Which Hole Was Deeper?

After typing out my tale of debauchery surrounded by the wholesome folks in the North Rim Lodge there for a breakfast buffet, I headed to the rim itself and began what ended up being a much longer hike than I anticipated.

I set off a little before 9am with my water bottles filled and my spirits high. I distinctly remember feeling chipper, but noticing the sharply contrasting looks on the faces of people who had started much earlier, and were on their way back up. But I was listening to Anthony Bourdain’s audio book, and couldn’t be bothered with their negativity.

I kept up a decent pace, and felt like I was making good time. I asked multiple small groups along the way how much farther it was to ever-shifting goal locations, as my confidence in my ability grew with the discovery that I could refill my water bottles at the midpoint – Manzanita. I got there barely winded at all, slightly warm, and only marginally concerned about the trip back up. Good news: I had reached the bottom by 11am! Not so good news: the sign at the rangers station strongly advised against hiking between the hours of 10am and 4pm.

“How long did it take you to get to the top?” I asked the European backpacker who had arrived shortly after me. “About three hours,” he said, which is about what I was expecting. I sat around in the shade drinking water for 30 minutes or so, wet my face, my hat, and my shirt in the creek, then started my climb back to the top.

Right away I could tell that the heat and the elevation were not going to make this easy on me. I debated hanging out at Manzanita and waiting out the sun, but I decided I wanted to get on the road sooner than that, so I powered on, taking breaks in whatever shade I could find. At some point I realized that pants had been the wrong choice, so I lost those to my backpack. Then I couldn’t handle Tony’s voice in my ears anymore, as all of my attention needed to be on my misery for me to keep going.

A father and son duo from Amsterdam that I had seen on the way down caught up with me, and again gave me wonderful news of a nearby water station. Also, I was happy to find an outhouse, as the Valhalla Steak and Eggs from breakfast were waging war on my innards.

Brief aside: horse piss on the trail after hours in the sun is more difficult to deal with while you’re gasping for air during an ascent at elevation.

The water and shade and continuous rest breaks got me to the top around 3:30pm. “How far is Manzanita from here?” I asked the ranger at the top between breaths.

“5.4 miles and about 3600ft down, but I’d advise against it in this heat,” she said.

“Good to know,” I said. Normally, those numbers wouldn’t phase me, but with no training to speak of, 96° weather, and on the heels of an impressive hangover, the ranger may have had a point.

I made it to a campground in Utah last night, stopped at Four Corners this morning for the novelty of it, and decided I couldn’t spend another minute in the desert, so I headed north to the much greener portions of Colorado, where I sit happily with a cold local beer. Tonight sleep. Tomorrow Denver.

Strip Clubs and Nature

This is where I woke up today. Presently, I’m sitting in the dining room of the lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, realizing that I’ve been in the same clothes since Thursday and I haven’t eaten anything since Friday night. So far, I’d say the trip is going well.

I arrived in Vegas Friday night around 12am, with the intention of grabbing a couple drinks across the street then getting some sleep, and as anyone who’s been out with me knows, that is not what happened. I got an Uber to wherever the Uber driver thought I should go – downtown in this instance. After meandering around for a bit, and a few more drinks, a strip club sounded fun. “I haven’t been to a strip club in forever,” I thought, so I went to a place called Cheetah.

While there, I spent the vast majority of my time learning about the life and aspirations of “Erica,” who grew up in Ghana and has dreams of opening her own restaurant someday. At some point, I got a phonecall from my dad warning me about a place he had a particularly bad experience with – Cheetah. I pshawed, and continued pouring money out of my bank account. Pro-tip: don’t show the group of strippers you’re hanging out with your bank account balance as justification for your shock at a declined card – it just gives them a goal. Anyway, about $1100 later my uncle rescued me from their clutches around 11am, and I promptly passed out on his couch until 8pm. Not feeling like I could survive another night in that fine city, I made the four hour drive to the Grand Canyon.

Apparently when you arrive at 2am, and are packed up again by 6am, the “Campground Full” signs aren’t as important. The Taylors – the group the my space was reserved for – certainly didn’t seem to mind. Today will involve a challenging hike to purge myself of toxins, and a much-needed shower to purge myself of the stripper smell. Happy Sunday!

Peace and Love, SoCal*

From Facebook:

It is with a flurry of mixed emotion that I mark today as my last day at Malibu Coast Animal Hospital. Over the last year-and-a-half, I’ve spent more waking hours here than at my actual place of residence, so it was my home in a very real sense. I have come to know each and every one of the people here – all of the staff and many clients alike – as members of my family, and they have done everything in their power to make me feel like a member of theirs, even in the face of my general jackassery. I am grateful for the time I’ve gotten here, and beyond excited to begin the next leg of my life’s journey in Chicago, but I am sad to turn the page on what has been an incredibly emotionally and spiritually satisfying chapter of my life. Thank you to all of you that have contributed so much – I love and will miss you all.

Malibu Coast Animal Hospital

Update: I opted out of saying goodbye to everyone in person. I made it all the way to clocking out, then a long-time client asked if I would check her out, and I choked back tears as I ran out the door to cry in my car on the way to a baseball game like a man. A big thank you to Dr. Heather Napolitano for providing me the perfect excuse for a hasty exit in the form of a Dodgers game – it was both fun and convenient for my purposes. Do I regret not hugging each person who made such a difference in my perspective on the world? Sure. Yes. But I will see them (you) all again, and ideally under less cry-y circumstances.

My car’s oil is changed, the interior is cleaned, and it’s being packed at a rate consistent with my level of hungover. If you know of any good brothels in southern Nevada, hook a brutha up with a number!

*I do not say “peace and love” – the title is an homage to Dr. Dean Graulich.

I say funny stuff sometimes.

When I was younger they were laughing at me, now I’m older, and I’m laughing at me, too.

As many of you know, I’ve sold the vast majority of my belongings, and I’m packing the rest into my vehicle and setting off for Chicago to pursue my dream of being a stand-up comedian. It’s either the best or – more likely – worst decision I’ve ever rashly made, but I’m almost 30, and it’ll only be progressively less appropriate for me to do this kind of shit, so here we go!

I’ll be posting information about my journey east on this blog, as well as on Twitter (@spatfarrell) occasionally. I’m currently debating an all-written format vs. an occasional Vlog post. We shall see what kind of mood I’m in as the trip progresses, and my alcohol consumption fluctuates.

Thank you all for the love and support you’ve shown me thus far – it has only encouraged me, so if this goes south, this is largely on you. Cheers!