Tuesday, July 14, 2009

death by food poisoning, and other tales of our planned "camping" trip

This weekend we headed up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to camp. I'm not big into sleeping on the ground in the cold but I WILL do it. Each time I've gone camping, I've simultaneously thought, "this is amazingly beautiful!" and "I hope I don't get eaten by bears." Backpacking, where the object is to get as far away from people as possible, to me just means we're closer to the bear den.

We once camped where there were NO facilities whatsoever. By "facilities" I really mean toilet. You had to bring your own shovel and dig your own hole yourself. Can I tell you what a blast that is? Luckily, I went on a liquid diet the week before and thus did not need to inaugerate said shovel with any shameful yet necessary ceremonies.

Another thing about camping. Some women look beautiful without any work. I am not one of them. I need actual running water to wash my face and hair or I will look as if I slept on park bench downing whiskey and turning tricks all night. I am greatly aware of the role water plays in the development of civilization. Still, I'll agree to crawl into the woods anyway, as bear grub and all, for a good weekend out.

And so we planned a camping trip to show Dan's sister and her husband the beautiful North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The North Rim is completely different than the South Rim. Not only is it more secluded -- it gets about 1/10th the visitors of the South Rim -- it's also cooler and wetter. It's about 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim, surrounded by ponderosa pines and aspen. Although the canyon itself is about 10 miles wide, it takes about 4 hours to go from one side to the other. The North Rim is often closed in winter due to the heavy snows but summertime is a great time to visit.

So we went.

The morning started slow. It took 5 hours and several stops, including a dreaded Walmart visit, to get all our materials. With way too much food and luggage, we lumbered off towards the North Rim.

Halfway into the ride, Dan began to get a fever. By the time we arrived, he felt awful. We abandoned camping plans for the night and instead rented a small but cute cabin. There is no comfort like a warm and soft bed when you are sick.

But sleep was not to be had.
"The devil came to me last night and asked what I wanted in exchange for my soul. I still can't believe I said [mussels*]."
— Dan.
(*originally "pizza," original quote from Marc Ostroff)
The ensuing death-by-food-poisoning incident raged the entire night. I worriedly searched for information online in between hot compresses and sympathetic murmurings.

"If you have these symptoms," the text warned, "get thee to an emergency room!"

Of course, the nearest one was 60 miles away. And we had no phone service. Soon dawn arrived, thin slivers of light illuminating the dungeon of despair that had once been our cozy cabin.

I believe a lesser man would have died, literally, but Dan weakly crawled back into bed for a short nap before we were to meet our guests for breakfast. I looked over at his huddled form, relieved that the worst was over.
Meagre were his looks, Sharp misery had worn him to the bones.
Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Luckily, our guests did not hear the sounds of hell emanating from next door. They slept heartily and were ready for an enormous breakfast.

Dan was starving but unable to eat. He looked mournfully at his food and pushed the plate away.

Food poisoning that epic does not gracefully surrender without a few cruel tentacles reaching back for revenge, but we still managed to see quite a bit. I am still debating if this warrants a call to the health department. But in the meantime, I present to you pictures from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Me with my new fanny pack. Baby got back!

North Rim views flanked in between ponderosa pines.
Clouds rolled in as we wound down the road.

Paving the way for a beautiful rainbow.

A stand of skeletal remains of a once-noble
patch of forest;
owing to a controlled
burn that got out of hand.

Sunset on the rim.

On the ride home, we saw a fresh accident - a pickup truck overturned on the side of the road. We ran into the forest with other passersby looking for the injured. We didn't know if someone had been thrown or what. Cell service was zero but luckily a park ranger drove by just then and radioed for backup. Our extensive search mission revealed nothing. I can only hope that there were no serious injuries and that not finding someone means they were able to get up and walk away.

That was my weekend! Dan is almost fully recovered. I don't think he'll be eating mussels anytime soon.

Want to read more tales of food poisoning?


tony said...

You are always so funny!

inotherwordz said...

Wow, that was quite a weekend. Sorry that Dan got so sick and glad that he recovered. Horrors aside, those are amazing pictures.

Fancy Schmancy said...

I got food poisoning from a piece of salmon, once. I can only share in Dan's misery. Pepare that he won't be able to smell even the hint of fish or shellfish anytime soon without feeling ill...

But, beautiful pics!

Pat said...

Did he wash his hands after handling the fossilized dinosaur bones in the next blog?? Maybe that's the problem... :-)

Arehs Nedrob said...

Poor guy!
I love the junk in the trunk pic!
More later...

kevin forgot said...

fanny pack is EVIL! big butts are not.

geekhiker said...

I always did prefer the North Rim, but I'm sorry about Dan's rather upset stomach.

But I have to ask, just what the heck do you have IN that fanny pack? It's bigger than my backpacking pack! LOL

Deb said...

Great pictures - poor Dan.

kimmers said...

I can do the camping thing AS LONG AS there are showers and toilets. They can be skeevy but they need to be present. I am someone who needs to wash my face and hair every day or I morph into a geasy, oily mess. Truth be told I just feel dirty if I go a day without showering (so I never ever do). Now that I work from home I will admit sometimes my shower doesn't happen until pretty late in the day... but it always happens. And the face wash/tooth brush happens right when I get up.

Ahhh, food poisoning. I had a day back in December that I either had some awful stomach virus or a case of food poisoning. My insurance would force me to pay $500 to go to the ER, so I toughed it out at home, but IT WAS ROUGH. Truth be told I don't think I could've managed the 5 minute car ride. Nick came home at lunch to check on me and I was literally sobbing on the couch, I was so miserable. I've got a history of mysterious stomach issues, and I've had some bad days, but never before have I been THAT sick.

So if it was food poisoning, pleasegodinheaven let me never eat bad food again.

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