part 2 | Flagstaff, AZ + the Grand Canyon


Always there is something worth saying
about glory, about gratitude.
― Mary Oliver, What Do We Know

Arizona felt like a blip, a brief moment in our journey. Crossing another time-zone, we arrived to our tepee in Flagstaff at 11:30 pm, over-exhausted from our unexpected Tent Rocks hike in New Mexico earlier that day. Olive had asked at some point, “can we just stop and pitch a fort here to sleep?” “Here” being somewhere along the badlands of I-40. We laughed, tempted by her proposal and kept driving, finally collapsing into our sleeping bags just shy of midnight.

By 5:15 the following morning, our tepee was glowing with morning sun. I had forgotten what it’s like to sleep in the outdoors, to discern that early, quiet glory dispersing the fog and shadow. Night. And then, almost at once, day. Most of the time I miss it tucked behind my walls and covered windows. But that morning I was awake. I was alive.

After choking down the mediocre breakfast and coffee we regretfully bought at a local Rt. 66 diner, we drove (an anti-climatic) 1.5 hours for a day trip to the South Rim.  We had decided only to walk the rim this trip, skipping any descending hikes into the Canyon due to record-high temperatures, time, and our kids’ ages, but our few hours on the Rim Trail, including the occasional tree climb or observation point or lunch picnic, seemed the perfect first trip.  Plus, it left us time to eat at Flagstaff’s Beaver Street Brewery that evening.  Before bed, we walked again with that same sun now lengthening our shadows on the downtown streets, my heart (and stomach) swollen with gratitude.