I left Page, UT around 1pm after my quick nap. I made my way down to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Crossing back over the Glen Dam and the Navajo Bridge gave me a strange sense of nostalgia as I reminisced over the last 24 hours. Along the way to the South Rim I stopped at Coal Mine Canyon on a Navajo reservation. I was making my way to the 2nd lookout to obtain the best view, and I began to hear a distant yet distinct buzzing sound. Thinking it was flies I dismissed it.
I got within 50ft of the sign describing the 2nd lookout when some friendly perimeter guard wasps decided to check me out. I don’t like bees. Never have. So I promptly turned around and combination ran/hopped away as I was escorted for a couple hundred feet by the insect security force.
I did decide to climb up near the sign where all the buzzing seemed to have been coming from and peaked my head up. The bees didn’t notice me only 10 ft. away but there was a swarm of at least 100 bees flying around what I’m assuming was a pretty big hive.
I hiked back to my car and continued towards the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, finally arriving around 5pm, I decided I was exhausted and napped for another 45 minutes. After eating a quick instant meal I started exploring the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The lookouts were iconic and impressive, the view is incredible in it's sense of scale and grandeur because you’re literally looking across vast distances. What seem like the closest opposing cliff faces are actually 8 miles away!
Since I only had a half a day at the Grand Canyon, I could only experience a tiny fraction of the park and decided I would stay and see how well the night sky appeared after having such a fantastic view the night prior. I visited 5 of the closest lookouts and decided on a spot for taking night photos that required I climb 30ft down to. As the Sun began to lower in the sky, I climbed down, setup my camera gear, and ate a large snack. I could see everyone else gathered up atop the railings of the lookout to watch the sunset all glance at me periodically as I sat perched atop my chosen rock ledge. I realized that everyone was looking at me and I was completely comfortable with it, in fact I enjoyed being the person who took a different path to accomplish their goals enough to attract others attention. In the end it’s doing what you do with conviction and confidence that makes you appear to be either accomplished or possibly crazy.
The sunset and people soon were gone. I continued to take photos however the blue haze (Created by moisture in the air over the vast distance between the canyons) distorted a lot of my photos (I should have brought a polarizer, ended up having to finesse it out in post). Eventually the stars came out, though not nearly as impressive as the night before; only a hint of the milky way could be seen. I was getting a bit chilly since my perch was quite breezy, so I climbed back up to the lookout to continue taking photos around 10pm. As I made my way up I noticed a couple lying on the ground staring at the sky. We greeted each other and I made a couple friends for the night.
They shared some croissants and chatted as night sky darkened until I exhaustion began consuming me.
I got in my car and looked up where to camp for the evening. I figured I could probably just fall asleep in my car, but I had plans to meet up with a good friend early in the afternoon in Durango, CO so I wanted to make some headway. I drove into the night not feeling as tired as I expected…I knew something was off when the white lines in the middle of the road began taking the shape of a deer or rabbit every now and then causing me to slow down until realizing I was seeing things due to exhaustion.
At first I thought it was the dark playing tricks on my eyes as I swore I was coming up on a slow truck trailer's red taillights, only to find it was a bridge with reflective markers. There was mist from time to time made me feel like I was driving through narrow mountain passes only to realize I was on as flat desert terrain. It really dawned on me when I thought giant dark legs were descending from the sky and landing on either side of the road; my eyes were deceiving me. Normally I know I'm getting too tired because I can’t keep my eyes open or I feel my body produce melatonin, oddly neither of that happened so it took me off guard.
As soon as I realized the exhaustion for what it was I found a free campsite down the desert road in the next town I could (it took a bit of focus to maintain reality in the dark). The most notable visions of the night were a green dragon curled up in the middle of the road and a headless backwards-dancing turkey…my brain is quite creative regardless of
The so-called campsite turned out to be a parking lot for a trucking company; it felt sketchy so I kept driving. Within a few minutes I decided it was unsafe to continue in my condition so I parked outside a dental office and passed into the realm of deep sleep around 1:30am.
I awoke around 6:30 feeling much better, but my teeth felt disgusting. I did a quick brush and spit and was on my way to Durango to meet up with my friend Bri who I'd never seen in person before. I met Bri online in high school back when YouTube was a social media platform. We conversed for years over Yahoo and MSN messenger but never had a chance to meet in person because she lives in New Mexico. When I started this trip I sent her a snap and we snapped back and fourth until we realized I would be passing by her neck of the woods later that month. It ended up working out for us to meet up and check out Mesa Verde National Park.
I passed through more beautiful terrain and right by Ship rock (didn’t have time to stop this trip), I met up with Bri and we carpooled to Mesa Verde. It was like seeing an old friend from high school that I used to hang out with even though I had never physically been around her.
I met her family who showed tons of old photos of each other, a couple of which I remember seeing when I was 13. We played some video games, hung out, and watched Odd Thomas (I vaguely remember parts of it from breaks at work and thoroughly enjoyed seeing it in its entirety). Bri made me a hearty and delicious rack of pork ribs. After living off of nuts, meal bars, and instant meals the last few weeks it was a great dietary break. I slept soundly, said goodbye to her and her snake the next morning, and headed back on my way home.
The next morning I began my route to Kansas city which swung me back up through Colorado to spend another night with my cousin Jason. The drive was peaceful, a little rainy, but otherwise fun as it winded around all the mountains.