In 2006 I took a Road Trip from San Francisco to New Mexico and back over the course of a month, writing and taking photos all the way. Two years later I had a show of paintings based on those photographs. This is one of a series of twenty-nine posts of those paintings accompanied by the relevant diary entries.

021 campground, grand canyon, AZ

Grand Canyon Campground, oil on board, 8 x 8 inches

15.May 8th, 2006.

This is the only painting from the Grand Canyon and is typical of my contrariness. The Canyon like the other sights was just too big to comprehend, to get into. It is the details and the people that hooked me.

So-I am camping!I am Mrs. Campground already. Took a little while to get the tent up but will only take minutes the next time. I was given a site with little shade-bastard-but I’ll know next time. 

May 9th.

This day I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. Its important to start early in the morning as the bottom of the canyon gets hot and there were scare stories, of course. One newspaper report told of an athlete who had only brought 500 ml of water with her and who died on a hike in the canyon. Dehydration can hit you and kill you pretty fast and, being me, I always made a point of carrying enough water for an army.

Woke about 5am, even though the moon is only half full the light was brilliant. Cranky start. Parked at the Bright Angel Lodge. The proper restaurant was closed to the public until 6:30 am even though there were people eating in there. Bastards. Spent $10 in the bar on a bagel, juice, bananas and tea. People skipped the queue ahead of me and a man came and stood in front of the TV while I was watching it. A big man but not as fat as some people I’ve seen-they sure do FAT over here. Little, normal persons’ heads on top of mountains of flab. I saw one lady at a rest stop whose fat was actually moving independently of her-flabby outcrops, protrusions and frills-frills of fat!

Anyway….started at 7am and got back at 12:30, an hour earlier that the estimated and a half an hour earlier than the shortest time on the signs. I guess I just charged down there and charged right up again. Though I stopped once or twice on the way up. I took far too many clothes…long pants on the way down, sarong on the way up. Shirt was invaluable but everything else a dead weight. 3.5 litres of water. Stopped for 45 minutes in the shady Indian Garden. Nice. Peaceful.

I have given out in the past about members of my family who travel about too fast and don’t take the time to stop. As I read back over this…well, pot and kettle. Also I am noticing something else. Currently I am researching a diary of my Grandfathers from when he was in South Russia. He seems more intent on writing out the dates of departures and arrivals than expanding on more ‘exciting’ things, which has been frustrating me. I am not quite the same-I do more complaining- but I am starting to see the family resemblance. I can hear my descendants cursing me for not describing the Grand Canyon before it was filled in to build a Super Mall…

All the way down I made a point of saying hello to people, some of whom didn’t acknowledge me. I was going to stop doing it, but then I didn’t, just to annoy the ignorant ones, and I ended up having quite a few friendly exchanges with people-one Swiss chap was surprised at the hotness of the air…it takes all sorts!

In fact it was cooler than I expected as we had a breeze and some cloud cover, which was great as I started to over heat at the start of the climb. There were loads of people doing it, all ages, shapes and sizes-quite a few older people. One wrinkled, tanned and stooped gentleman was alone so I got to thinking he may have lost his wife. He had a nice face. I felt sad for him. Then again maybe his wife was one of the fat ones waiting on the rim.

There was another man, a lean, tanned man who I didn’t put in my diary but who has stuck in my memory. He carried only a fanny pack and he glided all the way down past me and all the up, past me as I was on the way down still, so smoothly and quickly it was as if this was his morning stroll. It probably was.

A lady from Montreal was behind me a lot of the way-eventually caught up at the top-at pains to tell me she had an injured ankle and she was on a cycling/hiking holiday. I let her go ahead as I think her competitive streak was strong…

Later…laundry done…wrecked…dusk at the camp site-my site looks rather poor-my wee blue tent and me-compared to the fires and picnics and people at all the other sites. You have to be right set up for these camping larks. Went for dinner at the Masquik Lodge, feeling low. Wondering what I am doing. Looking for a motel, TV, city, anything to distract me from myself I guess. So is sitting with this a good thing? I don’t know. I know from this perspective that the Grand Canyon Arizona is the same as as being at home

Got into a conversation with the chef at the Masquik-a Navajo. He talked of a Polynesian Mormon friend who came to the Big Res to preach-he had to learn the language, very difficult apparently, and now he’s married and Navajo and has three or four kids. 

Got an email from the volunteer place back in Flagstaff asking me to volunteer yesterday evening. Damn. Not looking forward to sleeping, really should’ve invested in a Thermorest. Damn. Now,  got to find me torch.

Oh alright then…here’s a photo.



8 responses to “ROAD TRIP : GRAND CANYON~Bright Angel Trail

  1. That’s certainly a sight worth seeing.

    By the way, I’m now reading with Graham Norton’s voice in my head. He’s slightly sarcastic. Is that OK, or should I be aiming to hear someone else?

  2. Haha…not exactly…sure just read it the way you want…if its not your cup of tea, its not…or maybe if you look at it as more a personal diary than a travelogue ( and the personal diary of a depressive Irish person too! 🙂 ) or even a display of paintings…there are already lots of those….in fact the whole exhibition was based around the theme of being alone…and I see now there’s a lot of philosophical mulling about the meaning of life… so that’s the focus really…I probably should’ve written an introduction….I think I’ll do that at the end 🙂

  3. I’m enjoying it, truly. I would have stopped if I wasn’t. You can only do so many things you don’t enjoy for the sake of being polite.

    I like the paintings and the photographs. I like having to look at the map every now and again, so I’m also learning about geography. I’m starting to get the sub-text, now, that you were having a really good time.

  4. Oh good, I am glad to hear it…I have to say your comments have made me re-examine what I have written and what it is ‘for’ so they have been invaluable and thanks…I am not sure I was having a good time as such, just being me…the trip it has to be said is nicer to look back on, it was a real acheivement, difficult at times, but something that has made me smile for years afterwards. Just going back over it has helped me become even better reacquainted with myself too…I know now I would’ve been better getting out for a run between drives!

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