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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Getting a bit campy

It was the March issue of National Geographic Adventure that inspired this current camping trip with my dad and stepmom. When I pulled the magazine out of the mailbox, the cover photo showing a red rock slot canyon piqued my interest. The more I read, the more I wanted to be in the southwest again, exploring the landscape with camera and tripod in tow.

I posed the idea of a camping trip to my dad, who had just begun the process of buying a new camper. The old 1982 VW Westfalia always had something wrong with it, got 20 miles to the gallon on a good day with a tailwind going downhill and could only inch along at a snail's pace.

We decided on a camping adventure that would take us through Diné (Navajo) tribal lands, then into the major national parks of Utah. And now here we are, in the newer 2002 VW Eurovan on its inaugural trip over a rainy Memorial Day weekend.

The setting sun broke out briefly as we made our way along the south rim of Canyon de Chelly on our way to the Spider Rock campground. The glowing rocks stood out against the bluish-gray sky filled with clouds in the distance. Standing at the rim, the smell of juniper wafted in the air and the sound of our voices echoed on the canyon walls.

When it began to sprinkle, we hopped back into the car to complete our day's journey. The campground was muddy, the fine water-logged red sand caked our shoes and made a mess inside our shelter. With no possibility for an evening hike, the bottle of red wine was passed around and we toasted our journey together by the light of my headlamp.

Fast forward 11 hours later, and what sounds like a a decent trip so far had turned quite ugly. Bobbie, my stepmom, had only gotten two hours of sleep because the rear-seat fold-down bed left much to be desired, and the overflowing porta-potties and lack of any running water put her over the edge.

Running for the nearest grocery store at first light, the Seattle's Best coffee cheered her up. However, the out-of-order women's restroom and the "disgusting" men's room soured her yet again. It was only after breakfast overlooking Canyon de Chelly's Mummy Cave that things started to look up again.

1 comment:

Andrea Clark said...

Gosh I hope the trip improved. I was thinking about you as I too watched the heavens open up continuously this weekend. So much for the sunny Southwest. We never left our home due to very sick child...but now it's lovely again so I hope the remainder of your trip is a blast. Good to see you (albeit briefly).