Friday June 14th, our full day in the canyon.
For those of you who have not seen the Grand Canyon in person, there is definately a reason it is;
1) one of the natural wonders of the world;
2) it is on average 1 mile deep (though not the deepest, that goes to a canyon in the Himalayas)
3) you can see it from outer space, one of a few objects on earth visible (so is the great wall).
It is hard to describe the canyon, as it changes with every viewpoint. It is massive in size, just goes on and on, it would take 251 miles to drive around it, 21 walking miles to get across it...just huge. It is not very wide at some points (as little as 600 feet) but then 18 miles apart at another point, so it changes a great deal. It is carved it two by the Colorado river, but that seems hard to believe when you see the river so low as it is today. You can raft down the canyon, we thought about doing that for a spring break, but now that I have seen it 3 times, say goodbye to that, you know Arnie and I, never see the same place twice, let alone 4 times.
We started our day biking to the Eastern viewpoints from Grand Canyon village. We stayed in the RV park in the center of the village, not far from the grocery store. We only have 5 bikes with us, so none for Grandma and Papa, so the plan was they would take the bus and we would meet them. We should have figured it out that the map doesn't quite due it justice how far away things are. I think we thought it would be a couple of miles, but it was more like 4-5 miles down, and VERY close to the edge, and at times VERY windy. I can't say I was a nervous wreck as I was riding close to Claire who is the clutsy one of our children, and she was being cautious. But I think Arnie was pretty nervous, he had Sarah in the rear. We actually couldn't get to the lookout point at the end without riding on the road with the buses, so we passed on that. We ended up meeting Grandma and Papa at another viewpoint to take some pictures.
For those of you who have not met our son Ben let me tell you a bit about him. He is our oldest, but as FAR from the stereotypical first child as you can get. He is NOT a rule follower, does not stay close to mom or dad and in general likes to push the elements. He is a very talented athlete and too smart for his gown good, and worst of all (for a 10 year old, will be great later) he thinks he is the best at EVERYTHING!. So he was zooming around the curves, wanted to walk to the edge of every lookout and on and on. I thought either Arnie or I would have a heart attack at some point. 90% of the time he was right when he pointed out, it is "not the edge mom and dad" but as you look from a few yards back it looks like it goes straight down. Anyway, we had our moments for sure. Here are some pics of the kids "near the edge" that they had to take for their friends and post on Instagram (which seems to dictate our photo shots these days).
As you have probably figured out we are trying to take group shots wherever we can. This is truly a priceless trip for me and the kids to be able to spend the time not only together as a nuclear family but to have my mom and dad with us for the journey. Having lost a parent very unexpetedly (Arn's mom) I never want to have the feeling we had wondering what was the last event we spent with her, last conversation, last photo, did we spend enough time together and so forth. I am making every moment a Kodak moment and documenting the heck out of this trip...as you all can tell with this bloody blog, which we will print out for the kids to have in their keepsake, so when I am old maybe they will thank me and their dad for the trip.
This next photo is special for a different reason. Many of you know I grew up in a very close knit, largely Italian (I am 75%, my mom 100%, my dad 50%) family in NY, about an hour north of the city. My mom and dad both came from blue collar working class families. They met when my mom was a Freshman and my dad a Senior in High School at a CYO basketball game (my mom was playing with my dad's younger sister). My mom graduated high school in June and married my dad in August, 47 years ago this year. My dad went to work for his dad in their sheet metal business, which was a Union business, and my mom was the bookkeeper up until today really. While they are both retired, they still go in and do what needs to be done, while my Uncle Al runs the day to day business. Here they are, 51 years later from when they met, still in love.
Anyway, prior to the age of 9, our lives sort of revolved around my dad's boy scout work. My dad was an eagle scout growing up and after he graduated from high school he had what is called an "Explorer Post" (I hope I get this all right). It is a uni-sex group of high school, post high school kids who do scout work. What I remember as a 4-8 year old was; a) going to the scout camp up in the Catskills what seemed like every other weekend; b) going to the Jersey shore on an annual camping trip with the all every summer; and c) their weekly meeting where they would make their costumes and practice performing. THey were the Wuliso (sp?) dancers, they did native American Indian dances at performances, they even went to California for a trip. We loved hanging out with all these teenagers, and it was REALLY ODD when threee of them were my junior high and high school teachers later in life! THey are all still very close to my parents, they call them mom and pop and I get to see them every now and then, for good times (like a wedding) and bad (like when they all came to my cousins wake a month ago). So, when we got to the canyon and saw that there was a performance by native Navajo indians we had to watch it. Unfortunately we only got to see a little bit, but for sure brought out great memories for my dad, mom and me.
I have to say, my dad's costumes were so much better, he had a head to toe headpiece hand-ade with feather the entire way down. They would spend hours on them, hand beading everything. That was a precious time in our lives.