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#9 The Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

OK, this is gonna be a big one...kinda like the Canyon herself. I will apologize now if my memories crowd out the facts about the park. But most of you probably already know many facts regarding the 7th wonder of the world.

If not, here are some fun facts about the Canyon: The Vishnu basement rocks found down by the river are 2 billion years old. Yes, gentle reader, that's with a 'B'; and I thought I was old. The Canyon has provided for humans for about 12,000 years; starting with Paleo-Indian people to the Havasupi tribe who live in the Western end of the Canyon today. Fred & I have backpacked the 10 miles to the river through tribal lands and back out again before Anna was born. It is the most beautiful water and rock formations!

This park is very special to our family. In March, 2016 (1 year before she died) we took Anna on spring break to Puerto Penasco, Mexico and stopped at the Grand Canyon on our way back to Grand Junction to drop her back at school. We had a great time and she LOVED the Canyon! She especially enjoyed meeting her friend, Anna Suter, at the east end of the Canyon Rim at...Anna's Cafe! In honor of Anna's 22nd birthday I decided to be at the Grand Canyon, a place close to her heart and ours. The GC was the last National Park Anna was ever in.

When we were there with her, we hiked along the South Rim Trail and reveled in the views. I had gone ahead and discovered a big rock that stuck out into the canyon. I walked out to the edge and sat down. My feet dangled over the Canyon floor a mile up from the river. I sat there taking it all in. After awhile, Anna found me and waltzed right out to the rock's edge and sat down beside me, dangling her feet off the edge. Did I mention Anna & I don't have a fear of heights? Fred, however, does and took this picture of us from a safe distance. I wanted to recreate the picture with her teddy bear. This is the same rock...without her. The prosecco was to toast her birthday and the rose was from my dear friend, Karen Harriman, who sent me off on the trip with it to have a symbol of Anna.

A sweet zebra friend, Anne Dabbs, had recently posted to my Facebook page something John Muir said. "We should saunter through the forest, not hike". I took this to heart and decided to truly take in everything on the trail...the birds, the squirrels, the deer, the elk, and of course, the ever changing light and view. Anna's presence was there right beside me and we sauntered through the sacredness.

On this first visit back since being there with Anna I wanted to "saunter" the South Rim Trail. Only 6.5 miles of it are open in the winter (ended up doing over 10 miles that day). Starting at Yaki Point to the east, I went past Bright Angel Lodge in the west. I jogged a little, (mostly to stay warm, as it was bitter cold) but then strolled and really began to notice everything around me. I noticed some Mountain Chickadees trying to get water from a frozen puddle, so I stopped and gave them some of mine. I talked to the squirrels and elk. OK, so I was trying to convince the elk to let me by on the trail; but it was polite conversation. I have elk in my yard at home; so I'm fluent in elk. It was a morning I will never forget, because I sauntered and immersed myself into my surroundings and didn't race through them. Had I been running, I would have missed helping the birds, talking to the squirrels, and I would have smacked into an elk.

I thought about how we do that in life; don't we? We race right through life, hurrying from one obligation to another, when perhaps we should saunter once in awhile. I'm not advocating that we do it all the time, but every so often truly immerse yourself in nature and see if you don't feel changed.

Enjoy the pictures, and if you're ever at the Grand Canyon and feel a pull towards a rock, go sit down on it. It might be Anna asking you to sit and visit awhile. She likes to do that.

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