Another Ghost for the series. This time in Death Valley standing on a dry lakebed of salt.
At some point in 2010, I rolled into the Grand Canyon campgrounds with nothing but a sleeping bag. It was after dark and I didn’t have any lights, so I picked a spot next to the biggest campfire I could see. I laid my bag on a bed of pine needles and stared at the stars.
The campers at the fire next to me were loud and I could see cans scattered about their site. I figured I should make friends with them.
As I got closer to their picnic table, I noticed that the empty cans were not cheap beer as expected, but were actually Diet Dr. Pepper. “Whatever,” I thought, the weirder these strangers could be, the better.
I introduced myself to the two guys, politely turned down the many offerings of DDP, and we started in on explaining our road trips to each other. I learned that they were traveling the country in their hatchback Honda, carrying a six-foot balafon, on some sort of “tour” to perform in various spots around the country. This was their Grand Canyon stop, where they planned on carrying this instrument to the bottom of the canyon to perform for passing hikers.
We sat around their fire for a few more hours, telling stories, cracking open more and more Diet Dr. Pepper, and just carrying on the way strangers in near darkness do.
I awoke the next morning, pine and dirt stuck to my cheek, and looked to the neighboring site. The fire was out, the empty cans gone and the campers were nowhere to be found. I imagined they were on their way to the bottom, awkwardly carrying their oversized wooden instrument to play to passing families in the summer heat.
I rolled up my bag and carried on with my road trip.
Megan, London 2014
Mari, New Orleans- Damon Loble 2014
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