Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Posts tagged ‘#grandcanyon’

Journey 4.0: Day 11 — The Grand Canyon

The. Most. Incredible. Sight. Ever.

Today’s trip to the Grand Canyon was truly the epitome of this trip. It took us a little over an hour each way, mostly on curvy two-lane roads with 45 mph speed limits. There were a number of scenic turnouts on the way, each more incredible than the last. We hiked the Rim Trail, spending much of our time “in the rough” on the canyon side of the paved trail. In the end, we decided that after we had put in over 5 miles that way, we weren’t going to push it by hiking down into the canyon, even part-way. That’s for another trip.

The views are just incredibly beautiful; they defy words to describe them. And every turn in the path reveals a new angle on the vast expanse. I pretty much lost my fear of heights, because getting out to the edge and seeing only the formations in the canyon is really what this is about, and I wasn’t going to miss it.

If you have been here, you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t been here, you cannot begin to imagine in, and you need to put this trip on your bucket list, and then do it.

One of the things that impressed me was the number of foreign people who were here visiting and sightseeing. I dare say they made up the majority of today’s visitors — I heard many, many languages. And I thought, how is it that we Americans are in the minority of visitors to this incredibly wonderful sight that is right in our midst? I have no issues with sharing it with all who want to come — I just wish more (all) Americans would come and share in the sense of wonder. It is truly an awesome sight.

We kept trying to get some distance between ourselves and the crowds, and finally at one point we found a fairly isolated spot with great ledges for sitting; the crowds hadn’t arrived yet. I found myself a rock to sit on, and gazed out at the amazing vista, and began to weep at the sheer wonder and awesome beauty of it. My faith is deepened and strengthened as I see these wonders of God’s creation.

And all this beauty and wonder, plus whatever national parks we visit on the way home, are mine (and Matt’s, as my passenger) for the grand sum of $10. People over the age of 62 can purchase a lifetime senior pass for $10. It’s good forever as long as it is presented iwth your ID. So far this trip I have saved $50 in park entry fees. There are a number of national parks on our way home, and the pass will get us into any of those we choose to visit. SCORE!!!

On the way back from Grand Canyon National Park today, we kept watching a big black storm cloud that was hanging to the northeast of us. Finally, we were under it, and we got rain, hail, and a 20-degree temperature drop! The hail was quarter-sized, but it never rained particularly hard. And once we passed under the storm cloud, the temperatures quickly climbed back into the 90s.

My only real mistake of the day was forgetting to take sunblock. Both of us are sunburned, hopefully not too badly.

Tomorrow, already, is the day we start the journey home. Mass in the little local Catholic church is at 11 a.m. I’ve found it a joy and profound blessing to find my way to Mass on Saturday or Sunday in all of my travels these past 3+ years. We’ll be on the road around noon, and get some miles under the wheels before we stop for the night, probably somewhere in western central Colorado. Our plan is to camp all three nights if possible on the way home. And getting a start on the trip tomorrow afternoon will leave us with shorter days on the road so that we can sightsee along the way.

I am continually blown away by the beautiful places that are ours to explore and see, and I’m constantly impressed by my grandson’s desire to see “the real thing” rather than getting hung up on and taken in by the tourist traps and souvenir shops. We have each picked up a few things along the way to remind ourselves of the trip, but we’ve spent astonishingly little money aside from the few nights we’ve spent in hotels (only 4 of the 11 nights so far) and meals out when we were too beat to dig in the cooler.

Who knows what kind of connectivity we will have on the road — I will post when possible!

Journey 4.0: Rockin’ the Road!

Day 10 saw us on the road for better than 12 hours, with only quick meal, gas, and “pit” stops. Most of the drive was on two-lane highways with occasional passing lanes. We started out in Jackson, Wyoming, before 7 a.m., and checked in at our hotel in Tuba City, Arizona, around 8:30 p.m. (7:30 local time — remember, Arizona is smart and opts out of Daylight Saving Time!). I must say we held up remarkably well. Matt and I make great traveling companions. We were talking about that yesterday, among the many subjects we discussed, and it seems that both of us recognize the value of conversation as well as the bliss of silence; long, comfortable silences are the mark of good companionship. We also agree that life is far too short to live on expectations. Expectations always disappoint, because they come with unrealistic definitions of what it takes to meet them. Far better, we decided, to enjoy people as they are, and see what we can learn from that.

Now, here is something that really illustrates that point about expectations. The two of us — grandmother and grandson, for anyone who’s forgotten that — have shared living quarters, including a bathroom, for most nights of this trip. Not once has either of us found it necessary to remind the other of what state the toilet seat should be in. Why? Because we apparently — without prior discussion — have no expectations in that regard, other than of ourselves — to arrange the seat and/or lid in whatever configuration the user desires when they approach this humble appliance. My view: It is just plain silly to waste energy and emotion on having an expectation of, or complaining about, how the toilet seat was left. When I approach the throne, I simply put the seat the way I want it, and leave it that way when I depart. And every other person with whom I share facilities is 100% free to do the same. No conversation necessary. And just think of all the personal energy that’s left for much more positive interactions!

You may think that the long day on the road finally fried my brain. Not so. It did, however, lead me to reflections about how very easy it is to treat others well when one’s focus is outward, and not aimed at the everlastingly self-centered view around “What’s going to please ME?”.

There. Now that I’ve had my say, more about the trip. Yesterday was incredible for how much of the time we spent making our way through, across, and between mountain ranges. Our path took us south from Jackson, Wyoming, through Utah and into Arizona, and mountains were all around us, sometimes towering over the road to block even the noonday sun. What struck me over and over again was the infinite number of faces the mountains have. Every turn of the road brought a new and more breathtaking vista than the last. And some of the beautiful lakes and streams out here — just incredible.

And honestly, that’s what yesterday’s drive was about: The mountains. I do not doubt for one second that I could make that same drive again, and feel that I was seeing a whole new scene — that’s how rich the variety of faces the mountains present.

For dinner last night, we just walked to the Denny’s right next to our hotel. We had been quite distressed, upon our arrival, to see a pretty brown dog, a female obviously nursing puppies, wandering outside the front door of the hotel and later, near the restaurant. She didn’t seem the least afraid, but she would not approach people. She would just kind of hang around looking soulful. I mentioned her to the desk clerk, who I thought seemed quite undisturbed. Then, we saw the sign on the inside of the front doors: “Please don’t feed the animals.” And on the way over to the restaurant, we saw Ms. Dog again and realized that she appears very well fed and not the least bit distressed on her own behalf. The hotel is on tribal property within the reservation and is owned and operated by the Hopi tribe. We concluded that she was a pet belonging to someone local, and just kind of hoping for some extra handouts. We slept better, knowing that.

This morning as soon as we get around, we are headed for Grand Canyon Village, where we will choose which trails to explore for day hiking. Our research suggests that some of the trails are very challenging, so this should be fun! Lots of water and insect spray, plus lots of pictures of what promise to be spectacular views. It is shaping up to be a gorgeous, sunny day with temperatures in the upper 70s.

It is hard to believe that tomorrow afternoon we will begin to head north and east to make the journey home! But it’s true. Journey 4.0 is on the homeward trail already. And then I must begin to plan ways I can spend such quality time with all of my grandchildren, whatever other commitments their lives hold — I can’t describe the value of this time in building my relationship with the one who came along on this trip!

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