if you thought you heard a sign of relief last week, you might have.
c and i took our (summer) vacation and our first real leisure vacation (that is sans kids and sans traveling for any other reason than to treat ourselves). it occurred to me that the last several (many) times we went somewhere just the two of us for more than two days, we were dealing with family emergencies.
life moves faster than we think. this was a trip we planned many years ago (originally with all the kids). the events of the last few years taught us that now is better than later and travel is even better than big houses (with big mortgages) and more stuff (well, for those of us without limitless resources). we’ve never been interested in putting off travel until our retirement (retirement, what’s that? says many a generation now…)
backstory aside, we finally got out to the grand canyon. if you haven’t seen it, i’ll tell you that even the best photography in the universe cannot compete with seeing this magnificent sight in person. we flew into las vegas and spend a couple of days there, then headed out to the canyon. (i’ll save the lv discussion for another blog) it was a 4 ½ hour drive from lv to the grand canyon (some of which was stunning, some of which was harrowing)
along the way we stopped at the hoover dam and took the tour there. sheesh, more amazing-ness. hammers home what this country can do when it puts its collective mind to doing it. lessons for today’s troubles?
we got to the canyon after dark and during a rain storm. c was exhausted from driving (fighting) our junky rental car, so we just grabbed dinner and conked out. excited to see the canyon for the first time, we were out early, loaded up with maps, hiking boots, backpacks, cameras and water.
we deliberately booked lodging inside the park, (which is very limited so we booked a year in advance and still didn’t get to stay in our preferred choice) but in the darkness of the night before we were not quite acclimated to where we were. i kind of thought we would get to the rim trail and hike for a bit and then see the canyon. just a short walk up to the shuttle stop and…
omg! it’s right there! one of the wonders of the world was within steps of our lodge and we had no idea.
the two of us were like little kids, grabbing cameras, snapping iphone pictures and texting like crazy. and staring. just staring and gazing and imagining what the hell the first people upon this place must have thought.
natural gas powered shuttle busses run along the western edge of the south rim of the canyon, stopping about every mile or half mile. cars are restricted from the area except for those carrying handicapped passengers, all of which is designed to limit the pollution in the area. we hiked the trails for awhile, jumped on the bus for awhile and got off and hiked again.
i’ve heard people say that they’ve seen the canyon, and said it in as casual a way as they could muster. “yeah, it’s a big hole in the ground”, i’ve heard. maybe they’re sincere, maybe they’re trying to show that they’re cooler than me, but i’m not ashamed to say that i was overwhelmed and very emotional at the sight, at the experience of being there. the majesty is indescribable, the feeling that the world is so much more than our petty day to days. i couldn’t stop looking, memorizing maybe, just taking it all in.
we got to hermit’s rest, the final stop on the western part of the south rim of the canyon where there are bathrooms and a little snack bar and a little shop. we weren’t that tired so we poked around for a bit and headed back to the trail when the skies opened up.
(on the way up to the canyon we were listening to the grand canyon radio station (yes, there is one, but it’s not as entertaining as the local native american radio station) who was talking about precautions to take during monsoon season in northern arizona. huh? okay, that’s the last thing i thought i would ever hear. so, we picked up ponchos in the gift shop before we left in the morning and were glad to have them. )
we jumped on the next shuttle bus and got back to the lodge. a few hours later, the rain was over. day two, we took a bus tour of the eastern side of the south rim, the side of the canyon where you can see the colorado river. the skies were cloudy so the colors were not as spectacular as they could have been, but the views were stunning. with the help of binoculars we could see people rafting down in the canyon (and the solar panels) that power the one lodge at the bottom of the canyon.
one thing i always wanted to do in my life was hike down to the bottom of the canyon and raft down the colorado. but i should have done it earlier in my life because i am in no shape to do that now. in my younger days i had the desire but was too much of a chicken. funny thing, i’ve gotten more courageous in my old age.
i’ve got more tales of the trip to come as the experiences settle, but i would say to anyone/everyone that this is not a trip to miss. this is an experience that will remind you of all the splendor of life.