Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One of many

I have had a full life and continue to do so. My younger years were seemingly insignificant yet when I recall events that have happened to me to others, I come away with a sense of accomplishment in a life well traveled. At least that's how it seems to me.

I'm going to tell some stories. A little at a time. With bad punctuation. And words that don't rhyme. Ha!

My perspective to my life is entirely my own. There are some facts. There are some made up things that have become fact. There are dreams that have mingled with reality and have become fact. There are events with witnesses and every witness will report a different story based on their own perspective of the incident. There are events that I only witnessed that have become part of my fact.

The life we have lived and the life we recall differ proportionally to the significance of the event and to the amount of time that has passed since we lived the event. My perspectives are my fact. Someone that gives me different facts change my perspective which makes new fact. Truth is, we lose so much of our memories from decay that reality is fuzzy at best. Humans have a lot of RAM, inadequate hard drive space and we never defragment our disks. Add that up and you get jumbled data that sometimes crosses boundaries into entirely new adventures.

Here's one.

I was on a roadtrip with Kay (long time ex girlfriend) and Jeff (hischool buddy) to Las Vegas and back. I was about 20 yrs old. Am 45 now so the exact numbers are fuzzy. My mom lived in LV for a while and it made a good excuse to visit her just to be in LV and have a free place to stay. I'm pretty sure it was on the way home from LV to Norman, OK (I was an OU student at the time). I drove a Subaru BRAT. Some of you may know what I'm talking about. The rest of you google images to get the idea. It is a two seater truckish kinda vehicle. I had the prerequesite stereo installed as all good teens were required to have. I put it in myself and I'm sure it was quite the frankenstein contraption but it worked. We had three people. The odd man out would either sit in the middle with the stick shift between their legs or ride in the back with all the luggage piled up on top of them to keep them warm. It was March. It was butt cold at night and going 70mph on the freeway made the wind chill factor well below zero. Strangely enough the back under the luggage and over the exhaust pipe was pretty toasty and comfortable. Where there's a will there's a way.

We decided to visit the Grand Canyon and hang out for a couple of hours on our way home. We had left LV after breakfast and the trip to the GC from LV got us there in the late afternoon. Still daylite for a couple of hours. There was a lot of snow near Flagstaff and the weather was clear and cold. Probably 40 degrees in the sun. We drove to the visitors center and found the necessary evils of moccasins, fry bread and taffy and nothing else of significance. The plan was to see the GC and check it off the list of things to do in a lifetime, not spend any real quality time there. We drove to the nearest overlook where we could park and get out and look over the edge and yell for echoes and all that touristy stuff.

There weren't many cars in the parking lot. A handful at best. We got out all happy and spry and giggly to see the giant hole in the ground. There was a significant amount of snow on the rim of the canyon and the parking lot had patches of ice and snow. We got out of the truck and bundled up. I had a gray coat that was like a ski jacket only without the puffy crap in it and it was a little more dressy looking. It had two pockets on the outside to put your hands in. Normal stuff. I'm sure I had on an OU sweatshirt and jeans. No gloves. No hat. My friends were equally bundled and ready to greet the canyon. I left the truck unlocked since we were only going to be a few feet away. No big deal.

The edge of the canyon here had big steel fences to at least make sure you had to try hard if you intended to hurl yourself over the edge. I could see no intent among those gathered that day. By the time we got to the edge of the canyon there were only a couple of other cars and all of those were beginning to load up and head back to wherever it was from whence they came. We moseyed up to the fence. And made the standard remarks and comments. I'm sure we said something about the Brady Bunch. How could you not. We were pleased with our checkmark and were making our way back to the truck to leave. There was maybe a half hour of daylight left and the temperature had dropped well below freezing. The sky was clear and the sun was a big orange rolling toward the edge of the earth.

On the way to the truck I walked across a small snow drift that sang to me. I was a fairly accomplished baseball player and could toss a ball a looooong ways. Baseballs. Snowballs. Same thing. I bent down and began fashioning a suitable projectile to suit my need to hurl an object into the depths of the GC. Farther than anyone ever in the history of ever. I got a running start and threw the snowball with all my might but the victory was shortlived. I was too far away from the edge to see where the ball was going. My buddies seen my hijinks and joined in. Maybe they just watched the majesty of my throws. I ran to the fence that separated me from the mile long drop off the cliff and began to create the perfect orb. The snowball that would be remembered. I packed it tight and got into an athletic stance and rocked and fired a perfect strike into the heart of the greatest american chasm. It was majestic against the backdrop of the setting sun. Time seemed frozen like everything else around us. Slooowwww motion. It was awesome indeed. I watched the snowy projectile as it sped away on it's perfect 30 degree up launch angle. NASA would have been in awe. A smile swept across my face as I watched the snowball go ever higher and everything seemed right with the world. Except for that stupid bug that just flew into my vision. Way to spoil everything. In slow motion I watched the flying insect as it's flight took it across the line of sight of my heroic snowball offering to the GC god. Stupid bug. Had stupid wings. Looked deformed. Really deformed. The wings and legs went all weird directions and it didn't look capable of flight. I peered closer as it flew away from me. And peered. And looked. And nearly threw up. I stood there agape. Mouth wide open. Eyes unblinking and freeaing in the twilight air. I pointed at the bug. But it was no bug.

I stood and watched as the keys to the truck flew in the most perfect arc over the metal fence. Gaining altitude. Straining for distance. I ran to the fence and watched the little bug soar over the edge of the GC and begin it's long descent to the Colorado River below. The keys flew and flew and just as they were about to disappear in to the canyon forever they came to rest in a snowbank overhanging the very last rock before the precipitous drop to the canyon floor. The made a nice neat little dark blue circle in the snow where they had disappeared from view only a couple of feet from the edge.

I turned to my buds. They didn't notice the keys. I know I started to laugh. Then I gently informed them that I had just thrown the keys to our vehicle over the edge of the GC. Actually I didn't throw them. They flew all by themselves. I had put them in the right hand outside pocket of my coat. I'm right handed and my throwing action when I tossed the snowball and caused my jacket to whip about and eject my keys from their hiding place and send them on their fateful trip over the edge.

The sun was almost over the horizon. There was one other car in the parking lot about to leave. I waved them down and told them my car was broken and to please send a park ranger when they left the park. It was almost dark and we walked back to my truck and, luckily, because I had left the door unlocked, got inside. It was freezing cold. Then I had an epiphany. I installed my own stereo. I have seen the wires to my truck. I have seen movies. I can hotwire the truck and the day will be saved. We will just drive all the way home trying not to ever turn it off and I will get a new key when we got back to OU. Easy enough. I got out and crawled upside down under the steering wheel with my feet and butt on the seat. It was really dark but there was light from the dome lights inside the truck. I found the familiar fuse box with the frankenstein stereo wires attached to it. I found the wires that went to the ignition. I think I chewed them starter wire in half. Eventually I got the wire to a hot terminal and VROOM! Yay Yay Yay. I have ruined the day and then miraculously pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.

I got everything under the dash buttoned back up and cranked up the heater. Oooooh it felt good. We got everything ready to go, put all our outerwear away and set out to make the very best of a near disaster. We went three up in the cab. I pushed in the clutch and tapped on my Kay's legs so she could part them. She pretty much had to play porn star to give me access to the gearshift. The pattern was H with first gear upper left and fourth gear down right. Reverse was farther right of fourth gear. Reverse was the most fun and the least comfortable for Kay's womanly regions. I put it in reverse, let out the clutch and reversed neatly from our parking spot. I then moved the shifter to first and began our journey out of the park.

Except the steering wheel didn't turn. At all. NOOOOOOOOO! Without the key in the ignition the steering is locked in place. We can drive anywhere we want as long as that place is straight forward or straight backward. So. There we are. Stuck again. In the dark. At an unlit parking lot on an overlook at the Grand Canyon. Dammit. At least we had heat and we had lights as long as we had gas in the truck. I had filled up before entering the park so we were aok to idle all night long cramped three up in a two seater truck in 10 degree weather.

We waited. Surely the park ranger will be along soon. I mean, we were stranded. In need of assistance. Those guys love that stuff. We waited. And waited. Then there were lights coming up behind us and the rangers pulled up next to us. They asked all the questions. I answered all the questions. They laughed. Hard. At me for throwing my keys into the Grand Canyon. Ahhh. The sweet taste of humiliation. The rangers got their super duper flashlights and we went to the edge of the canyon and I shined the light on the little shadowed dent in the pristine snow. They laughed some more.

In true gladiator fashion, the rangers decided to rescue my keys. Gallant. They left us idling and came back a couple of hours later with loads of climbing gear. Ropes, pulleys, crampons, parkas. The rangers proceeded to tie off repelling ropes and safety ropes to the metal fence and to the ranger vehicle. One of the rangers went over the edge while I shined the light on the hole my keys had made. The ranger was very careful not to cause a snowslide and make the keys go off the edge. Eventually he was able to retrieve my keys and we helped them pack all their equipment back into their vehicle. It was midnite. We thanked them mightily. They said they were happy to be of service and to please donate to the park fund if we felt the need.

I'm sure I can't be the only person to ever throw the keys to their car into the Grand Canyon but I have to be in some pretty tight company. I do know that the rangers would sit around their campfires for months or years to come and would recount their version of the story of the THE IDIOT WHO THREW HIS KEYS IN TO THE GRAND CANYON. Maybe by now I will have had only one had and the other had a steel hook. Or we were bank robbers. Or I threw my baby over the edge and the rangers saved the day. Or.......................................

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