Chapter 25: Las Turistas Agotadas
Kaitlyn and I slipped cold silk robes on and got out of our tent without flashing the other early risers, the cool morning air tickling up our legs and around our buns. In an ideal world, we’d go bare from bed to breakfast, just as at home, but alas…
Invisibility was even less an option this morning than last night: as strange a sight as silk robes are in a campground, much more so are tent flaps and RV doors apparently opening and closing themselves.
We knocked quietly on the Alexanders’ motor home door and heard a faint “Come in!” call, so we slipped inside to find our hosts still in bed, neither visibly wearing anything, bedclothes pooled around their waists, both sitting up and reading.
“You’re overdressed,” barked Norman with a smirk.
“Ja, mein host,” my wife joked back in her faux German military officer accent, her robe already unbelted as she climbed the stairs into the RV, letting it slip to the floor.
I followed suit — un-suit? — bringing a smile to Molly’s lips as well.
“I suppose we’d best get breakfast going,” she said, sweeping the bedclothes aside, revealing her choice to wear our same outfit.
“I love your outfit this morning, Molly,” I told her.
“Aw, same one as yesterday,” she joked. “One standard-issue well-used birthday suit.”
“Just launder it and wear it again,” I suggested.
She sighed and said, “Would that I could.”
Norman proposed, “Maybe if this global warming stuff gets bad enough, governments will be forced to allow casual nudity, at least in seasons and places like this here.”
“Better if we can stop it before it gets that bad,” advised my wife, the closest thing we had to an ecologist in the group. “Still,” she added, “it should already be an option, simply the most casual clothing choice, available most anywhere casual clothing is currently allowed. Here on vacation in a campground, I see zero reason for even the formality of a tee shirt.”
“Hear hear,” replied Molly solemnly, then added, “C’mon, Norm, let’s get our guides fed.”
Buttering her pancakes, Molly addressed the first conversation gambit to my wife, “So, love, a silk robe in a campground?”
“Silk packs well, and we sleep nude too, so it was that or streak the campground.”
“You could’ve dressed.”
“For three strides? Lunacy.”
When no one answered that judgement, Kaitlyn went on musingly, “You know, I grew up wearing pajamas to bed, and I was taught to shower, dress, and brush my teeth before breakfast. I never second-guessed it, just did as I was told, but Davie’s a questioner. Early in our relationship, he asked me why I wore both pajamas and bedclothes? Why do I risk my fresh clothes’ cleanliness by brushing my teeth and eating sticky breakfast foods afterward? Why do I cover my just-cleaned teeth in carb-rich comestible detritus before leaving for work? I think of all the time I’ve spent with a wet washcloth in the bathroom spotting away toothpaste splatters or breakfast spills and of the childhood cavities I got from doing things backwards, and I just shake my head.”
Molly said, “We figured out the nude sleeping part years ago after too many times waking up tangled in our pajamas, but the rest… Okay, new house rules, Norm: our enlightened guides are right!”
I summarized it with a nod, “The six Bs: bed, breakfast, bathe, and brush before bedizenment!”
After chasing the resulting word-nerd tangent to its terminus, I announced, “So for today’s plan, we have two ways to do it. First is, we can loose this magnificent Gulliver upon the world, attempting to find space for it in the parking lots of one of the most crowded tourist attractions in the state on this holiday weekend…”
Molly interrupted, saying, “Yeah, let’s hear plan B.”
“…or,” I continued, “we can do it all on our bikes and so pay nothing for parking. As a bonus, we burn fat instead of gas.”
Kaitlyn and I answered the resulting flurry of questions, the Alexanders finally settling on ‘plan B’ on two conditions.
“First,” said Molly, “we get to stop you whenever we want for rests, massages, whatever.”
“Counter-condition,” said my wife: “you take those massages or whatever other remedies we prescribe in the manner we prescribe them. We are after all your caretakers on this trip. Doctor’s orders and all that, you know?”
“Agreed; and second, we get one rest at least every hour. Last night’s ride was a beast.”
“Think back,” I prompted her. “Feeling fine now, aren’t you?”
“Sure, but I was wheezing last night,” she said.
“You’re getting stronger, and we’re taking good care of you. Don’t worry, we’ll stop for rest more than once an hour, believe me.”
We left the Alexanders to don their bike clothes while we slipped into our robes to prep the bikes.
Theirs were high-end lightweight affairs without the bulky cargo systems Kaitlyn and I needed today in our role as tour guides. The Alexanders only carried a basic breakdown kit and personal items in a small bag beneath each seat, but their guides would be hauling about 10 kilos of gear each.
Society’s rules once again presented an impediment to a practical decision: in a sane world, we’d toss the robes inside the tent and put yesterday’s lightly used bike clothes back on, dressing straight from the packs hoist into the tree nearest the tent to keep the animals out of our stuff. Instead, we had to struggle into our tight clothing within the tent’s close confines. It was kinda fun, but also stupid. Dressing beside the tent would’ve been fun and smart, but no-oo…
After all was settled at camp, we locked things up and began a leisurely ride down the bike trail paralleling Utah 128 and the river.
At the junction with US Highway 191, we took our first rest in a public park, Kaitlyn leading the group out under some shade trees. It’d been an easy ride down the canyon, about a mile and a half, slightly downhill the whole way. We’d done this first ride leisurely to let everyone check out the gorgeous scenery along the way; the Alexanders were breathing easy as we pulled in.
When we got tired of watching the vehicles whiz by on the nearby highways, we took a pedestrian bridge over the Colorado River, which connected us to a different network of bike trails, one arm of which took us up to Arches National Park on a gentle three mile stretch, only slightly uphill.
On arrival, we locked the bikes up outside the visitor’s center and did the tourist thing inside for a while, taking care of one special detail with the staff, then got back on our way.
“All right, kids,” I began jocularly as we strapped our helmets on beside the bikes, “this is the start of our first serious ride today. It’ll take us about two hours if we push straight through, but we’ll probably stretch it to three between rest and tourist stops. There are two major climbs: we’ll stop at the top of the first for rest, coast down to the foot of the next climb, power up it, and rest again. Any questions?”
“Who knows CPR?” joked Norman.
“I do,” offered my wife, “and believe me, this’ll be tough. I was in better shape than you two when I did it the first time last year, and I felt it. However, we hit that ride harder than we’ll be doing with you two today. Remember, you can always call a halt. We’re here to have fun, not beat y’all up, ’kay?”
The Alexanders looked trepidatious, so I added, “We brought plenty of sunscreen.”
That made Molly and Norman smile.
My wife added, “Also lotsa water and food. C’mon, let’s go!”
She led our peloton onto the narrow winding park road, riding its edge by way of example to the others, me taking up the rear, since I’d mounted a tall collapsible orange safety flag on my bike’s rear rack.
There was a hiking trailhead and parking lot near the top of the first of the climbs, so we stopped there and gave the area a good look-around while the Alexanders regained their breath. We offered an early massage, but since we were only a few miles into the park and there were about a dozen tourists around at all times, the Alexanders declined. We took a lot of pictures, though.
The peak of the second climb also corresponded with another vista view parking lot, just as crowded as the first, but where that one was for a trail head up a narrow canyon, offering no privacy, this one was atop a local bluff, so it gave us the option to strike out over open country to find a smidgen of solitude out beyond where the tourists normally roamed. We found a dirt mountain trail that took off out over this bluff top, Kaitlyn taking the less-used fork each time, leading us further and further away from the paths favored by the tourists, so we ended up alone behind a large red rock formation maybe a quarter mile out from the parking lot.
“Whew!” said Molly when we finally stopped, her Camelbak looking half-drained, tee shirt soaked with sweat.
She was flapping it to make a breeze when my wife advised, “Best just take it off, Molly,” and she led by example, stripping off her dampened sports bra, hanging it on her handlebar.
Molly smiled and took her challenge, followed by Norman and I.
Kaitlyn and I didn’t stop there, though: our bike shorts followed our tops immediately after, and then we kicked off the bike shoes and peeled off our socks, stuffing them into our shoes to keep the rust red desert sand off.
“You two!” laughed Molly, but she showed no sign of following our second example.
I said, “I’m going for a climb, get myself a look back toward the parking lot. Y’all relax, and I’ll call down what I see.”
I scrambled quickly up the rock formation, my nudity allowing Gaia to grant me the nimble grace of a monkey, my strong bike-toned legs aiding the effort to scale the spire.
Halfway up, I heard a beep and a click. Looking down, I saw Molly pointing a high-end pocket camera up at me, a wide grin visible below it as the camera beeped to confirm focus an instant before the shutter clicked again. I just shook my head ruefully and resumed my climb, chased by beeps and clicks.
At the top, I hunched down so that only my torso would be visible from below, and I called out, “Clear! No one’s following us on that last trail spur!” I didn’t need to see the trail to know that, having sensed it as soon as I got far enough from our techie accoutrements, but the Alexanders wouldn’t have believed me if I’d announced it earlier, not without a lot of explanation.
I looked down the other side of the spire and saw our hosts shucking the rest of their bike clothing, laying out on the sand, Kaitlyn beginning a sunscreen rub-down on them, working them in turns.
My pro forma position as lookout was a pretext to take in the sights from my high perch while experiencing the thrill of being nude-yet-hidden from the onlookers in the parking lot. Turning around and looking down gave me a fun perspective on the massages in progress as well.
Norm clearly agreed, for the camera was in his hands now, photographing Kaitlyn atop his wife, their blush-accented skin tones blending with the Southwest tans and pinks beautifully.
Norm remained far enough from his subjects that Kaitlyn was able to heal Molly up for the next stage of our ride before he started taking extreme closeups. The best of these shots was of Molly’s bush-crowned vulva in the near foreground, her gravity-squashed breasts in the middle foreground and a desert landscape beyond, the composition framed by her toned thighs.
When I’d sated myself on mundane sights, I spread my magical awareness out through the land so I could soak up the natural scene internally, making it a part of me, eyes closed while I monitored the location of the people treading upon my land, an extension of my bare skin. I dissociated my consciousness from my body and let Gaia trickle-charge my spirit.
Tickling footfalls over my “skin” from the direction of the parking lot made me itch, the intruders’ presence confirmed on opening my eyes, so I pulled away from the side of the rock formation closest to their inbound path and began climbing down its back side.
Before I was halfway down, Kaitlyn looked up from the camera, asking, “Time to go?”
I’d interrupted a couples portrait she was composing of Molly and Norman, his head pillowed on her breasts, their legs intertwined. I called, “Yup, shoot quick: inbound turistas!”
She took two more shots before I touched the ground, then we flew into our clothes and only managed to pedal our bikes a few dozen feet toward the road where we slowed to chat with the first of the hikers, not a one of them realizing that all four of us were starkers seconds before!
The next stretch of road was almost completely downhill from that bluff top, ending at the parking lot for the Delicate Arch trail head. Being one of the busiest tourist attractions in the area, we didn’t have many options for places to strip and recuperate, but we didn’t really need it after that easy ride down.
“Okay, you two,” Kaitlyn began, “we can in theory ride from here up to Delicate Arch, but it’s a steeper climb than any we’ve done today, and it’s all uneven sandstone and washes. If you want our advice, we lock up the bikes here and hike in.”
“You’re the guides,” said Norman equably, and Molly nodded her assent as well.
It’s a pretty hike, more or less uphill the whole way, but on foot it’s an accessible climb as long as you’re reasonably healthy, and at the end you find one of the most striking natural sights on the planet.
We spent ten minutes of it taking photos around the arch, including a few surreptitious flashes and full nudes done too quickly to come out well.
While contemplating this scenic beauty, we ate lunch: canned stew I cooked on a backpacker’s stove, supplemented by bagged sandwiches the Alexanders made.
We spent over an hour up there, the rest of it filling another demand for massages, needing to hike well away from the arch to attain the necessary privacy. These photos were much better than the prior set. Kaitlyn acted as lookout this time while I did the body work, both healing the Alexanders and granting them the strength they’d earned with the exercise without needing to wait for the body’s normal muscle-building process to complete.
I suppose I could have made them even stronger, but that felt like cheating. How would they explain their unearned gains? It was risky enough to grant them this short-cut to their honest earnings, selling the easy gains as being a result of our physical work on their musculature.
Would we ever let them in on this last huge secret? Dare we tell them the truth?
The massages weren’t interrupted by hikers this time, so it was only when Molly said, “We should get going,” that I finished up Norman’s massage and joined them in getting dressed again.
Back down in the Delicate Arch parking lot, the four of us merely had a bit of an elevated heart rate, mainly from controlling our speed down the sandstone incline, so we got the Alexanders onto their bikes without complaint, Kaitlyn once again leading, me in the rear with the safety flag.
Our next stop was Fiery Furnace, a broad section of canyons, spires and natural sandstone arches. There’s an overlook off the main scenic route through the park, but to hike down in, you need to watch an orientation video before they’ll let you have a permit, which we did back at the visitor’s center on arrival that morning.
There was a ranger truck parked at the overlook, its assignee standing by the wooden rail fence in front of it, so I rolled my bike over, dug our passes out of my trunk bag and showed them to her. “Anyone else down in there at the moment?” I asked after the ranger glanced down at them.
“No, I just brought a guided tour group back up here with me,” she explained.
“We’re doing the self-guided thing. My wife’s with the BLM, so we’ll behave,” I said with a smile.
“Good,” she said, returning my smile a bit more tightly. “I’d hate to have to hike down in there and give y’all an ass chewin’.”
“I think you will not find another group more in touch with nature this weekend than us, Ranger Campbell,” I replied, reading her name tag.
“Oh, hi, Karenna,” my wife said, walking up to us.
“Kaitlyn? I didn’t know you got married!”
“Yeah, last year; our anniversary’s August 9th.”
“Well cool. You go right on down.”
“These two are with us,” I said, indicating the Alexanders. “We’ll keep ’em in line.”
“You lighten my heart immensely,” the ranger said with a soupçon of humor, bade my wife good-bye by name and the rest of us with a general wave, then got into her truck and drove off, her duties discharged here.
“Always good to know people who know people,” observed Norman.
We locked our bikes to the wood rail fence lining the parking loop, grabbed a small day pack each to hold the few things we thought we might need, and hiked down inside the protected space.