Part V: Bryce Canyon National Park to Las Vegas
|Here's a little fella' we spotted along one of the paths. He stood out, not surprisingly, because of his bright blue tail. Upon seeing the picture, Nate hypothesized that the brightly colored tail was intended to cause predators to go for the tail, which the lizard could afford to lose because it would just grow a new one. Now, Nate is a smart guy, but I think he was way off base on this one. Clearly this guy was trying out for the lizard version of the Blue Man Group. They're known as the Blue Lizard Group. You may think that name is un-original, but the humans actually came second. What's that? Oh, why do the lizards have blue tails rather than blue heads? Well, again, the lizards had the idea first. I think the humans would have done the same, but in case you didn't notice, humans don't have tails.|
|Las Vegas. Where a giant pulled his pants down in the middle of the desert and took a shit.|
In the words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I've got to say about that."
Sorry if you were expecting more.
|Beautiful, gorgeous Zion!|
Okay, just needed that to "cleanse the palate," if you will.
|Not only does UC-Irvine want to replace its students with Ivy Leaguers, but it also apparently wants to discourage disabled students from attending. Hey disabled kids! We built you a ramp, but we made it too steep!|
|Keeping up appearances in Laguna Beach.|
|So, after 2700 miles, three national parks, 10 states, and 1 speeding ticket, our journey came to a conclusion on the shore of the Pacific. And a good trip it was.|
Of course, I still had to make the return journey to Columbus, but this was much quicker than the journey out, as the return trip was through the air. It was somewhat reflection-inducing to hear the pilot announce each place we were flying over: Vegas, Zion, Bryce, etc. Yep, been there, done that. I would have liked to look out the window for the aerial view, but my seat was on the aisle, so visibility was limited.
Despite my attempts to give the impression in this series of posts that I'm some experienced traveler, the truth is that I'm not very well-traveled compared to many. In fact, the return flight from Irvine was only my fourth flight ever, the other three being Pittsburgh to New Jersey, Pittsburgh to St. Louis, and St. Louis back to Pittsburgh. The most recent of these was probably at least 12 years ago, so pre-9/11. Given this lack of experience, I felt like I was just following the leader to some extent. Person in front of me handed a ticket to a person in the uniform? Well, I better hand a ticket to the person in the uniform. Person in front of me took their shoes off and put them on the conveyor belt? Well, I better take my shoes off and put them on the conveyor belt. Person in front me goes to gate 12 and gets on flight 5281? I better go to gate 12 and get on flight 5281. Just kidding. Barely. This course of action was obviously flawed, because there was no guarantee that the person in front of me knew what they were doing, but I figured the chances of finding someone in front of me who was less experienced at navigating airports and flights was pretty slim. While finding my seat on the plane I didn't see numbers on the seats or rows anywhere, so I wasn't even sure how to find my assigned seat. I took a guess that you could probably just count back the rows, and confirmed this to be true, but only after double-checking with the guy behind me, who pointed out that the row numbers were posted under the overhead compartments, out of immediate view. Being a theater-goer, I naturally assumed that the row numbers would be down in the armrest area of the seats.
After getting situated in my assigned spot, I began observing the surroundings and activity a little closer. Before too long I reached the conclusion that the airline attendants' primary duty was to repeatedly slam the hatches down on the overhead compartments with all their might to try to get them to close. There were two seats next to me, the far seat by the window and the middle seat. The far seat by the window was occupied by a man in a pilot's uniform, and I (or we) lucked out in that nobody ever claimed the middle seat. Perhaps the pilot reserved two seats just so he could avoid sitting next to anyone.
Before long the stereotypical crying baby started up in the row immediately behind me, although it was more like a hacking cough most of the time. After a few minutes, I realized, to my horror, that there were actually two babies behind me! It was like that scene in Jurassic Park where Muldoon thinks he's hunting the velociraptor, and has it in his sights, but then another velociraptor pops up right next to him and moves in for the kill! Fortunately, the talons hadn't developed yet on the babies' feet, but the hacking coughs were bad enough. We had a connecting flight in Minneapolis, and upon landing at the end of the first leg of the trip the pilot turned to the mother behind us and said "Wow, he did pretty well, huh?" I'm sitting there thinking "Either this guy is a frickin' moron, or he's just trying to be the nice, understanding pilot figure." I would find out on the second leg of the trip, from Minneapolis to Columbus, that in fact the pilot knew exactly what he was talking about, because the baby on the second flight was clearly being branded most of the way.
The flight from Minneapolis to Columbus was delayed for about an hour due to rain, but it really wasn't that bad. The flight from Irvine to Minneapolis had been delayed even less, and we were only about 10 minutes late taking off, with the reason being "excess weight." Apparently we were about 500 pounds over the weight limit. Seriously? Well, drop the food, I say. Clearly the people on this flight don't need it! Or maybe drop the babies. They probably only weight about 40 pounds each, but all their luggage and crap must make up the difference.
The reason the hour delay in Minneapolis went by quickly was because I had planned ahead and brought a novel to read on the plane. The Three Musketeers was my choice. As I was breaking out Dumas' classic, it struck me that this was probably not the greatest selection if I was hoping to chance upon that "beneficial coincidental meeting," where you end up sitting next to Bill Gates or something and get offered a job because you impress him so much with your intelligence.
Bill: Hi there, Bill Gates. You may have heard of me.
Me: Of course! Wow, what a chance occurrence, sitting next to you on a plane!
Bill: I know. So, what's that you're reading there?
Me: The Three Musketeers!
Bill: Oh, going with a classic adventure novel for adolescent boys, huh?
Me: Uh, well...
Bill: Don't talk to me.
You see, a choice like Good to Great, or First Break All the Rules, or one of those other shitty books would have been much more impressive. But, the truth is, I like me some good old turn-your-brain-to-the-off-position adventure. And really, it's just as possible that The Three Musketeers will lead to the life-changing conversation as any other book. That's the whole idea of a chance occurrence. In fact, the guy sitting next to me between Minneapolis and Columbus did ask me what I was reading, and although he seemed a bit dismissive of The Three Musketeers, it did prompt a conversation that led into other topics. Unfortunately, I concluded about 45 minutes later that the guy wasn't interested so much in having a conversation as he was interested in something like a verbal knowledge assault on a captive audience, which continued for another 45 minutes. Nice guy, but...yea..... That's not to say I didn't learn something from him. No doubt, I know more about the functioning of the heart now than I did before. I still have the diagram he drew for me.
Well, vacation concluded, post concluded, memories made. Feels good to be back in Columbus.