Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Steps to the Grand Canyon

It was the third or fourth day of our road trip from Texas to California. We’d had the sun on our faces, and back roads with no cars, no buildings to ruin the horizon. A perfect blacktop ran under the wheels. The top down, a matching sky sat above us. Driving music and friendship to last the whole way and years farther. . . . Kate had the map. I was driving.

It was just as a late April road trip should be. Lots of road and lots of time to use it. We were headed for the Grand Canyon. The Eagles were playing, “Take It Easy.” We were. And we were singing.

About a half hour outside of Flagstaff, we had to give up the sky. The mountain was too brisk to leave the top down. As we skirted the outside of Flagstaff, about to head up to the parkland, we had to give in. The mountains hadn’t let go of the cold yet.

We found ourselves in a discount store, looking for something warmer than California. The selection was meager. We bought cheap sweatshirts and knit winter stocking caps. Mine was an ugly navy thing with an orange emblem on it. Hers was an ugly brown one—all function, no frivolity. Necessity was the mother of this purchase. Still I looked at the big bin of knit stocking caps and thought no more ears that hurt from the cold.

This place had all of the stocking caps no one wanted—as a service to their captive market. It was filled with people like us who had not planned on the cold in the mountains.

Finally equipped—two ugly caps, two ugly sweatshirts, and two chocolate bars—Kate and I drove up through the gates to the edge of the canyon and parked the car. Sometime later we found ourselves at “The Steps.”

People react differently when they stand before something so beyond comprehension. Kate became filled with energy taking pictures from every angle. I lost track of her almost at once.

I lost track of myself. I became part of the scenery. I sat on the steps. Me, who is cold all of the time, warmed to the wonder of what was before me. It wasn’t like sitting on the edge of a canyon. It was like sitting on top of the world.

I sat for the longest time . . . just looking, and listening, and breathing.

Miraculous. Astounding. Mindboggling. Life changing. A vocabulary of feeling entered and owned me.

I’d worried that I would be afraid of falling. Instead I found myself thinking of flying. I don’t like heights, but I think I’d like flying.

The time came that Kate was ready to go. Even though I was driving, she had the map.

I was along for the ride.
—me strauss Letting me be

20 comments:

Jennifer said...

Two years ago my friend and I took a trip through AZ. The Grand Canyon was the last stop on our trip thru AZ. Oh man I'd been there as a kid, but going back as an adult! Oh it was so amazing. My friend and I spent the first night there sitting on a ledge watching the sunset. It was one of those sights, moments, I'll never forget.

How do you put in words something so amazing?

ME Strauss said...

Good morning, Jennifer
Yeah, I know what you mean. I like that sense I found. . . . that I was . . . "filled and owned by a whole new vocabulary."

Imagine if high school English teachers could take kids there, how much easier teaching vocabularly would be.

smiles,
Liz

Bluesky_Liz said...

That's cool. I really would like to visit the Grand Canyon someday. Stand at the edge and just marvel at those rocks and the deep valleys.

ME Strauss said...

Good morning, Liz,
It is a most inspiring place, the Grand Canyon. One cannot help but be taken by what you find there and be remolded in some way by the xxperience of having seen it. If
God is in the deetails. This is one very large detail, because it's a giant sign that says, "God was here."

smiles,
Liz

Trée said...

"because it's a giant sign that says, "God was here."'

Liz, that one phrase was worth the price of admission. Beautiful imagery. :-)

ME Strauss said...

Thank Tree,
It's kind of hard to deny that the canyon is a sign of something way bigger than me. :)
smiles,
Liz

toadman said...

I had a very similar experience on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I'll be writing about it soon in my Africa series over at my LiveJournal.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Toadmaster,
Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Wow. What an experience that must have been. I'll be over to read that. Make sure you put in what it felt like. :)

smiles,
Liz

toadman said...

I'll definitely write about what it felt like. I alluded to it briefly in a piece I wrote for my dad's 70th birthday this year here:

http://www.penguinhosting.net/~toadman/dad.html

ME Strauss said...

Hey TM,
70 years, that's a landmark. I bet he's got some good stories to tell. What am I saying? I'm not all that too far from it myself.

I have to go out for a while, but I'll come over to check it out.

smiles,
Liz

easywriter said...

That sounds like the most amazing experience. I have favorite lines in this post, I will be thinking of them for days I think.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Easy,
I am so complimented that you would remember something I wrote for days. Thank your for saying that.

smiles,
Liz

dog1net said...

Evening Liz,

A very satisfying read. I especially like the thought expressed in this sentence: "People react differently when they stand before something so beyond comprehension." But more than that, I love the imagery you create with careful descriptive details ("About a half hour outside of Flagstaff, we had to give up the sky.") that gives me a real sense of being on that trip, the ride in the car, the stop at the store, and the final arrival at "the steps."
Scot

ME Strauss said...

Good evening, Scot,
So good to see you here again.

Thank you for being here to share with me my trip up to the Grand Canyon. Especially, thanks for sharing how you reacted to those two sentences. Your insights help me understand how readers hear what I am saying.

There's a hole when you're not around.

smiles,
Liz

easywriter said...

Probably for more than just days Liz. You have written what I wish I could.

ME Strauss said...

Easy,
The way you write? You can write circles around this. You just need to relax for a while and let the words tell you what to say. Read Philosophy and Joe Walsh. You are a better writer than I am.

smiles,
Liz

easywriter said...

Doh! I'm blushing as bright as a poppy. I think we both can hold our own. :o)

ME Strauss said...

Hey there, Cheerful Liza Doolite,
I have no worries that we can both hold our own.

I think we should just go in a room and argue over who writes better. :)

smiles,
Liz

easywriter said...

I'm positively grinning. :o)

ME Strauss said...

Laughint and grinning with you is a fund thing for both of us this Thursday. YEA!