The Night Of “Dirty Jenga” And The Party Barn

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!

Dont fall off

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.

Our gang
Getting dickel'ed
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“I Know This is Rude But…Are You Mormon?”

Trek Diary: Day Eighteen (14th July) 

4:15am.

Time to get up! Our wake up call was administered by our Trek leader and i heard many sleepy multi-lingual complaints as he ran through the tents trying to rouse us. My face was frozen and i knew the rest of me was going to have to face the same temperature. I had created a cosy micro climate with my many layers and was not feeling inclined to leave it. Having to change in the freezing cold whilst half asleep, in the dark and in a tent, was not the greatest moment of the trip. We were on a tight schedule and were essentially racing the sun to the Grand Canyon. The drive to the park was spent shivering in silence. Well, apart from Anthony who wore his newly purchased fur coat.

Sunrise and the famous gum tree.

This was our second sunrise in as many days. It may have been cold and ridiculous o’clock but it was still a stunning sight. Some of the group climbed down to the ridge below where we were sitting. You can just about see them in the background of the above photo. Elvis Travis is there somewhere too. Oh, and that is a famous tree which has gum all over it – i added my own. Mint chocolate chip flavour! After the sun had risen, we split up in search of our hiking trails with the vans merging into two groups. The mental ones (German’s and single British lad included) opted for the long six hour hike into the Canyon. Whilst us clever individuals chose the short but scenic 2-3 hour hike. We reached the starting point at around 6am. In the middle of July this is something that has to be done as early as possible…unless you want heat exhaustion that is.

The walk down was not too bad at all (more about this later in the post.) Our destination was only the second point on the South Kaibab trail called “Cedar Ridge”. It was still a fair way down and had some amazing views. We took some tourist photos, had some snacks and read our letters from Steve. Down on the trail was also the beginning of the “rash mystery”. As well as being tent buds, Lisa and I also ended up having matching rashes on our legs. It stung like a bitch but did eventually subside. This phenomena would reappear again and we started noticing a bit of a pattern! (Herpes. Lol jk!)

At this point I should probably be commenting on the scenery, but i was too busy thinking about the walk back up to fully appreciate it. A few of our group started discussing about whether to walk down to the next viewing point. One thing you should know about hiking the Grand Canyon is how deceptive it is. The walk down was leisurely…a mere stroll (whilst being surrounded by long drops and potential gnarly deaths.) It lures you into thinking you should continue on. “You have time!” “That walk wasn’t so bad, was it?” “You’re obviously fitter than you thought!” Lies. All of it! Especially that last one. Throughout the park there are warning signs saying, “What goes down, must come up!” along with stories of how people have heart attacks and die out on the trails. I was not prepared to become another statistic!

Our letters!

We started to make our way back up around 7:30am. The combination of the sun getting higher and the unfamiliar physical activity was not much fun. We found ourselves having rest stops every few hundred yards in an effort to break up the hike. We also played games like “eye spy” to take our minds off the pain of using long forgotten muscles. My personal favourite was “Something beginning with “C… and then D” Took a while to figure out. The answer was CERTAIN DEATH and associated with the cliff edge, which was about five inches from where we were stepping.

The trail was eventually conquered with everyone feeling quite giddy from sheer relief and possible heat stroke. We had planned to go see the canyon from different areas of the park but opted to return back to the campsite for a lazy afternoon. I also had ice cream on my mind. When we were exploring the camp grounds the night before, i had spotted a brightly coloured ice cream and frozen yogurt store. Definitely deserved one after that hike! I also used my english accent to my advantage and got free extra toppings. Chocolate brownie AND peanut butter? HELL YEAH.

The smallest they had. I love you America!

I was well and truly defeated by this tub of sugary goodness and only managed about a quarter of it. It was an American “small” and probably contained triple the calories that we had burned off during the morning activities. The afternoon was spent doing literally nothing and it was so nice to just chill out for a while.

We did visit the canyon again to see the sunset. We got there pretty early but came prepared with Bible colouring books and Uno. Chang won the Uno games despite never playing it in his entire life. Our gameplay was interrupted by everyone clapping and cheering at the sun disappearing. I think it was an American thing. Steve on the other hand yelled, “Its never coming back!”

Uno!

The rest of the evening was spent doing laundry and making use of the good wifi. One of my most memorable moments of the trip was meeting some real life Amish at the campsite. Now, i say “real life” but to be honest, i dont know how strict they were with their massive campervan AND a car. I was pretty disappointed with the lack of horse and carriage. We had spotted them earlier on in the day, along with many other gawkers and finger pointers. It wasn’t until i was in just my bra and shorts, shaving my legs in the shower room that we had our first face-to-face encounter. There i was, leg hauled up onto the sink in protest of the (rather expensive) paid showers. When a young girl and her mother entered, both in full length skirt and bonnet, staring at us. I squeaked an embarassed/nervous, “hi” as i promptly removed myself from my unorthodox position. When they returned, Natalie our resident “make friends with everyone” Trekkie, approached them and said, “I know this is rude, but…” It was at this point that Lisa fled. “…are you Mormon?” I sprinted after her.

Following our massive laundry session and our “Mormon” encounter, Lisa and I wandered off to the local general store. After two weeks of additive filled van snacks and a day of icecream and pizza, we were not doing so good. I instinctively walked over to the candy aisle but it was just not going to happen. Instead, I got an apple and a “Nakd” drink. It was green, so i decided it had to be good for me. On our return to camp we couldn’t find anyone and presumed they had all gone to bed.

I think this was also the night of the full moon, where we all went a bit loopy and started talking to ourselves in the mirror.