Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day. Killer Bee

On the occasion of this Father's Day I thought I would share a memory. I don't know why this is the one I've picked.

When I was 12 my family took a California trip. My mother, sister, and I flew to LA and my father and a friend drove the car out so we could do the whole trip with our own transportation. We did Disneyland, Universal, then went North to San Francisco and Sequoia, then South to San Diego. My mother and sister flew home from there. Dad and I drove. We started with a high school student government conference in Tuscon and then over four weeks did the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Gunnison, Continental Divide, Boulder, the US Air Force Academy, Fort Laramie, and the Strategic Air Command among other places.

One of the "other places" was a park called Natural Bridges. Arches was just too far out of the way, but we had the opportunity to see this kind of red rock formation so we took it. I don't know how much national park experience you have, but while all the scenery is impressive you have to get used to a few things. First, the top of the park is really quite a way from the park proper. I gather now at many of the parks this is actually as far as you are allowed to take your own car. At the time we were there this wasn't the case. So you get there, but really its still a while until you get there.

Secondly, at most of the parks - Grand Canyon and maybe Bryce as notable exceptions - you really don't get to see what the park is there for from the car. It's pretty and all, but really to see the sights you have to hike.

As you can tell from the list above, our pace didn't allow for much hiking. We spent a half day here, a half day there and then move on. Also, at the time, while I was a spry 12 year old my father really hadn't caught the work out bug yet and all things being equal was probably still in a long recovery from prior bypass surgery. Still we tried to get off the road, and at each park we looked for short excursions from parking overlooks.

All of the interesting formations at Natural Bridges are well off the road, but there was one you could at least see with only a short walk. In this particular case, that short walk almost killed us both.

At various places along any of these walks you would discover little information stations. At the time this consisted of a little wooden box you would open up and get a small flyer showing information about the area you were in. We'd parked the reliable Toyota Corolla wagon at the overlook and hiked what was probably only about a quarter mile to the end of the short trail to the viewing point. When we got to the end I excitedly opened up the info box and discovered not a pile of paper but something else entirely.

An angry bee.

I guess the bee had flown into the box the last time it was open and become trapped. Totally unlike a genie trapped in a bottle or a lion with a thorn in its paw this bee offered neither wishes or a lifetime friend ship. This bee was pissed, and it was going to take it out on us.

Naturally I take off like a shot back down the trail. Illinois public schools required PE every day and a quarter mile spring to me was achievable. Less so for my father. There is however a principle difference between Northern Illinois and Southern Utah, well several differences but the one I mean to speak to here would be altitude.

You know, there's a reason athletes train at altitude. We noticed it too when the ultimate team I played with in Vegas would play at tourney's in LA. If you practice at altitude and then play closer to sea level you get a freebie of better endurance. For the men of the Boevers family, running for their lives from an angry bee the reverse was true. Living closer to sea level and then exerting yourself at higher altitude just brings you that much closer to death.

Which is why two men found themselves back at the parking area bent over and gasping for air yelling at each other "Is it gone?"

Damn angry bee. But, I guess that which doesn't actually kill you makes you stronger - and closer.

Happy Father's Day Dad.

1 comment:

RandomGirl said...

Sounds like a fantastic trip- one that you will be sure to remember for a long time. I have been to Natural Bridges, and also found it to be quite intriguing. While me and my dad did the trip across country it might have been a little slower. None-the-less spending a day or two in lots of National parks was a truly awesome experience.

I'm glad you remember it...it makes me know that I will remember my 4 trips as well!