The lady in white

Road trip to Page, Arizona.

High way in Arizona between sandstone hills.

My better half completed the half-Ironman in Tempe, Arizona on 22nd of October in 5 hours and 50 minutes. Shariq with the wind beneath his wings finished the race within 5 hours and 34 minutes. Mary the youngest of the lot, persevered and finished this race strong within 8 hours 34 minutes.(blog on the race by Shray)
We had planned to visit Page, Arizona after the Ironman 70.3 event. Page was around 4 hours away from Phoenix. It is situated to the North of Phoenix around 281 miles away at an elevation of about 4118 feet. We basically planned to tour the Antelope Canyon and the Horse shoe bend on the Colorado river.

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Mary and Shray posing before their swimming leg commenced.

It was the crisp October desert Sun that sucked all our bodily juices dry in Tempe. We waited patiently until the last member of our team, Mary Lyon, completed the Half-Ironman distance race. It was her first Half-Ironman event and her first Triathlon. She made a quantum leap from petty 5 ks to an Ironman distance Triathlon. You must praise her grit and determination. After she finished the race we all decided to fuel our famished bodies at a local Indo-Pakistani-Afghani restaurant, basically a desi restaurant. A couple of us south east Asians who have become quiet comfortable with the American midwestern weather were toasted crisp by the Arizona sun and on top of that dehydration was making us swing between portable toilets and drinking water stations.

We carefully hauled our bikes, our most priced possessions in this trip, on the bike carriers behind our respective cars. Our car carried two bikes while our friend Shariq's bike was given to the cycle shop to be disassembled and shipped back to Seattle where they live. Our car was basically a stink bomb because we all got into it without taking a bath or having any sort of refreshing break after the race. Our scents mingled in the air that circulated through the vents of the air conditioner. We got used to sitting in our own stench.

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Mary, Sangram, Shray, Shariq and Sadiya making sure the bikes are well fastened.

That evening a few of us could not eat as much as our usual voracious appetite. We all wanted to doze off on a clean soft bed. Well driving 4 hours straight without a break was a challenge since it was quite possible that we might gradually go to sleep while driving. Therefore Shray and I decided not to eat a lot since Indian food makes us drowsy. We got cups of coffee from a Starbucks on our way. Mary ordered coffee for all of us and she got herself a White Mocha Frappucino which I think is the best Frappe I have ever had and I now only order that particular drink if I ever have to order anything at Star bucks. To hell with abstention from sugar!!

As we moved out of the city towards Page, we could see how the terrain changed by and by. We took the I-17 North highway. The prickly desert vegetation, the ubiquitous cactus and prickly shrubs gave way to Pine and Fir trees. There was pitch darkness on both the sides of the highway as we snaked on the hilly terrain towards our destination. We were gradually climbing an incline of a road that was made on the facade of a large mountain. Trucks were being driven cautiously with both their blinkers blinking to indicate that they had large loads. For a while, for about more than 3 miles or more we climbed a hill and read signs that asked cars to switch off their air conditioners to prevent over heating. We were driving at a steady speed of 75 miles per hour to the accompaniment of a Bollywood party mix playlist on Spotify. On certain patches on the highway our phones ceased to play songs due to lack of phone signals. We were not a bit surprised since it was not the first instance when we experienced signal less areas. I had a similar experience in Northern Michigan too.

We made pit stops at two gas stations on our way, the first one at a place just before the road forked into two, left to Flagstaff and right to Page. There was a nip in the air and we were surprised, although we should not have been, that only a few miles could make such a big difference in the air temperatures. The air smelt of burning wood, something that always evokes vivid happy childhood memories. After refueling our cars and relieving ourselves of all the water we had drunk due to dehydration we were once again on our way to our destination. However, that did not stop me from turning our car into a gas chamber. I slowly and gradually at several times during the ride let my rectal fumes dissipate into the car. Sorry I could not make it implode in my body since it was saturated with a lot of elements that needed to be expelled. I think this phenomenon of not being able to excrete properly during a vacation has been proven to be a common occurrence among a lot of people. (read this later.) But I am glad my bodily fumes initiated the conversation we needed to keep ourselves awake. It jolted Shray out of the nonchallance of driving on a boring highway. He asked, "Did you fart?". I denied coyly, an expression that helps me avoid useless conversation. He then asked Sangram in Hindi, "Tune paada?(Did you fart?)". Sangram's reply was hilarious since he was in no state to reply because impulsively and out of love for Mary he ran 6 miles in converse shoes. He said in Hindi,"Machi mere lower body ka control mere upar nahi hain, agar nikla hain toh nikal sakta hain mujhe malum nahi." (Bro, I have lost control of my lower body, I could have let loose my bowels and I would not know it. May be I farted may be I did not.) It was philosophical to some extent. Oh well! I burst out laughing at his reply and they knew that I was the culprit. Poor Mary, was exhausted beyond limits and slept through out the drive even in the stench that smelt a little bit of everything I had eaten that day. Well, I guess you also know that coffee is a good laxative. ;)
We traveled through stretches of road that had no sign of any rest area or a familiar flicker of townships. Sometimes a tiny little fox crossed our road. There were also signs of deer crossings. But the icon of the deer was different at different stretches of the highway. At one point the icon looked like a normal deer icon whereas at other places the deer icon had a large antler on its crown. I did not know if it meant that different kinds of deer might cross the road.

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However, as one moved out of civilization into the part of the highway that ran through passes cut in between sandstone mountains and through desert lands, the sky became the cynosure of our eyes. I had never seen so many stars ever in my life. Mary and Sangram chatted for sometime until they could keep their eyes open involuntarily, but soon enough they were in their dreamland. I would not blame them for giving way to sleep and not enjoying the starry October sky. They deserved every little ounce of their sleep due to the race and the consequent exhaustion. The gentle air conditioner draught and the din of the car's engine lulled both of them to deep sleep.

There was a point where our GPS signaled us to take a right instead of continuing on our route. When we reached that point we were confused if the GPS was correct since the road looked like a narrow patch of private drive. Since we did not have a map with us, we had to put our full faith on the GPS. We took the right turn and as we slowly started advancing we saw ourselves being overtaken by a speeding BMW. We took the road that the GPS showed us and finally it turned into the US-89 Highway which is famous for being the highway that connects some infamous national parks from Arizona to Montana. I was struggling to keep myself awake, I would lose control over my eyelids and phase out. I tried keeping ourselves awake by playing loud Punjabi songs. However we would lose cell phone connectivity at certain patches.  We switched on the radio but could not find any FM channel. I scoured through all the frequencies on FM and met with static.

I do not know how Shray was driving so calmly without phasing out and not getting exhausted after his grueling Ironman race. We changed channels and looked for something to listen to on the AM frequencies but could not find any except for an ominous channel that constantly played Native American chanting. It made the journey a little eerie. I quickly switched the channel and started talking about anything that came to my mind. As we were getting closer to Page we saw blinking lights at a distance. We were still on the road and could not see anything on either of the sides because it was pitch dark and even our high beam car lights would not help us have a good look on either side of the highway. However, there were places where there were signs of a junction but you would not be able to distinguish it was one until you reached the spot because the junction obviously did not have any traffic lights. All I could see was we were travelling on a road with red soil on either side and a blanket of stars twinkled in the sky. We realized that we finally reached our destination when a sign board declared proudly that the place is Page,Arizona. We reached Jake's trading station that was basically a gateway to the tiny little town of page and slowly made our way to the hotel we had booked for our stay.

If you ever embark on this road trip and that too in the evening please make sure you do the following: -
1. Carry enough water.
2. Have coffee and have a good sleep in the afternoon to keep yourself awake and alert during the drive.
3. Have a spare driver who can drive if the need arises.
4. Fuel your car to the brim.
5. Keep a spare map besides charging your phones on the go to keep track of the directions on Google Maps.
6. Drive cautiously, you might see animals crossing the road.
7. Get your tires and brakes checked beforehand.
8. Prepare a music playlist on your phone.


magiceye said…
Was a fun read without having to inhale the noxious fumes :D
d Nambiar said…
That sounds like quite a drive. I could picture the night time drive. :)
Jenevi said…
Thank you :)