Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Arrival

At around four o'clock in the afternoon, I stepped off the Greyhound bus and looked out into the vast scenery of Holbrook, Arizona. The bus station was simply a gas station, and wind periodically blew blankets of dust across the flat uneventful land. I could feel myself taking one step away from civilization and one step closer to the wilderness of the Petrified Forest National Park. After waiting for a few minutes, a towering black truck rolled up and I squinted through my sunglasses to see Marilyn step out from the driver's seat.

As we cruised toward the national park on Interstate 180, Marilyn gave me a quick run down of the geography of the area and pointed out the various novelty stores we passed. She and the many of the others had arrived yesterday, having already set up camp inside the park. We passed the visitor's center and then entered the park itself. The dirt road to camp was unpaved and we bounced along until another truck and several brightly colored tents came into view. As I set foot onto the reddish dirt, I stared out into the distance. The ground made up of dirt and small desert shrubs seemed to stretch out infinitely into the horizon line. I moved into my modest single person tent and met the others, including Alan, Christina, Lindsay, Norman, Catherine, and Madison. Sloppy joes, sauteed vegetables, and mac and cheese were on the menu for dinner, and everyone headed off to bed as the sun disappeared over the horizon. As I laid in my sleeping bag with the evening breeze brushing up on my tent, I wondered what was in store for me the next two and a half weeks.

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