I’ve always been one of those people for whom the anticipation of things is something I enjoy nearly as much as the object or activity in question. I love planning and I love dreaming, and for me, by drawing out the build up to something good, I’m able to extend the joy of the experience.
Of course, the flipside of prolonging things and heightening one’s anticipation is that I also tend to monumentally build up my expectations as well. The bar is set the much higher and the potential to be disappointed is that much greater as well. I’m sure one of the reasons we found our first month of traveling back in 2012 so rough is because we had literally spent years planning and romanticizing our trip and there was just no way the reality could really live up to our lofty visions. With time, I’ve come to be a bit more carpe diem when it comes to pursuing my pleasures, as I’ve learned the hard way that when you’ve had so much lead up to a supposedly epic experience—whether that be your last Austen novel or your RTW trip—more often than not you wind up underwhelmed and disillusioned.
So, I was more than a little nervous on the day we left Page, Arizona and made our way towards the Grand Canyon. So much of the joy of Page had come from the element of surprise and not having any idea of what to expect, but obviously we would have no such luck with the Grand Canyon. I mean, everyone has heard of the Grand Canyon, and even if by some impossibility you haven’t, the name absolutely obliterates any chance of you keeping your expectations in check. It’s not the Good Canyon, or even the Great Canyon; it’s the GRAND (Frickin’) Canyon.
Fun Fact: Every time I reference the Grand Canyon, I always have to follow up with a Lucille Austero from Arrested Development impression where I coo, “How grand! How terribly grand!”
Weirdly the Grand Canyon has always been one of those places that I (obviously) knew existed, and yet for some reason never believed I would ever see. It was probably the spot on our road trip that I was the most excited to see and this, paired with the fact that we had already seen such insanely beautiful things, meant that my expectations were stratospheric. As we drove into the parking lot for the South Rim, it felt like everything we had seen and done thus far had been leading up to this. I was 100% certain that there was literally no possible way that I was going to make it through the day without being severely disappointed.
But! If there is anywhere in the world bigger than my expectations, a place that effortlessly swallows them whole and looks good doing so, it’s the Grand Canyon. I have never been happier to be so completely wrong.
There are no words to describe how incredible the Grand Canyon truly is. It is unfathomably big , yes, but it is also so very beautiful. The perfect place to perfect our panorama skills. For some reason the mental image I had of it in my mind only featured burnt red rock, and so I was completely unprepared for the multitude of colors that made up the variegated rock face of the canyon. Every time I shifted my gaze as I attempted to drink in the landscape in front of me, I felt like I saw a new shade and a different hue came into view.
We had been warned by friends that to visit the Grand Canyon and not dare to step beneath the rim was unfathomable. By now, however, I’m sure y’all know the drill: dogs aren’t allowed on any trails below the rim.
As such, we had to “make do” with simply gazing out from ancient watchtowers and strolling along the lip with our two fur kids. I still think we got a really good sense of just how expansive the canyon is and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know how our day could have been any better (I secretly believe that hiking could only have put a damper on things). What I do know is that it would not have been the same to experience this place without the dogs; after all, they are largely the reason we took to the road and finally made our way here.
This may not be the perfect way to experience the Grand Canyon, but it looks like our kind of perfect. Our half-day there was filled with moments and feelings of perfect joy, perfect awe and perfect luck that we get to experience this as a family. As visits to the Grand Canyon go, I’d say that yeah, this one was perfectly grand.
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever visited the Grand Canyon? If so, what did you think? (And did you hike?!) If not, would you like to?