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…


Related Travel Guide Topics:

What to do this summer?

My parents want to know what I want to do this summer. I used to go to day camp and then became a day camp counselor, but last summer I said that I was never going to do that again, but don’t really know what else there is to do.

We always spend a week in Philadelphia visiting my grandparents and I’m thinking maybe I can stay up there with them for more time. I wonder whether I could get a job at the African American Museum in Philadelphia…that would be really cool. And I know that the Eastern State Penitentiary sounds really morbid, but my grandfather used to work there and it’s a pretty cool museum too. It’s not like I’m sooo into museums, but…I hate to be such a teenage stereotype…but I need SOMETHING to put on my college apps. I’m like looking for some sort of experience that’ll set me apart. And since I want to apply to UPenn early decision, maybe it’ll look good if I start acting loyal to philly. Maybe I can even stay all summer with my grandparents. And if those jobs don’t work out (b/c I have no idea if they’re accepting) then Im just I can just volunteer. SOMEWHERE. Even in a hospital.

Meanwhile, I haven’t written in a while. First of all Ricky and I broke up. he ended up being such an ass. he’s graduating this year and doesn’t want to feel “tied down” with a highschool girlfriend when he starts college, but said that we should still definitely keep dating until graduation. Are you fucking kidding me??? I told him to go to hell and I was cool calm and collected and then cried my eyes out when I got back to my dorm room and I haven’t spoken to him since, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks he’s a jerk so that of course makes me feel better.

Also, not much to say here, but our family trip to Stone Mountain State Park ended up being pretty cool (considering the circumstances, y’know, being a family trip and all). We went rock climbing which I’m good at and camped out and it was…fine I’ll admit it…fun.
Flip-flop, flip-flop…seriously that’s how I feel lately. I feel like a yo-yo (that’s a better metaphor), every day I feel high as a kite and then down in the dumps. jesus lacee stop acting like a drama queen, right? argh.

So speaking of rock climbing, I just heard about the UNCW climbing wall. it’s in Wilmington right near school, so I need to find out my info and then get my butt back in shape.

At least my parents are happy that Ricky is out of the picture.


Related Travel Guide Topics:

Putting the Me in Utah

I decided I would simply hitch a ride to wherever the next car out was going. There were a lot of families with kids at the ranch so i just had to find someone with room in their car and not too much food smushed into back seat cushions. Well… two out of three ain’t bad, right? It’s not like my pants were so clean to start with anyways. I honestly can’t even remember their last name, but this very nice family was going back home to Salt Lake City, which sounded to me like a nice enough spot—why the hell not?

So I turned in my spurs, said goodbye to Sandy (did I even tell you about the horse that saved my life?) and Mike and then voila—off I go, turning the last 3 weeks into a mirage, the only traces remaining is the stench that I just can’t seem to shake.

Utah, Utah – there must be a song about Utah, though I can’t think of any.

I’m at a youth hostel now in Salt Lake City, explored a bit this evening, and now I desperately need a map so I can figure out where I’m going tomorrow morning. I’ve barely used my tent and since the weather out here is so perfect right now, I want to go somewhere where I can sleep under the stars. Ok, google maps…

Okay, there is A LOT to do here. I’m thinking I’ll start at Capitol Reef National Park, and then go over to Arches National Park, then down to Canyonlands National Park — that makes the most sense I think, but then Zion National Park is totally in the opposite direction, as is Bryce Canyon National Park, so maybe that doesn’t make sense. Bear with me…

Okay, this is better: Zion National Park (long bus ride from Salt Lake City, I think) to Bryce Canyon to Canyonlands and then to Arches and I’ll skip Capitol Reef.

Okay cool, I’m going to Zion tomorrow!

Wow, was just browsing and see that you can ride a bobsled at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. And I’m kinda interested in visiting the Historic Temple Square here in Salt Lake. Maybe I should stay in SLC for a few days?

Why am I starting to stress out over this? What happened to relaxed Tim who didn’t give a damn about planning. I need to sign off and go to bed. In the morning, wherever and whenever I’m in the mood to go to, I’ll go.


Related Travel Guide Topics:

Getting in touch with my inner Cowboy

Yeehaw!
It was my goal to become head wrangler and I am proud to announce that I have achieved that title. After much persistence and insistence (begging, really), I came out on top!

Mike: Tim, you may not be head wrangler without years of experience.
Tim: Please, Mike, Please.
Mike: No. Stop bothering me.
Tim: Please, Mike, Please.
Mike: If I let you accompany the head wrangler for a day will you shut up and leave me alone?
Tim: Yes.
Mike: Fine. Shut up and leave me alone.

And THAT’S how I became head wrangler!

Meanwhile, I’ve spent most of the last 2 weeks feeding pigs, washing dishes, and pretending to be important, but I’ve also taken a few excursions from the ranch. Last week I went to Eagle Ranch where I went on a guided tour of how pistachio nuts are grown and processed—and anyone who knows me knows that I was totally in my element. Combine ranches and pistachios and you’ve got one happy guy.

There’s a genre of museums that I didn’t know about til now and because of my recent ranch escapades, I’ve got a newfound appreciation for: the ranch museum. I went to the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum as well as the Ghost Ranch Living Museum. There are a bunch more though, that either highlight the history of ranch life or are museums of local arts and crafts work that’s housed in a ranch. The Spring River Park and Zoo I hear is good too—there’s a ranch there with Texas longhorns (my new best friends) on display.

The culture out here is so rich and I feel so privileged to be a part of it. I seriously keep thinking of my cubicle…

It’s not like the east coast doesn’t have a rich history and culture of its own, but somehow, now, after being out here in the wild west, it just seems so bland. Almost European in nature compared to out here on rich American soil.

Dude, I was born to live on a dude ranch. Maybe I’ll stay here forever…

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.
Continue reading

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!