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!