Friday, June 24, 2011

Vacation II - Grand Canyon Edition

Well, after recuperating from our heated time in the Valley of Fire (I told Stephen he should star in the one-man stage version of Gary Paulsen's Hatchet. It would be much shorter than the book, beginning and ending with him rocking in the fetal position and complaining about the weather. Read my last post if that doesn't make sense), today we headed for the Grand Canyon. It was about a 3 3/4 hour drive from our compound (our place does look like a compound with walls surrounding about an acre of land). I will say that I'm officially sick of being in the car. All of the destinations have taken at least an hour and a half to get to.

Oh! Before we talk about anything else, Love, The Beatles' Cirque du Soleil, was amazing! (Maybe one of the pre-highlights was listening to my dad mangle the pronunciation of "Cirque du Soleil" to every cashier and random person we ran into. He's a small-talker that will engage just about anyone in conversation (for instance, he said "Hello!" to everyone we passed on the trail no matter how pathetically tired they looked or how much they attempted to avoid eye contact). He would say things like, "Yeah, we're headed to Cirk Soly this evening!" or "Yup, on our way to Circus Ole at the Mirage!"). The show had something for everyone in the family. For Anna, Peter, and my Dad, they had this really amazing trampoline act to "Revolution" and skating ramp tricks to "Help!" For my brother there was an African-themed stomp act to "Lady Madonna" (he also loved all of the lighting and design). My Mom loved "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and the character of Lucy. I obviously loved every minute of the music, especially listening to how George Martin mashed different parts of songs up. I also loved the simple ballads with only a few people on stage like "Something" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Obviously the ending involving "A Day in the Life" into "Hey Jude" pretty much made my life.

Vegas, on the other hand, was overwhelming. Too many people trying to do too many things, most of them morally questionable. It takes all of the American vices of consumerism and greed and super-sizes them. More to the point (for me), it's too crowded and feels like a place where no one should have to live. Seven hours there was just about enough for me, although I would love to see the Garth Brooks show.

My dad also kept his streak alive by getting pulled over for speeding. He was going 13 over, we didn't have any of the right forms for the rental car, and my sister was actually the one who was supposed to be driving. As we all scrambled and pulled up wrong forms, I think the cop got annoyed and realized that this would be far too much work than it was worth. He rolled his eyes, threw the paperwork back in the car, and spat, "Just slow down." Sometimes ineptitude pays off.

Like I was saying, today we went to the Grand Canyon; it definitely lived up to its name. First, we got there and it was only 90 degrees, which felt downright balmy after the past few days. Second, my cousin Nathanael met us for lunch and stayed with Stephen while the rest of us went hiking (shocking that Steve would stay behind). We hiked a 3 mile trail of mostly switchbacks down to a rest station, being chastised by a German volunteer for not carrying enough water (well, we would have had I not sort of lied and pretended like my family members behind were carrying more when really two of them were carrying none. I got scared!). The canyon was beautiful, and we had a good time on our limited hiking experience.

I forget how family dynamics pretty much revert to the basic foundation of sibling and parent interactions that had been laid down through the many years of growing up together in a common house. My younger sister and brother simultaneously joke around with and yell at one another; I make way more sarcastic remarks than even I usually do; Jessica tells it like it is and gets us where we need to be (example: My dad read somewhere on a sign on the way down the canyon that you should take small sips of water throughout the hike because by the time you're thirsty it means you're dehydrated. He told the rest of the family this "news" while he thought Jess and I were out of earshot; we weren't. He then walked over to us to share the news, to which my sister quickly clipped back, "Yup. That's pretty much common knowledge."); Mom organizes; Dad makes sure we all stay in line; Peter and Isaac roll with the punches. I'm not saying this as a bad thing (although sometimes I feel like I revert to this gross high school version of myself); it's just an interesting observation. We're having a great time, although I could use a bit of introvert time with just me and a book. I'm glad that we have decided to lay low tomorrow. This vacation has been in the mold of my older sister - lots of activities and planning - rather than my own - lounge around and be spontaneous.

After much traveling, I have come to realize that the beauty I find most enduring and personally fitting is that of a Northern Minnesota landscape, preferably on a lake with a fire going listening to the call of loons in the company of good friends. I realize that a large part of this is because it is what I know, but I also think that it fits my soul and personality. I find that the mountains and canyons are too showy; they insist upon their beauty and want people to come and ogle them. I like the nuanced beauty of a birch and pine forest with a nearby body of water. You give me that, and I'm a happy man.

Anyway, everyone is in the pool, so I think I'm going to go join the party. We'll see what happens next on this Arizona adventure!

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