Somewhere along the road we neglected to visit the Grand Canyon. I’ve seen the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace and the Roman Coliseum. I’ve stood atop a glacier, watched icebergs calve and snorkeled in Hawaii. But I’ve never seen what most people describe as the most awesome sight in America. And Beaven always skipped over it when we planned our next trip.
I finally put my foot down forcefully enough to get his attention and it became one of those things he got excited about if only because it meant I will now have to shut up and stop talking about it.
I can’t remember the last driving vacation we’ve taken. It was probably when Emily and Steve lived in Ohio--over 8 years ago. So, yes, we’re delighted at the luxuries driving gives us. No schedules to keep. We can stretch our legs anytime we want to. No security to pass through. We could take a whole box of guns and knives with us, even a few hand grenades and a can of gasoline if we really wanted to.
I love getting ready for a vacation. I’m one of those women who clean the house before we go because God forbid if something happened and we died and a bunch of strangers saw the house the way I left it. I know this sounds insane but I’ll bet I’m not the only woman with this attitude.
Then comes the cleaning out the fridge. And drawing down the perishables. Two nights before we left I bought one single banana at Walmart. Nothing will be left. This process is highly orchestrated. Now here's one of our tricks that I'll bet nobody else does: Years ago, I made two identical cards that read:
“You are mentally ill and I am going to have you committed as soon as we get home. Until then please don’t talk to me and don’t let anyone know I’m married to you.”
Our first obstacle to overcome (and I say this gently and with love) was the state of Texas. Like Thelma said (or was it Louise?) there’s no way to get there without going through Texas. And once you are west of Ft Worth it’s just miles and miles and miles of dirt and rocks.
Beaven got kind of excited that we were driving on the old route 66 at times. I found the song on iTunes and we played it a couple of times. I bought him a t-shirt. We ate a lot of pie. I have no idea how pie relates to Route 66 but it seemed a natural combination. I can find any excuse to eat pie.
We did not turn on each other until about day 3. I pulled out the mentally ill card and flashed it. After a short conversation I had to admit it was I who was wigging out. Things calmed down. The rest of the trip we were too tired to go postal. There’s a reason you don’t see many geriatric mass murderers—we’re too tired and feeble for that kind of rage.
Another advantage of travelling the USA in your own car is that I got to visit my favorite stores at will. We stopped at Target three or four times to get stuff we thought we needed but it was really for the popcorn.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned on this trip is this: If you are in a National Park Lodge and you plug in an extension cord and the outlet shorts out and sparks fly and you lose power and so you call the front desk to see if they can move you to a different room because now you don’t have any lights …..if all of this happens to you: Do not use the word “sparks” when you talk to the front desk. Apparently, that word is a trigger for all sorts of National Pristine Evergreen Protection Plan for National Parks.
They sent three maintenance guys to look our room over. They re-set the breaker and the lights came back on and everything was cool. Just as we were all slapping each other on the backs for a job well done, here came the fire department. Four firefighters in full gear invaded our room. Much conversation with the maintenance guys ensued. They wouldn’t accept the other guy’s word that everything was OkeyDokey. One fireguy started taking the temperature of the walls and ceiling with a laser temperature sensing gun. Some discussion of electricity followed.
I noticed that one of the firefighters was female. More than female, she was a girl. She couldn’t have been over 20 years old or five feet tall. Also, wearing fresh makeup. And carrying a fire extinguisher. As small and slight as she was, she was the only one holding any actual fire fighting equipment.
About this time the lodge building engineer came in. The room was starting to get a little crowded. He went to the wall outlet in question and took a good look at the wire for the bedside lamp. It was visibly frayed. Questions answered. Problem solved. Hand shakes all around. Everybody went home.
We crossed so many time zones that my head started spinning. Not only did we cross to Mountain Standard Time when we went into New Mexico, but Arizona doesn’t recognize Daylight Savings Time so we had to adjust our thinking and this is where my head flew completely off my body. “If it’s ‘spring forward and fall back’ but Arizona didn’t spring forward does that make them fall back in time or not change time at all? So I should set my mental clock backwards?” Then just as I got used to that, we found ourselves in Utah which is regular time, meaning Daylight Savings Time normal which is spring forward but also an hour later. We visited five states and three time zones on this trip. By the time we got back to Amarillo on the last night and knew what time it really was it was almost the most exciting event of the whole trip.
Beaven did all the driving and said it relaxed him. I read three books, wrote two blog posts, knitted one scarf and ate far too much junk food. We saw two old friends and three canyons. And I had one great conversation with God. I’ll tell you about that next week.
PS- The Grand Canyon was big and beige. I really liked Bryce and Zion better. Oops.