Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Adventure Interruptus

Road Scholar group at journey's end.       --Photo courtesy Kay Levitt
I apologize for not posting to The Old Broad Sheet for such a long time. After working fifty years, I'm finding retirement is not an easy adjustment. Then there's dealing with the hard evidence of not just getting old, but of having already arrived.

In the face of that, I’ve decided to post again. After all, I have the wisdom that comes from surviving 70 years of mistakes and misadventures and no kids to foist it off on. 

One of my goals in retirement is to visit a few places. (If you read me occasionally, you may know I went to Florida in January 2012 to see my niece.) That trip opened my eyes to the reality that the ten grand I saved during the last five years I worked wasn’t going to take me very far, very often. “Still,” I said to myself, “if you’re gonna do it, Rosie girl, best get it done while you can.” So this spring I booked a tour with Road Scholar (current name for Elder Hostel): Exploring Grand Canyon’s Reach: the South Rim to Western Grand Canyon and a Grand Canyon Raft Trip (including a helicopter flight to the bottom depths of the canyon).

By the time of the tour in late September, I had used the Road Scholar installment plan and paid all the expenses for the trip. I’d made checklists of what to take. I had packed a week in advance. I WAS READY.

The first couple of days were a tepid exploration of historic Prescott, Arizona, the state’s territorial capitol. Then off to Flagstaff where, the following morning, we were set to spend the entire day exploring the South Rim of the iconic Grand Canyon.

Comes the dawn: the federal government had shut down the park.

There was a sliver of hope, however. The highway that takes visitors in to the South Rim at the east end of the park is Highway 64—an Arizona state highway. The feds had no authority to shut it down. Vehicles could still drive through the park, but federal rangers were ordered to prevent folks from stopping and getting out of their cars to even try to get a glimpse of one of the scenic wonders of the world. So sad, so mean. People had come from all over the globe for that singular view.

I lobbied our group counselor with the idea of taking Highway 64 into the park and when we stopped to peek and rangers came for us, we’d all take out our cameras and cell phones and stage an old ladies revolt.
     “Pull down the barricades! It’s the people’s canyon, not the government’s!"  

     "Arrest if you must, these old gray heads, but we’ll put you on YouTube!”

Apparently the Road Scholar powers-that-be were less than amused. We ended up diverting to a private hole in the ground called Meteor Crater. Granted, it, too, was a big hole in the ground ...just not quite the same somehow.

Love to you all,
Aunt Rose

PS—We did get to take the helicopter and raft trips. Those took place on the areas of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe, a sovereign nation.

Here’s a link detailing some of the more insane park closures (your tax dollar at work): http://www.nationalreview.com/article/361057/park-service-paramilitaries-mark-steyn