Thursday, July 14, 2011

red walls, aching muscles.

my legs ache slow in the memory of yesterday's 12 mile hike.

i started the day apprehensive -- i've never been good at uphill. and, as we walked down the side of the canyon, the sun rising fast over the reds and purples of arizona's most famous tourist attraction, i worriedly cast backward glances at the steep slope we were descending.

the day grew warmer.

we stopped in the green grove of indian gardens - 4.5 miles from our initial outset, 3000 feet lower than where we first began. despite my protests, i was convinced to hike the last 1.5 miles to plateau point. as i trudged, barely lifting one foot in front of the other, i regretted not turning back when i could. even when i saw the barred barriers marking the edge of the trail, i felt underwhelmed.. and almost gypped.

but oh! to look over the edge of the grand canyon, already a half a mile into the center and to see the beauty, the expanse and the depth of what lay below in the same vantage! words nor photographs cannot describe this breathtaking site!

the return trip, however, was a different matter. all former concerns proved true and i struggled immensely with the steep incline. my breaths short, my breaks often. and today (a testament to my eventual triumph over the cursed/beautiful canyon) my body cries in protest of the exercise it was subjected to.


this morning in short phrases: early, fast, accounting and swervy driving.

this evening: spectacular.

we pulled into monument valley just in time for our 6:30 open-air truck tour. as we settled in and got to know our tour guide, willie, i finally began to put images to the words i'd been reading for days. this, yes, was just old (REALLY old) sediment carried by wind from the rockies, built up in layers and broken down by erosion. but to actually experience the reds, the oranges and the layers of great expanse. the randomness of the formations spread across the desert like haphazard artwork. such was unbelievable. (i wish you were here.)

the 10 of us laid in a row, our backs to the soft orange rock, looking up through the formation shaped like an eagle's eye as willie sang native songs, drummed and played the flute. (you'd love it here.) eating homemade navajo tacos with the red-walled cliffs and the company of great friends and laughter. (maybe you'll do this with me soon some time.)

and then, exhaustion.

hits hard, fast and suddenly. ready to close my eyes for another 6-hour blink of an eye.

Monday, July 4, 2011


last night i spent the evening in the company of eight strangers at a plethora of locales in the 3-block radius of a small hotel on the corner or mission and 7th streets. we congregated around the long tall table at the heart of the good hotel's bar, hailing from utah, southern cali, new jersey, tennessee and florida. i was the local contribution. we exchanged the common garden variety conversations - where are you from, where have you traveled, what is your go-to drink at a bar.

later - at a stylish hole-in-the-wall brazilian restaurant, we toasted caipirinhas to emily's birthday. she smiled and clinked, sharing the tale of her year-long on and off romance with trekamerica. for this is why we were here -- trekamerica. a business making a living showing adventurous travelers the good ol' u. s. of a.

after another pitcher and palate-teaser of delicious spicy skewers, we paid up and headed across market to a small empty taqueria. david proceeded to order and converse in perfect(ly accented) espaƱol. my carne asada taco was filled so full i had to separate it to form 2 smaller ones. christine busted in the door with her quick wit and sarcasm just before we all headed back in the direction of the hotel.

quick stop at the liquor shop and now i had in my possession a tall-boy pbr in a classy brown bag. at the hotel, we talked, drank and played the getting-to-know-you game. as i was about to leave, i instead followed the flow as we wandered across the street to the best western. lost from the group, christine, kale and i ended up on the roof with a nighttime skyline view of my beloved city. i snapped a photo for posterity. in my room, i texted my love and slept awaiting the inevitable alarm not even 6 hours away.


the first day of training started early and with a multitude of yawns. we studied cdl questions as we crammed into the 15-passenger van with our new bosses - jen and jd. two hours later, we arrived in santa rosa - our training grounds. the morning was filled with papers, reading and slideshows. the afternoon, full of gear, setup and cleaning in the bleary hot california sun. i set up an assembly line with christine and matt as the dishes crew - a job in the shade with the sweet cool of water.

the long day concluded with a drive to our new home-away-from-home -- an old boy scout camp in the woods of occidental, complete with 5-bunk cabins, fire pit, shared bathrooms and outdoor kitchen. a walk in the evening with rick revealed old boarded-up cabins, dilapidated mess halls, a strange fenced in circle pit with nothing in its center (my guess: for the alien landings) and the remains of a church altar - almost hidden in the woods, the stones engulfed in moss, the embedded cross covered in vines.

i write now from the bottom bunk. outside, the crackle of fire. the voices of leaders. of trainees. stories of good food. and bad. random travel. and things yet to come.