Sunday, July 13, 2008

The No Good Very Bad Day

The day started deceptively pleasantly. We decided to head over to Jackson Canyon on a recommendation or two for some sport climbing. Leisurely, we began driving around 10:30am.

Desert, desert, and still more desert. The feel-good blue sky houses a few wispy clouds. Below, the arid ground is hospitable only to prickly shrubs and occasionally a ranch.

Winslow is a sleepy desert town- boarded up red dusty buildings, faded signs on budge hotels. It’s a train station town. We rumble by the broken shops while
locals gather under awnings. The sun looks fierce from our air conditioned car. Outside the city limits we see perplexing industrial machinery and a gigantic state prison with an even larger parking lot. Then pushed back into the pink, sun baked desert.

We turned down an unkempt dirt road, posed for a picture, and held our breaths as we jumped and lurched over and between deep grooves in the road. Turn here? Over there? Where do we turn? An outhouse, which became our helpful landmark, exclaimed that we were where we indeed wanted to be. We shouldered our packs and looked around for the trail that originated at the southwest part of the parking lot.

That damn elusive trail. We crunched over pricklies, dodged cacti, and ended up at a cliff, looking out over the tree-filled canyon. With the sun pounding overhead, we reluctantly turn back to find the real trail. We side stepped cactus after cactus after rattlesnake looking ro

Wait! Rattlesnakes?! We casually mention that this particular climate and terrain is what we’d expect for a
rattlesnake’s home sweet home.

I pretend to be a rattlesnake.

The real trail appears before me, so Nate and I play Marco-Polo, Marco- Likes to eat tomatoes, Marco- Wants to join the circus, and so on and so forth until we are within eyesight of one another.
The real trail winds down into the steep canyon. We’re prepared with our hats, suntan lotion, and gallon of water. Down down down left straight. Find shade. Find Shade!! Nate’s enthralled with the rockclifts rising to our left. I’m just happy to sit in the shade and sip some warm 2hydrogen1oxygen compound.

We lose the trail again. My exposed shins take a beating as we wade through the bushes with the long finger nails. The sun taunts us. By the time we find the right clearing, I’ve had enough. I’m ready to go back. We aren’t finding much. The sun is baking us alive. It just wasn’t fun. Nate wanted to push onward. He wanted to find a climbing wall he’d heard about.

Meanwhile, I’m SO over climbing. It’s one thing to rock climb as a pastime; I love it in moderation. But it’s another thing to seek it wherever we go. I feel like our whole trip is revolving around climbing, with little room for anything else. It’s a little frustrating.

All this and more is streaming through my head as I grudgingly trudge on.

Suddenly I hear a noise. I stop. And listen. There it is again! I freeze in my tracks. It’s a faint, but unmistakable rattle. Petrified, I call Nate and alert him of my discovery. There are rattlesnakes in Arizona! I quickly powerwalk away from the sound, my heart THUMPING in my chest.

That’s it! I’m done. I want to turn back. The sun is everywhere. There are hidden rattlesnakes watching us. We aren’t finding anything. I’m bored. Let’s go somewhere else that’s a little bit more fun.

But Nate wants to keep going. We’re so close, he says. It’s right around the bend. He plows on.
I don’t now the first thing about confronting a rattlesnake. Should I run? Stay put? Make a lot of noise? Be silent? No idea. Terrified, I step without making a sound, my ears vigilant, my eyes alert and my heartbeat quickened. I feel like a prey, sharp and alert, ready for a predator’s sudden attack. I heard every audible sound and even a few inaudible ones.

In the end we never found the beloved rock wall. Nate still NEEDS to climb something, so he flies up a super short route on the Main Wall. I notice a sheet of dark clouds roll overhead. Nate needs no further convincing at that point. We climb up and up and up. And take a premature right turn. Suddenly we’re lost. No more trail. No more landmarks. We utterly lost. Pricklies get stuck in our shoes.

Fortunately Nate spots the outhouse way off our trajectory. We shove everything in the car and head out. But there’s a problem. I don’t know where my wallet is. That’s when the day turned from very bad to the no good very bad. I tear everything out of the car. We find some rotten spinach in the cooler. No luck. I call the coffee place where we interneted that morning. No luck. The realization sets in. “Worst day ever!” I exclaim, and my face shows it. My mind swarms with ideas of canceling credit cards, replacing ids, and such. Without a permanent address these days, it could be weeks until I get anything replaced. What a terrible burden on Nate.

Not knowing what else to do, we drive back to Flagstaff. Poor Nate has to deal with downtrodden Alisa. But he knows what to do. He freestyles to the instrumentals on his ipod. Slowly a smile creeps onto my face. Then I rap about my wallet I missed, and now I’m pissed and the whole situation has me dissed. And on and on until Flagstaff.

I sit down at my computer to start canceling credit cards and such, but in my email inbox pops a curious facebook message. As I read it my jaw drops! I let out a squeal and run out of the coffee shop! I’m back a few minutes later with my wallet and a very big, very relieved smile on my face. A girl had found it in the parkinglot and returned it to the Great Clips hair cutting place and they had facebooked me! I never thought I’d say this, but Facebook saved the day!

To celebrate, we go to this awesome sandwich shop, which is like a shrine to avocadoes. We sit on concrete and munch our sandwiches.

Things I’ve left on the top of the car before driving away:
1. Keys

2. Sunglasses

3. Wallet

Things I’ve eventually gotten back:

1. Wallet.

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