“OF ALL THE BOOKS IN THE WORLD, THE BEST STORIES ARE WRITTEN FROM THE DUST WE GATHER ON OUR SHOES”
It’s been some years ago now, more than I’d like recall, but it was my 50th birthday and my husband surprised me with the gift of a trip westward to the Grand Canyon.
I’d never explored the country I was born to and lived my entire life. In fact, I’d really never been anywhere. My view of the world was peered at through the lens of somebody else’s camera. It was a long journey driving west from Oklahoma but I saw things that up until that point, I had only dreamt.
My world has always been flat, lush with green and towering trees yet to my amazement, a mere few hours drive away laid before me a land so barren that it felt alien, a terracotta land of desert and sandstone mesas.
New Mexico was our first stop. This was like stepping into an old time western, the land of outlaws and Billy The Kid. The flavor was Hatch Green Chili’s, green chili stew and Indian fry bread.
Lincoln NM, the setting of the Lincoln County wars, lays preserved as it had in those bygone days. The courthouse still stands as it had when Billy was jailed there and the bullet hole remains at the foot of the stairs where he killed Deputy Bell. For more about Lincoln, see my post: Chasing Billy
And, if you haven’t seen a Santa Fe sunset, put it on your bucket list!
Camel Rock, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The road stretched onward with terrain ever changing as we ventured onward into Arizona. Being the sentimental fool that I am I could not resist the urge to swing into Winslow and with the 1972 Eagles classic “Take It Easy” playing in my head, took a picture of us “Sittin’ on a corner in Winsliw Arizona”.
We arrived at the Grand Canyon early in the morning, parked and began our hike to the edge. Clay ran ahead of me, racing toward the edge then turned to watch my face as I approached.
Moving nearer, the view expanded to greet me. I heard myself gasp! I had never seen nor imagined anything more magnificent in beauty and vastness. My husband grinning from ear to ear to see the sheer awe upon my face and THAT look, being the gift he’d wanted to give.
We walked along it’s edge, spying elk drinking at the fountains along the way. We sat on the edge, dangling our feet over, both terrified and thrilled, watched the ever changing display of color with the creeping of the sun.
The next day, we decided to pack a lunch and hike down the canyon. We grabbed sandwiches, chips and bottles for water and took off for our adventure. Once we’d reached the area of decent, I busied myself filling bottles from the fountain. When I turned around, I was greeted with this sight….
Lord! Need a little sun on those legs!
Sweet Jesus! what is happening? A…pparently, there were some French gentlemen, in spandex leggings, stretching out before taking off down the canyon and Goob here, thought it was a good idea. Not sure we’re pulling off their level of cool though. This guy kills me! Keeps me laughing til the end of time!
Off we go, charging down the canyon like soldiers off to war. The lower we got, the warmer it got. Soon, I was shucking my hoodie and tying it around my waist. The view was spectacular, overlooking the Colorado river winding below like a teal blue ribbon.
Reaching a low point, we settled on a flat rock to eat lunch. Dozens of gray squirrels scurried about the rocks. I pitched a Frito toward one who greedily took it then came straight to me for another. Before I knew it, I had squirrels eating Fritos from my hands.
We’d decided we’d better start the journey back up as we were a few hours down and it takes longer climbing up. I don’t think either of us had considered that the return would be all uphill! I’m going to recommend right now that if you’re thinking of taking on this adventure that you start training for it now! Thought I WAS GOING TO DIE! I must’ve looked like it too. I was so devastatingly frightful that elderly hikers, and I mean white headed, were stopping to feed me snacks and drinks!
We did make it to the top, feeling accomplished like some sort of tragic survivors. We strolled hand in hand to the end of the edge, arriving at the bewitching hour of sunset when the muted canyon colors explode in a vibrarent array, the depth and breadth of it, magical in ways that no photograph can capture. It’s an experience that must be lived in 1st person.
Set your feet toward unknown places, my friends. Let the dust of your shoes be the story you write and let your view of the world be framed by camera in your hands.
Always with love – Laura