News and Tribune


October 5, 2013

DODD: Desert life is bittersweet



“being stupid I sat and broke my glasses, will look for readers; have to get mine fixed in Flag.”

Steve recalls it was often a long time between any forms of bathing. As he describes when he happened upon someone at a camping area or in a small community, he could be quite a sight. Such was the case when he emerged one day upon some ladies enjoying a picnic, looking a bit haggard and smelling a bit “randy.” He simply walked up to and inquired in the most polite tone, “Hey ladies, can you drive me to the visitor’s center?”

One can imagine just such a scene in a cheap slasher movie.

He had slept overnight on a “ranch” house off the trail. As he learned in Vietnam, when sleeping around people you don’t know it’s a good idea to keep your wallet in your pillowcase beneath your head all night. When he arrived at the Grand Canyon lodge the next morning to check in, he discovered he had no wallet. Contrary to what the commercials lead one to believe, Fed Ex and UPS don’t deliver totally worldwide. His missing wallet arrived the old fashioned way — by overnight mule express.


“Rained last night, raining this morning. Set up my hooch, so I stayed dry, hopes this is just a morning, shower need water supply. Cyclist told me I would find a cow trough.”

When water is necessary for survival, one will drink what one normally wouldn’t. Steve found water sometimes in rain puddles, livestock troughs or in muddy footprints on a trail. Among ways to make such drinking water safe are to use iodine pills or use a steri-pen, which utilizes infrared light. As a precaution, he used both on any water that was suspect.

After one particularly long and grueling day, he had some welcome company.

“A truck came by with two Navajos who had some beer. In my 10 years of being sober, I came as close to drinking beer as I have at any time since.”

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