One of the fringe benefits we hoped to gain while traveling around the country was added spontaneity in our lives. There is a certain degree of comfort that I gain from regimen (Sandy – not so much), and it has taken me a while to realize that “stirring the pot” so to speak, is a lot more exciting. For me, it is a good thing to get out of my comfort zone, even if it is a little, well… uncomfortable. I also realized that, for many years, my life sort of drove me as opposed to me driving it. There were always job responsibilities, family responsibilities, and (of course), the responsibility to have fun in between all of the other responsibilities. This left very little time for serious, spur-of-the-moment decisions. As such, I have been trying, and not always too successfully, to NOT over plan everything.
Spontaneity requires a bit of faith. Faith that moving forward without a clear plan will result in the possibility of great things… and also the possibility of a few duds. For me, I think my fear of being spontaneous was grew out of a last minute decision to shoot on up to Lake Tahoe for our wedding anniversary about a decade ago. Please heed my warning! There are times to be reckless and free-spirited. Your anniversary is not one of those times. Plan your ass off for anniversaries so everything goes perfectly. Do not take off for Tahoe just for fun. Do not fail to make reservations for this auspicious date. Do not end up in the Tahoe National Forest without a place to stay at 9:00 p.m. with a very hungry and cranky wife. These things will kill your sense of spontaneous adventure. (Sense any scars?)
Anyway, it was time to get out of the planning rut. So, over the last two weeks, we did several spontaneous things:
- Stopped in Page, AZ with no idea what it would be like.
- Spent the night in Williams, AZ – just because we got tired of driving.
- Shot down to White Sands, NM for the hell of it.
Glorious, each of them, for different reasons – and each of them that we would have completely missed if not for trust in fate.
It all started when Sandy found out she needed to head up to Portland, Oregon for a company meeting in November. This necessitated that we “hang out” near Las Vegas for awhile, so she could make her flight. So, I just looked on the map for something near Zion to spend some time – a place where we might have fun stuff to do, but Sandy could also stay on line for work. (Finding RV sites that are economical, but still close enough for our wireless hot spots, is a balancing act. We are getting better at it each day. Our priorities on a work day: Wireless, electricity, water, sewer dump, beautiful view, cheap-ass daily rate – in that order).
Anyway, I picked a site in Glen Canyon near the dam. It looked like it could be pretty, and was close enough to Page so I hoped that cell service would be good. We pulled in on a Friday, dropped off our trailer at Wahweap Campground, and almost every one of the criteria was met instantly. Plus we were greeted with this view out our front door:
We were hungry. So, we hopped in the truck and headed to Page. They seemed to be having some kind of street fair, but the food looked like what you would get at the fair – so we blew that off and walked across the street for Mexican. We had the most incredible lunch at El Tapatio. Spontaneous decision. Huge plates. Massive margaritas. Food coma.
So we headed back home, walked the dog down by the lake and ended up back in our trailer feeling somewhat exhausted. And then we looked at the clock: 6:20 p.m. What should we do for the next three hours? Well, luckily we didn’t pull out a game or a movie. I got on line and decided to look up what kind of festival was going on in Page. (Duh! – We never thought to ask anyone.)
Well, it turns out that they were having a balloon festival and that very night they were having an event called “Balloon Glow”. We jumped at the opportunity. As we exited the Airstream, we saw a very weird glow in the sky, which we assumed was “Balloon Glow”. It wasn’t really in the direction of Page – so we guessed that maybe one of the balloons must have gotten off track. But we were wrong. Instead, we learned the next day that this strange glow was caused by a rocket that was launched all the way out in California, but it was so large that we were able to see it in Arizona.
We jumped in the truck and as we got closer to Page, we saw what balloon glow actually was. Down the main street of Page they had set up about 20 different colored hot air balloons. Connected by walkie talkies, each Montgolfier operator would occasionally blast his heaters – illuminating his balloon with fire from the inside. As the evening progressed, they would simultaneously blast all at once, or choose to blast intermittently – which resulted in the balloons blinking on and off up and down the the main drag. It was such a different experience. You could walk up and down between the balloons chatting with people and enjoying this little community which had come to existence when they build the Glen Canyon dam. It was like watching gigantic Christmas bulbs lighting up the night.
We got to see this for about an hour, and then watched as each group deflated their balloons. It seems they all had to get some sleep as they would be up early the next morning for the main event. So, we stopped into a local pub and taught the bartender how to make hot toddies. He didn’t know how, and he didn’t have any honey, so I walked over to the restaurant next door, connived the waitress into giving me a few breakfast packages of honey, and our bartender learned a new skill. (We plan on educating bartenders across the country). We left Page that night feeling a glow (both visually and “spirit”ually ).
Early the next morning, we were back up to Page, and walking across the golf course with Pippin. I’ll let Sandy’s pictures tell this story, but the clear desert skies above Page provided a wonderful backdrop for the balloons as we watched multiple balloon teams prepare, inflate and launch their airships into the sky.
But wait! There’s more! After that, we drove over to the Glen Canyon dam for a “damn tour”, which was also spectacular. Second only to Hoover in size for North America, this tour allows you to walk along the top, and then take an elevator down to the electrical station at the bottom. It is really an amazing feat of engineering, and well worth seeing if you are ever in the area.
[ TO BE CONTINUED – See “Spontaneity – Part II” ]