23 May, 2009

Attack of the Gnarly Desert Ants

After spending two glorious nights at the Red Feather Lodge we were back to camping. We stayed at Lee's Ferry Campground in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. We set up a few hundred yards away from the rushing current of the Colorado River surrounded on all sides by magnificent canyon walls. Despite the impressive scenery, the desert landscape was eliciting flashbacks of our unpleasant experience in Santa Rosa, NM. For awhile it seemed as if history was destined to repeat itself. We arrived, hiked down to the water's edge, returned to camp, the wind picked up, our tent was compromised, and we found ourselves in a state of uncertainty. Fortunately, the wind died down and we were able to secure our tent to a metal awning meant to shelter the picnic table.

As the sun began to set we had a nice family dinner consisting of mac and cheese, baked beans and beer followed by a relaxing pow wow. As we marveled at the beauty and magnificence of the fire it seemed that the night would progress without incident until Sean reported the stinging sensation of a particularly painful ant bite. A few minutes passed before we realized that this ant wasn't without company. About 5 feet away from our tent was an entrance to a massive nest surrounded by thousands of bustling black ants. Andy made the hilarious comment that they were probably some breed of gnarly desert ant. After Sean and Andy thoroughly pissed them off by spraying them with Raid, swiping them with burning logs and disrupting the accessibility of their home it became clear that we needed to retreat to the safety of the tent. We hurriedly threw all of our supplies into the car and zipped ourselves securely into the tent after a thorough once over with the lantern to make sure it hadn't been infiltrated.

As I laid there I was certain it was only a matter of time before the ants surrounded us, chewed their way through the tent and got their revenge. Thankfully, we were able to coexist peacefully through the night. Despite the cool breeze outside it was sweltering in the tent all night long. Andy actually took his Thermarest and sleeping bag outside and slept on top of the picnic table for about two hours until it became too cold and he had to return to the stagnant atmosphere of the tent.

At 7 AM the brutal heat of the blistering desert sun forced us to vacate our sanctuary and prepare for the next phase of our journey. We would finally be leaving Arizona looking forward to better cell phone service and a change of scenery. I was particularly intrigued to be spending the next two days in Utah. Julie had told us Utah National Parks were underrated relative to the National Parks of its neighbors. And of course, we hoped to determine the accuracy of the widespread assumption that Utah is the land of the Mormons.

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