Against my better judgment I decided it was time to visit Zano again. Might have had something to do with the constant “Hey, Bald Tony, I’ve visited you 635 times since you last visited me!” Well, I do enjoy Flagstaff. It is not as fully loaded as Vegas, but it more than holds its own as a great little tourist town…despite Zano’s residency there.
I am big on “reduce, reuse, recycle,” so I kept the printed directions from my last trip there in 2011. What could be easier than step-by-step turn-by-turn directions to Zano’s front door? Unfortunately for me a street name change detoured me into parts unknown. I called Zano and told him I was at the Flagstaff public library. I immediately interpreted his silence as confusion.
“We have a library?” he said, finally. “What else is around you?”
Looking for landmarks Zano would recognize I told him I was across the street from the police station. “I’ll be there in 5 minutes!” When we arrived at Chateau de Zano I showed him my directions in an attempt to figure out where I went wrong. It turns out one of the streets ‘Enterprise’ underwent a name change to ‘Ponderosa’. Who the hell is naming the streets in Flag? Some TV Land executive? If I have an accident do I go to a General Hospital or a M*A*S*H unit? Besides, shouldn’t civilization be progressing? ‘Ponderosa’ to ‘Enterprise’? Is this all part of President Obama’s anti-capitalism initiative?
I like Mick. Strange but true. And as such I feel the need to tell my friend when he is de-evolving. As I get older I notice many in my age group start using presidential administrations as reference points. “My daughter was born during Bush 41.” “I dated her in the early Reagan Years” etc… Mick and I were both born during the Lyndon Johnson administration, but the last few times I’ve seen Mick he looks more like someone from Andrew Johnson’s administration. As such, I decided a good activity would be a hike. Both Mick and Cokie McGrath—version six or seven, not exactly sure as Zano burns through them rather quickly—espouse the hiking opportunities in the area. Now I am no athlete, but I can certainly manage a moderate hike now and again. Moderate at least by President William Howard Taft standards.
I have walked from the Stratosphere to Caesar’s with only two stops along the way (while trying to hail a cab the entire trip, Zano reminds me). Now Cokie is in shape. It helps when you exercise like a fiend and are ridiculously young. How young? Well, she was Born in the U.S.A. when that song was topping the charts, aka, during the Reagan administration. So between her youth and fitness it’s fair to say during the hike…(superior posterior joke omitted by the editor).
We decided a hike at Fat Man’s Loop (FML) would be the best option. I hoped FML would not cause me to use my FMLA. Actually, I was a bit insulted, since it sounded like the hiking equivalent of skiing the bunny slope, but both Zano and McGrath insisted Flagstaff’s higher elevation would be challenging for me. Uh oh. I had not considered that. So, off to loop the fat man we went. When we arrived I saw a sign – “Fat Man’s Loop” 0.2 miles. I thought “Great, this will not be so tough.” We all did some light warm ups, which for Zano involved microbrews, and started the hike. Right away I knew I was in trouble. The hikes I’ve done in and around the Las Vegas valley have mainly been on flat land at sea level with intermittent benches and water fountains (manly hikes), aka, nothing like this. Now we were in the mountains, and ascending. It did not take long for me to start huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf, aka, I felt like someone born during the Roosevelt administration (Teddy’s….even if I wasn’t exactly charging up San Juan Hill).
And no one took my suggestion of setting up a base camp seriously.
If I die here my last question would be, how in God’s name was 0.2 miles taking so long? We’d been hiking for what seemed like days. Even Zano, who wore sandals while I wore sneakers, was far and away ahead of me. Do I say I have to pee? Do I scream SNAKE! Do I pretend I twisted my ankle? I got it!
“Wait up! While I was peeing a snake bit my ankle!” I was about to scream.
Before I could put my plan into action, mercifully a ledge, or a log, or something of substance appeared in the rocky terrain, so I plopped down like The Ghetto Shaman on a bar stool. Barely winded, Zano and McGrath stood over me like disapproving parents who just caught their 15 year old in the liquor cabinet. How was this possible? With Cokie I understood, but Zano? He had personally added at least four more deadly sins to the original seven, because—as he put it—my sins go to 11! He can’t touch his toes these days! How was he hiking circles around me, while wearing inferior footwear? To add insult to injury, once I got going again I lost my footing at one point, something neither of them did the entire hike. And again, why was this hike taking so looooooooong? I am no cartographer, but this was the equivalent of many leagues if we were sailing (or bowling, for that matter).
They guesstimated we were over halfway done.
Half? I thought. How had we only traveled 0.1 miles?
“Why don’t we have hiking sticks, and hiking boots, and protein bars, and canteens of water, and canisters of oxygen…?” I screamed, you screamed, we all screamed for…well, I just screamed for the vehicle at this point.
“Because it’s Fat Man’s Loop!” came the unsympathetic response. Zano later admitted this had actually been the first time McGrath had not coaxed him part or all the way up the actual mountain attached to this trail.
Now I’ve heard some pleasant sounds while enjoying the natural beauty of North America, and I assure you Zano and McGrath screaming the same words at the same time after what seemed like a marathon is one of the most frightening sounds any human ears have ever endured.
Finally the ascent stopped and the descent started. On the way down we passed hikers who were professionally outfitted, with all the aforementioned gear.
“Why do they have all that stuff and we don’t?” I begged of them.
“They’re going on a real hike up to Mount Elden. It would cripple or kill you…apparently, even if you looked mistakenly toward it,” said McGrath.
Exasperated, I finally asked, “Haven’t we been hiking a lot more than 0.2 miles?”
They both looked at me like I farted in church (pew joke omitted).
“Why do you think this hike is 0.2 miles?” they asked in unison.
“Because the sign at the beginning of the trail said so.”
They burst into simultaneous laughter informing me the sign was showing the distance to from the parking lot to the trailhead, not the distance of the hike itself.
(The below passage is to be read like Samuel L. Jackson’s, “Get these mother &^%ing snakes off this mother &^%ing plane!)
“Well how mother*&^$ing long is this mother &^%$ing hike!” I cried.
By the time we returned to the car a week later my feelings toward Cokie had changed dramatically. I was still impressed with her, but I wasn’t exactly a huge fan anymore. A week or so later I sent her this link of a place I frequently hike, just a few miles from my home.
She responded “ROTFLMAO! That’s not a hike. That’s barely a stroll.”
On a side note, back in the days when I had connections in both the broadcasting and professional wrestling world, I was able to get an advance copy of the BBC documentary GAEA Girls. This is a fascinating in-depth look into just how tough pro wrestling can be, and just how rigid Japanese culture and discipline can be. Even if you don’t want to watch the entire documentary, and I recommend everyone do indeed watch it, please go to 3:20-3:45 of this clip to see my YouTube wish list for you, Cokie. Just to be clear, Miss McGrath, I envision you as the woman in the blue shorts and black shirt.
I was happy to have survived the ordeal. Since something called Fat Man’s Loop was too arduous, the next time those two want me to go hiking I’m going to suggest heading over to the paraplegic pass or maybe the flat part of granny’s gulch.
Now get out there and stretch those legs! …but read the trail signs carefully, the pride you save may be your own.