Great adventures start with the mundane. For example, did you cancel the paper? Common sense (and probably your mother) admonish that devious burglars have nothing better to do than to cruise the streets looking for rolled newspapers in front of your home.
Of even more importance, what about the cat? Back when Peggy and I led a normal life we had a cat named Effie. Vacations meant I would carefully measure out twice as much food and water as she could possibly eat or drink and four times the kitty litter she might use. The likelihood of her pooping all over the house was much greater that the likelihood of her starving. As a reward for my thoughtfulness, she would shed enough fur in our absence to fill a dump truck.
Now we are travelling full time, these issues have faded away. Instead we have food to worry about. Lots of it. Tom Lovering, the trip leader, his wife Beth and their friend Jamie Wilson arrived in Flagstaff three days in advance of our Colorado River trip. Their car was packed to the brim with empty ammo cans and other water tight boxes waiting to be filled with food and the miscellaneous paraphernalia of river trips.
The Department of Homeland Security delayed their journey at Hoover Dam. The Agency is paranoid about mad bombers. Its normally low sense of humor dropped to zero when the agents saw all the ammo cans. The whole car had to be unpacked.
Tom is even more paranoid about food than DHS is about terrorists. He’s an old restaurateur who had spent months planning the menu. Each dish has been tested several times and quantities have been measured down to the teaspoon. Recipes are spelled out in minute detail. We will eat gourmet on the trip… or die. The options are clear.
Beth, Peggy and I are dispatched to Sam’s Club with marching orders. We fill seven large shopping carts with food. Think of it this way. There are 16 people going on an 18 day trip and eating three meals a day. This equals 864 individual meals.
When we arrive back at the motel, Tom and Jamie have set up a staging area. Food needs to be organized by meal and day and then stuffed in the appropriate containers. We have yet to shop for perishables and more food is coming from Sacramento. Our room, we discover, is to be the recipient of all food. There is barely room to sleep. I begin to think fondly of Effie the Cat.
The next day is more relaxed. Other trip members begin to arrive and Peggy and I assume air port shuttle duty. Tom takes time for a makeover into something resembling an English Punk Rocker from the 70s with green and purple hair. Homeland Security was right to be suspicious.