A few years ago, my family and I travelled out west for the first time. Our normal Florida vacations weren’t as exciting as they first were, and staying within Batavia, Illinois during spring break was not the most thrilling experience. We decided to visit the beautiful Grand Canyon. Since we were travelling during late March, I figured we could expect some warm, spring weather in Arizona. We packed a few light jackets and sweatshirts just in case the weather took a turn for the worse. Little did we know that we should have done a lot more research on the forecasted weather. My first view of the Grand Canyon was unforgettable. The sun’s rays bounced off of each rocky surface, illuminating the vast creation of nature. However, the unexpected chilly breeze was one thing that I was not excited about, extinguishing my hope of getting a nice tan before returning to Illinois.
The next day, we noticed that the chilliness in the air had not disappeared; in fact, it felt like I was back in the Midwest on a frigid winter day! We had planned to hike down the canyon for a couple miles, and we weren’t going to let some low temperatures stand in our way. Each of us layered on warm sweatshirts, thin jackets, and windbreakers. This was the first moment of realization that hit us on our journey; we should have brought warmer coats! I remember easily hiking down the marked trails and feeling warmer air circulating around us the lower we descended. Little by little, we peeled off our numerous layers. It seemed like I took hundreds of pictures; every step would reveal a brand-new view of this natural wonder. It was absolutely breath-taking! We stopped a few times to fuel-up with trail mix before deciding that we should head back up the canyon. But before we knew it, we were panting. The challenge of hiking uphill led to many more breaks, while gradually lightening the burden we had been carrying by dressing back into our layers of external warmth. We were all exhausted and extremely cheerful by the time we finally made it to the top of the canyon. We sat down to our reward of trail mix until we saw some competition. A squirrel hurriedly scampered over to my dad, who had more snacks stashed in his coat pocket. The creature must have had stealing experience because it casually climbed up to my dad and stuffed its head into his pocket! My mom captured the moment while my sister and I looked on in amazement. As it turned out, the day had been full of surprises, and more were on the way!
A few days later, we discovered a small place that offered trail rides on horseback. I encouraged my family to try it since I had been enjoying riding lessons back home. We decided it would be fun, so we mounted our horses in anticipation for a relaxing trail ride, still wearing our warm layers. After riding for a little while, the weather disappointed me even further. It began to snow. It was actually pretty cool at first, riding in the snow, but then the tiny flakes started piling up in the area between the saddle and your leg. We dismounted with wet jeans and chattering teeth. In the end, the trip was very different from what we were expecting. Then again, I believe that expectations are made to be broken. The trip brings back funny memories, brought our family closer together, and taught us to be prepared for the unexpected!
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