My Trip around the country in 2001 with Halley

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leg 6: New Mexico to The Grand Canyon

Once we were on the road from the truck stop in eastern Arizona, I took over driving and headed straight to Flagstaff so as to drive north from there to The Grand Canyon. This was a fairly impressive drive too, with trees and mountains and desert all mixed in the scenery out both sides of the window, and colored rocks adorning the landscape. The air was amazing, it smelled so fresh and so clean, enough that Halley stuck her head out the window at well above the normal 55mph max speed she ducks back in at.

           Driving through Flagstaff towards the road to bring us north, we crossed Beaver Street and had a laugh, then just took our time soaking in the scenery as we continued our drive. As we approached the entrance, we saw a few dozen cars ahead of us, including RVs and a few motorcycles. We waited in line a bit, checked in with our reservation then headed to our campsite, an interesting location: an open spot inside of a bunch of trees with a picnic table with the car parked next to us and nothing more; it felt perfect.  Hillary and I set up the tent while Halley was on her tether, tied up to the table and flipping out while we walked around. I was one to trust Halley, but there were bears around here and I didn't need her attracting the wrong kind of attention to the site this early in the day.
Leg 6: 612 Miles
Regardless of the fact we hadn't showered in over 2 days, we immediately left to go for a drive towards the south rim. There was a great deal of stuff here, including a supermarket, liquor store, restaurants and so much more. Halley wanted to stretch her legs but I needed to pick up some food for all of us, so I left Halley with Hill to walk around and sniff outside for a little while. Once we had our food for the two days here and a bottle of liquor to enjoy that night, we hung out at the campsite and took a nap. Halley wasn’t exactly tired, so she sat out in front of the tent while Hill and I napped. She kept an eye on the neighbors, the random chipmunks that were indifferent to her presence and the birds which she was now accustomed to never having a chance to sniff. It felt good to rest and not have to worry about Halley going far away. When we woke, we got Halley and took her for a short walk to the edge of the rim of the canyon. I kept Halley on the tightest of leashes, as the drop off was steeper than I imagined. In surveying the lay of the land and admiring where we were, I began to look forward to the next day with a clear head. After learning that we could not take Halley down into the canyon with us, we decided that we could talk along the outskirts of the rim tomorrow and get a nice comfortable hike in. We took Halley on a walk through the woods off the main trail near our campsite, which was fun but it got a bit darker in there quickly so we got out of there and headed to the site to eat some food, drink some vodka and get some rest. The biggest bonus of this campsite, with the hole in the tree cover at top, was the ability to see the stars through the trees. Not just the stars - ALL the stars. It was pristine with no light pollution washing out the sky. I laid back in my chair, sipped my drink and quietly listened to the night sounds with Hillary by my side in her chair, admiring the night sky before heading to bed a little while before me. 

For Halley, it was tough sleeping outside in the tent because it seemed she could hear EVERYTHING that was going on and her head kept popping up, ears going up and down and light growls coming out as a warning to the creators of the sounds. The people next door were talking, a guy was snoring in the tent 20 feet away, bugs were making noise, by dawn birds were chirping: not a sound went unignored by Halley. How could she ignore all this commotion? She got nervous and started to shiver a bit, which I had become easily sensitive to, so we went out for a late night stroll towards an open field away from the Grand Canyon and that helped her to calm down a bit. Although she didn't sleep much that night, I didn't either. I was a excited to be hiking The Grand Canyon the next day and I had no choice but to wait to see the sun rise with Halley since she wasn't going to sleep either.

When Hillary got up, I was bleary eyed but enjoying the morning resting on the picnic table. We took turns taking showers by driving down to the shower area and getting cleaned up before coming back and passing off the car to me and watching Halley. While I was gone, she was good enough to pack up all the stuff we needed for the day, including water and snacks, so that by the time I got back from the shower, we were ready to go hiking. We walked on level ground out for about 3-4 miles, taking some time to look out over the edge of the canyon and let Halley sniff around. The only problem was that when it’s just dirt and loose grasses, Halley can’t smell much of anything so it became tough for her to guess where to go to the bathroom! This resulted in Halley taking a shit in the middle of the pathway when I wasn’t looking. I saw it and couldn't find any way to clean it up, with no baggie, brush, twigs or anything. So I kicked some dirt on it and prayed there wasn't anyone walking this way. Worst case, I would clean it up on the way back. But a few hours later, it was gone, stepped in and tracked for 10 feet back towards the campgrounds. Oh well. You can't clean up every pile of shit.

Hill, Halley and I at The Grand Canyon. Almost looks like a postcard, shirtless body aside
It was a great walk but we were tired walking nearly 7 miles while it seemed Halley could have gone another 7 miles. It was so beautiful there and thanks to some good visibility, you can see for miles in every direction. With a little smog obscuring distant views, it was still just beautiful. I stared out at the view and was amazed by it all. Halley stopped on the way back to sat down next to me as we looked out over the blazing hot canyon down below and soaked it all in. I haven't returned to the south rim since, but if I could go to any one place with Halley again, it would be there. This was one of the more special places we've gone in all of our trips.

On the way back in from the hike, Halley saw a pretty big deer. Since she had never seen one so close, she broke off her leash and chased it after it. With her leash dragging behind, she ran towards the deer and it did the unthinkable: the deer jumped into the freaking canyon! Just straight down. Halley stopped short of falling in I came over to grab her by the leash, only for both of us to see the deer bounding off below in the rocks and running away into the canyon. It was an amazing but most importantly, Halley didn't fall into the fucking canyon. I wasn’t very happy with her and we continued to head to the campsite. My feet were killing me and I needed to get some rest, since I had little sleep the night before. This time, Halley lay down in the tent while Hill and I got some food cooking. I was tired and cranky and not in the mood for much of anything, so the two of us spent the night talking outside on the picnic table, having a couple drinks and let Halley rest in the tent. She seemed to ignore the noises this time and she barely moved each time we checked on her. By the time we went to sleep, Hill and I were drunk but tired drunk, and I was exhausted to the point of frustration. I wasn't looking forward to Hill going home to Cincinnati in a few days and frankly didn't want to think about it, but she started to bring it up and that led to a little anxiety and stress over the next day. I just wanted to sleep, and that I did, right in the middle of us talking. I was woken up when Hill noticed this and I pleaded to sleep and talk in the morning since nothing productive could come of this conversation tonight, drunk and exhausted both physically and mentally. The drive across the country with Hill was nearing a close, but there was a lot of time later in the trip to be with her in Cincy. I was starting to look forward to that. 

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