We have danced, sang, done yoga, watched Vacation twice, made everything from sunglasses to false nails out of Wikki Stix, and eaten massive amounts of bananas (inexplicably called mee-aws by Little Guy) and pretzels while traversing two-thirds of the country. Now we are settled into decent hotel digs in Memphis for the next (drum roll) 36 hours! Woot! Almost worth unpacking for that length of time.
Due to massive internet disasters in Oklahoma City (high speed internet access, my *ahem*...), I not only screwed up our hotel reservations for tonight, but had no opportunity to write about our Grand experiences on Tuesday. The Grand Canyon was, well, incredible. I won't go on and on and on...just on and on, as I feel it is one of those places where one really has to go, explore and form their own opinion.
I will say that I had two disappointments:
- It was extremely crowded and I did not prepare myself for that. I should have assumed that everyone and their brother (and his sister, tottering around in her high heels) would be there. I should have guessed that few pictures could be taken without 5 other families ending up in the picture. I should have realized that I should not be surprised by the family that has a picnic at the rim of the canyon that consists solely of food from McDonald's. Somehow it just seemed sacrilegious* in a national park.
- We didn't realize that it would be under construction. Not the canyon (well, guess it is always changing a bit), but the upper rim areas. Some observation points were closed off entirely, and Nicholas had to be carried away from the boullywassays (bulldozers). Note to both of us: next time ensure Ergo is on top of luggage, not buried beneath. While Nicholas enjoyed the walk, it really wasn't super-friendly for a running toddler. The paths were fine, but what toddler enjoys the paths? Attempting to climb down the rocks on the rim, that's much more fun!
Other than the above? It was everything one would imagine and more. I am betting the other 276 miles that make up the rim are as fabulous as the mile we trekked. Just looking down at the valley made us all want to plan week long camping trips. Well, Little Guy did not vocalize this per se, but when he finally took a really good look at the canyon and shouted, "Oh, my GOSH!", we took it to mean he was suitably stunned and would consider visiting again.
The only difficult part was getting back in the car and gearing up to drive 8 plus hours to Albuquerque. We ended up having lunch off the beaten path in Cameron, and this (and the time change) added more exhaustion than we originally planned. The flip side? Somehow, along the way, the kids became far more patient and while I can't say they enjoyed sitting in the car for hours on end, really impressed us with their abilities to occupy themselves.
We did have a tiny issue at the Grand Canyon. I think Kelsey had her fill with the drive, and was less than excited at first. I did my bad mother bit (which I regret, but please, after 3 days in the car...). We ended our disagreement with a hug and we both managed to shake free of the stuck-in-the-car-for-days-on-end stress. The kids still had their moments (who wouldn't) but still managed to amaze me. By today, any remaining crankiness was all but gone, and now we have two days to recharge. More importantly, Saturday begins the home stretch of the drive.
It's not over, I know, and more challenges may remain over the weekend. However, all things considered, I would not hesitate to do the trip again, but I would build in more time. While we have loved seeing the country, too much of it has flown by the window. We have watched it pass, our noses pressed to the glass, knowing there is so much more to stop and explore along the way, but just not enough time to do it all. Well, not now, but who knows what the future holds?
*Call me a food snob, after two years of living in locavore heaven in California, I will gladly lend you my Michael Pollan collector's set. I wasn't going to comment when I noticed and at first brushed it off as snobbery on my part. After California, I think any meal eaten when communing with nature should be a slow-cooked, carefully prepared selection of regional delights (or a PB&J, fine, just not fast food). However, I kept my mouth shut. Then Pete muttered under his breath, "Who on earth has a picnic of McDonald's in the Grand Canyon?!" Case closed!