To read the previous part: AHA 20 Deep: Yellowstone
I welcomed the morning with the idea of going for a short run. I had no idea that this run would contain an event that would change my life for forever. The events that change the direction of our life for eternity are hidden in foresight. These life-altering experiences tend to be spontaneous and unexpected.
My run was right alongside the shore of Yellowstone Lake. After I had ran relatively far, I decided to turn around and head back towards the campground. On this return journey, I walked down the ridge that was right next to the road which led to a small beach area. It is a common act for me to swim in random bodies of water when I am in a middle of a run when nobody is around me. It is a challenge I present myself with because I know it could be risky and inconvenient because my clothes will get wet. But, there are times when I am running and I find this random lake, river, or ocean that entices me to take a quick dip. Yellowstone Lake was no exception. There was nobody around me and thus, I thought it would be a fine morning for a swim. I de-shirted myself and walked feet deep into the water. The frigid water sent a chilling sensation up my body. I then waded to about thigh deep depth. Then without hesitation, I dived forward with as much force my body could give. I felt so cold, yet so refreshed when I was submerged beneath the water. I then erupted out of the water. Before me was the servitude demanding snowy peaks that backed the lake. These mountain peaks seemed servitude demanding because when I stood before them, I knew that whatever strength I might have possessed in that moment was scant compared to the omnipotence they held.
This event was so significant because it was my baptism. To understand why that it is or how that was facilitated, my reflections are found in a piece that I wrote named Baptism. But, I feel as if those deeper reflections are not pertinent to this specific narration of my adventure with my brother.
Christian and I left Yellowstone and in time, we were driving through Idaho. We were directed out of the West entrance of the park because we wanted to get to Utah from Yellowstone and to be able to do that, we needed to go through Idaho. One of my most vivid memories from driving through Idaho was that we had driven up this very high mountain. When we were coming down the mountain, we shot down fast as we surged towards these beautiful mountain peaks that were before us. These mountain peaks we later found to be were the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. When we were driving onward, the Tetons lay to our left. I observed them with a sense of awe and curiosity. My curiosity was in the fact that we were looking at the Tetons from their backside. From our perspective, we saw a grassy plain that met the base of the mountains. The Grand Teton National Park lay on the other side of the mountains. The backside of the Tetons acted as wall, guarding unworthy eyes from looking into the park. I would compare this type of fortitude to be that of Mordor. In The Lord of the Rings, Mordor is the kingdom of the dark lord Sauron. Inside the orc infested city-state is a barren wasteland. But, those observing from the outside do not know that because the exterior is guarded by a wall of black mountains. The Grand Tetons are similar in that their stature creates a sense of curiosity for those in Idaho to ask, ‘what is going on on the other side?’ If one were to explore that curiosity, I am sure they would find the Grand Teton National Park to not be like Mordor, but Rivendell instead. In The Lord of the Rings, Rivendell is the majestic elven kingdom that is buried within the mountains.
Christian and I soon arrived in the blistering state of Utah. I was surprised to find most of the mountains to be covered with green trees opposed to them just being barren and bright red like I assumed them to be. Salt Lake City was extremely impressive. Similar to Denver, it was a beautiful city that was belittled by the gargantuan mountains that stood behind it. As we were driving along the outskirts of the city, I was yelling and calling each large building I saw a Mormon temple. Christian replied and told me that every large building that I saw was not a Mormon temple. My guesses (I would like to think) were about 50% correct. Christian and I stopped at a random gas station to not only get some fuel, but also buy a couple of f’real shakes. F’real shakes are milkshake bottles that you can buy in a fridge in a vending machine and then use another machine to make the milkshake. Christian and I both got Reeses and it was delicious. Authentic Utah cuisine!
Christian and I sailed through the Utah terrain as if we had no worries. The truth is that we didn’t have any. There were no expectations on us to be anywhere at any time or to tell anybody where we were. We just got lost. We flew down the Utah highway at 80 mph which caused the bugs to squash at a rate of about 50 bpm (bugs per minute). We watched a storm ahead of us rage with a frightening ferocity. I was actually afraid the storm would impose a life-threatening tornado onto us and our peaceful drive. The winds were quite fierce, but we never met up with the storm and thus, we were kept very safe. We also watched a bomb sunset (literally bomb) that erupted behind the dark mountains. The sunset was of a deep red, purple and pink. There was one another unforgettable event that occurred on the drive. As we were driving on the highway, I could see a truck in the lane to the right of us. We were coming upon it and as we were, I could make out a face looking at the direction of our car. It was only when we passed the car that I was able to make sense of the scene. What I saw was a man (who appeared to be Mexican) sitting in the bed of the truck clutching his daughter. The look on his face appeared to be dreadful and frightful. I am very curious to his and his daughter’s condition, but I would suppose that they were hitchhiking to a safe location. I still worry about them and if they made good.
Christian and I eventually arrived at our destination, which was a BLM land just outside of Zion National Park. BLM stands for the Bureau of Land Management. A BLM land is public land that enables anybody to do anything that their heart desires to do on it. It is extremely convenient for those who are trying to save money when camping. The majority of the BLM land is out West and in Utah. Christian and I drove AHA a little far onto the land hoping to find a comfortable camping spot. We found one spot that was okay, but we decided to continue on to find spots that could be better. As a result, I stood up on my passenger’s seat and stuck my head out of the sun roof and made an attempt at helping Christian navigate. I would then scream like a maniac (in a comical way) at Christian to avoid the unforeseeable pot holes, puddles, mud pits and large bushes. There is not much organization to BLM lands at all. Essentially what the BLM does is gets all this land, does absolutely nothing with it and tells its occupants to do whatever they want to with it. Thus, that leaves room for all kinds of surprises. This is not exactly convenient for a couple of white boys from Connecticut who have lived in a house with a toilet and fridge for their whole life. As I was sticking my head out the sun roof, I decided to look up and observe the stars. I have never felt closer to space as I had in that moment. The ground was actually lit up by the stars because of how many there were of them. Christian and I eventually settled on a plot of land that was close to the road. Moreover, we decided on just sleeping in the car because we were afraid we would be slaughtered by either mountain lions, rattlesnakes or scorpions in the middle of the night. AHA doesn’t necessarily provide the most comfortable bedding and I questioned the next morning if it was the correct choice to trade death for painful sleeping.
To read the next part: AHA 20 Deep: Zion