Sunday, January 10, 2021

FTPs we are! Grateful and Blessed


I checked out of the Grand Canyon hotel and sat in the Maswick Lodge cafeteria eating half  of the salad I bought, thinking that I'd save the rest for later. I was reading the book I had just purchased... Over the Edge: Death in the Canyon. A guide who worked in the park told me to read it before I went on the Mule tour. I decided against that because I figured it might make me chicken out. 

As I sat there reading, I began to think, if I had courage enough, and enough faith to take a risky trip down into the canyon riding a mule, and have survived it... I am meant to be here! Thank you Lord! Granted, I shouldn't need to do something so drastic for confirmation! LOL!

I feel that I shouldn't preoccupy myself with worry about my job as I sat in reflection. I knew that I must keep that in mind. I felt sad that I actually thought, if I should tumble over and die at the canyon, at least I would be relieved of worry about how I am going to live once the job ends, which was a real possibility. Ahhhh the uncertainty. It's maddening. But for the courage to go through with this tour, and surviving the thrill and terror of it, I know I am blessed. At Plateau Point I even tripped stepping over a crevasse toward a cliff that dropped a couple thousand feet. I scared everyone. I didn't realize how unsteady I would be with the spacial strangeness of being at Plateau Point.  After that happened, I was glad to get back on the mule. 

I felt blessed and motivated! I felt optimistic and looked forward to the future. 

While at Bright Angel Lodge, I sat there, and looked out at the vast and spectacular view of the canyon. It was amazing to know that it was once an ocean. All the hues from the sun... I sat there realized how grateful, appreciative and blessed I am. It was truly beautiful and serene. 

My plan was to head over to the pool and swim a few laps and then soak in the whirlpool because my body ached from my hair ends to the tips of my toenails. I hate when I begin to over think, but I couldn't help but think about the fact that I had seen maybe 6 other Black people the entire time so far. The plight of being Black in the USA keeps me on guard and although I felt no threat, I still thought about 1968 when my parents took us to Miami Beach, FL, and all the white folks left the pool when we got in. Oh well. I decided to head to the pool anyway. 

As suspected, I was the only Black person there and the whirlpool was full. I'm kind of creeped out by the idea of being in a public hot tub anyway, so I decided against that. Man! I was really looking forward to relaxing my muscles in that warm water.

I did get in the pool which I feel is almost just as nasty crowded with people and their kids. I told myself that it's a bigger body of water so the germs are dispersed more LOL! The pool was huge though, and I figured it was big enough for me to be ignored. I found space on the far wall of the pool and swam a few laps... got out and felt good! Mission accomplished! A woman sitting on the side of the pool said "Wow. You really got your exercise". 

Later, another annoying thing I thought about was that I wanted to bring my Death in the Canyon book with me to dinner, but then realized I wanted to stop in the gift shop after dinner. I worried that I'd be accused of stealing my book. I decided I better carry my receipt. Then I thought about the book mark I bought, and that I need to find that receipt as well, and as I started looking for it in my room, I got disgusted about it and changed my mind about bringing the book to dinner with me. I brought one of my magazines instead. Ugh! Being Black in the USA means being born under a cloud of suspicion.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

FTPs we are! Thrill replaces Panic


I woke up with a headache. I didn't sleep well, and I believe it's a combination of the time change and the terrible offer made by management of my job, and a crazy dream. I kept going over the offer and whether I should turn it down, or not, and whether turning it down will affect my severance.

I kept hearing noises while I tried to sleep in that gigantic Grand Canyon hotel room. It was so big, and dark in there, and I imagined that spirits were rattling the hangers near the door. I quickly put that out of my mind so that I didn't wind myself into terror. I knew I'd never get any sleep if I allowed myself to entertain that thought.

Then I had a crazy dream, that I was involved in training some people to take our jobs and while I was on site, my car was vandalized. Someone had torn holes into the trunk door. I was so mad I wanted to call the police immediately, but someone with me, urged me not to because we were in a hurry. So I decided I would file a report later. I was pissed off, but went along with this and throughout the dream, I was angry that I didn't call the police before moving my car. Someone familiar from years ago was in my dream... I hadn't thought about her in years. She was at my job along with other people I knew, and I was still angry about my car. And then... Mr. Grant, one of my 8th grade teachers appears and wants to know what we were all complaining about. I went on a tirade and told him that we are training people, someone vandalized my car and how wrong he is to expect me to be happy. I was about to cry in the dream, and suddenly saw my car and that it wasn't actual holes ripped through the trunk door, but holes in the paint.

And then I woke up. 

So yeah.... I woke up with a headache, looked over at the clock and finally it was 4:53 AM, a few minutes before my wake up call. I began to think that the headache could also be due to the high altitude and dryness of the air at the Grand Canyon. I am not acclimated to the Mountain Time Zone yet. I reflected on the fact that I got sick the night before, after eating a greasy hamburger and onion rings... half of it at the lodge restaurant, and then the other half, hours later, cold... in my room. I went back out, to the lodge after laying out  my clothes for the Mule trip into the canyon. I can't believe I wanted ice cream, but I headed out for it and some bottled water. It was early evening.... and I peaked into the bar area and thought about ordering a Mud Slide... but then decided against it... and went for the ice cream. That ice cream was the straw that broke the camel's back with my plumbing! I was so sick after piling that on top of the greasy hamburger and onion rings... threw up the projectile way too. No wonder I couldn't sleep now that I think about all this.

To be honest... I also might have a headache due to the anxiety I'm feeling about the Mule Trip into the canyon. I hate that one of the tour guides told me that the mules are trained to walk on the outside edge of the trail, so that people who are walking, can be against the canyon. People have fallen off, and the mules have better footing. OMG! 

                               Our tour ends at Plateau Point, 4000 feet down. Round trip was approximately 8 hours. 

Well... I'm going! I'm not going to chicken out now!!!!

                        At Plateau Point! We had lunch down here and rested the mules before heading back up to the rim.

I survived!!! It was the scariest, most exciting, most thrilling and challenging event I have ever participated in! Notable quotables from the wrangler....

"The mules think the world is one big bag of doritos"!

He said this, because the mules would try to eat any treetop that peered up from the ledge, or down from cliffs above. Ugh! 

"Turn the mules toward the canyon by pulling the reigns hard to the right or left. Don't worry, they ain't going over. Once they're turned toward the canyon, Atilla the Hun and his entire army can't push him off".

This is how we let them rest. Peering over the cliffs.

I am saddle sore... my entire body aches after riding the mule for 8 hours. It was a muscular torment holding steady in the saddle while resisting the urge to lean away from the cliffs. My abs, legs, lower back, toenails hurt! It was definitely not an easy trip. Ice and snow was on the trail at the higher elevations. Rain caused deep mud after around 1000 feet down in some places on the trail. Then, the sun came out and we saw a magnificent rainbow beneath us!

The older German woman in our group said, "we must go through trouble or pain to see great things". 

She was absolutely right.