We arrived back on Martha’s Vineyard tonight.
And, we almost didn’t make it off the ferry.
Just as it was our turn to start up and get ready to drive off the ferry, my car stalled. The battery died. It wouldn’t start.
This is a moment to “Be Prepared,” I thought. You, know, as the Boy Scouts would say.
I learned this lesson last week, as we handed over ALL electronic devices (ipads, iphones, all beeping, flashing, plugged-in-to-civilization items), as we boarded the bus to head to the grandest canyon on the continent.
(Where there are no shops, stores or outlets to run to in case of emergency, I might add.)
It was a 5-hour bus ride from Scottsdale to Grand Canyon National Park.
To help pass the time, Andy and Courtney created a Jeopardy game of canyon trivia, and a few fun facts about the natives — The Davis Family.
So, what did I do?
Panicked of course.
I was NOT prepared!
I never received our Belknap’s Waterproof Grand Canyon River Guide in the mail — you know, the handy, dandy, little book with all the information one might want to reference before handing over all communication devices, boarding a bus and descending into wild and untamed terrain — with her boyfriend’s family.
C’mon, I’m a Smith College grad for goodness sakes!
I didn’t want to look like a total dimwit, or possibly provoke the label of being blonde. I wanted to sparkle and shine for Justin in front of his family.
Okay, I’ll be honest.
I also really hate to lose.
So, I kicked into high gear, speed reading through the booklet and memorizing everything I could in the first hour of our ride. The history of the rocks, the people, the plants, the rapids. I recited facts out loud to Justin, who has a photographic memory, just as backup. An insurance policy of sorts.
When game time arrived, I was prepared.
I felt like that little girl in first grade, pumping my hand up in the air shouting, “Oh, oh, Pick me! Pick me! I know the answer!!”
As we winded our way through the categories, the pressure was on.
Justin and I were in the lead.
The amount of water that drains from the Colorado River into the ocean each year?
“OH…. I KNOW THIS.” I thought to myself. I JUST read it in the guide book as I crammed for this test.
Answers were flying out all over the bus.
What is 1 Gallon!
What is 200 Tons!
And, then my mind kicked into overdrive and I burst out of my seat:
“What is ZERO! Nothing! No water makes it to the ocean!!”
In the middle of my Jeopardy power surge, the thought occurred to me — it’s probably a good thing this is not the first time Justin’s family is meeting me. I must look like a lunatic.
But it was the correct answer. And, I won a prize.
You would have thought I was given a check for 1 million dollars. The thrill of it all!
My grand prize for participation?
FUD (female urination device) otherwise known as Go Girl
Yes, that’s right. I was now prepared to survive the outdoors and pee upright in case of emergency.
And, it couldn’t have come at a better time, because soon after we entered the great archway of Grand Canyon National Park. Off to the right, out my large bus window, I saw something that looked so familiar.
It looked exactly as it was supposed to, as if I had been there before — it was that great expanse of red rock, the deep divide of the earth, the crevice we would crawl into the next morning.
That night, we stayed in the Bright Angel lodges lining the canyon edge. It would be our last night with running water before the descent began.
I bought one more item, while rummaging through the gift shops while I still had the chance — a large brimmed hat with the Grand Canyon logo stamped on the front.
That night, as I laid out my clothes and counted everything in my bag, I felt confident that I packed everything a girl would need.
Feeling prepared and ready to go, I took out my contacts, undressed and stepped into a hot, steaming shower to luxuriate for one last moment before our 5:45 AM call time.
Just as I stepped into the shower and felt the hot water trickle down my back I looked up and squinted at something in the corner of the shower curtain. Tucked inside the fold and just under the shower curtain ring was a ginormous, brown spider.
Red alert bells rang through my head. My heart started pounding and I fled the scene. With water running down my naked body and my limbs shaking I stumbled into the bedroom and screamed at Justin, “SPIDER!”
He looked up at me slowly and rolled his eyes. “What do you want me to do?”
“Kill it! Go get it! It’s HUGE!” I screamed, knowing he hates it when I ask him do my dirty work and send a spider to the killing field.
Justin slowly peeled himself out of bed and muttered back in my direction, “Okay, fine, but I know it’s going to be tiny.”
As I stood naked, blind and dripping, trying to stay in the bedroom and peer into the bathroom at the same time, I saw Justin jump back a foot from the bathtub.
“That is a huge spider,” Justin admitted as he danced his away around the shower curtain to get another swat at him. After three attempts the arachnid finally washed down the drain — but not without a fight.
“I’ll give that one to you,” Justin said as we watched the spider’s last leg spiral down the drain. “It was a big one, it could have been a brown recluse.”
“Fabulous,” I thought to myself as I tossed and turned in bed all night trying to cling on a sliver of courage and my mantra to be lovemore and fearless. ”I can’t even take a shower. Just how am I going to sleep outside with spiders for the next 9 days?”
I finally fell asleep around 2:30 AM with the most encouraging thought I could muster.
At least I can pee standing up.