Prelude to a Canyon
The night I met my husband, he had bruises on his hips from his most recent trip to the Grand Canyon. The bruises were still evident, even though he had been home for over a month. You would think that the bruises would have been a deterrent, but instead, as he regaled me with stories from his trip, I secretly thought, "One day, I want to see the stars from the bottom of the Grand Canyon with you." (And no, I didn't tell him that until years later, and yes, he said it was slightly creepy).
Fast forward 3 years. We were newly married, and headed to the canyon with my father-in-law and two dear friends who had recently gotten engaged. Thankfully they returned home still engaged, despite the trials we encountered. As I alluded in my last post, this was a trip like none I had ever experienced. I lost 5 lbs off the side of a mountain somewhere, or in reality, probably climbing up it. Living out of a backpack that you have to carry every day somehow makes things like laying in dirt and using wet sandals as a pillow the most reasonable and wonderful thing you could imagine! I like rain, love it actually. But that’s mostly when I’m wearing rain boots and when I know I’m headed to a nice warm, safe dry place shortly thereafter. Or better yet, I love to listen to it fall outside my window when I’m tucked warm in bed. For the first time in my life I took offense to rain, when it hit me in relentless driving sheets, mixed with ice, and chased me down the canyon, making me literally run for my life.
Between the two of them, my husband and father-in-law had explored the various nooks and crannies of the canyon nearly countless times. The rest of us were embarking on our maiden voyage. We all met in the Phoenix airport, hopped into our rental van and started the drive to spend our first night camping on the rim of the canyon. At one point while on the road, my husband needed something out of his backpack. I was closest, so I stuck my hand in the front pocket and started digging. Unfortunately, his razor had worked loose of it's protective packing while in flight. I pulled my hand back in a yelp of pain only to find that most of my knuckle had been shaved off. First injury of the trip and we hadn't even gotten to the hard part! The first aid kit was in another potentially razor laced backpack, and we didn't really have anything to wrap it up in, so my friend offered her sweatshirt. For the rest of the week it was known only as "the bloody sweatshirt," which she wore nearly every day. The poor dear came down with a vicious head cold the day we left, and it stayed with her for basically the entirety of the trip. In the canyon you get close, and you share things. Everything, including sickness. By midweek everyone had some form for snot drainage going on, making our morning routine resound with hacking, spitting, and nose voiding of the previous night’s accumulation of snot. One morning my father-in-law found a snotty tissue in the corner of the tent. He held it up and said, "Looks like somebody dragged up their uterus." It was the funniest, most disgusting thing I had ever heard. I had several, “you know your brought the right person on your trip,” moments, but one of my favorites was when my friend emerged from her tent the first morning. She said, “I think that was the worst night's sleep I’ve ever had!,” with a huge smile on her face. She may have been sick, but her joy stuck and she kept hiking along even when her body wasn't up for it.
When we had emerged from the canyon and were back in “civilization,” I didn't think twice about spitting in a parking lot. My friend's fiance teased, “Rachel, we’re not in the canyon anymore.” I’m afraid a decently refined looking woman wearing a skirt, ballet flats, floral scarf and darling spring jacket may have spit on a city sidewalk on her way to work a few weeks later. Just as if I was wearing shorts, hiking boots, a floppy wide-brim hat and a giant backpack. Warning: The ease of spitting when and where you like is a surprisingly difficult habit to break.
And despite the snot, the cuts, the aches and cold, as I said in my previous entry, my heart smiles every time I think of it. More stories to come...