Ravens and marmots and bears, oh my! I’m writing this post on the afternoon of Anne’s birthday. The Grand Canyon does not have bears, but it does have mountain lions. We saw a yellow, diagonal, crossing sign for them, but I doubt any self-respecting mountain lion would come anywhere near where we are camping in the park, too many people. What we do have are ravens and in abundance. Grok! Grok! They too like to prey upon humans. With all of our high calorie foods and most people’s general messiness, we represent a bonanza to them. We saw a trio of ravens swoop down on a neighbor’s campsite, after they drove off. Unfortunately for the birds, our neighbors are tidy folk. In addition to food, ravens are also attracted to shiny things, think car keys. So far, we’ve managed to fend off these large black birds. Tomorrow, we face an epic drive to Sequoia National Park, where there are bears. In preparation, I had packed my bear spray, until I read that bear spray is illegal in Sequoia. I imagine that our campsite there will have a bear box. There are only black bears in the park, no grizzlies, but unlike anywhere else in this country where with black bears you can store your food in your car, Californians have taught their bears that cars are just giant tin cans full of food and fortunately for the bears, nature has equipped them with five giant can openers per paw. We’ll have to be aware of the bears, but what I’m really worried about there are the marmots. Marmots are large rodents and are not usually a problem, but Sequoia’s marmots have developed a taste for ethane glycol, think antifreeze. Poisonous, it still tastes sweet. When we first moved to Saint Louis there was a crime story about a wife that had murdered her three husbands by spiking their beer with radiator fluid. After the third one died, the coroner finally wised up. It was said of the two previous husbands, after they exhumed that they were unusually well preserved. Anyway, back to the marmots. They like to gnaw on radiator hoses. The NPS instructions for starting your car sound eerily familiar to those that you might follow if you’ve crossed the mafia. “First turn the key to accessory, before engaging the ignition. Check the warning lights. If everything looks OK, turn on the ignition. At any sign of trouble turn the car off.” The NPS also recommends that you wrap the undercarriage in a tarp. I don’t think that we will be in the vicinity of the marmot problem area, but unwitting Californians have been transporting problem marmots about the park. It will be an adventure.
Day three: Had a fire last night. Hot days, cold nights. Very dry. Lots of elk and of course birds. Birthday breakfast at El Tovar, a Harvey House. Spotty cell service. After breakfast we march down into the canyon, at least a little bit. Tomorrow long drive to Sequoia.