12 July 2008

Camping: The Adventure Heats Up II

July 4, 2008

Three hours later we were back at the campsite, roasting, arguing, and not having a good time. It was still hot, but we were still tired. We tried another nap in the tent, even though we knew it couldn't possibly be refreshing. Yes, it was more relaxing because I wasn't worried about bugs. But it was worse because our inflatable mattress captured and reflected body heat. I would wake up dripping onto the mattress, only to turn over so the other side could have a go. We tossed, turned, and avoided contact for two more hours until the sun went down. We decided to (1) get ice cream and (2) drive into Page, Arizona for what we hoped was a fireworks show. We weren't sure there would be a show at all, but what else was there to do?

The temperature got cooler as we drove away from Lees Ferry -- or "Satan's Throat" as Jesse called it. We got to Page just in time for the start of a fireworks extravaganza. We watched from a parking lot for a few minutes, then drove around to see what we could of the town. We ended up at a place that called itself a drive-in, but which was (at least in 2008) a drive-through. As we ate, mapped out our plan of attack for the Colorado River. Jesse figured (and I agreed) we should dig a trench, let it fill with water, and let that water warm up. We also decided to get beach umbrellas so we would have some shade from the sun. Clever? We thought so. So we went to the Wal Mart on the edge of town. It was probably the most perplexing experience of the whole trip.

The restaurant started filling up as we got ready to put our plan into action. We saw lines forming at the Sonic and other restaurants as well. And I guess it made sense to grab something to eat after an hour-long fireworks show. There were even long lines at the gas stations. I understood that too, I guess. But I was blown away by the people pouring into Wal Mart at 11PM on a Friday night. The parking lot was packed and inside there were groups of people in line buying single items. There were people buying kids' clothes, eggs, and other every day items that would have been ordinary at almost any other time on any other day. And maybe it's because I was expecting the store would be empty. Either way, it was a strange sight. That trip to Wal Mart was my first experience in a predominantly Native American area. I have to say it was disappointing.

I don't like people staring. It's rude. It happened in Fargo (as much as Jesse wants to believe the nice people in the Midwest would never) and it happens in some places when I'm out with Jesse. Typically white people stare and black people make comments. I had never known another minority group to stare. Granted - given the size and location of Page - few people there may have ever actually seen a black person in person. Still, it's not polite to stare. Suffice to say it was not the cultural observation I had one day hoped to have. But I did notice the cutest planter. It's a giant teacup on a saucer.

We bought our umbrellas and left Page optimistic for the next day. The more we talked about our plan, the more we were sure it would work. Our spirits were high and we thought it was cooler outside. It was actually only because Page sits at a higher elevation. It was still miserably hot after midnight at the campsite. By the time we parked and got ready for bed, some of the winds had fallen out of our sails. We didn't even really want to get into the tent but it was nighttime and without electricity, or a proper lantern, there wasn't a whole lot for us to do.

We slept horribly. Jesse and I agree it got hotter in the wee hours when it should have been getting colder. It eventually got cooler, when it was time to get up. The first thing we noticed Saturday morning: our plan was foiled. Day two at Lees Ferry dawned overcast. We were both surly. Jesse suggested we go home and I agreed. As far as I was concerned, our trip was a failure.