October 10, 2010


During our road trip out West over a year ago, we took a lot of side trips to National Parks and Monuments.  Until you're visiting these places, you have in the back of your mind that these are warm and fuzzy little experiences. Free of all worry and danger.  But this mindset couldn't be further from the truth, and the people on the front lines at the parks will be the first ones to tell you.

The subject re-crossed my mind recently after I read a short article shoved away in the travel section of some on-line newspaper about a man from Burbank, California who fell to his death at the Grand Canyon several weeks ago.  He was trying to hop from one rock outcrop to another at Pipe Creek Vista on the South Rim (a regular stop on the tourists trail) when he apparently had a brain fart and misjudged the distance and fell 500 feet to another outcropping below.

Our trip was the third one to the Canyon, and of all the places I've visited over the years, this is the place where you see the tourists divided into two distinct camps ... overly cautious and batshit crazy.  Jan falls solidly into the first group.  In fact, we had to cut our visit short because her fear of heights, combined with the elevation caused her to have a panic attack; something I'd never seen her do.  Me ... I'm borderline batshit crazy.

Although there are a lot of guard rails on the South Rim keeping you and the great nothingness separate, there are a hell of lot more places where it's just wide open. One trip, one slip or one moment of not-paying-attention to what you're doing, and you're lunch meat. Sure, there are Park Rangers interspersed along the sightseeing points, but I think they're just there to report the accidents, because no one stops anyone from doing stuff like this ...

The Batshit Crazy

I caught the above two in a relative moment of quiet. Before I took the picture, they had been frolicking around on the end of that outcropping like a couple of grasshoppers on crack.  I tried to make a bet with Jan on how long it would take them to fall, but she couldn't stand looking at them anymore and made me leave.

After a while, even I caught the fever and started to test how close I could get to the edge of the rim.  You know, where you stand with in a foot of the edge and then crane your neck over?  Like this ...

Literally Nothing But Air Six Inches Behind Me

About 30 seconds after Jan took this picture, she had her panic attack.  Probably for the best as I no doubt would have become even more foolish and tried some outcrop jumping myself.  It's hard to describe, but there's just a feeling that comes over you and you get this urge to start taking chances.

I did a little quick research and found that since achieving National Park status, over 500 people have died at the Grand Canyon.  Surprisingly, just over 50 of them were from stupid pet tricks like the one tried by the gentleman from Burbank several weeks ago.  As you would expect, the remainder were the usual heart attacks and strokes from out-of-shape people who took on more walking and climbing than they were built for at the moment.

When I read Jan the article, she wondered what the last thing was that went through the guy's mind when he realized that he had fucked up his ill-thought jump.  She thought he said a prayer, and that is soooo Jan.

I guessed, probably correctly, that it was "Aw Shit", as "Motherfucker" would have taken too long.

Anyway, that's what I would have said.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I'm with Jan - I got queasy just reading this.