I woke up this morning missing the Grand Canyon. I miss sleeping under the stars. The Milky Way, my nightly companion, would wake me in the middle of the night almost as if to remind me of its presence. I miss the daily adventure of never knowing what we might find just around the corner. It was magical. Everyday! Something new, something exciting, like nothing you’ve never experienced before, there seemed to be magic everywhere.
I admit, since returning I have been struggling to readjust back into my daily rhythm of life. Answering emails and running errands have left me wanting to pull the covers over my head and disappear under the rim, back into the daily magic of the river and the canyon walls.
For the first time in 20 or so years, I was 100% completely disconnected, yet more connected than ever before. Unplugged and fully integrated into my surroundings! Do you really remember what that feels like, having not attachment to your phone, media, your daily distractions? I’d be willing to bet you can’t really fathom what it’s like to completely check out and be totally off the grid for 8 days. When I travel I try to unplug, but I find I check in once every day or so. But that wasn’t an option. I couldn’t even call my husband. In fact on the last morning my daughter and I wondered what would be waiting for us when we came back over the rim. What had happened in the world? We could be at war for all we knew.
It was at once surreal and yet so natural and welcome to have no connection to the outside world! No distractions! No barrage of social media and the ever nagging pull to check in, or should I say check out – which seems like what we do when we check our phones neurotically. Our phones, tablets, and computers are constantly pulling us from the present, that gift we never fully recognize while it’s right there in front of us.
But I noticed. This 8 days of presence/presents in the Grand Canyon were sublime. And I recognized the beauty of being a part of these 3 generations of strong women in my family travel together. My daughter and I were there to celebrate my mother and her 70th year of life. And what a celebration it was! We made new friends, slept outside under the stars, rode through class 10 rapids, ate amazing meals, swam in the clear, cold river full of water from the dam, and hiked. We were showered by waterfalls, played frisbee in a cavern that could hold thousands of people, climbed rocks, swam in muddy, cold river water after the rains cleared away the dam water, and walked at least a quarter-mile through a pitch black cave. We jumped off cliffs and swam in warm-ish, milky turquoise water that runs from the sacred grounds of the Navajo Tribe. We played horseshoes, had two birthday parties, a bachelorette party, and a wedding. We sat around and told stories, went skinny dipping in the dark and bathed in the freezing muddy water of the river. We napped on the boat as we drifted along the river under the hot blistering sun. We were greeted at dawn by the deafening sounds of a symphony cicadas that turned on at 5:15am as if someone had flipped a switch. The symphony would end just as abruptly about 2 hours later. And we laughed. Oh, how we laughed!
Our Travel Companions
We had the most amazing group of 28 people on our trip and 4 captains: from ages 13 to 76; from Arizona, Australia, California, England, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, South Carolina, and Texas. We were from all walks of life yet we shared a week of our lives together having an incredible and magical experience.
It wasn’t until I returned home that I realized I didn’t really know what anyone did for work. I find we often begin a conversation with someone new by asking what they do. I have grown to have a strong aversion to this question because what we “do” to pay the bills is usually the least interesting thing about people. Who cares? I’ve always been more interested who you are! What lights you up? What makes your heart sing? What gets you out of bed in the morning? Imagine my surprise when I realized I had just spent 8 days with 30 new friends and we had never talked about our jobs!
We were thrown together in a very close and intimate setting where the boundaries and patterns we had grown accustomed to had shifted under our feet. Adventure was always on the agenda and everyone was ecstatic to participate. As a result, being thrown back into my reality has been a bit of a shock to the system. I imagine after an enchanting week of magic and delight everyone must experience a case of the Grand Canyon Blues!
What was your favorite adventure that made adjusting back to your reality difficult?