Independence Day - My Family Travels

July 2, 2015

So, my mom gets this random idea to visit Phoenix of all places.  Arizona.  In July.  If you’ve never experienced the summer heat of the southern states, you perhaps don’t understand my delayed excitement.  We’re talking triple digits at night.  Sigh.  I was not looking forward to spending my 4th of July in the sweltering heat of the Arizona sun, but I didn’t have much of a choice.  Here we were, headed to Phoenix with no plans other than to let “adventure take us to places we’ve never been”, as my mother put it.



We flew into PHX and ended up staying in a small resort in Scottsdale.  There were plenty of “resort” type things to do.  Golf, swimming, massages, and sightseeing tours were all planned activities from which to choose.  For my family, though, that wasn’t quite good enough.  It wasn’t outdoorsy enough or challenging enough.  Those activities didn’t push us out of our comfort zone with food, drinks, and cold blowing A/C so close at hand.

We packed up our compact Mitsubishi rental car and headed on a 3-hour road trip north from Scottsdale up Route 180 to…wait for it…The Grand Canyon!  Again, I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of looking at a gaping hole in the earth while the 103 degree sun abused me from every angle.  Again, I didn’t have much choice.  What’s a non-bill paying teenager who expects mom to pay for college tuition next year to do?

We waited in the long line at the entrance to the park.  Once we got through, we walked onto the property and decided to first take the tram to show us around the South Rim.  We’d hit all of the hotspots while on the tram and then come back on foot to visit the places of particular interest.  Curiosity got the best of us and derailed us from that plan though, so we ended up getting off the tram at only the second stop.  We walked out onto the observation area, and I have to say, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. 

I’d always thought of The Grand Canyon as a big rock, or a big hole, or something that looked like a whole bunch of mountains in my head.  What I saw instead was a sight that intrigued me.  I had a literal jaw-dropping moment (and I know it’s a cliché), but I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The beauty and the vastness of the canyon were incredible.  There were so many colors, so many changes in elevation, and so many lines.  For miles in front of me, my eyes translated this amazing sight into a metaphor for the world I am about to enter as a young adult.  I had this surge of feeling and rush of anticipation about the fact that the world is just as big as this canyon.  There are sharp edges all around, but there is also so much beauty, so much space and opportunity to find a place just for me.  Looking down into the canyon was scary, but I could see the tiny hikers below who’d faced the treacherous terrain and decided that I wanted to be one of them.  I don’t know if my mom’s intention was to make me see this trip as a window into my future, but it definitely proved to be.


“Everyone and everything that shows up in our life is a reflection of something that is happening inside of us.”—Alan Cohen

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