We were an hour late, but it didn’t really matter as we were gonna be late anyway. Having finally all piled in and buckled up, Sally the Sienna bravely ventured out of her protected parking and plowed fearlessly up our driveway through 8 inches of newly fallen snow. It was still snowing and would for several more hours, but we were finally on our way to the Grand Canyon!
The kids were excited for their very first trip to the canyon and have been counting the days; Lynn and I were too because it had been many years since either of us had been here, 12 years for me and 11 for her, I think. My last time was a self-supported kayak trip that left on tax day of 2001 and I have really missed being there (a story for another time). Even though this won’t be the same type of trip as that, I knew it would be great! Seeing the excitement in the kids and knowing we get to take them to one of the most amazing places on earth makes it even more exciting for me. I know they’re young, but this is how excitement for the outdoors begins, get them out early and incorporate them into your lives and activities. Don’t stop doing things because you have little ones. Hike the trails, ride the rapids, skate the lakes, ski the slopes and so on.
When I was growing up, I didn’t have a very outdoorsy family – but this isn’t a complaint, it’s just the way it was being born in suburban Chicago and then moving to Northern Virginian. My dad was a Government man and he worked and traveled a lot and the government took good care of us. But it didn’t leave time for much outdoors time besides summer evenings at the local community pool or yard work (and fond memories of each!). Fortunately, I was a Boy Scout and made some great friends from Boy Scouts in our neighborhood, some that remain to this day and will forever. That’s where my love of the outdoors came from – the back yard camp outs, teepeeing neighbors houses, camping trips to Burke Lake and Goshen, ski trips to nearby Pennsylvania, 20 mile hikes along the C&O canal and more. Oh, and the occasional father-son camping trip with scouts that I think my dad endured because I was his son, yet I think it made him uncomfortable as I don’t believe he ever camped much. But that was ok, and I am truly grateful for him for pushing beyond his comfort zone for me.
For now, though, I wanted to show my kids how to do all the things I learned how to do on my own or with friends. Because I DO love to do these things and it was time to head to Grand Canyon.
We ventured out, not knowing exactly what to expect for the roads. Our first stop was to be Buena Vista, where two long time friends live, and the BV Roastery, that one of them owns (he also happens to be the Mayor). Instead of the normal 2 hours, it was about 30 minutes more. Not too bad considering the blowing wind across South Park, but it took concentrating, so the hour long stop for a coffee refill and breakfast burrito was most welcome. And seeing these friends is always a much needed and long-missed treat.
Then it was time to venture out again. In the snow again. Headed south towards Poncha Pass, Saguache and finally Durango for the night. Of course we had snow, blowing snow and packed roads the whole way down and then up Poncha Pass until about 20 minutes over the top, then the roads got clear and dry and the going got much easier.The San Luis Vally is really pretty in a high alpine valley sort of way, and today was no exception, the Sangre de Christos rising steeply and strikingly to our left, their snow capped peaks blending into the clouds over head made them appear to be much taller than they already are. The whole rest of the way was dry, even Wolf Creek Pass. Finally, Pagosa Springs, then past Kurt and Goldie’s ranch and into Durango.
After an evening swim and dinner and then a restless night in what I might call a 2 star hotel, we were back on the road for another 6-ish hours. It was mostly an uneventful ride south and west through the four corners, then the Navajo Nation and Tuba City, we finally made a stop at some ruins off the highway north of Flagstaff in Wupatki National Monument. We enjoyed a short, but much needed walk around the ruins and then back on the road to Flagstaff and another much needed stop for a Breve and couple of pounds of coffee at Macy’s.
Our next stop was Williams, AZ where we were to spend the night and then board the Grand Canyon Express for the 2 hour and 15 minute ride north to the Grand Canyon. This was yet another adventure the kids were really looking forward to doing.
To be continued…
*Apologies to Robert Earl Keen