Grand Canyon, Arizona

I’m not normally one for busy touristy places, but I’m so glad I made an exception to spend a week at this incredible National Park, Millie and Atlas’ first.

When John Wesley Powell floated through this canyon in a wooden boat in 1871 and named it the Grand Canyon he must have been without his glasses. Grand doesn’t even begin to describe this immense, intricate and ancient beyond imagination, place. It really is something else.

When you peer over the rim it literally takes your breath away, it is just incredible. I mean, look at this!

I’m going to butcher the story by being so brief, but here’s my shot at a paragraph-long history of how the Grand Canyon came to be… A long long time ago, the land was basically flat and at sea level. Over time, sedimentary rock layers formed, the layer when the land was a sea bed is different to when the land was a sandy dune. You can see all of these layers today. When the tectonic plates shifted, still a long long time ago, they pushed the land up and created the Colorado Plateau, pushing the south rim to 7,000 ft and the north rim to 8,000 ft. Then, the Colorado River, its sediment acting like sandpaper, forged a deeper and deeper path over time. Finally, water freezing and expanding in cracks of the rock everywhere in the canyon causes pieces to break apart and explains the rest of the erosion. Incredible, huh!

The National Park Service has done a great job of conveying just how old the canyon is with its ‘Trail of Time’ walk along the rim; each meter represents a million years, you can take about 7000 steps and cover 2 billion years of geological history! Interpretive panels take you through the 2 billion year journey. Here’s a rock from 1.8 million years ago, ponder that for a while!

We stayed at The Mather Campground, a large campground nestled in a juniper and pine forest. Our RV looked out into the forest and there was room for Atlas to chase his tennis ball! Millie had her first food while we were here, yay! She was actually more interested in playing with the spoon than eating anything, but it was very fun nonetheless. We found a Junior Ranger onesie that I dressed her up in too, haha!

The campground was a mile or two from pretty much everywhere we wanted to go and so we got a ton of walking in. National Parks in the US are no dog zones but luckily all of the paved trails in the Park were dog friendly so Atlas got in a lot of walking too. Mostly we walked out to the rim for sunset each day.

We stayed an extra 2 nights because the forecast was calling for high winds and…. snow! So glad we did because Millie got to see her first snow. Super cute!

I had my first challenging night as a mother while we were here. Atlas had stayed at the campground and Millie and I went out for an afternoon of exploring. We walked a couple of miles down past Grand Canyon Village and found a great spot to sit and watch the sunset on the rim. After that I decided to take Millie out for a cocktail at one of the historic hotels in the village with well-spaced pandemic-friendly tables. Chocolate martini and a slice of cake down, a happy smiley Millie, and I was feeling like Super-Mum! Boy, was that about to change…

I got Millie dressed back up in lots of layers of warm clothing and the second I got her outside, into the admittedly quite cold air and dark sky, she got upset almost immediately. I think the contrast between warm and light and cold and dark must have shocked her a bit?

There was no picking her up to soothe her because I was already wearing her in her carrier. There was no darting back into the warmth of our RV because it was miles away. It suddenly dawned on me I had an increasingly upset baby, out in the cold dark night and no fast way to get our situation back on track. Should I walk home as i’d planned? A few miles in the cold and the dark wasn’t feeling like the right decision, even with a head lamp on. Should I get an Uber back to the RV? Yeah, I wish, definitely no Uber out here. The bus! Yes, the bus. There was a free shuttle service that ran around this part of the rim, I’d just been avoiding it because of the pandemic.

I got myself to a bus stop and hoped and hoped that the bus would come soon. Millie was really getting upset and I was getting cold standing around. The bus came along right as Millie went into full-on breakdown mode. The bus was packed, luckily with mask wearing passengers, but it was packed. Millie screamed a pitch I didn’t know was possible and I’m sure everyone on that bus was staring at us. I buried my head next to hers and spoke to her and gave her kisses but she was too worked up to notice. We just had to suffer through 5-10 minutes of this then we’d be at our campground. The minutes seemed to last an eternity and my heat broke every time she took a breath because she had to take a few to make up for all the air she was exhaling with her cries. My poor Millie!!!

Finally the bus pulled up to the campground. Thank god! I couldn’t have gotten off that bus soon enough, and I’m sure the other passengers felt the same about us! Once off we still had to get to our site, a good 10 minute walk away. I hugged Millie tight, gave her kisses, walked as fast as my legs would carry me… and cried with her. It’s the first time I’ve cried as a Mum, except getting a bit teary-eyed a few times when describing the insanity that was childbirth. This was a full on cry. I felt so bad for Millie… and so bad for the whole bus full of unsuspecting people who had, until then, probably had a very zen and peaceful evening on the rim.

So there we were crying together, all the way through the campground. What happened to Super-Mum??? What happened to my happy smiley Millie? What happened???

Atlas must have heard us coming a LONG time before we got there. I opened the door and got Millie and I into our warm, light, safe little home. She was crying. I was crying. Atlas must have been so confused about what was happening. I don’t think he’s ever seen me cry before? And very rarely Millie. Poor Atlas!

Then the cutest, most adorable thing happened…. Millie looked up at me and appeared totally shocked at what she saw, me crying; so shocked she stopped crying. Then she got her little hand and planted it right on my tear streaked cheek and gave me a little smile. Oh. My. Gosh!!!! OH MY GOSH! I don’t think a cuter thing has ever happened.

We sat down on the couch and Atlas jumped up next to us, nuzzling at us both to see if we were okay. Each of us looking at each other with so much concern;we must have been quite the sight! I had one arm around each of them and then Millie chuckled at Atlas and I cracked up laughing. The world was right again.

Next stop… you definitely haven’t been there.

Thanks for reading. -Elevated

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