Clink on link below to read about my hike to Phantom Ranch
My First Hike to Phantom Ranch
Jane Frances Ruby, author of The Azurite Encounter
This is my first attempt at fictional writing. In my past life I wrote technical reports as a chemist in the research department of a major specialty chemical company. Over time I got really good at abstracts, intros, methods, data, results, conclusions, blah blah blah. To paraphrase a famous line from Ghostbusters, "I've worked in the private sector--they expect results." This meant that management and customers wanted just cold, hard facts. So the technical writing was short and concise. Unfortunately it was also dry and dull.
I got pretty good at this kind of writing (I actually had some stuff published), but the fictional part of me was screaming to emerge. Some of my technical presentations transformed into monologues with "stand-up comedy" appeal. I wasn't trying to make them funny--just simpler; I wanted to bring the technical language down to street level, so that more of my audience could understand my report. If my audience laughed or at least stayed conscious by the end of my talk then I succeeded.
So with this technical background and over 50 years of life experiences I decided to let my fictional side emerge. But what was the current rage--Murder? Mystery? Adventure? Romance? At the time both my daughters were into young adult fiction full of witches, wizards, vampires, and werewolves. I felt that this genre had plenty of room for more stories based on legends and folklore.
Living Arizona made me aware of its rich history, legends and folklore. I was particularly interested in areas around the Grand Canyon and its the original inhabitants. If you haven't been to the Grand Canyon area it's awfully harsh. Majestic--but HARSH. Below freezing in the winter atop the plateaus and above 100F in the summer down at river level. How these cultures adapted and thrived in such a harsh conditions is truly amazing. And they did it for centuries! So I began researching their lives in such a harsh region.
I was also interested in the J.W. Powell expeditions through the Grand Canyon including the original journals of Powell's 1869 trip. They fought the elements in wooden boats and brutal conditions. But mystery enshrouded the three guys who jumped ship before the trip ended. No one knows for sure what happened to them.
BUT WHAT IF????
What if they remained in remote areas of the canyon? What if they joined up with some of the original inhabitants? AND what if over time visitors of the park also joined up to create a new generation of inhabitants. There's been stories of early explorers entering the park and never returning. Did they die or did they blend into the culture of inhabitants already there? What about people trying to escape modern life and living a sustainable life like the ancient tribes did? Can such a civilization exist?
I say yeah, maybe, possibly, sure, and why not?! This is America, and anything is possible. So I used this premise to describe a subculture of people living within the Grand Canyon who have modernized but retained the ancient capability to survive the harsh conditions of the climate.
They live in the canyons dressed like hikers and live out their lives as hunters/gatherers. They also help visitors who get injured or lost. It's in their nature to be peaceful and helpful--just like their ancestors. But they have strict rules; only to eat what they grow or hunt. They can only drink water from canyon sources (river, springs, snow melt). Their strict diets and avoidance of outside contacts (unless providing medical aid) have resulted in healthy lives, and over generations they have developed into super humans--big, strong, fast, and smart.They are smart because they read the printed word. Any type of reading material left behind by visitors are recovered. Books, magazines, and newpapers are read. Can you imagine how many languages they would know based on the variety of tourists that hike/camp there? Any devices requiring power (e-readers, mp3's, ipods, etc.) are not important mainly because they run out of power. So the people are learned and articulate as much as printed word that is available.