Route 66 Part II: The Grand Canyon

I woke up to 8 inches of snow, and more still falling strong.  There was a wave of panic that came over me and I shook Katrina awake: “Hey, we need to go, unless we want to get stuck in ‘middle of nowhere’ New Mexico”  She was still groggy, and looked at me like I was insane, especially after glancing at her phone “you know it’s like four in the morning right?” Still I persisted, after looking up the weather and realizing the snowfall was expected to continue until 11am.  At this rate we would be up to our knees out there besides the fun of facing all the other people trying to get out of there.

So we packed up and left, by five most of the roads were plowed and conditions weren’t as horrible as I expected—don’t be too proud of me though, I was still cursing the snow as it spouted right into our windshield cutting our visibility by half.  Our little car was doing just fine though, and right before morning light the desert looked amazing:  the snow looked lilac at dawn and made the landscape  magical. In the wind, the grounded snow would wisp across the road, looking like a sideways waterfall.  Above, the sky was that light turquoise that you only see at the beginning of the day, so I took back all my words and just thank God for all this beauty.

The drive took a lot longer that we had planned due to the snow, and so that put up at the Canyon with only an hour of daylight left.  It took half that time just driving up to the rim where we could see the sunset and my patience was wearing thin.  This was the one thing I wanted to see all this time, this had been the motivation behind the early morning drives and braving the snow, and now we were missing it…

These are the times when I can let my thoughts spiral down into a place of regret where I only think of what could have been and not of what is right in front of me.  So there I was, driving in a winter wonderland up to the canyon–winding through mountains and valleys and snow covered hills, with the sun shining bright into everything, making a glowing halo on my window–yet the thought raced through my head, “if only we had driven further yesterday… just two more hours we could have missed the snow storm, we would have been closer to the Canyon, we would have had time to explore, if only… ” What is so amazing about this thought process is that it is so bent on the past that it blinds you to the present.  I was so upset that we had missed an opportunity to experience a place the way I wanted to experience it, that I was missing whatever was left of it right now.  I was missing reality while i mourned loosing the fantasy.   Katrina was kind through my madness, she managed to snap me out of it and point out the majesty before us. Thank God for that.

We drove in thru a road marked, “for rangers only” or something, and it got us fast into the edge of this glorious place. There was snow on the ground and the canyon itself was dusted by flakes in the uneven parts of it’s walls so that every rugged rock was accentuated, and it created a magical texture. I was bundled up to my ears, but the wind was still blusteringly cold.  Kat and I lasted about 7 minutes, trying not to gape our mouths to wide, teetering about the snow covered edge, laughing and shivering. Our fingers and noses numb, we raced back to the car and turned on the heat, just long enough to warm up and go back out for a second viewing as the sun set.  The moon was clearly out just in the opposite end of the park, increasing in brilliance the lower the sun sank.  And these twenty minutes of presence were all I needed, it was enough for today to have had a sunset and a moonrise and a vast, snowy canyon in between.

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