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Spring Break 95, Southwest USA 

Eleven weeks on the plains of west central Minnesota... Eleven weeks starring out at the tundra, it seems to stretch infinitely in all directions. Surely there must be something beyond the wasteland, something new, something wonderful. The spirit of exploration welled up within a small group of four hearty adventurers. An expedition was organized, funding was obtained (Citibank visa), food stuffs cached (fry bread and roasted soy beans), and a route plotted (southwest).

On the 16th day of March, in the year of our Lord 1995, the expedition set out in a bloated, but fuel-efficient, two-door sedan. The journey was long and arduous, but the explorers were content. They were relaxing after a week of battling the demons of set theory, developmental psych, and worse, armed only with a blue-book and a much chewed on bic pen. The battles were over, the specters had been dispatched by brilliant works of logic, persuasion, and old fashioned BS. The miles ticked off, the adventurers slept, ate, and lived within the cramped, but fuel-efficient, sedan. A sacrifice was made to the chiropractic gods, and the expedition rolled on.

The last remnants of daylight faded as the explorers gazed west, west across a great, dark, terrible void. "I don't believe it, it's worse, it's actually worse then Morris," stammered one of the four. "Shall we wait until morning?" asked an adventurer. "No, hell no, I heard another group tried that... they swallowed their own tongues," reported another. All four gulped hard, and in one great push, crossed a place known simply as Nebraska.

As the first rays of sunrise reflected in the rear view mirror, the travellers rubbed their weary eyes in disbelief. No, those aren't low flying clouds, they're mountains, real mountains! A bearing was taken, a course plotted, and the sedan huffed-and-puffed towards the earthly heavens.

And so our explorers reached their first destination, Rocky Mountain Nat'l park. The sun beat down on the spectacular alpine scenery. Strange animals of all kinds were observed and named: big-horn sheep, mule deer, elk, and antelope. Attempts were made to stalk the wily beasts, but they proved too smart for their fumbling.

The journey continued onward, heading south. The mountains gave way to a more arid landscape, Utah. The sedan wove through sandstone canyons and pillars. The night engulfed our wanderers once again as they reached a place known as Canyonlands Nat'l park. As the minstrels say, it had been a hard days-night, the sedan came to a rest at last. The four slept long and hard under a blanket of stars.

The next morning, the group explored the desert landscape before heading a short distance to Arches Nat'l park. It is here that the gods constructed huge rock sculptures that appear to defy the laws of gravity and common sense. The area also seemed to be infected by a half-human, half-polyester beast which was named tourist. One of our heros, displaying impressive strength and balance, climbed the rock face to reach a window in the solid rock. After returning safely to the ground, two of the lemming-like tourist beasts decided to attempt the same feat. Fearing an ugly mess and possible litigation, the four decided to play it safe and beat a hasty retreat.

The expedition decided to associate with others of their own kind. Wallstreet was the place, an area consisting of sheer sandstone cliffs, a highway, and the Colorado river. All this in a space built to fit no more than two of the three. A route was chosen, a low-angled, low profile crack. Some in the group likened the sandstone to climbing a slip-and-slide, feet skating off at any moment. Others took it in stride, using Zen like body control and foot placement to climb gracefully to the top. Dusk fell and the group retired to a nearby camp. A fire was lit and spirits were consumed in celebration. The group once again fell asleep under a clear, starry sky. Early in the am, one of the group demonstrated his shamen-like ability. It began to rain, rain in the desert, who would have thunk it?

Shaking off the droplets of rain, the journey continued south, crossing into Arizona. After stopping briefly to examine the ruins of an ancient people (Canyon de Chelly Nat'l monument), the expedition pushed on to Flagstaff. A camp was selected in a lush green valley, right next to a raging trout steam (Arizona??? hmmmmm). The next day was spent pursuing the explorers favorite pastime, hanging far above terra firma on a strand of nylon string. A nice 5.8 on solid volcanic rock, plenty of overhangs to keep the mind challenged and the biceps pumped. Scratched, cut and bruised, but content, the company returned to camp. A quick dip in painfully cold water washed at least one layer of funk off. A cow was slaughtered and grilled with a magically delicious spice known as Lawry's.

Turning north, our travellers finally reached mecha, the Grand Canyon. Standing at the very edge, looking out at the immense and infinite contours and designs of the canyon, one couldn't help but wonder, who or what created this? "Erosion," chimed the tour guide. Mystery thusly solved, the group prayed to the national park service gods in hopes of obtaining permission to hike and camp below the canyon rim. The prayers went unheard and the four resorted to a day hike. Returning from the hike, strange humanoids wearing denim, jeans and tennis shoes were observed lugging suitcases down into the canyon. The idea of mugging one and stealing their permit were entertained, but decided against.

Heading north, they left behind a toothbrush to claim this land for their mother country. The rambling men and women entered one final wonderland, Zion Nat'l park. The stuff of dreams, vertical walls loomed up in all directions. The more they loomed, the smaller and smaller the expedition's collection of aircraft aluminum and nylon seemed. Resigning themselves to merely gawk, trails were hiked and wind-blown waterfalls walked beneath. With a storm looming overhead, the adventurers slept sound, preparing themselves for the long journey home...

Hope you enjoyed the tale. Safe travels!

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