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By Laura Moncur in The Disappearance of Glen and Bessie Hyde

If my penance in Reno felt as if it took an eternity, the wedding and family events in Idaho flew by before I could regain my step. There were so many new faces and names to memorize that I knew I would never remember them all. Before I knew it, all those faces were gone and it was just Glen and me on our way to the Grand Canyon with his homemade boat strapped to the roof of his car.

Glen and Bessie's Car“I’ve been doin’ a little readin’ ’bout the Grand Canyon, Bessie.” I nodded as I watched the Utah scrub brush slide by the car window. Glen continued, “There ain’t never been a woman who rode the whole river through it. You could be the first.” The sage and grass blurred at his words. I repeated, “First?” Glen smiled as he realized the tremendous gift he had given me. “Yep, you could be the first woman to ride the Grand Canyon. That’s why I bought the camera and all that film. We hafta prove that you were there the whole way.”

My mind swam. I had relished the idea of being the first in my family to see the Grand Canyon. You can only imagine the giddy joy that overcame me at the thought of being the first woman to conquer the Colorado River. It was at that moment that I saw myself on the cover of Life Magazine. I could see an illustration of me and Glen on his boat drawn by Norman Rockwell himself. The story of my brave adventure would be serialized with wit and humor by none other than Dorothy Parker. I could barely contain the vision within me.

“Glen, do you know what this means?” He smiled and nodded while I continued talking, “When we finish this river run, I will be famous. We can use that fame to do whatever we want.” My mind raced with the possibilities. “We’ll have to move to the Grand Canyon. Everyone will pay a hefty sum to go down the river on your boat. They’ll travel from all over the world just to take a ride on the river with us.” The vision of our future came to me faster than I could recite it to Glen. “We will be the Hydes of the River.” I could see a large boat with that very name stenciled on the side. “We’ll raise our family there. I’ll be the first pregnant woman to ride the river as well. Our whole lives will be on that river.”

In my excitement from the vision of our future, I turned to look at Glen. His hands were tight on the steering wheel and his jaw was clenched. I stopped my raving of our future as the miles flew under our tires. Glen’s silence was unnerving. “What’s the matter?” Glen was quiet, but he finally spoke, “I just don’t like the idea of leavin’ my family. Can’t we just be famous and NOT move to the Grand Canyon?”

My beautiful vision of our life in the national park dimmed a little. The name of the boat faded a bit and Norman Rockwell transmogrified into a young man with a strange camera. “Sure, honey,” I said, “We’ll become the Hydes of the Snake River instead.” Glen smiled again and we discussed our future all the way to Arizona.