Heading north from the scorching wasteland that is the Phoenix metropolitan area. Passing the great forests of saguaro cactus that stand tall and prickly under the brutal sun. The road signs warn us to shut off the air conditioning for a few miles as the highway ascends up a mountain, vertically. I listen to the signs, because I do not want to be caught on the side of the road, melting into the asphalt waiting for a tow truck. For those few miles we can feel the sweat staining the interior of the rental car. When it’s over, we pull into a rest stop, where a native girl is busy staring at her cell phone next to a blanket of handmade jewelry that’s presumably for sale. Another sign at the rest stop warns visitors that the area is filled with scorpions and venomous snakes and that they shouldn’t venture away from the sidewalks.
We keep going. Onward, northward, upwards, until we reach the line of RVs and minivans waiting at the Pearly Gates of the Grand Canyon. In the park, the ranger by the gate warns us that ravens are stealing people’s food, and occasionally car keys, so don’t leave anything out. I smile, because I think the idea of thieving ravens is kind of funny. The ranger is overly serious and says “you laugh now, but don’t come crying to me when it happens to you.” Later on, as we walk through the campground, we come across a flock of ravens, mutilating a plastic cooler that’s been left on a picnic table. They’ve somehow figured out how to undo the latch, and now the campsite is strewn with bags of chips, candy bar wrappers and all other sorts of garbage. The ravens caw at us as we walk past and flutter up into the air, letting us know that this particular campsite is now their territory. I’m glad we’ve left our cooler in the trunk of the car, and I have the keys safely in my pocket. Continue reading “The Grand Canyon is a beautiful death trap.”