Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day 21. Grand Canyon

Day 21. 25th

Somehow, without an alarm, we managed to wake at 5am, time to race to our first breath taking view of the Grand Canyon.

We missed the sunrise, but still, no amount of photo viewing or documentary watching can prepare a mind for the scope of grandeurs there.

I had a stumble on the top in my excitement & was told to sit, take some time to breath in the magnificence& think about my actions.

Before long I was joined by another.

Then the two became three.

It seemed I wasn’t the only one with silly actions to contemplate.

We went for breakfast once we’d come to terms with our humanity at Bright Angel Lodge.

When Paul spoke to the staff about what we were doing, our one breakfast to share, magically became two & our host told us all about the laws in Arizona protecting a person who asks for a cup of water, as the proprietor is obligated to give you one. He mused on who the poor person was who caused such a law to need to be passed.

We hiked – but honestly, I’m not sure I can do the hike justice with words or picture.

However, here’s some pics anyway, coz it’s easier than trying to write it up while I’m super tired. Forgive me.

We weren't the only ones in the canyon.

And it seemed we weren't the only asses on the trail.

Once again we got in trouble by the authorities. A trail worker took exception to our abuse of rock carting equipment, obviously overloading it. We returned it, but we swear the tire was burst before we put Paul inside.

The temptation to cool off a hot headed monk got the better of Ben.

We found shade where we could.

There was rejoicing...
And despair...

But eventually Sock Slide Ben reached the tip of the 12 mile return trail. It seemed to sneak up on him & he only just stopped in time.

We met some South African troopers. They’d walked from Kaibab trail, 18 miles away. Poor Christopher had blown out his knee & was suffering from exhaustion.

Fortunately Oksana had left her trailmix in my capable hands, so I off loaded the weight to help Christopher get his strength back. I offered to pray for his knees, to which he gladly accepted, laughing when I was done about how surprised I’d be if he beat me back to the rim.

We met another guy about half way up, who was heading down & asked us if we’d seen anyone who looked like Borat. He’d lost his buddy. I couldn't help but wonder what his buddy would say about such a description. Pride would swell in his heart I'm sure.

I gave him my Vegas flashlight, hoping perhaps it would help, should he not make it back before the nearing sunset.

He met us again, Borat in tow, returning the light to me just before one of our crew peed from the canyon rim, not aiming for, but possibly not missing either, other trampers making their way up from below.

Nate & I talked profundities & on the things we've learned so far on the trip of life & managed to catch up with Ben & Oksana.

Our South African comrades in the struggle to the rim, caught us up & chatted for a while, before taking off & leaving us to make it to the top alone.

We ate at the rim top cafĂ© – Nate & Ben being the food providers for the mooching monks this time.

Then we crashed, not taking more than a few moments to admire the twinkling sky above our tents.

Day 20. Vegas to Grand Canyon

Day 20. 24th June

I woke at 4.30am to a man crawling onto the bed beside me. I was somewhat alarmed, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It was Sock Slide Ben & he wasn’t joining me for monkish cuddles. He & Oksana & Nate had decided to join us on our trip to the Grand Canyon & had driven all night to get here. They were exhausted.

Needless to say, I offered another prayer of thanks for my extra large bed.

We woke again around 10, thanked the Carriage House staff & headed back to the strip to corrupt our fresh Vegas arrivals with the prospect of a chance at a free spin to win easy money.

They signed their lives away without question. I wondered if maybe the offer of free money had something going for it.

Incredibly, we won nothing. None of us. Well, I guess aside from the Casino. They got all our personal information free. All we got was disappointment. It felt a little like a bum deal. So we tried to raise our spirits the only way Vegas seems to offer. At the free slot machine challenge.

Oksana was fading from lack of food & I had a new found understanding, therefore compassion & went with her for a smoothie. And scored one in the process.

While we were gone, Sock slide Ben won on the slot machines! He won…another piece of paper which allowed him to play another slot machine.

He obediently walked all over the casino again, put that money in, wasn’t able to cash in until the machine gave him a winning, but after a monkly blessing,

he did manage to work it in his favour & walk away with $42.

We all went to a well earned lunch. Oksana paid for Paul & my incredible buffet. What a queen.

We wandered vaguely around Vegas

and eventually tried to leave & make our way to The Grand Canyon via satellite navigation, with full bellies & happy faces. But after the GPS kept bringing us back to the casinos - all kinds of conspiracy theories came to the fore that aren't worth mentioning. I'm sure you have your own - we reverted to using human navigation & made it out at least still with full bellies.

Hoover Dam was on the way.
Sock Slide Ben kindly offered the drought stricken dam some outside water, but his generosity was denied.

Nate thought it was funny.

Driving to the Grand Canyon we watched a striking sunset, then admired the luminous desert night sky.

Arriving at the canyon after 9pm, we discovered were allowed to enter free & told to enjoy our stay. Camping at the top of the rim is free too, so it wasn’t too long before our smiling selves had tents set up & we were ready to sleep off the heat.

Glenwood Hot Springs

V-man allowed us to travel with him for a long ways into Glenwood, CO; we hit the Hot Springs. We were blessed to get in for free and include them in our documentary. Now en route to Denver, CO. More updates soon!

live from Glenwood Springs @Colorado River, headed to Denver

social monks from Glenwood Springs, CO.

Day 19. Vegas

Day 19. 23rd June
The most part of today was spent enjoying the comforts provided us & catching up on internet work. I admired the view from time to time also & thought of all those less fortunates, out under the desert sun.
Come 9.30pm however, after a meal of nuts & milk powder, our hunger got the better of us & we went hunting.
We met people along the way – far more people were prepared to talk to us without our backpacks on – and we learned the art of poker & the benefits a misspent youth van provide. However, conversing with good people caused us to miss our free spin on Planet Hollywood's scam to get us in the casino & get all our details for free with the ever elusive offer of 'work free' millions.
The lures of Vegas can corrupt even the strongest monk however...the evidence caught here by the camera.

We walked about the strip again, talking to random people who approached us for one reason or another, then decided we needed to eat before we fell over & were corrupted by close up views of the pornographic cards littering the side walk.
It was here that two world views collided.
For myself, I believe that to be blessed allows you to be a blessing. To have provides opportunity to give. Paul on the other hand believes that people want to give & to accept allows people to be blessed by giving. I guess both views have merit. It was Paul’s view we had to take tonight, as we had nothing but time & a smile to give any more, though to be honest, my pride & lack of enlightenment on this subject left me feeling about as comfortable as a redneck in a gay bar.
We went to Bills Saloon, as they had a 24 hour grill. Paul spoke with the manager, who went on to talk to the ‘Host’, out in the blackjack pit. A small, elderly man, we never saw more than his hunched back.
The manager spoke from three quarters behind him &, without looking up, after a few nods, ‘The Godfather’ lifted two pieces of paper which had the magic words which allowed him to be blessed.
I think Paul felt pretty blessed too.
Once refuelled & energised, we walked the strip some more. We were offered a free limo ride, which strongly appealed to us both. The only catch was that we’d have free entry to a strip bar to be used as promotion at the other end. We declined the offer & are hoping for a limo somewhere else on the trip that doesn’t require demeaning our view of someone’s sister or daughter as payment.
The Carriage House hotel & it’s comfortable beds were so much more inviting than a dumpster & we were greatful when we finally dragged ourselves into bed.
I'm sure we spared a thought or two for the less fortunates out there who weren't in queen & king sized comfort, as we drifted into oblivion.

Friday, June 27, 2008

socialmonks leaving Mexican Hat, Utah, headed to Denver

Thursday, June 26, 2008

socialmonks live from the Grand Canyon! heading to Denver...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

social monks leaving Vegas, headed to Grand Canyon

socialmonks en route to Grand Canyon. videos from the road now being posted. We have Nate with us now, more film and editing to come!..

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day 18. Hoover Dam & Vegas

Day 18. 22nd June

Having gone to bed so early, we weren't quite sure what to do with ourselves, so were up again, packed down & at the gas station to wash before 7.
It was here that we met Shannan. She walked by in tears, so we apprehended her to see what was going on. It turned out she was in a sleep deprived state having driven all night, & was in a state of flux, not knowing what to do. She had a friend with her who needed to get back to
Albuquerque, New Mexico for a hospital appointment, but she was going to California. (Donald was an adult, but perhaps due to a great time on synthetic reality enhancers at a younger age, no longer had quite the capacity of someone else his age. This was adding to Shannan’s stress, as she felt responsible for him.)
Paul let her use his phone & we discussed options with her, finally deciding on going to our friend’s station to ask the police what services were available. (We decided against kneeling to pray on the doorstep, tempting though it was.)
The police officer at the station had a doughnut with no jam in it, but despite her sourness, she did give us a list of services. Being Sunday though, only one was available, and that one not until 4.30.
On our way to Ride Assist, we saw a Vinyard church getting ready to start a service & we figured this was a great opportunity for them to utilize all the things they hopefully preach about. So we went in, found James, a shining example of what Vinyard people believe, who was more than happy to take Donald & help him get to RideAssist by 4.30. We left Donald in their capable hands & drove off into the sunrise.
It was interesting to hear stories of Shannan’s life, such as being locked up because though her face was unrecognisable after a beating, she hadn’t reported her boyfriend & so was liable.
Shannan was a great girl, looking for more in life, but unsure quite where to find it. She was getting disillusioned with doing good, but getting shat on all the time for it.
We had some great conversation over the 100+ miles to
Kingston & the reality of her value started shining through. With this reality came the realisation that people who don’t see the value of a person maybe need to be left alone for a while in order to give those who do a chance to reward it & draw it out more.
We got a feed for all of us, Shannan not having eaten since yesterday morning, prayed together & we said goodbye.

We only stood in the 112 degrees for about 20 minutes before Jeff drove by.
He realised no one was going to pick us up, so took the duty on himself.
Jeff had not long broken up with his partner of 30 years. He hadn’t married, as he hasn’t yet found the right woman.
We hit up Hoover Dam – Jeff paid for us to park in a car park that was further away from the dam than the free park we had originally stopped at

– took another stumbling picture,

before heading on to Vegas.

Not a hundred yards from our drop off point, we met two homeless dudes, Johny & Mike. They told us the best way to get our bags looked after for free & after a chat, Mike walked with us to show us the way.
He’d come to Vegas in 2000 after his grandfather & father had both died & his wife had left him. He wouldn’t take any food or the cigar I had, but offered free advice & company, then went on his way again.
We decided we should get some computer access first up, so went to the mall.

I wish we could have recorded people’s expressions on seeing us.

We walked all over the strip. Got a free shot at winning a million, so decided that wasn’t technically gambling. Paul won a flashlight, which he promptly gave away to a mother of 5.
After much walking,

being sung to at a karaoke bar, talked to by a few brave souls, and a little temptation

we decided to work an angle & try for a room. (Not much space for tents in Vegas.)
Hollywood was amazing, gave us a few more flashlights, but was overbooked already.
We decided to aim big & tried one of Vegas’s most prestigious hotels, The Belagio.

Diana was the unfortunate one to have to deal with us,

but she bid her manager hear our case…and he did.
His hands were tied however, but he gave us his time & wished us well when we were done.
Diana however, wasn’t prepared to let such a freak show away without showing it off to her friends, so called Trevin at The Carriage House & convinced him he should see us. Which he did.
Thanks to Diana's generous act & Trevin’s generous heart, we were put up for the night in two rooms with king size & queen size beds, two baths, kitchens & all the facilities that go with schwanky hotel rooms. And all on Trevin’s credit card?!
Vegas may be known as the city of sin, but don’t tell me saints don’t dwell with the sinners. We found at least two who do.

We are praying that QIK sponsors us!
. .