Short Tales from the Southern Rim


The following short (very short) stories are a collection of anecdotes from our two days at Grand Canyon National Park. They aren’t meant to be funny or interesting, but you might find them to be anyway. Enjoy!


We sat down at the Cocktail Lounge tucked away in a dusty corner of the storied El Tovar Hotel.

“The bartender will by right with you.”

A tall man in his early 40’s emerged from the back room. His rosy face matched the hues of red rock we’d been staring at in the distance all day. There was a gentile joviality to his step as he bounced around behind the bar before he faced us and asked us what we were drinking. It took all my constitution not to jokingly order a Sarsaparilla (even though it was listed more than a few listed on the cocktail I held in my hand).

I smiled to myself and ordered a local pilsner instead.


The sun had just finished rising and we were on our way out of the park after taking some foggy morning pictures and a few moments of serene solitude. My focus on the road wavered for just a second as an elk with antlers the size of Christmas trees bounced out from behind a pine tree and scurried in front of our van, which happen to be moving at considerable speed.


I slammed on the breaks hard enough for every unlatched piece of gear to shift violently forward. But, among all the pumped adrenaline and wide-eyed confusion, the only thing I could think is:

“Elk really do run like they do in Big Buck Hunter.”


Full time traveling and camping usually means when the sun goes down so do you. We’d just finished an exhausting day crawling around the Southern Rim and were completely content with going to sleep at 7:00 pm. Just as we close our eyes, we hear the unmistakable high-pitched wail of a drunk teenage girl…

“Aaaany way you waaaant it, that’s the way you neeeeed it, aaaaanyway you waaaant it!!”

Over. And over. And over. And over again. Song after song. Hour after hour until the shear numbness of our brains finally lulled us to sleep.

Was it a live concert? Was it karaoke? Was it some kind of sick figment of our weary imagination?

We’ll never know.


We returned to our campsite to find our plastic water jug, empty in a tattered pile a good twenty feet from where we left it on our picnic table.

Damn ravens.


We were almost asleep when our van was set ablaze with glowing light beaming from a nearby campsite. I thought someone had set the entire Coconino National Forest on fire.

I fumbled to locate my glasses half naked in our cold van just to see if we were in any immediate fire danger.

What I found was a lonely old man chain-smoking cigarettes, pounding bottled Coors Light, and rhythmically tossing handfuls of bone-dry pine straw on his massive personal inferno. A pair of wiry glasses hung from his round nose and lit with fury with each bellowing gust.

It was sad, mesmerizing, meditative, disruptive, and fascinating all at the same time.

I half expected him to raise his hand to the air to reveal a hook hiding behind his green army surplus jacket.

Nope. Just another pack of Marlboro Reds.



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