Wednesday, November 21, 2007

11/21/07 Grand Canyon, AZ and Thanksgiving

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Having the entire family together in Cottonwood was a treat. We’d been to this park before, so we didn’t feel that we had to explore the area -- we took it easy instead. This park doesn’t have WIFI at the RV’s, only in the clubhouse, so it wasn’t long before the kids abandoned Mel and I. Mel hadn’t taken a break since he last left us and he really needed to rest and recharge. It felt good to putter doing small chores and to catch up with one another.

Mel was certain that a trip to the Grand Canyon was a must. After all, it would give him a chance to try out the GPS (like Mel needs a GPS to find the Grand Canyon). I’ll admit that I need it, but Mr. Map was just trying to think of a good reason to get me in the car for a 2½ hour drive each way. Finally, he “guilted” me – what kind of parents were we if we’d been to Arizona twice and hadn’t taken our poor deprived children to the Grand Canyon. He won that round, and I packed a lunch and got in the car.

However, I had grown cavalier about being in the desert and the warm temperatures back in Cottonwood. As we got closer and closer to the canyon, the temperature kept dropping. It was now in the low 60’s and I hadn’t brought any warm jackets. Fortunately, Dave, Sarah and I have been cold for so long that we were able to be comfortable in our lightweight jackets even though it was windy.

We made a gasoline and drink stop nearby the park and found that the market carried Mother’s Cookies, Mel’s favorite. Unfortunately, we had to share the iced oatmeal cookies with the children. We almost went home that way so we could get another pack!

The most amazing thing happened when we hopped out of the car and trotted over to the edge of the canyon. Mayim went to jump up on the wall to sit, like she had done a few days earlier at Zion while we were waiting for Mel and Dave to get back from their hike. I certainly wasn’t expecting her to jump onto the wall. Mayim certainly wasn’t expecting a 7,000 foot drop on the other side of the wall. She got down very quickly – or I pulled her off the wall – or a combination of both.

Sarah was with me, and at the same time, probably from imagining that we were about to lose Mayim to the depths of the canyon, she started to experience terrible vertigo. She was panicked. She turned grey and a light sheen of sweat covered her forehead. She backed away from the rim across the path and held on to a tree like the path was going to crumble into the canyon any minute. After we pried her loose a half hour later, she was unwilling to do anything more near the canyon edge.

Mel and Dave separated from us and went on a photo safari. Sarah and I enjoyed a bus ride (never leaving our seats or getting close to the edge) and spent the rest of the afternoon at El Tovar’s historic hotel drinking tea and eating desserts.

Mel had always wanted to go on the East Rim Drive to see the Desert View Watchtower at sunset. Sarah was a trouper, she wanted to put as much distance between her and the canyon as possible, but she agreed to go. The Watchtower was built in 1932 as a replica of a prehistoric Indian tower and has a magnificent view of the Grand Canyon.

The drive took us longer than planned, sunset was earlier than we’d thought casting shadows in that area of the canyon and in general, we were prepared to be disappointed. When we got to the parking lot, another driver needed a jump and we had cables, so it looked like Mel would be out of luck.

I decided I would handle the stranded motorist and keep Sarah with me away from the edge. Mel and Dave hurried out and got some fantastic pictures -- Mel thinks they were worth five hours worth of driving. Sarah found a tumble weed and had great fun letting it blow around and then catching it again. Tumble weeds are so cute the way they bump along.

All-in-all, it was a memorable day. I can be glad that I wasn’t able to get reservations for the mule ride for us – Mel was too big and who could have known that Sarah would have problems with heights. But the day left me with a feeling of longing, like I hadn’t spent enough time in the canyon and that I wanted to enjoy it some more…

The next day was Thanksgiving. We decided to dine at the community meal. The food was tasty, the price was reasonable and there were no dishes to wash. At the time it seemed perfect. Then in the early evening I found myself pacing the RV kitchen, opening the fridge and looking for … looking for … finally, I realized, I was looking for Pumpkin Pie. There is no leftover pie if you go out to eat! Next year, we might eat out, but we’ll buy a pie for snacking on later.

On Friday, Mel and I made trips to Home Depot and worked on honey-do projects. He created a quick release water system for me (no drips, no twisting hoses on and off in freezing weather, yeah!), fixed cupboard doors, wired an outdoor antenna for the direct tv for our movable dish and put up my map of the United States. It was so exciting watching him put on the stickers for all the states where we’ve already been.

Sarah and I worked to pack her up to go back with Mel for a three week visit. She is going to visit with her friends, organize her new bedroom (berth) on the boat, spend time with her grandparents and uncles and hang out at the office doing school work. It was bitter sweet, she was so excited to be going back to Orange County, but I am going to miss her very much. Dave and I will come for a shorter visit around December 5th so the entire family can attend Josh Zimmermann’s bar mitzvah.

It was very sad to see the two of them drive off on Saturday. The RV was breathtakingly quiet after all the hustle and bustle of the previous week.

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