Grand Canyon Magic continued from 8/18 post


Grand Canyon Magic continued from 8/18 post
May 4, 1987, Flagstaff, Arizona

The night before we started on our raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon we met the head guide, Dave Edwards, in a room at the Holiday Inn in Flagstaff. Arizona for a pretrip orientation. Anxiety and excitement played tag inside me while I listened to Dave, a tall, lean, intense man with years of experience as a river guide. (Here’s a picture of Dave rowing a raft. Arlene is the “peep” sitting in the front of the raft.)

Quickly I scrounged a pen and paper (actually the back of a postcard Bob found in his pocket), and took notes: “first thing in the morning is coffee call . . . do approximately twenty miles a day . . . six hours on the river . . . hike in side canyons . . . drink lots of fluids, and not just when you’re thirsty . . . carry out all waste for proper disposal except urine (this experience prompt me to write my first nonfiction book, Toilets, Bathtubs, Sinks, and Sewers: A History of the Bathroom). . . water is very cold because it’s released from the bottom of the dam . . . everyone gets a waterproof ammunition can (army surplus) for personal belongings . . . for your sleeping bag and clothing you get two heavy rubber bags slightly bigger than a grocery bag (formerly used by soldiers to carry radio transmitters) . . . in an emergency you’ll go out in a helicopter (a prospect I vowed to avoid).

Dave repeatedly characterized waterfalls, canyon walls, rapids, stars, clouds, etc. as spectacular. “I use that word a lot,” he interjected a bit self-consciously, “but it’s the way I feel.” The next day, after a three-hour bus ride to Lee’s Ferry on the Colorado River where the rafts and rest of the crew waited for us, we began to find out why Dave frequently said–“spectacular!”

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