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Day 161: 1/1/18  A day of rest and plans forming and lots of free bus riding for sure!

Miles: 5.5 Steps: 11,577 Vertical gain: 0 Liquid consumed: 100 oz. Wildlife: Lots of ravens, Big herd of elk lounging around, fat squirrel! Faith in Humanity: Rodrigo, Kenia, and the girls left me firewood and we all took pictures in the morning before they left. Thanks again for everything, awesome meeting you! There’s a freaking car at my campsite! No tent, looks like someone is sleeping in the car, but seriously, what’s up with that? If the person at least asked me if they could park there car in the site I’d probably say yes, but it’s just weird to have a random stranger or strangers camped at your car camping site.... at least they didn’t rip off my receipt or anything. Kind of funny, but overall I think poor execution: you’ve gotta ASK for permission in this scenario, there are lots of people that would say no! Haha, hopefully I’ll get to meet the mystery person tomorrow and ask them their thoughts! Goal for the day: sleep in as long as possible. I awoke to Rodrigo saying “hey Blake, we are leaving”. I immediately got up to say goodbye to everyone, and we took some photos. Sure was nice to feel part of a Brazilian family for a couple days! After they left I hung out at the campsite for a bit, then decided to lay for breakfast at the General Store. Pretty good burrito, but I’d recommend the bagel breakfast sandwich as a better value. I feel like I took the bus so much today! Just killing time, really. I wanted to see if there was any free Way to get to Tusayan since the internet is much faster there and there are cheaper food options. There is a free bus but that’s only in summer apparently. Oh well. I asked where the best internet was in the park and headed to the El Tovar hotel: the fanciest hotel in the park. They have a beautiful lobby and fireplace that I ended up spending quite a bit of my day at! The first stint in the lobby wasn’t long though, I checked if the HR office was open in the park, but it was closed for New Year’s Day. Back on the bus I went to the General store to find a cheap lunch. Hot dogs, buns, ketchup and an Arizona drink for under $6, not bad and a huge lunch! Next I decided to go back to El Tovar and hung out in the lobby again for several hours, haha. I chatted with several people and had a pretty fun time really. No one ever looked at me weird or tried to rush me along, which was awesome. So many comfortable places to lounge for hours here at the South Rim: very Hiker friendly. Next mission; small dinner followed by a presentation about Mountain Lions! Super crowded bus! It’s really weird: I’m alone so much of the time on this trip, but on a really crowded bus it can feel almost more lonely sometimes. I tried to chat some people up with moderate success. There was one young kid who loved talking about deadly “water snakes”, haha. I found some potato salad for $3, cheap dinner! I must have just missed the previous bus because I ended up waiting about a half hour for a place I could have walked to in ten minutes, haha. Again, no hurries, I just giggled and proceeded to board the bus and head to the mountain lion presentation. I liked the presentation. One thing struck me as funny, though. Let me explain. America went through a phase where they killed 30 million buffalo and almost made them extinct and people were paid to kill all the mountain lions and wolves and such. The error of this, learned later, is that these predators actually really help the ecosystem as a whole and it’s good to have a healthy population of large predators and realistically they don’t pose much threat to man and are really way over vilified. Anyway, eventually the kill to extinction hunting stopped and many efforts have been made to regrow populations of many animals and to learn about them as much as possible. But in this, damn you humans sure do mess with the mountain lions! Trapping them, using blow darts to put them to sleep, force them to wear huge gps radio collars, etc. This “conservation” movement, although rooted with mostly good intentions, sure does mess with the animals a lot! “Don’t worry mountain lion, I love you so much, just put On these 6 radio collars for me sweetie, the anesthetic from my blow gun dart most likely won’t permanently harm you, but it could, but it’s ok kitty, the data is worth it!” Anyway, this got me thinking about how this is kind of the human curse. Will we ever reach a 3rd state of thinking where we just leave the freaking mountain lions alone? No blow darts, no gps collars, and let the kitty’s live their lives? I’d guess no, certainly not. Will there ever be a day that a more powerful species than human comes and traps us and places radio collars on us, to study us for our own protection? Likely not, but I don’t think there’s a strong argument that we don’t deserve a taste of our own medicine a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no super conservative animal rights activist either, but I just find it pretty funny that the scientists who arguably love the animals the most also mess with them a TON. Rant over. Mountain lions can also sprint at 45mph, have a vertical leap of 18 feet and can jump 45 feet forward on the ground. That’s absolutely insane! Haha, I wonder what the person in the car is thinking. I’ve been hanging out now probably 2 hours at the campfire with the wood Rodrigo generously left (no gathering wood permitted here). Will they reveal themselves? Will they wake up quietly at 5am and sneak off? Will they try to do the same thing tomorrow? Ahh, the hilarity continues! Big update: around 1am or so I heard a door open and close and a car start and then leave a minute later. Haha, pretty funny. Kind of weird though, I wish I at least got to say hello or something! Oh, big plans tomorrow, Journal: at 10am I’m taking a shuttle to Flagstaff, then getting in a rental car and immediately driving back to the Grand Canyon, then delivering the bicycle to its owner on Aspen! I need to get rid of the bike. I need to take time off to let my knee heal. I really hope no one steals all my stuff I leave at my campsite for most of the day!

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