Obligatory groover picture


I think I forgot to flush this morning. Crap. I know I forgot to wash my hands. Couple all of this with my forgetting to crush the olive cans last night, and I'm convinced the guides think I'm retarded.

Attack of the giant grasshopper


Kris, Andy and I set up our camp fairly close to the kitchen last night. We were in a small alcove with bushes all around us, and so nicely sheltered from any wind gusts that might have blown. Unfortunately, as I quickly realized, we were also sheltered from any cool gentle breezes from the river during the night.

After a few minutes in our alcove, I realize that I wasn't going to be able to go to sleep in the little oven we had set up for ourselves, so I grabbed my sleeping pad and wandered out to where all of the bags were stacked next to the kitchen, on a little mound that was sure to have a slight cool breeze. I pushed a bunch to the side to clear a space for me, put my thermarest down, flopped down on top if it, and started to go to sleep.

Now, the location of the pile of bags is well known. It's also fairly visible in the night light, as it's a wide circle of bumps the size of, oh, me. What I didn't know when I flopped down, however, is that the guides would often find bags and other things in their boats that should be in the pile, and fling them onto the pile later in the evening.

Say, when I was lying near the pile.

So, as I was dozing, I started hearing THUMP! THUMP! as large, bag-sized objects rained down around me. Quickly deciding getting beaned with one of these bags wasn't in my best interest, I stood up, grabbed my thermarest, went back to the alcove, and settled down between Kris and Andy again.

I wasn't five minutes settled, and nowhere close to asleep, when I heard a rustling behind us, in the direction of our heads, somewhere in the bushes. My eyes flew open. My heart started racing. What had I just heard? I wondered. No, no, I thought, I'm fine, I'm between Andy and Kris, so I'm in the safe place. Yet the rustling kept coming closer in these sneaky, bursts of activity.

Thoughts of rats and odd birds and other Canyon wildlife started running through my head, so I rolled over, reached around Kris, grabbed his headlamp and turned it on, shining it in the direction of the rustling sounds.

And saw a HUGE grasshopper start jumping my way. As Andy told me later, "You know, shining the headlamp at it was like sending out a 'come play with me' flare to it." I turned off the headlamp, not really wanting to see the grasshopper any longer, but relieved that the noise was from a bug and not a small animal.

I put Kris' headlamp down, rolled over, and finally relieved, started to doze off, no longer hearing the rustling of the grasshopper.

Of course, not hearing the grasshopper meant that it was getting closer to me. Closer... closer.

Suddenly, the grasshopper landed on me.

I screamed and sat up, flailing all around me. "Get it off of me!" I screamed, "It's on me! Get it off!" pushing the sheet away from me. Kris sat up in alarm, asking "What? What's going on?" Andy sat up in alarm on my other side, and reached out. "What's going on?" he asked insistently enough for me to hear. "It's a 4" grasshopper!" I wailed, "it jumped on me!" finally able to calm down enough to stop flailing.

"A four inch long grass hopper? Uh huh, right," Andy later told me he was thinking, as he calmed me down. "It's gone now. You can go back to sleep," he soothed. So, I did. I lay back down and, heart still thumping, tried to calm myself enough to go to sleep.

Suddenly, Andy sat up, and jerked around. I sat up, as did Kris, as Andy jumped up with his headlamp turned on, pointed at the four inch long grasshopper than had landed on him, after it was done torturing me. Look at that, we all marveled, as Andy went to find his river mug. He caught the grasshopper in it, put the lid on it, and put it on the edge of our campsite. Nervous laughter turned to relief, and the three of us went back to our pads to sleep.

For the third time that evening, I started to doze. Now, when I start to doze, my eyelids relax and they will sometimes part a little bit. Not a lot, just enough to see movement and not much else.

Movement like, say, a bug dive bombing your face. Followed by a canyon bat, which is trying to catch said bug for dinner. When the bug landed on my face, I, once again, screamed, and swatted at it, barely missing the bat who was in close pursuit. And once again, Andy and Kris were sitting up, asking me what was wrong, and once again, I was exclaiming some highly-unlikely scenario that, at this point, they had to believe since I was correct the last time.

And, once again, the two of them calmed me. I mean, what are the chances I'd be dive bombed by a bat twice in one night? Small. Go to bed.

As I was settling for a fourth time that night, Andy rolled over and grabbed his light. "Just to be sure," he said, and shined the light above our heads.

Less than twelve inches from where Andy's head had been was a good sized scorpion.

"Let's go sleep some place else," he suggested.

I immediately jumped up, grabbed my pad, and walked back out to where I had moved the bags. I moved a few more bags over, giving the three of us enough room to sleep, threw my pad down, and flopped down on top of it.

And that's where we finally fell asleep on our last night in the Canyon, having survived the Attack of the Fifty Foot Grasshopper: on the top of a small mound, next to the dry bags, in the cool river breeze, in full view of the Canyon night sky.

Grasshopper poop


Did you know that grasshoppers poop in rather large turds?

Nah, I didn't know that either.

Writing a lot


Michael commented this morning that I sure do "write a lot in that book." I told him it was material for my blog, nothing private as it's all going up on the Internet, and offered my journal to him to read.

He declined, but seemed amused.

Creaky knees


Could my knees possibly be more creaky than before? I really need to have them checked out.



Kris was scandalized this morning that I told Tracy about his and Andy's Water World conversation. Worse, that we talked about my converation with Tracy as Tracy walked by.

Silent float


The river time this morning was a silent float. I wasn't so great at the silent part, having to ask Matt about he line not being tied up to the back of the boat, as well as pointing out Michael rowing a boat through a rapid (he did well). Worse, my camera lens kept jamming, so I kept sounding the error "beepbeep beep" down the river.


At least Kris had issues with his life jacket that needed to be resolved, and Pat had camera bag issues, both of which needed some talking, too.

Just before we started floating down, Kris broke out with a morning rendition of Kumbaya, which, of course, immediately stuck in my head for the float down.

I kept trying to unstick it, until I realized that, if I succeeded, all my worries would flood my thoughts when it stopped.

Kumbaya didn't seem so bad any longer.

The end


After disassembling the rafts, washing them, packing everything and everyone up and eating some remarkably tasty, cold food, all of us paying customers filed into a bus for the bumpy ride out of the Canyon along the Hualapai Reservation roads. I tried to read on the ride out, and was having much success, except that I brought along book four of the Charlie Bone series, when I should have brought book three (so there's a wasted pound x 7.5 miles on my knees).

The ride out was uneventful, ending in Peach Springs, a town that was mentioned several times in Sunk Without a Sound (update: currently it's nominally the governmental center for the Hualapai Reservation). We hopped off the bus at a hotel to exchange into a Canyon Explorations van. At the hotel, I went to the restroom with Bigge. Just before I started leaving, a hotel clerk walked into the bathroom, and saw Bigge washing up in the sink. The clerk walked back out and to a supply closet. As I walked past, she was heading back into the bathroom with a wash rag for Bigge. I was quite impressed with their service at that moment.

The van eventually showed up. We piled in, and off to the nearest ice cream stand we went. It's a tradition from who knows when to go to this particular barber shop - ice cream parlor - Route 66 dive after a rafting trip. It's on the way to Flagstaff from the Havasupai Reservation takeout, and entertaining to boot. The woman behind the counter was endlessly entertaining for most of us, though not for some people on the trip. I was quite humoured when she asked if I needed a straw, and offered a handful of hay to me.

Although I greatly enjoyed my chocolate milkshake for the six minutes it lasted, I have to say that an ice cold glass of milk was what I wanted most when I returned to civilization, rather than the shower most people wanted.

We arrived back at the hotel, grabbed our bags, waited for Chris to come pick us up, then went back to his place to shower up and rest. Chris didn't want to come back into town with us for the pizza and goodbye party we were having, so we three left him at home and drove back into town, missing a turn or two, but actually arriving back at the hotel in usual style: way early.

All washed up and in "normal" clothes, we all met up for pizza and beer to talk about the trip and say our last goodbyes. Susan showed up with her horror story of having to wait in the emergency room for seven hours for a surgery they hadn't bothered to tell her she was waiting for, followed by x-rays of seven pins and two plates in her arm. She was scrambling to find someone to help her drive her car back to Colorado, as she was unable to drive, and wouldn't be for another month.

Eventually we said our goodbyes, and left. There are several people on this trip that I would love to call friends, good people whom I would very much like in my life. I'm fairly certain it won't happen, with the way that life works.

I had hoped to be somewhat transformed by this journey. I dno't know what exactly I was expecting (knowing that expectations are often the cause of much pain from disappointment), but I did think I would be changed in some way.

Maybe the trip needs to be made by myself, instead of in a group, or with friend and spouse. I've been thinking about just heading off on a hike by myself, mostly to see if I can do it, without being completely terrified of being on my own.

I don't know.

I do know that I have no desire to look at that stack of index cards, that list of to-do items I've been carrying with me for the longest time.

It might just be time to throw them all out and start again.

Heading home


So, I write here to keep a log, a journal of sorts, of my life. I spent too long trying to forget the bad things in my life, the painful events, that I started to forget the good things, too. In keeping this site, I end up keeping memories that I've forgotten from the day to day, but can recall once I read the entry again. Many of those forgotten-then-remembered events make me smile.

Then I come across a day like today. A day that should have been fairly simple, straightforward, and uneventful. Instead, the journey from Flagstaff (which itself was fabulous, I'm thinking of buying my next house in Flagstaff it was so great) was a horrible drive, with a verbally abusive driver with whom I managed to have a screaming match with. A screaming match that was stopped only by Andy's hand on my arm, and a soft voice telling me to calm down.

Yeah, so much for not remembering that incident. My mental picture of the whole thing was of a mother tiger defending her young, not that Kris is my young, or needed defending per se. But he did. Gah. Asshole.

If Andy talks to me again after that incident, I'll be surprised. It was a horrible ending to an amazing trip.

We had two hours between the drive down from Flagstaff and our flight, so my mom drove over to the airport to sit and visit with me. I was still incredibly stressed from the drive up, but moms have a way of calming their kids, and my mom is no exception.

Great timing that


Well, finally arrived home this evening and started looking through our mail. The usual 10 times more junk mail than "real" mail. Of course, that "real" mail is about 95% bills, so I'm so sure about how much of this mail I'd like to actually receive. No, I take that back, I know exactly how much of this mail I'd like to receive, and it's none.

One of the surprises in the mail was a big box. I didn't recognize the return address, but it was addressed to me, instead of Kris, so I opened it.

Oh, look. My new hiking shoes.

Turns out, the shoes I went down to the Grand Canyon in, the ones I tripped twice in hiking down the Bright Angel train in, the ones that Sam said were much too slippery to be useful when hiking or scrambling over wet stones, the ones that I regretted bringing, weren't even the ones I intended to bring down in the first place.

I HAD bought a pair of low hiking shoes. The trail running shoes I bought and took down were for trail running. Somehow in the whirlwind before I left, I had forgotten which shoes I had ordered for which purpose.

I guess it's time to go hiking on some trails to break these new shoes in. Wish they had arrived BEFORE I left for the Canyon.