Monday, September 22, 2003

The Grand Canyon Expedition Journal - Day I

September 4
7:30 a.m.
At long last the day has dawned when we start on our much awaited expedition to Grand Canyon. After innumerable postponements and even more crew changes, we fearless warriors are about to set forth on our voyage of discovery. The magnificent men in their Chevy Impala. Why they named a beast of a car like the Impala after a nimble little deer is completely beyond me.

We manage to pack this cavernous metal beast to its breaking point. Imagine what would have happened if we had a girl with us. The prospect of spending ten hours scrunched up like sardines in a can doesn't sound very appealing.

It's going to be long journey.

8:30 a.m.
And we are on our way.

"No, wait, we forgot the tents."

" Fine, we'll detour through school."

" Hey, we still need to the groceries."

"I know, I know; we'll go to Walmart from school."

9:30 a.m.
"Wow! Walmart's pretty empty at this time of the day."

One hour of shopping later : "What do you mean 71 dollars?!? We are camping out to save money and the grocery bill comes to 71 dollars??"

"Don't we need frying pans to cook all this stuff in?"

"You didn't bring frying pans, you dumb ass, what were you thinking?"

"Just shut up and drive the car."

11:00 a.m.
Home again. We pack the cutlery et al. in the back. We decide to do some more shopping.

It's going to be a really long journey.

11:30 a.m.
Indian store. We buy 12 packs of Maggi noodles. Ah yes, and one bottle of Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Chilli Sauce - it's different.

Suddenly all of us are feeling a lot brighter.

11:45 a.m.
At last we are out of town.

Onward and upward, umm...I mean downward.

02:00 p.m.
I hand over the car to Milind.

"You are bored of driving???

If someone asks me that question one more time I am going to punch that person in the face. I like driving as much as the next person, but after all there's something to be said about having control over the CD player.

05:00 p.m.
RJ is driving now. We have had 4 rest stops already. I am beginning to think RJ's bladder has sprung a leak.

AN: "May I drive?"

The rest of us: "Shut up and mind your own business."

Okay, okay, we didn't really say that.

We said "Why don't you drive in Mesa Verde tomorrow, it will be easier than the highway."

There, doesn't that sound better?

07:00 p.m.
It's been three hours since our last pit stop and RJ wants to pee badly. I try to convince him that we are almost at Mesa Verde and he doesn't have long to wait. He doesn't look convinced. He is sitting hunched at the edge of the seat, willing the car forward rather than driving it. I am beginning to feel distinctly unsafe.

At last we see the park entrance. Our cries of relief are quickly muted when RJ screeches to a halt and crashes out of the car towards the restroom. To my horror I see a large tour bus parked right beside the restroom. I have visions of gory bloodbaths as RJ fights his way into the loo. But thankfully there are only two people in line and it's all over quickly.

The night is cool and clear...and dark...when I suddenly realise we haven't the faintest clue how to pitch the tent.

08:00 p.m.
We have the campsite illuminated by the car's headlights. The three bags containing all the tent paraphernalia have been emptied on the ground. We all take turns squinting at the four lines on the label of one of the bags that ostensibly pass as the instructions for pitching up the tent. I look down at the array spread on the ground in front of us and try to remember why we thought this was going to be fun.

"The black rods form the X."

"The gold ones are supposed to be bent. They go on top of the black ones."

"No, you are all wrong. Its the purple rods. See, they even match the strings on the tent."

"That's not the tent, that's the cover."

"There's a cover?"

"How do you know which one's the tent?"

Yeah right, send four engineers to solve the problem. That'll do it.
But we didn't feel ashamed at our ineptness. Come on, that was a very complicated piece of equipment. And it was dark. And we were hungry. And whoever said we were good engineers anyway?

Much to everyone's relief AN proposes that we abandon our foolish attempts at pitching the tent and ask someone from a neighbouring campsite. So we trudge over to the closest one. It's a couple out for the weekend. The wife seems a bit suspicious of four brown guys taking away her husband under what she must be thinking are blatantly false pretenses. But he is a good sport and he agrees to help us anyway.

The tent is up in 10 minutes. Now we are feeling ashamed at our ineptness.

But boy, do we sleep well that night.