Three Friends, Four States and a Homeless Man
Part 4 – The Grand Canyon

When last I left off, I had been scared out of my mind by a homeless silver asshole, and had gone to sleep in the woods off a fire road, 3 miles off the main road, in the Arizona National Forest. We woke up the next morning to a truck pulling up to our “campsite” and two rangers coming to talk to us. They wanted to make sure we were going to put our fire out properly, and ended up leaving us two plastic jugs of water with some sort of chemical mixed in that would cool the coals. The guys decided they were going to be “manly men” and were going to pee on the fire to put it out, so Heather and I went for a walk. When we returned the guys had finished up and had poured the jugs of water on the firepit as well, and we packed up the car and headed to the Grand Canyon.
We drove for a few minutes, hit a rather large rut in the road, and the steering wheel stopped working. Faaan-tastic. Heather had AAA, but we were still miles from the main road, on a fire road that was little more than a dirt track. Thankfully, while we were trying to figure out who was going to walk back to the Wendy’s where we had had dinner and call a tow truck, a guy in a jeep cherokee came along, and Heather was able to hitch a ride to a phone. Dan, Shim and I stayed behind and played catch with a football that happened to be in the car.
About 45 minutes later, a big dust cloud appeared on the road, and a tow truck came into view. The guy got us all hitched up, and then we realized we had a problem. There were four of us, plus the tow truck driver, and we all needed to squeeze into the cab of the truck. Let me just say that Dan has a bony ass. The tow truck drivier was awesome, he was this really gregarious Native American guy, who totally laughed at us the whole way to the garage. The garage which was actually located inside the gates of the Grand Canyon.
Normally, it costs $20 or $25 per car to enter the Grand Canyon. Since our car entered on the back of a tow truck, we didn’t have to pay that fee. That was pretty cool. Next we got to sit around and wait for them to tell us what was wrong with the car, so we could see if we could afford to fix it. It turned out that a bolt in the steering system had sheared and needed to be replaced. We all breathed a sigh of relief. A quick, easy, relatively inexpensive fix (they estimated $60 with parts and labor), as opposed to the broken axle we were afraid of. The mechanic pulled the car out and handed Heather the keys and said “have a nice day, enjoy the Grand Canyon” and we were all like, wait, we haven’t paid yet. And he looked at her, still holding out the keys, and said “Have. A. Nice. Day.” As in, “I’m doing something nice now take your car and go”. So that was awesome.
The whole morning, the weather had been sunny and gorgeous. We were prepared for a great day, what with the start it had had…
As soon as we pulled in to a lookout area to admire the canyon, it started to pour. It was a hot rain, so we were not uncomfortable, just wet, so we stayed and admired the view and watched the rest of the tourists shriek and scramble. Maybe it was just that I was tired and pissed off at Shim, maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the lack of a poper tour, but to me, the Grand Canyon was just a really big ditch. We stayed for a while, and then hit the road again.
It alternated being gorgeous sunshine, and pouring rain the rest of the afternoon. By late evening, we decided that we needed to find a room for the night, that we should not be sleepng outside in an electrical storm, and everything was soaking wet anyway. But, everyone else on the roads had the same idea we did, and all the hotels were full in every town we drove through. The lightning was getting worse and worse, and we, being Californians who rarely see the stuff, were getting increasingly freaked out. Finally, we were pretty much at the end of our rope in the lobby of a Marriot that was also completely booked. Heather started crying, and we headed back to our car.
A woman from the hotel’s desk chased us out into the rain, and told us that her parents ran a small bed and breakfast a couple of towns away, and they had a room available. She was not allowed to tell us that inside the hotel though, so she had to wait until we left. She called her family and they came out and got her, having us follow them back to the B&B. Which in actuality was a triple wide trailer. But it was dry and warm, and the family was really nice. We sat in the living room (lobby?) with them, and with another couple that were staying there who had found the place the same way we had, talking late into the night. When we finally turned in, Shim and Heather claimed the bed, leaving Dan and I to sleep on the floor.