Trek Diary: Day Nineteen (15th July)
For the first time since England, i managed to sleep for eight hours straight. I had finally gotten used to camping and we only had a few days of the trip left.
During our morning routine, where we complained about the pay showers again, we encountered some more wildlife. I had just finished getting dressed when i heard Lisa scream from the toilet area. The reason? A moth – scary!
Admittedly, this was not just any old moth. This beast was gigantic! Lisa had found it sitting on the tiles of one of the toilet cubicles. It was a miracle that nobody had trodden on it during the night. Its wings were closed but i could tell it was about ten times the size of any moth i had seen before. It wasn’t until i coaxed it onto my hand that it unfolded its wings. Mr. Moth was very subdued and was obviously not happy about his daytime adventure. The ladies bathroom was definitely not the place for a moth of his size, especially with so many insect-phobic girls around. After rushing around to show everyone our find, i found him a temporary home in one of the sheltered picnic areas.
A few hours after leaving the Grand Canyon we reached Page, Arizona. Following a trip to buy some party essentials at Walmart (booze and costumes) we were told that we were going on a short hike to see Horseshoe Bend. The famous view is only a two mile drive out of town and a 10 minute walk away from the car park. It was pretty impressive! The bend is a meander of the Colorado River, which is the same river that flows through the Grand Canyon. It seemed that the past few days had been spent standing next to 1000ft drops and cliff edges. Despite this, i never did get one of those “artsy” travelling photos taken. The one where you sit on something high and stare wistfully into the distance. So many “potential profile pictures” wasted!
As well as a trip to Horseshoe Bend, we also got to stop off at Lake Powell. The area we visited was part of Glen Canyon dam and with the afternoon heat verging on unbearable, we decided to go swimming. It was here that i made a fool of myself…yet again. As i was floating about, i was beginning to wonder why it was so deep. It wasn’t until we went up to the Visitor Centre that i realised that we had been swimming in a flooded canyon. What an idiot. The dam should really have given that one away!
After a half hour drive we arrived at Paria Canyon Guest Ranch which is owned by an ex-Trek leader. With a barn built just for parties, it is perfect for these trips. We were also given the option to sleep in the bunk house for $10. A bed and air conditioning? The offer was graciously accepted.
About ten of us had put our names down for the horseback riding. It was quite expensive at $60 but i had never ridden western before and i didnt want to pass up the opportunity. The cowboys rounded us up and we hopped in the back of a truck, which drove us a little way out of the main ranch area. After signing the “dont blame us if you die” documents, we were asked how much riding we had done in the past. I have owned and been around horses all my life but have only ridden on and off for about 5 years, so i was pretty nervous. Only myself, Annika and Majeed had previous experience, so we were assigned matching horses. My mount for the afternoon was a chestnut horse named Shaggy who enjoyed randomly turning left. As i was getting used to being in the saddle again, i overheard the ranch hands talking. They were discussing my Shaggy and how he had played up during the last ride and for that i was placed right behind our guide, TenBears. Brilliant, just what i needed to hear.
Shaggy could obviously tell i hadn’t ridden in a while and immediately started to act up. He completely ignored anything i asked him to do and would flick his tail and flatten his ears instead. At this point TenBears turned round to me and told me to be firm with him or he would be taking the piss the entire journey. Pushing the fear of getting thrown off to the back of my mind, i did what i was told and it worked (I even got a “Good job, English” from TenBears at the end of the ride.) I eventually relaxed and joined in with the banter being thrown between our guide and Natalie, who kept calling him “TenDogs” whilst quizzing him about his love life. It was a very quiet ride which was perfect for the beginners of the group. A few of us wanted to go faster, so were given the option to canter around the corral when we returned. With my riding confidence back in place, i gave it a shot and absolutely loved it! Riding Western is so much more relaxed than English, and therefore much more enjoyable. English style is like riding with a stick up your bum. It is all about your positioning, the horse’s movement, rhythm and collection. “Heels down!” “You’re on the wrong leg!” “You call that riding?!” I swore i would never ride English again and so far i’ve stuck to my guns.
We arrived back as the sun was setting and we were eager to make full use of that Party Barn. For once, i made very little effort with my costume that consisted of just leopard print trousers and whiskers. Usually i go to extreme lengths with these activities and have even made a mythical faun costume before; complete with horns and pointy ears. As usual, the evening started out with a game of beer pong, followed by a few rounds of Arrogance with the game cup being frequently spiked with George Dickel whiskey.
A selection of board games were eventually discovered in the barn, including a customized Jenga game. This was “Dirty Jenga” and each piece had dares and drinking games written on them. A lot of gin was consumed with every passing wooden block, accompanied by a myriad of embarrassing confessions. The game was obviously focused towards the Trek America groups as i saw quite a number of, “Perform a sexual act on your Trek leader” blocks.
Following this game, my reality gradually blurred into nothingness. Apparently that is what happens when i drink alcohol now.
I also vaguely remember it being me who knocked down the Jenga tower.