopped on a shuttle to Phoenix? You write a list to quell your anxiety surrounding the negative 2-minute window of time US Air/American Airlines (ugh) has provided you to take a shuttle and make your connection in an airport with impressively long terminals! Let me quickly do the math for you.
At 11:40am, we were given our boarding passes for our new flight out of Phoenix, which was scheduled to depart at 2:45pm. Keep in mind, boarding for all flights closes 10 minutes prior to the departure time. So our goal here is 2:35pm. Checking bags at the counter closes 45 minutes before a flight – let’s not even go there – who honestly cares about the stinky 14-day river clothes in this situation. The drive, by car, from Flagstaff to Phoenix is (according to Google Maps) about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Tack on at least 30 additional minutes to that to take into account we were in a huge bus, which will average only about 60 mph. So in a perfect scenario, we had a 2 hour and 45 minute drive to Phoenix. The bus showed up and was loaded and ready to go by about 12:02pm. So unless we were to luck out with a lead-footed bus driver (where’s my mom when you need her), we were looking at an airport arrival time of 2:47pm. Sure, US Air/American Airlines, we’ll make that flight with no problem. Clearly, entry-level math skills are not a job requirement for US Air/American.
Back to the list created with all of my new-found free time.
In the spirit of the list that Clare read on our last morning on the river – 10 best ways to prepare for a Grand Canyon river trip (or something to that effect) – here’s my feeble attempt at a post-trip list. **I have modified the list since my original email to the group, so there are a few newbies on here. Get freakin PUMPED.**
You Know You’ve Been on a Grand Canyon River Trip When:
- Your sarong is the cleanest article of ‘clothing’ you have left and you consider wearing it to the airport.
- You find yourself grabbing a headlamp before sunrise to navigate to the restroom.
- You haven’t had coffee or eaten in days because you’ve become completely dependent on the conch signal.
- You keep yelling “wash your hands” to complete strangers.
- Your hairbrush is layered in river silt and has to be retired…permanently.
- You find it is no longer acceptable to just pee anywhere.
- You have visions of the semi-deflated stingray/elephant/anteater and wonder about its well-being. I mean if it survived Lava, it could survive anything, right?
- You tell your friends “let’s go for a short, easy walk” and you find yourself scaling narrow ledges, wading through water, and crawling through rocky tunnels as part of a several mile adventure…in your “wet shoes”.
- You feel completely deprived of nightly story-time and morning readings and poems and consider hiring out for both.
- You find yourself breaking down your tables and storing them carefully after breakfast and lunch.
- You think that life without sand on and in everything seems unnatural.
- You now casually refer to the restroom as the groover. Sort of like when you come back from Australia and you start calling it the loo.
- You often wonder how many pairs of ladies underwear Colin/Cameron really has in his possession.
- You are a proud owner of clothing that once was white and is now a pleasantly familiar Colorado River shade of silty, milk chocolatey, brownish-orange…watch out for this new Crayon color by Crayola, coming soon to a Crayon box near you.
- You have rented out your home after you dug a massive trench through your yard, filled it with 48 degree water and a few boulders, erected ledges on one side and a sandy beach on the other, and pitched a tent on the bank as your new place of residence.
- You find yourself packing up all of your bedding into a bag each morning.
- You firmly believe everything is a potential rattlesnake habitat and must be checked diligently before it is safe to continue.
- You find yourself back at work, shouting, “Last call for the Groover!” before your staff meetings.
- You constantly are thinking, “where did all of these bruises come from?!”
- You’ve seen the Grand Canyon from both the rim and the river and firmly believe the latter is, hands-down, the best way to explore it.
My dad and I just barely made our connection out of Phoenix to Charlotte, as we literally ran from the bus and through the airport, and onto the plane without stopping. Special thanks to the 30-minute delay from the incoming flight from Vegas. No special thanks to the employees of American Airlines and US Air that we had the unfortunate pleasure of encountering in the Phoenix airport – folks, I beg you, please go hunt down your customer service skills and manners! We continued running on and off planes and through airports for the remainder of the day, and eventually made our way to the gate at the Charleston airport. It was a crazy way to close out such an awesome adventure in one of the most spectacular places on Earth (the Grand Canyon, not the airport). I had better start saving, so I can do it again sometime!
Stay tuned for one, final post…