It’s interesting the conversations you overhear, out of context, that resonate with you. It happened for me at camp this weekend in Grand Canyon at the Desert View Campground.
Desert View is a first-come-first-served no-reservations campground on the extreme eastern end of the park. It sees a lot of last-minute campers that couldn’t make reservations at the main campground near Grand Canyon Village, so it’s quite the motley crew when it fills up. We had everything from drunk Canadian party boys to German families to nomadic guitar playing hippies. We also had a small herd of urban hipsters who were seemingly lost, because they sure didn’t seem to be happy about this whole “camping” thing.
One morning two of the hipsters had broken from the purposefully-uninterested, apathetic herd and were conversing in the typical condescending fashion. Clearly, one of the two was not satisfied with sitting around camp practicing cool indifference and honing his snarky, sarcastic wit. He struggled to explain his ambitions to his friend.
“I don’t know, man…it’s just not what I want to do.”
“Well, what is it then?”
“I…I want to…to go for a walk…go somewhere. You know…meet random people, see random things. Maybe do something slightly unsafe…”
I have never heard anyone struggle so much to explain their need for ADVENTURE. In his struggle to verbalize his inexplicable desire to do something exciting he inadvertently delivered what I believe is the best definition of “Adventure” I’ve ever heard. I really hope this guy got the adventure he was after, but sadly his tribe probably snarked him into submission.
But his plea for adventure got me thinking about my own trip. How did our little trip to the Grand Canyon measure up to these requirements? Would he have approved of our own little adventure?
…Go for a walk…go somewhere…
Broken foot or not, we did hike. It wasn’t far and it wasn’t difficult, but we hiked. Even with a full campground and a tourist packed National Park we found and hiked trails that had few, if any, other people on them. We found places along the South Rim with epic views and quiet solitude.
…Meet random people…
Most notably, we made the acquaintance of local photographer, and ex-Grateful-Dead-chasing-hippie Jeff Franklin. As we sat at Shoshone Point waiting for sunset, Jeff made his way out to the point and chatted us up for the next couple hours. He was an interesting guy with a lot of stories to tell. He lives in the area and his wife works for Grand Canyon Village so he spends his time biking and hiking the area exploring and taking pictures. We talked about The Park, conservation, history, nature, and he offered some tips and insight for exploring some of the more remote regions of the Canyon.
…See random things…
Among seeing tourists dangling from the edges of the canyon, posing with dangerous wildlife and wearing some of the most inappropriate and outrageous clothing you’d expect to see at a National Park…I’d say it got pretty random. But nothing takes the cake for randomness like Bedrock City. It’s the one place where if I were to show you the pictures, out of context and without the story, most people would react with a big fat WTF! In the 1970s when The Flinstones was still a very popular cartoon and Hanna-Barbara was the king of Saturday mornings this place made perfect sense. Now though, it qualifies as a VERY random roadside oddity.
…Do something slightly unsafe…
Admittedly, this is my favorite part of any adventure. This one is pretty subjective because what I consider “unsafe” and what others consider “unsafe” can vary by a wide margin. With my busted foot, I wasn’t in a position to push the boundaries too much. But I imagine our hipster buddy would potentially break into a cold sweat and get wobbly in the knees standing too close to the 400+ foot drop offs at some of the Canyon edges. We saw plenty of tourists who’s own fear of heights kept them well behind the guardrails.
I guess, all in all, when I look back on the trip through the thick-rimmed retro glasses of Mr. Skinny Jeans I think we satisfied his criteria for fun and adventure. Standards differ and there are varying levels of adventure, but the basics are all here…go somewhere new, see random stuff, meet random people and do something that scares you…even if just a little bit.
If you have a story about seeing random stuff, meeting random people or doing something that scares you…share it with me in the comments! I love those kinds of stories!