Monday, May 1, 2017: Day Ten

Monday, May 1, 2017: I woke up with the sun in Grand Canyon National Park at 5am and was so proud of myself I couldn’t help but smile. And then I went back to sleep and awoke again at 7:30am.

We checked the weather later, and according to the National Weather Service, temperatures got down to 25 degrees. This time, I didn’t realize it was ever that cold [I’m not convinced it actually did]. My two layers of North Face jackets may have made the difference this go-around.

As we packed the tent into the car and closed the trunk, we turned around and a pack of mule deer passed directly though our sight. Nathan and I silently grabbed our cameras and phones and grabbed a couple of photos and enjoyed watching the park’s big-eared deer pass through our site. [By the way, we have actual cameras with us. So far, I’ve only posted phone photos on this blog.]

IMG_9791
Mule deer creeping though our campsite

We wanted to make sure we didn’t leave the Grand Canyon without getting the full experience. So, we decided to hike down into the canyon on the partial South Kaibab trail which stops by Ooh Ahh point. After we “ooh-ed” and “ahh-ed” and dragged our legs up the equivalent of walking up 76 stair steps. Once we made it back to the top of the canyon, I was beyond ready to wash my hair.

IMG_9794
Noted
IMG_9797
The view from Ooh Aah point

So, we waved goodbye to the Grand Canyon, feeling proud and expressing our great appreciation for the park surrounding the canyon, which was about as impressive as the canyon itself.

We made it to Flagstaff in the early afternoon. Nathan and I spent the remainder of the day trying not to fall asleep.

Flagstaff is a neat little city, not much bigger than Jackson, TN (my hometown). The Route 66 city located at the foothills of the San Francisco Peaks has more local coffee shops than I’ve ever seen in such a small region. Its downtown gave off a more hipster/hippy vibe than I would have expected. I think we drove around the entirety of Flagstaff before finally grabbing a meal at night.

IMG_9799
View from outside the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ

We’ve bounced around through different time zones for the past couple of weeks, and the impact of these changes is just now starting to catch up with me. Only two months ago, I was living in the Eastern Time Zone. In March, I moved back into Central. When we made it to Denver, we adjusted to Mountain Time, which we enjoyed in Moab and Monument Valley. The Grand Canyon is in the Pacific Time Zone this time of year, and so now we’re all Pacific and my brain hurts.

Needless to say, with all the camping and hiking, I was excited for a solid night’s sleep and a shower.

 

Advertisements

Sunday, April 30, 2017: Day Nine

Sunday, April 30, 2017: After attempting to sleep in 29°F, Nathan’s alarm went off at 6:00am so that we could catch the sunrise. This made my night of freezing worthwhile.

IMG_9765
Sunrise over Monument Valley

The sun rose directly behind the monuments. The whole experience was overwhelming. I knew I was blessed, but it settled in with me even more just how blessed our country is to have access to these kinds of experiences. We complain a lot about the state of our country [I know I do anyway], but I cannot complain about the diversity of geography, biology, and cultures within our boarders. Friends, we have access to a lot, and I encourage you [and continue to force/encourage myself] to get out there and see it. Get to know that which is unfamiliar to you. You’ll be better for it, even if you continue to disagree with it or dislike it.

Camping was unfamiliar territory for me, and to tell you the truth, I found it scary and difficult. I am eternally grateful for having experienced Monument Valley, but my lack of sleep was getting the best of me.

After an early morning in Monument Valley, we took Nathan’s Altima on a wild 17-mile ride through rocky terrain of Valley Drive. While I was excessively nervous about the ride; however, we were surrounded and blown away as we passed by even more deep red-colored monuments.

We left Monument Valley later in the morning to begin making our way to the Grand Canyon. Our first stop along the way was to check out Horseshoe Bend. We caught it at a busy time, but there was no denying just how incredibly beautiful the Colorado River looked in the giant horseshoe-shaped canyon.

IMG_8346.JPG
Photo credit: Nathan (iPhone) of Horseshoe Bend

So, here’s the thing, we were planning to camp in the Grand Canyon the day after we camped in Monument Valley. I had not showered in nearly two days at this point and was exhausted to tears and nervous about what kind of wildlife might trap me in a tent this time. I’ll admit that I had a bit of a nervous breakdown. I almost gave up on camping in the park entirely. My lack of sleep made me emotional and anxious and I almost let my anxiety get the best of me. But I decided to go for it anyway.

Before setting up camp, we drove around and visited a few viewpoints along the canyon. Because we visited Arches, Canyonlands, and Monuments before the Grand Canyon, I was nervous that we could be burnt out on canyons. However, this was not the case. In fact, I think it made the Grand Canyon look even grander.

IMG_9774
“All the earth worships Thee; they sing praises to Thee, sing praises to They name.” Psalm 66:4

It was another cold night on the campground, but unlike Monument Valley, we were able to have a campfire. Praises be! Seriously, this plus the other campers enjoying their campfires added a little comfort in my paranoid mind. I have to brag on Nathan. He was willing to change plans about camping if need. He did not make me feel bad about being overcome with anxiety, but he did help me to feel safe and reminded me that I was not alone in this experience. I knew this was an experience I did not want to miss and in my mind, we were definitely going to camp one more time. I was just scared. When the FOMO (fear of missing out) kicked in, it overpowered my (admittedly irrational but very real-feeling) fear of an elk kicking in the tent or a coyote attacking me on my way to the bathroom. So, I reluctantly agreed to sleep outside again.

So we set up the tent, got a campfire going, roasted hotdogs, and made s’mores. Basically, we experienced actual camping this time, whereas in Monument Valley, we experienced Monument Valley. My exhaustion finally got the best of me, and miraculously, knocked me out.

IMG_9786
Tent set up at Mather Campgrounds in Grand Canyon National Park

ALSO: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY DAD!