T. O.

I'll try to explain the subject line later.

Remember how I promised to be more organized once I got my laptop
back? Yeah, me too. Though I am typing on the aforementioned
instrument at this very moment I must admit that I am no more
organized than a group of greased pigs on ice skates. However, I have
been online for more than an hour now which is a record for me since
starting this job. How is this hour possible, you ask? Let me start
by saying that the Grand Canyon is my new favorite place to stay for
more than one day.

Granted I'm not staying in a hotel and it's pretty darn hot here right
now, but all that aside I have discovered a wonderful bonus. I'm
coming to you via the internet at this moment courtesy of the IMAX
complex in Tusayan, which is the town right outside of the GC. The
wonderful people at IMAX have been kind enough to set up a driver's
lounge that comes fully equipped with coffee, donuts, two massaging
chairs, a TV, two computers with internet access and almost best of
all. . . . . wireless internet. Hell, I've been here most of the day!
The other reason that the GC is great is that I dropped my group off
at the rim and I just told them I'd be back at 3pm to pick them up. I
love my group but personal time is so very hard to come by in this job
that I will take every hour I can get. I guess at this point I can
also let you know that my tour is going relatively well. We have one
more night in the GC, then a night at Betty and Rusty's Cowboy Camp,
then two nights in San Diego before we end this thing on Saturday back
in El Segundo (where I DID NOT leave my wallet. . . TCQ anyone?).

Now, the subject of this email. I apologize to any children who may
be reading this inadvertenly. The acronym TO was first introduced to
me just a short time ago on my first Trek. A young lady from New
Zealand informed me that she regularly experienced something by the
name of TO. I asked her if she needed a Time Out, a work of Tubular
Oragami or perhaps just a Tuna Order. "No," she said. The T and the
O in TO stand for Travel Orgasm.

I was aghast, yet intrigued. She quickly informed me that it was not
sexual but more spiritual. After travelling different parts of the
world it seems that in some places she would experience a sort of
euphoria at certain spots along her journey. You know, a particularly
beautiful sunset over an inactive volcano, an unparalleled view of
Machu Pichu during a lightning storm, playing hop-scotch with the
lemurs of Madagascar, that sort of thing.

Point is, I recently had a TO while visiting Yosemite National Park.
Fabulous place, if you've never been, well worth the trouble with the
bears. In fact I was fortunate enough to see two bears in two days
when I was there just a few days ago. But my real TO experience came
when I was hiking the John Muir Trail up to Nevada Falls. I have been
to Yos a few times now but I've always been too far behind in my
paperwork to do a proper hike. This time I set out right after I
dropped my group off and I was rewarded with a 9-mile hike that gave
excellent views of two massive waterfalls (Vernal and Nevada falls).
At one point on the trail up (the ascent was about 1800') I came over
a ridge and got my first site of Nevada Falls. Surprisingly this was
not the moment.

The view proceeded to improve with each switch back or turn and at one
point I found myself standing on an insanely pretty spot with no other
person around and nothing but the roar of the waterfall around me.
I'm not much one for meditation but now I know why those monks are
trying to reach Nirvana. It must be something like that spot that I
stood upon. And that was that. I instantly remembered that moments
like those were the reason I had taken this job in the first place and
the world was good. Since then I've been wondering if my southwest
trips hold anything in store for me that will even come close but
after seeing a decent sunset at the rim of the GC last night I imagine
that I might not ever quite get that experience back in this part of
the country. All I really know is that I want to do some backpacking
in the Sierras again when I'm through with this season.

Unfortunately, I have to pick up my group pretty soon. Not that the
rim of the Grand Canyon is a terrible place to be stranded but I guess
it is pretty hot outside.

Love and Cheetos.


And Again

Hello Campers!
Here's the latest.

My first two tours were a success. My reviews came in with only a
couple of passengers giving my anything below a 9 out of 10. (I'm
gonna blame the language barrier.) But the fun doesn't stop there.
I've been stuck in the office all week but that has given me time to plan
my next THREE trips. That's right, they love me so much that I won't
have a single day in the office to do paperwork or plan my next trip
for a whole month. Here the breakdown.

Sunday the 15th: Leave for a two week trek called the Westerner 2
Saturday the 28th: Return from W2
Sunday: 'Day Off' (notice the quotation marks)
Monday the 30th: Leave for back to back Western Wonder tours. . . .again.
Sunday the 12th: Back to LA.

The Westerner 2 is a fun trip that is essentially exactly the same as
the Western Wonder only longer. That means, for those of you
counting, that at the end of my next three trips I will have spent the
following number of nights in each of the following places since I
started with the company on March 24th.

Twelve nights in Yosemite NP.
Twelve nights in Las Vegas N.C.D.*
Seven nights in Grand Canyon NP.
Five nights in San Francisco

*'N.C.D.: National Center for Debauchery

Not a bad racket, really. I guess I can't complain. I do hope to get
a tour with a little more variety in it next time but at least these
treks will just get easier and easier.

In general the trips have been great. Good people, good times, decent
weather. I've got a few pictures and hope to start taking more with
each group. At the end of the trips everyone exchanges email
addresses and sometimes phone numbers and at this point I have people
who would like me to stay with them in the following countries:
England, Wales, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands (bit of a
stretch though), Australia and New Zealand (though in NZ I'm supposed
to call this girl's parents and stay with them because she's living in
England for another couple of years. Tough.)

I've also met quite a few tour leaders who for the most part are all
very cool. Some of them are cool in their own way mind you, but who
am I to judge?

Back to the trips. Both groups were good, but the first one was truly
a blast. Six guys and seven girls. No language problems, other than
funky accents, and everyone got along all the way through the trip. I
know, I know. The trip was only a week long but you probably wouldn't
be surprised to see how fast people turn on each other when they start
having problems and then they get stuck in a van all day. The second
trip was good too but that mix was ten females and only two males. . .
and then one of the guys left the trip early for family matters. I
was swimming in a sea of estrogen. I had to keep the AC in the van on
high at all times just to keep my olfactory senses from drowning.

Of course, the only drama that occurred on either trip was caused by
me. (Right now, minds outta the gutter.) I decided that since I knew
Northern Arizona so well I would just take my group on a little
diversionary trip and stop in Sedona and stay the night in Flagstaff.
Well, Sedona went very well. In fact some passengers enjoyed Sedona
more than the Grand Canyon! Then we headed up to Flag to have a
little BBQ at my old roommate's house. (By the way, much love to my
old roommate and other good buddy who let us stay at their house.
That's right, ten females fresh off the road shacking up at some guy's
house in Flagstaff. I doubt that'll make it into the brochure. The
two gentlemen behaved famously, were fabulous hosts and earned rave
reviews from my passengers.)

Needless to say we took the ladies out on the town in Flagstaff and
ended up crawling into bed around 3:30am. Somehow we all managed to
get up and going by about 8:30 the next morning and we managed to make
it out of town by 9am. I was shocked, personally. Then it was a
simple matter of driving 8+ hours the next day while everyone slept in
the van. I'm not sure that I'll be making that diversion again
anytime soon.

My amazing cousin-in-law and his good buddy managed to fix my
Powerbook a few days ago so I should have a computer again pretty
soon. I can't promise that I'll be able to post more often but
hopefully they will at least be better crafted and not quite so
rambling because I can pre-compose some entries.

Here's to the wild west according to trek.


Still Alive

One down, next one starts tomorrow morning. The first Trek went
reasonably well and I'm hoping that I'll actually be able to write
about it sometime during this second Trek. Girls from New Zealand are
cute. Especially when you get to call them Kiwi's.

Roger that. I've just been informed that our landing gear is locked
are we are ready for take off. Remember, only one bag of peanuts per
passenger and anyone caught oggling the stewardess gets twenty lashes
with a wet noodle.

I'm tired.