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2 days to Civilization

Posted on November 19th, 2007 after 15080 miles by Dean Croshere.

I woke up to this.

I mean that quite literally. As soon as the sun peaked around that mesa, it hit me right in the eyes. I’ve been sleeping in my car since grass does not exist in the desert. My car has large windows and no shutters. Then again, I suppose if I wasn’t even in my car the sun would be worse.

After snapping some pictures of the sun rising over the mesas, I decided that I wasn’t going to go on the $60 “behind the scenes” mesa tour with a guy named Dean. Instead, I wanted to move on. I had this bored impatient feeling in the back of my mind.

I headed towards Flagstaff. I needed a new UV filter for my camera, breakfast, an internet connection, and gas. My waitress for breakfast was apparently Ms. North Carolina, though I didn’t find this out until just before I left. She was cute and efficient.

The only camera shop I could find was a chain joint in a mall. The guy helping me out was clueless. I asked him what the difference was between a double-coated UV filter, a haze reduction UV filter and why I should get one.

“Well, you see,” he began, “the double-coated UV filter is double-coated for better UV filtering performance.”

Holy shit. Really?

He went on. “The haze reduction UV filter is more designed to reduce haze.”

UV filters have 2 purposes. One is to reduce haze. The other is to act as a clear lens cap. I was replacing it because my previous one had given its life performing as the latter. Every lens that can support a filter should have at least a UV filter on it at all times, they are simply too cheap and too effective to not be used. Any person working in a photography store should know this.

I should be generous. I’ve worked retail at a shop like this. You aren’t really trained in everything. You are sent out on the floor and are told to read the packages to customers in an attempt to sell them what you want. At least he was courteous and entertained me. I don’t even remember which one I bought.

I also checked out the prices of getting prints of digital photographs. 8x6 prints are $.50. 10x8 prints are $5.00.

While I was in Moab, I discovered that Best Western Inns do not secure their wireless Internet. I found one in Flagstaff nd asked if I could use it. The manager hemmed and hawed for a bit before saying I could go ahead.

Getting gas was entirely uneventful, however expensive.

I also called ahead to Vegas and finalized my plans. I would be arriving on Friday and it was now Wednesday. I had two more nights of camping and I would be back to civilization.

I got back on the road and headed vaguely towards the Grand Canyon. I figured I’d find a camping spot sooner or later.

The first place I found looked interesting enough. It was Lee’s Ferry in the Glen Canyon. I figured it was a good final stop before I headed to the Grand Canyon.

It wasn’t. I had already paid for my camping spot before I realized that this canyon, however beautiful, could not stand up to the amazing things I had seen the past few days.

It appeared that it was pretty much just a boat ramp and fisherman’s hangout. I wandered down a trail for a little while before getting bored and heading back to my car.

I was so bored that I fell asleep at about 6 PM.

Then I woke up.

At 1:00 AM.

After 7 hours of sleep.

I was not tired and not happy. I was bored and stuck. Well, not stuck, really. I could leave.

So I did. I drove to the Grand canyon at 1 AM.

I have strange memories of this drive. I was in a sort of a daze. I only passed a couple of cars going the other way and encountered none going my way. The moon was now just a crescent and had long since set, leaving the night to darkness without it’s enchanting glow.

At one point, a rabbit darted out in just front of my car. He might have just made it across my lane, but he panicked and turned back. It was a decision that ended in a sickening crunch. I’d never hit anything larger than a bug before. It was not pleasant. It certainly did not improve my mood.

An hour or so later on I passed a deer by the side of the road. I do not so much remember seeing the deer as I remember remembering the deer. I’ve got this nightmarish vision of her head floating in the darkness, her body disappearing into a dark mist by the side of the road. Her huge eyes glowing a yellowed waning moon in reflection of my headlights.

It wasn’t much further on that mist began to give the road the appearance of floating on nothing. It settled mostly below the roadway on both sides. All I could see was the road, long, straight, and disappearing into the same dark mist in front of me. The sides of the road had thin fringes of weak dried grass that appeared to slope quickly downwards and away.

I’d never been on this road before. I had no idea what was down there. I had no idea if it was a huge cliff or a small bluff. I had no idea what would happen if I fell off the road.

I just remember it passing continuously in hazy repetition.

When I finally reached the Grand Canyon state park, this little illusion did not improve upon itself. The rangers were burning. Regularly dotting the sides of the road were unattended fire pits glowing and flickering through their own smoke and the settling mist.

Eventually I got to the campsite and passed out in an unattended stall, hoping that I wasn’t going to be rudely awakened by a ranger asking why I hadn’t paid anything.

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