Rescued by some Moabites

I can’t even count the number of National Parks I’ve been in since I started my journey, the number of nights I’ve unzipped my tent and pulled my sleeping bag out so I could sleep under the starry night, the number of amazing people I’ve met who have taken me in for a night or shared some food or a shower (I mean, let me use their shower…we didn’t actually share…). And it’s on this last point (the people, not the shower) that I want to talk about now.

My most recent stop was at Canyonlands National Park which was beautiful. I hiked around for a few days and was just getting more and more tired by the second. I definitely should have stopped when I started feeling this way and should have headed right back to civilization. But I didn’t because I’m a trooper and I wasn’t going to let tiredness get the best of me. But then I must’ve passed out or something, because I woke up in the back of a pick up truck. There was another guy back there with me (his wife was driving) who told me that I was found outside my tent at the campground, unconscious. The guy suspected that I was dehydrated and they were bringing me to a hospital in Moab for an IV. Which they did, before bringing me to their tiny little home in Moab, right near Arches National Park for the night.

Let me just say: I am not a religious guy. I believe that there are some higher powers (maybe God), and I went to Sunday School when I was kid even though my parents were atheists. I have never thought much about Christianity or about Christian goodness, but these last few days, I have experienced it first hand.

Bob and Risa Berry and their 5 children took me into their home for three days, and it seemed as though this was something they were used to—taking in stragglers who they’ve found half dead in the parks. Two kids cleared out their room and moved in with the other 3 kids during that time and I got a room and access to a kitchen and bookcases filled with books until I recovered, from what was nothing more serious than exhaustion. Every night I had dinner with the Berrys and then the family sang hymns before bedtime that I was invited to as well. I felt like I was in a Christian children’s bible storyland.

I became particularly close with a nine year old boy, Johnny, who showed me all his secret hideouts on their vast woodland property and a treehouse that he and his 2 older brothers had built by themselves.

One day I went with Risa to the Dan O’Laurie Museum which helped me get a better understanding of the Moab region, which is known as a mountain biker’s paradise. So another day I actually went on a beautiful tour of the area with Bob on two of their bikes (does anyone work in Moab??).

And now I feel as strong as an ox. I’m going to do something I don’t usually do: I’m going to rent a car (even though gas will cost me my food for the next week). Apparently there are some scenic drives along the Colorado River that’ll bring me to Colorado. Probably just rent for the day and then get back on my own two feet!

Tim Groome is back!

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Returning to Zion

Howdy, peeps! Hows it hangin? How are the bones?

I’m broadcasting to you from (a little too) sunny Bryce Canyon National Park. Known as one of the most beautiful places on earth (especially now that I’m a part of its scenery –I jest!), I am GLAD that I went out of my way to get here. because really, what does “out of one’s way” really mean? its not like I was actually going anywhere to begin with.

Seriously though, I spent another day in Salt Lake City and then went to Zion National Park and after a few days there, I didn’t think it’d be possible to be in awe again. I’ve been around, y’know? I’ve seen rock formations in my day. But, man, there are rock formations, and then there are ROCK FORMATIONS. (And Zion National Park had the latter, obviously.) I went on the most fantastic three day hike, probably of my life. I met some cool people along the way, which was good b/c after one stupid snapshot, the batteries in my camera died and I realized I had forgotten more, so these guys will (hopefully) be emailing me some shots of me in front of an arch, you know to prove that I was there. I think they also got me canyoneering (I met them as part of an organized climb).

So from there I went to Bryce Canyon National Park and I’ve actually barely been in yet. Went for a day hike as soon as I got here and then went to “town” to get batteries, Dr. Pepper, rations, and check my email. But tomorrow I’m heading back in to get a better look around. I don’t wantto put to much pressure on this experience, but I think this may end up being the highlight of my journey. I’ve been feeling a little zany lately, lack of sleep, lack of food, but thinking of what I saw today subdues me a little, grounds me a bit, puts me in place, and makes me realize how small I am in this magnificent world—yeah, it does all those things.

Though that does bring me to my next point: I’m getting tired, bro. When I headed out for this adventure, I had the strength of 10 lions and the persistence of 10 mules. now I’m at like 6 and 5, respectively. At what point do I go home? Ahh, home, such a sweet word, packed with memories and a thick mattress…

Well, I still want to get to…where? I don’t even remember! I had a list as long as my leg of places I wanted to visit. And by now I’ve probably only hit mid-calf (starting from my toes and working my way up). Well, my new goal is to hit my knee—see what I mean about being zany? I have no idea what I’m talking about anymore.
Before I go, I just thought I’d wiki Zion National Park – did you know that it’s been inhabited by humans for 8,000 years? Did you know that some of the rock formations date back 13 million years? Did you know that Zion is a Hebrew word referring to a place of safety and peace? wow there are fantastic pictures here—those guys better follow through and send some to me…


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City Slicker par excellance

This is seriously the life. I don’t believe that just a few months ago I was in NY trapped in my cubicle for 9 hours a day wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life. Just last night I was in some bar in the middle of nowhere drunk off my ass and singing my lungs out at a karaoke bar—doesn’t sound like the Tim you know? Yeah, me neither.

So want to know where THIS cool guy is as we speak? On a dude ranch in New Mexico. I got my cowboy hat and I smell like shit and I just gorged on a ranch BBQ and now I can’t move. This is truly the beginning of a beautiful life. I’m staying here till they kick me out.

Meanwhile, just to track where I was that brought me here: I was in Albuquerque where I met some guys at this youth hostel who were on their way to this place. I spent a few more days chillin’ in the ‘querq (that doesn’t work, does it?) and now I’ve met up with them at this ranch.

There’s standard backpacker lingo around here. The greeting: Where have you been and where are you going? And the response: I was here. I am going there. Do you want to come? It’s a beautiful world we live in outside the constraints of the 2×4 cubicle.

Before making it down to the ranch, I made a stop at White Sands National Monument which is near the Tularosa Basin. I walked for about 5 miles through magnificent dunes and then went dune sledding (on a toboggan that I borrowed from a 6 year old girl, which was very nice of her). Apparently White Sands is the world’s largest gypsum dune field. I’ve got great pictures that I’ll upload when I’ve got a faster internet connection. I actually just missed the Annual Bataan Memorial Death March, which is something that the Air Force organizes every year to honor the thousands of people who died during a forced march of 60 miles led by Japanese soldiers during World War II. It would’ve been cool to be a part of that…maybe next year. There’s an exhibit now in the Philippines called “The Zen of White Sands” about one man’s experience here. You can see some of his pictures online. I was there!

I plan on picking up some city slicker skills while I’m here. I’d like to deliver a baby calf (remember that?) and learn to chew tobacco. There’re actually going to put me to work here, otherwise I’m just a “tourist” and then I have to pay more.
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I’m Baaack!

Bro, don’t read this: I ended up hitching a ride from Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and then all the way to Albuquerque. I was at Guadalupe Canyon (in the NP) which is by far the most magnificent and I ran into this old man who actually I’d run into already at Big Bend National Park a few days earlier…turns out he’s doing a similar trekking route as the one I’ve got (sort of) planned, so he gave me a ride ‘cross the border to our next stop in Carlsbad (it was just under an hour, still in the Guadalupe Mountains, so I probably could’ve ridden my bike—had I not been so damn trusting and left it unlocked by my hostel a few stops back. First my laptop, then this. Grrr.). But then Old Man gave me a ride to Albuquerque which is where he lives and while I probably could’ve biked that over the course of a few days, it was nice getting a free 6 hour ride.

The companionship was certainly nice while I’ve got it. I’ve met a ton of people down here, but most of these “friendships” last for the duration of a hike and then dissolve as quickly as they picked up. Though now I have random people imprinted upon the peaks of the mountains I’ve scaled in the Southwest.

George ended up being a great tour guide through the Carlsbad Caverns National Park — there’s this incredible network of underground caves that date back about 500,000 years. George knew the ins and outs and brought me to some very cool rock formations within some hidden caves. Apparently he had been bringing his kids and grandkids for years but this year they were “busy” (I think it’s more complicated than that) so he was happy to have the company of a young person, I think.

When we got to Albuquerque, he let me shower at his house and then he dropped me off at Cottonwood Mall and now George is just another bleep on my radar. Never to be seen again, but probably never forgotten. If I were to be writing a play or a screenplay, George would be the apocalyptal Old Man…the seer who comes to this world to watch over the orphan child and lead him in the direction of the gods….

I had no idea how welcome the cool walkways of a huge indoor mall would be. I’m not generally Mr. Mall, but, what an alternate universe: People who are CLEAN and SOCIALIZING WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY… almost foreign concepts to me by now. I got a twang of…something. Would I say homesickness? Maybe. I went to the food court and got something delicious and greasy and then…Tim is really reverting back to his old ways… saw a movie. Saw 10,000 BC which was both fun and crap—one of my alltime favorite genres…

I found a hostel (which is where I am now, finally online connected with the world) and I think I’m going to lay low for a few days and explore this city. My body physically needs a break from climbing.

BTW, is my movie taste that bad?
Haha—I just saw that Rotten Tomatoes gave 10,000 BC a 9% rating. That’s probably the lowest rated movie I’ve ever seen…and yet, I enjoyed it. What does that say about me?

Next stop? Hmmm… You’ll just have to wait and find out!