Driving on historic Route 66 towards the Grand Canyon:
Foodie: What music is this? It really fits the landscape, don’t you think? It’s so authentic!
Beast: It’s Haitian guitar folk music.
Beast: Can we stop at a trading post? I want to buy a Navajo beaded belt.
Foodie: I don’t think we should stop too much. We want to hit the Canyon before it gets dark. And besides, I’m sure you’ll find a Navajo beaded belt there at a gift shop or something.
Beast: Do you know that Ralph Lauren emails me more than you do?
Foodie: Are you on their email list for sales and stuff?
Foodie: We’re really getting to know each other on this trip.
For my birthday this year, the Beast met up with me at an undisclosed location where I had been working all week. (I’m forced to stay mum about that portion of the trip until it is made apparent where I was on the show.) But I can tell you that after two days there we drove to the Grand Canyon where we stayed overnight. Neither of us had ever seen it before. The drive there was just as fulfilling.
Foodie: Did you see that? Did we just pass an exit for Dirty Dog Road?
Beast: I saw it.
Foodie: Dirty Dog Road!
Beast: [Pause, then speaking in what could be described as a southern American accent] Dirty Dog Road! Come on down to Dirty Dog Road where you don’t know what’s gonna happen except ONE thing; you’re gonna get your DICK SUCKED!!!
Foodie: HAHAHAHAHHA! [Pause, then again with the accent] Dirty Dog Road! One thing’s for certain on Dirty Dog Road, y’all! Better get your dick out cause it’s gonna get SUCKED!
Beast: I’d kill for a Starbucks right now.
Foodie: Oh my god me too. Why don’t Americans brew strong coffee?
Beast: What I don’t understand is that they manage to get it to look so black but it still tastes like water.
Foodie: I haven’t seen a sign for a single Starbucks so far in Arizona.
Beast: Maybe there will be one at the Grand Canyon National Park. [Pause] I’m going to get a GCSL.
Foodie: What’s that?
Beast: A Grand Canyon Spiced Latte.
We pulled into the national park at about 3:00 p.m.–just in time to unload our stuff in our cabin at the Bright Angel Lodge and then watch the sunset, which cast a pink glow over the Canyon rocks. It felt like the vista changed with every minute that passed.
Beast: I’m just blown away, not just at the Canyon but over how well this national park is run. Just think about it: if Teddy Roosevelt didn’t declare it a national monument back in 1908, this place could very well look like Niagara Falls right now.
Foodie: I never thought about it that way, but you’re right. There would be an Imax theatre down in here I bet.
Beast: Did you overhear that boy ask his dad how the Canyon was made?
Foodie: No, what did he say? I read that there are a few theories.
Beast: The dad said that there were two: one about how the Canyon was carved out about 5 million years ago and geologists debate the details of that. And the second theory is that it had nothing to do with geology: it was created by God.
Foodie: Holy shit, really? [Pause] You know what gets me? Just thinking about this thing—this nearly 450 km-long gash in the middle of the earth carved out by the Colorado River, or maybe the Colorado River just exposed some ancient gorge that was there a billion years ago, and that the metamorphic rocks deep down in the belly of the Canyon are almost two billion years old! That’s almost half the age of the earth! And the last layer of sediment is older than the dinosaurs! For me, thinking about all that–the time, mostly–inspires more awe and wonder than anything else I can imagine.
Beast: Who do you think likes nature more, you or me?
Foodie: Definitely you.
Beast: I would just die if we saw a Condor!
After the sun set and the park was dark, we decided to eat at the El Tovar lodge. Earlier, we’d seen a sign above the entrance reading, “No backpackers”. It sounded perfect. And because we hadn’t eaten since breakfast–about eight hours earlier–we sat down to eat at the ungodly hour of 6:00 p.m. in the dining room.
I ordered a salad and a New York strip loin. The Beast ordered lobster bisque and a buffalo rib eye. The bottle of red wine from Oregon went right to our heads.
Foodie: I’m so full. Do you want some of this?
Beast: [Motioning to my plate with his fork] Are you telling me everything on this plate is for sale?
Foodie: Yes, that’s what I’m telling you. Help yourself. [Pause] Dirty Dog Road. Remember that? [Pause] Dirty Dog Road! Come on down and get yer dick SUCKED, y’all!
Beast: The Grand Canyon may be the biggest hole in Arizona, but it sure as heck won’t suck yer DICK!
Foodie: Yeah! [Pause] Come one, come all to Dirty Dick Road y’all!
Beast: [Speaking to imaginary server] Ah, Excuse me my wife is drunk. She sucked too many dicks at Dirty Dog Road.
Foodie: Do you think it would be rude to take out my phone? I want to make some notes.
Beast: I like how you’re not embarrassed to shout dick jokes out about Dirty Dick Road but you’re asking if it’s okay to make notes.
Foodie: I wanted to make notes about Dirty Dick Road. Do you still think it will be funny when we’re not drunk and high on fresh, 7,000-feet-above-sea-level air? [Footnote: not really.]
We walked back to our little cabin as slow as we could, just to take in every last second of the quiet, cold stillness. It felt like we had the Canyon to ourselves.
Foodie: Look at this, will you? It’s even majestic at night–like being in the middle of a Casper David Friedrich painting.
Beast: It’s truly haunting. [Romantic pause] I hope you don’t mind but I have to drop off a canyon-sized dump when we get back to our cabin.
We walked arm in arm, silent in the silver glow of the moonlight, save for a few high-pitched, trumpet-like toots heralding events to come.
It was as close to heaven as I’ve ever felt.
Post Script: A few more photos from the next day at the Canyon, when the Beast made me get up at 6:00 a.m. to see the sunrise, then take a three-hour tour of the South Rim via mule back, followed by driving 25 miles to the over 100-year-old Desert View Watchtower, designed by Mary Colter–a remarkable architect who also designed the lodge we stayed in.
And one last one, for my mom: