Last night, on the spur of the moment, I drove out to Calabasas to meet up with my brother and a few of his friends, one of whom was a fellow adventurer on a road trip to the Grand Canyon that my brother and I took about five or six years ago. Nearly every time I see him, I am irresistibly reminded of that fateful journey...
It all started in a hot tub. Ok, relax, that's not what it sounds like! My brother and I, his friend Brent, another friend Tim, and a girl from New Zealand who was staying with us named Alice were all hanging out in the jacuzzi one night, and someone asked Alice what one thing she would really like to see in the States before she had to go back to New Zealand. She thought a moment, then said, "The Grand Canyon." It occurred to both me and my brother that we hadn't ever seen the Grand Canyon either. We decided we should go, and Brent decided he should come too. Two days later, the four of us piled into our trusty Supercar (a well-traveled Toyota Previa) and headed east.
I don't remember much about the drive, except for one point where we were all really bored and started imitating those weird plastic flowers that moved to music that some deluded manufacturer actually MADE for SALE. I don't know what prompted us to do this, probably just the thought of how passing motorists would view our strange, jerky dance movements in the car. (Actually that's making me laugh right now.)
We eventually got to our motel, which was called something like "El Conquistador" even though there was a large Union Jack flying above it. The manager was a jolly Englishman. Go figure.
The next day, we drove out to the Canyon. It was beautiful. It was sunny. It was warm. We hiked a little way down, laughing at the sign with a large skull and crossbones that said hiking in the canyon could lead to injury or death. Little did we know...
Half an hour or so later, as we were hiking back out of the canyon, a storm came up. At first it was just a few drops of rain. Then we heard thunder. "How cool," I thought. "A thunderstorm in the Grand Canyon!" We got on a tram that took us to the next point around the rim, and got off in the midst of an absolute downpour. We still thought this was great fun, however, and ran merrily to the lookout point, laughing at how wet we were getting and what a jolly time we were all having.
Then the lightning started. Oh, and the rain started coming down harder. Sideways, because the wind had picked up considerably. We stopped laughing.
But we still weren't too worried, because we knew another tram was due to come, any minute. Aaaaany minute, yeah. Well, any minute passed. In fact, quite a few minutes passed, and I for one started getting nervous. Brent and Alice and I huddled between a tree and a garbage can for shelter and a bit of warmth. My brother stood in the center of a small clearing not far away and almost got hit by lightning.
Thankfully right about then the tram arrived, because I had just decided that we were all going to walk back to the parking lot, even if it was a million miles away (which of course it wasn't, but it would have seemed like it in that horrible weather, trust me).
One of the first things I noticed when I got on the tram was the fact that other people were all wearing rain ponchos and waterproof clothes. As opposed to us, who just had our cotton t-shirts, shorts, etc., and looked like a bunch of drowned cats. Then I saw a sign on the tram that said September was monsoon season in the Canyon and to be prepared for changeable weather. Information that could have come in just slightly useful for us before
we embarked on our little adventure. Finally, we all got a big kick out of a sign that showed a stick figure deer stomping on a stick figure man's head, as an illustration of why we shouldn't feed the wildlife. I guess the wildlife is not particularly grateful in the Canyon.
Our adventure did end on a good note, however, as the storm stopped and we were able to see a huge rainbow before we finally left the Grand Canyon behind.
On the way home in the car, we had a heated discussion about whether or not ants could live in space. We also tried to get the Supercar to catch air off of some crazy hills right by Lake Havasu. I think we succeeded.
Ah, those were the days...