19 May 2010

To Summer and Back

Ooh Aah Point!

After a short hazy afternoon taking in the grand display of the canyon from the upper heights of the south rim; Tyler and I were ready to descend into the great abyss. Wednesday morning broke early with a beautiful array of... freezing cold hail. Walking to breakfast while freezing under our raincoats was certainly a time to rethink our day's outside activities. Fortunately for us; we are both very stubborn!

Shortly after 9 AM we were broaching the South Kaibab trailhead on the shuttle and still wondering if we were going to get much hiking in at all. We slowly walked to the trailhead and were welcomed with a beautiful view that would indeed follow us on our journey.

The next day, I asked Tyler to journal about our very unusual hike, and after much arguing that he "cannot" write - absolutely ridiculous! He did indeed write a wonderful dialogue of the first part of our journey into the canyon...

At the start, looking down was a bit scary, but we either became accustomed, or stopped paying attention to the drops.

Part of the fun of hiking down, is enjoying the view above us. What a great way to see the canyon closer!

Me by the little colorado river, most of the time we hiked right through it, there was no where else to put your feet!

"22 April 2010

I am writing today from the Grand Canyon! It was quite a challenge to get here, but very much worthwhile. Yesterday was the big day. We hiked the South Kaibab trail down to skeleton point.
The beginning of the journey started off with hail. Next we experienced rain followed by a gorgeous rainbow and periods of shining sun and what we call "sunshowers"! What a variety of weather. Almost as unpredictable as Maine! We approached the point with great anticipation of seeing the 'Great' Colorado River only to find it was missing! Had it eroded deeper and out of view of our tiny little eyes??
Nay! It was right where it was supposed to be. We actually had to hike only a slight distance further to another, more revealing pinnacle. To Lori's surprise, we indeed saw an apparently very thick homogenous mixture of "mud" and what is supposed to be uncommon in a dessert... water! The view was... shall we say "grand"? Absolutely! It is quite amazing what God had created once, then reformed by flooding the earth and receding the waters, over a year later, back to the ocean by way of this grandiose gorge!"

Enjoying the view of the sun hitting the canyon for the first time that day!

This rainbow really liked us! He followed us all morning!

Cedar Ridge 1.5 miles down. The rain stopped and the haze was lifting, or we were going down fast!

Our return voyage up the canyon was not as light, warm, and beautiful as our descent. However, it was still wet, wet, and more wet. We hiked our 3 miles back up in pouring rain, and 50 mph gusts. As you can imagine there were a couple of spots - ooh ahh point- where I was more than a little nervous about falling off of the edge. By the grace of God, the wind died down as we again reached our starting elevation of 7000 +/- ft. In fact, the wind was in direct relation to the temperature; for as the winds slowed the temperature dropped and we ended our 3.5 hour hike in snow. Cold, wet, accumulating snow.

The view from just below Skeleton point. You can see the muddy river behind the rainbow. This is pretty much the half-way point down into the canyon, and as far down as we went.

From hail, to rain, to wind, and snow we experienced every type of weather imaginable on our hiking day in the canyon (except tornados!), and yet, when we return we shall hike the canyon yet again. What an amazing way to take in the color, heights, and all the seasons that the canyon has to offer!

14 May 2010

"The Gift of Time"

What does one do with 27 hours of pure time a day. Can you imagine the days when you look up and see that it is 9 pm already and you are not done; only to be given the time that you need. I never would have planned a day as filled as our second day on vacation, but because of Monday's fiasco; we didn't really have a choice. On Tuesday, we woke up at 4 AM. I say "woke" in the loosest sense of the word, our alarm went off and Tyler says (in a not even close to groggy voice) "I hope you slept some, because I didn't". Well, I didn't really either, but who's counting?

We arrived at the airport on that pre-dawn morning in time to share a nice hot breakfast in a 1940's diner. Then we boarded our plane at 6:30 AM and were finally on our way to the west coast!

A mere 2 hours later, by the clock anyways, we were landing in the bright, warm, dry city of Phoenix. By 10 AM we were in a nice little luxurious Hyundai headed up to the land beyond to get a glimpse of a not-so-little canyon.

The drive was incredible. In Phoenix the landscaped "lawns" and roadside vegetation looked just as I would imagine it to be in a warm dry climate. As we gained altitude and leveled off on the Colorado Plateau, however, the cacti became rarer and rarer until they were practically non-exsistent. Instead the plants were some short stunted grass mixed with short bushes, and sad stunted pines. It was obvious that the water content was more significant, and yet, not as wet to boast tall trees like we have everywhere in Maine. Honestly, I had never been so interested in plain, ordinary vegetation. But, I found the change to be drastic and entirely riveting.

Something else changed as we broached the plateau and continued our upward travels. The weather was suddenly not as warm, and you could feel some humidity. By 3 PM we were entering Grand Canyon National Park and preparing for our first glimpse...

After four hours of basking in the hazy beautiful view and sharing a wonderful dinner together in the lodge, it was time to enjoy the sunset and hit the sack. After all; flying across three timezones, driving many hours, and walking the ridge of the great abyss all in one 'extra-long' day can be quite exhausting.

03 May 2010

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Before planning anything we set a few guidelines for our Spring trip together to help us stay focused on what we wanted to do:
1. We wanted to fly wherever we decided to go (because I haven't flown commercially since I was Eli's age)
2. We would save up and pay cash (which gave us a set amount of money to work with, and thus reduced our possible destinations)
3. We would go somewhere where the words "man, the kids would love this." were not coming out of our mouths constantly.
4. April vacation week was a set date because of the babysitting availability.
5. A slightly warmer and drier climate would be nice (but not too warm to where we would be worried about seeing any pornography).
Seems simple right? Well, actually it was. I googled "vacation destinations for April". The top results were Florida and Arizona. So with the click of a mouse we had a destination: Arizona, and the Grand Canyon!
Our relaxing week away from home started with getting all of our boys out of the house by 9 to head to Grampy and Nana Lisa's house for the week. drop offs went well and we were easily eating lunch in Portland with time to catch our flight at 1:30 PM. At noon we kissed Caleb goodbye and practically ran to the terminal so as to help the departure seem less stressful for all involved, especially Amanda and myself.

A wonderful breakdown of our first day on our wonderful vacation:
12:45 PM: sitting outside our gate eagerly waiting with great nervousness to board our flight. Okay, I was nervous, Tyler looked like a frequent flyer, which he almost is.

1:15 PM: watching the plane that we were going to board land and drop off a lot of passengers.

1:30 PM: listening as a high shriek came over the speaker explaining that the mechanic needed to check our plane out and it would be about 30 minutes, but that we would all be set to catch our connecting flights in the wonderful state of NJ (sarcasm detected).

2:30 PM: high shriek again reveals that the mechanics are working and almost done, just another 15 minutes or so. Thankfully, the lady next to me was quite entertaining and loved to talk.

3:30 PM: In an ear piercing volume: "the mechanic is finished and just waiting for the final paperwork to be completed on the repair, should be boarding in about 15 minutes"

4:00 PM: Still waiting for the paperwork to be signed

5:00 PM: the flight is not taking off for some unknown reason, so we are going to setup later connecting flights for everyone and get another plane in here from NY

6:00 PM: The plane in New York will be taking off and coming to pick us up, kiss your connecting flight goodbye.

7:00 PM: The plane in New York is taxiing down the runway heading in our direction.

7:30 PM: The plane that we were originally going to fly on is suddenly fixed, signed and ready to go, boarding in 15 minutes.

8:00 PM: Boarding on a plane that was supposed to takeoff at 1:30 PM.

9:30 PM: Arrived in Newark; I take off running to customer service to try to get in the front of the line to get a hotel room and finished connecting flight details.

10:30 PM: waiting in line (Again), to catch a shuttle bus to a hotel.

11:00 PM: In bed in, of all places, NJ with an alarm set for 4 AM so that we can get to our connecting flight to Phoenix in the morning.
What a start to a relaxing week of vacation. I am now not so fond of flying, and was continually reminded why I love road trips. But hey, not once on Monday did I find myself saying "man, the boys would have loved this!"

disclosure: no actual photos were taken on day 1, but I put one on from day 2 so that you weren't entirely bored with just words.