Between bad judgement and the perfect photo

It was only last week, but seems like much longer, when we had back to back days that really amplified and accentuated the types of travel and travellers we have had contact with over our years of travel.

To give a bit of understanding of us, we aren’t terribly interested in the typical places that tourists visit. I will be more interested than Lars, and when we go to places that are on the outer edges for him, it’s a bit of a gamble on whether or not that will be something that he – and I – enjoys.
I really wanted to see Bryce Canyon, and he was much less interested. It wasn’t pulling teeth to have him accompany me. I did spend more time in the park than he. I thought Bryce was absolutely stunning, but; accommodation was incredibly overpriced. Was it worth that expense? ($250+ CDN) I don’t know, I’m still deciding. I think so, but that’s a big financial hit.

On the theme of touristed, written up places, last week, while staying at Lee’s Ferry, we took a day trip to Page Arizona, and Horseshoe Bend. The bend is exactly that, the Colorado River takes a big bend, and the viewpoint is where everyone is concentratted. It was a National Park entry, with caveat. Both the Navajo Nation, and Page had interests; so it cost $10USD to enter. No literature, no explanation, just entry to the sandy, hilly pathway to the bend. Retrospectively, I call it a cash grab.

So, we embarked on this pathway, along with hundreds of other people who had paid their admission fees. It was quite hot, the sandy pathway was a bit of effort; I think a lot of effort for those who either didn’t have proper footwear, or were not used to a strenuous expenditure. Along the way a young Chinese woman fainted in the heat, we offered a bit of help, and suggested that she hydrate, cool down, and she didn’t get better, go to the hospital. So many others along the way looked as though they were struggling.

It was maybe a 15 minute walk to the Bend, and it was a gongshow, truly. All these people, so many trying to get that elusive selfie for the benefit of Instagram, showing that they were the only ones at the bend that day. In fact, many people have died at Horseshoe Bend, as although there is a barrier, it is minimal, and the Colorado River massive; people with head off in both directions to find that perfect photo/viewing spot.
It is dramatic for sure, but, the masses of people there looking for the perfect shot, makes it less perfect as a destination, in our humble opinions.

We witnessed a nine or ten year old, Mandarin speaking boy, with iphone in hand, jump from rock to edge. One more leap, and he would have been… That’s how extreme the situation is, it’s the where perfect photo and bad judgement meet. That was so close, we just had to walk away.

The contrast, our next day of travel was, sublime.
After seeing the north rim of the Grand Canyon a few days earlier, we rode our dirt bikes from our campground to the north rim again, via a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) road. But this time, no passes or fees were required. It was about 40kms of blissful dirt road, to the rim of the Grand Canyon.

We met two gentlemen that day, who were camping in separate areas, in their vehicles along the rim. The first fellow we met, Gary, knew much about the area; how in the 50s and 60s, the government considered damming the canyon and pointed out some of the remnants of the cable cars used to survey the area. When we talked about the our experience the previous day at Horseshoe Bend, he said that ten or 15 years ago, we would have had the place to ourselves. Nobody really knew about the place. We all lamented the behaviours brought about by social media. He also talked about a book, Over The Edge: Death in Grand Canyon; which he said was fascinating, though maybe a little morbid.

The second fellow who’s name I don’t recall, seemed very sensitive and I felt he needed the isolation, though he really did approach us. We chatted for a while, and when we parted he was generous in offering his supplies to us. He was kind and took one of the photos of us below.

Both these men chose to interact with us, and these conversations were the most substantial and rewarding ones we had during our camping stays to this point. It was a very special and memorable day, for the men we met, and the way in which we got there.

For the most part, popular and touristy places are off our agenda. What we may miss out on in one place, we have confidence we’ll more than gain in another.

So, I will ramble on, in a future post, more about my thoughts on travel. Stay tuned if you’re interested, and thanks for reading.

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