A Travellerspoint blog

Failure and Coming Home

Screw you guys, I'm going home. -Cartman


I know a lot of you have noticed that our titles are sometimes scary and make you nervous. Sooo, I'm gonna let you know now that it's not what you're thinking. Our trip didn't completely bust, and we're not going back home to Ohio (OHIO?! Hell no!) Although, the snow storm here is actually making us miss Ohio weather (Yeah...snow). We are way south of Ohio, but this storm is just a freak occurence. Today's temperature was a record for this area. It has been 35 degrees and snowing most of this day the 28th of October in the year of 2009. Here's some snow from our room.

Hold on...Let me start at the beginning.

We left Zion and it was cold.

It warmed up a little on the way down 89 south. Then it got very cold. On the bike the desert air was like ice stabbing you.


We go past tribal ruins and beautiful scenery, but I can't help thinking, "This is kinda great, but it also sucks!" I know I'm spoiled by all the transient sights we've flown through in the open cockpit of my motorcycle. I still enjoy the uniqueness of this dam lake gently flooding the desert floor; flowing gently up to the giant rock formations.


But, I can't help feeling out of place; like a duck flying through Alaska trying to head south for the winter. I want to be a swan flying through Phoenix Arizona which is the closest place where the snow storm isn't. What am I thinking?! I want to be a highly trained tiger that rides a motorcycle through Phoenix! Yeah...that's better. It's 20 degrees a couple hundred miles south in the grand canyon where the storm is now centered. It's 32 in flagstaff another couple hundred miles. It's 80 in Phoenix a couple hundred farther. What the hell?!

We get into town and call ten motels. They mostly suck. Then, we find the Red Rock Motel. This place is sweet. We paid cash to get a discount, then we saw that it was a full apartment with kitchen and utensils and our eyes swelled with tears (It's just like home!) We started cooking and eating at a dinner table (Yay! We're not dogs!) We baked (Gasp!) brownies! We made homemade organic pumkin and banana bread with a real pumpkin. I made chicken dinners, and pasta, and more! It's was like Willy Wonka. We were running around tasting everything (Yes. the kitchen is edible.)

We went out into the cold every day and It wasn't too bad Tuesday. The highlight of our day was an awesomely huge...

argument. Vanessa timidly said, "maybe we shouldn't go down this dirt road." I wished she had said, "Uh uh! Honey, don't go down that road!" with confidence and metaphorical/literal goodness (I love ambiguity). I should have stopped and explained that we could see the look out point and it was only a couple hundred yards and Perp is telling me he can do it and I am am totally confident that we can. But...I didn't. She got pissed. I got pissed. We all got pissed and Vanessa gave me the look I've seen a good bit on this trip. Stewing in hatred, unable to look at me. I apologize and do everything I can to win her back. But, it never works and I end up getting emotional and messing up what little ground I'd gained.

In case your wondering, this trip has been amazing, but tough on us. I think it is because Vanessa is a handful (of goodness?). But...I'm probably wrong. When my mind is clear I can see that I'm a handful too (of goodness! It's gotta be!) However, we have survived and we're still together (of goodness. Damn it! Wrong place!)

In the US, cheap actually means unhealthily sweet. So, we've cheated on our diet occasionally and I think that when we come off that sugary western food high, we get cranky and emotional.

Vanessa and I finally made it up that dirt road (Yay! amibiguity). We went to an overlook of the dammed lake, which looks unreal because it has flooded into a desert valley of monument rock formations. One is completely surrounded by water.


We both sulk around and I take out my aggression by improvising kung fu while stylishly picking up rocks and tossing them at things with various methods. This builds up my shoulder strength and flexibility under realistic stresses found in fighting (don't I sound smart).

We tape the third set of soaring crane, Dragon's Head Crane's Head, Chi Down Through the Body.

VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVViiiiiddddddeeeooooo not here yet.

I sit and watch the huge snow storm coming in befitting my mood.


V wanted to go to Antelope Canyon which is on Navajo land, so we sped ahead of the storm that followed us East. At antelope canyon we dodge the upper part because there’s a park fee. I ride past the next one and ride down to the lake. This part of the park is sort of closed for the season, so we ride through a huge abandoned parking lot along the lake. I take Perp between some cones and a fence and down the boat ramp to the water’s edge, scaring some ducks.


V tells me that the canyon must be small since we couldn’t see it. We head to the one that looks cheaper, which is lower Antelope Canyon (the name suits it). This part is down a dirt road, which we walk to save Perp. We get there and there is a little booth taking money to go into the canyon. I go and talk to the girl at the booth, hoping that V just walks behind the ten feet of fence that keeps you from the canyon. She didn’t. The canyon cost $26 per person! I still wanted to distract the Navajo girl (who looked more Asian) so V could walk past the little wooden fence. But…the storm was coming and it was time to go back to the motel.
I hear a sound that was like a cat with laryngitis. “Aow.” It was the cutest sound a cat could make. The owner of the motel had the sweetest cat.


She made funny noises (Joe says because she is old), but she was full of love and need for attention. She would sit on my lap for about an hour, begging me to scratch around her ears. Then she would jump off my lap and curl up on the squishy chairs and nap. But if I ever got lonely and went over to pet her, she would never refuse me. It was more like she had forgotten that someone adored her, and when I came to pet her, she remembered and was grateful.
That night we made up and watched couples retreat downloaded. It wasn’t that funny, but it was a timely expose on couples having problems. In the morning we get up very early at 6:30 am. We have to be at the ranger station at 9:00 am to get into the lottery to see the wave. Buuuttt, it’s a little confusing because there’s mountain time, central, and Utah time. I still don’t know what was goin on. I think we went through 3 time zones in 50 miles.

We had to rush out the door and I don’t think we prepared for the cold enough. It was the coldest day because that storm we saw from the overlook the day before was here. It was freezing. I kept having to stop and do some push-ups. We thought the ranger station was at the park, but I stopped to ask directions at a different ranger station. By luck, it ended up being the lottery and we were there at five till 9. I called V in and we played. I was thinking our luck was going strong. There were 28 people and we figured we had a great chance since there were 20 permits. Wrong! Ten people get permits by doing an online lottery four months in advance. Sooo, there’s ten permits. That’s still not bad. Oh yeah, also people who have tried for the second or third day in a row get double or triple the chance. Shit.


Now I figure we’ve got less than a 20 percent chance. We lose. We’ve got the motel for that night too, but when you win the lottery at the wave you don’t get to go that day (because that would make sense). You get to go the next day. The weather was still freezing at night and we didn’t want to stay another day so we give up on the wave. It is time to go back in defeat. I get some fire in my heart and I think that we froze our asses off to come out here for a reason. I stop at a rock formation and climb a bit.


V yells at me. It’s cold! It’s time to go. I say that it’s colder on the bike, but it was time to leave.


We stopped a couple times to warm up and finally made it through that ordeal and passed out at the motel.
The weather stayed freezing even longer than expected. I asked V if we could stay one more night and cook and have fun with our own apartment. She said yes (and she says she doesn’t have any control!) I wanted to call the ranger station and see if they would enter us in the lottery without us being there (master of sympathy!), but they have no phone number! Crap. I get up early and I ask V, “Should I ride to the station alone and get in the lottery?” She says, “Hell! It wouldn’t bother me any. I get to stay here and relax.”
I bundle into every piece of clothing we both have. I look like a little kid ready to build a snow fort. I’m swelled up from three pairs of pants and four jackets, two scarves, and a bunch of other shit stuffed in random places. I’m warm and I fly at 70 mph. Aaanndd, I run out of gas. I forgot to fill up! I’m rolling along down a hill and for some reason I’m optimistic. A gas station appears out of nowhere and I roll in with just enough momentum. I pump and go! I’m cutting it really close now. I drive at 80 mph. No good. Perp didn’t like that and his oil pressure got too high. He complained by going, “MMMMmmmmmPPhhthpt.” That was the sound of the engine cutting off. I start him up and drive slower at 50. I bust ass into the dirt road parking lot of the ranger station, bouncing all over the place. I hit a small bush, lose the sleeping bag, and bounce up onto the sidewalk in front of the cars. I jump off and run to the door just as people open it to come out. Shit! I missed it.
The older woman park ranger (who V disliked) was overly sympathetic, “OOhh! You poor baby! I’ll tell you what I can do for you after I finish this paperwork.”
I stand and wait with my helmet on and looking stuffed. I’m hoping for some miracle. Maybe, she’ll just give me a permit. Wouldn’t that be nice. No. She wants to charge us ten bucks to go see another part of the park. I find out we can’t get to any of them including the wave unless we go down a very bumpy dirt road. I go check it out...

Yeah. It’s bumpy. My day is not going so well. To make matters worse I pull a couple feet off the road and it was like quick sand. It looked solid, but I sank right in. I couldn’t back up to get back on the road. I pulled everything off the bike: Tent, sleeping bag, backpack, full saddlebags, and even the towel and battery packs from the trunk. I had to go forward, so I scouted my path in a little arc to go around some bushes and back onto the road. I’m pushing and peeling out, digging myself into a trench while slowly making progress. I get to a spot that combines the two kill shots of loose sand and a slight upward slope. I’m stuck. I’m in the middle of nowhere. I could die out here!

No I didn’t think that. I actually kept my cool really well. Every survival guide I’ve read always says that it isn’t the smartest, or the most well prepared that survive, but those who never give up and stay positive. That was me. I never stopped for sorrow. I immediately started looking for flat stones. I started burying them under the bike wheels and created a brick path. Just as I finished and was admiring my work, a truck pulled up with a nice soft-spoken crotchety old man in it. Apparently he was a volunteer park ranger. Or, maybe he just called himself that and he was more of a park regular. He helped by giving that extra little bit. He pulled on the front fairing and I pushed while perp scrambled his way out of there. The real park ranger stopped by and he was a quiet but nice guy from Minnesota by the sound of his wubbleU’s (did you see that movie? They raped Indiana Jones.) He just told me nicely to park on solid ground. I did.

I went for a long and awesome walk into the middle of nowhere. I didn’t find the wave because it was ten miles out, but I did find some wave-like rock formations. I climbed up a pretty one that was about twenty feet squared. I followed the easiest route which was a dryed up riverbed. I winded along the sand between the blue bushes until I came to a small canyon, cut by the water. It wasn’t a hard climb, but it was challenging. I smoothly climbed up the canyon that wound its way up the cliff until I was on top. There were nice rock formations everywhere. It wasn’t amazing, but it was mine. No one else was there and there was absolutely no civilization to be seen. I did my chi gong and tai chi at the top. I stopped on the way down and did some improve kung fu in front of some jagged formations that also included one giant egg shaped rock with layers of reds and yellows etched into it.

I’ve noticed in the past that If I do kung fu to a destination rather than walking I don’t get nearly as tired. It is partly because my body is so used to Kung Fu-ing, but it is also because my improv. puts me in every human position and I work so many different muscle groups that none of them get tired. Also, when you Kung Fu your walk, you are shaping your body to fit the land. You glide over rocks and you move differently over sand that you do over rocks or flats. It makes you pay close attention to your posture and your breathing; your every step is completely mindful. You hold yourself up from the inside and you never get tired.

I was careful to pay attention to where I was; markers, paths, and signs. None were manmade, but they don’t need to be. I practiced the first step to mastering the art of tracking. You must track yourself. I followed my foot prints in the sand, and when there were none I used memory and logic to guess where I went. Sometimes you lose the path and you go a different route. But, you keep the destination in mind and criss-cross and eventually you find yourself again.

I find some animal tracks. I follow them off my path a bit and I wonder what it was. They look pretty big. Could it be a wolf? I can’t tell because the sand is too loose and it just looks like a glob. I keep following the animal. I lose it. And, I find it again. I just had to watch the lay of the land and think, “If I were going in this direction, where would I be heading and what would be the easiest path.” I find a perfect track and I see that it is the four pronged hoof of a deer.

I track back to my foot prints and enjoy the climb down the cliffs and canyons back to the bike. I am filled with bliss and am ready to say good bye to TV.

We are ready to say good-bye to the apartment and the cat who we find out is named squeek after the sound it makes instead of a meow. I finally convinced V that it is too late in the year to go to the north east and see monument valley and Mesa Verde. We must head south and see the grand canyon before it gets too cold. I promise her that we will find some pueblo ruins in southern Arizona and we head off. We stop and enjoy the one thing we didn’t fail to see. The Horse-shoe Bend.


It was beautiful. We then missed the tiny or non-existent sign for the water holes canyon and said, “Screw it.” We rode in the little bit of warmth towards the Grandest of Canyons.

Posted by - Rain 23:02

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nice blog. maybe you'll take a look on my blog:
http://presadecuvinte.wordpress.com/ . it is about the most charming places to be visited in romania, SE Europe

by kataphrakt

i think this is one of my favorite joe blogs, nice writing. but, hey, what's with the failure and heading home thing, i almost had a heart attack when i read that (not that i don't want you guys back - ps. the house is almost clean :)
is the kitchenette "home" in this story? good luck and better weather await!

by georgi r

Your mentions of "The Wave" intrigued me--I had no idea what you were talking about and why people would go through all that to do it or go there, whatever it was. Then I saw photos on the web and understood your efforts and disappointment. Like Georgi, I loved this blog. It really put me in your situation--the adventure, the rough times of being together nonstop, the great photos of amazing places, the cat who's a reincarnation of our cat Felicity, and how you made a home for a few days, with all that fun cooking: you definitely needed a vacation from your vacation!

by Sheryl S

Yay! Kitchens!...I bet everything was editable...that's the only thing that sucks about vacations...the food...you're stuck with crappy salads and french fries...I'm glad you had a chance to make some good food...interesting about the bumper sticker...how sad...

...did you see that cleveland just caught a "serial killer"...I was proud of my dad for making a good point...how sad that 11 african american women go missing and hardly anyone...press or cops make a big deal...some of the women were missing for years...he was sad because he was really hoping to see a change in society in his lifetime...hopefully it will...in the mean time I'm glad we were raised to appriciate native american culture and admire their simple life style and spiritual background...

by CoreyAnn

I'm always amazed how close Joe gets to the edge of those cliffs. At the very least it creates some cool pictures. The horse shoe bend pictures are great!

by buddy-JC

I also won't lie. I was slightly excited by the title. Already feels like forever since you two left and we're over due for a party. I guess that will add to the fun in Hawaii!

by buddy-JC

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