Bryce Canyon National Park S. Beford

Suitcase Tetris

Dispatch by S. Bedford

“There are thousands of red, white, purple and vermilion colored rocks, of all sizes, resembling sentinels on the walls of castles; monks and priests in their robes, attendants, cathedrals, and congregations. There are deep caverns and rooms resembling ruins of prisons, castles, churches with their guarded walls, battlements, spires, and steeples, niches and recesses, presenting the wildest and most wonderful scene that the eye of man ever beheld…”

This was how U.S. Deputy Surveyor T.C. Bailey described Bryce Canyon National Park’s surreal rock formations—its hoodoos—in 1876 as a result of either slack-jawed wonderment or dehydration-induced hallucination.

I attempted to muster an equally poetic mindset as I sat on videographer Bowen Mei’s living room floor surrounded by seven enormous bags spilling a combined 189 lbs of luggage onto his Chinese rug:

The camping cookware heaped into a discordant jumble mimics a glimmering fortress constructed by magpies, while the sleeping bags swelling within their compression sacks look like nubile caterpillars hatching from their cocoons…

In 24 hours, Bowen and I will be surrounded by the geological playscape of Bryce Canyon alongside photographer Jimmy Martinello and writer/team leader Delano Lavigne, and I can only hope to be as inspired as Bailey was 138 years ago.

In the meantime, our challenge was to somehow coax all of the gear back into the backpacks, dufflebags and pelican cases. If Laozi had been a modern-day traveller instead of a sixth-century BC philosopher, perhaps the quote would have read, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single game of suitcase Tetris.” 

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