Though we’ve been back for a while, I’ll write about most of our trip in present tense. It’s more lively that way. Pretend I was sending back postcards and letters that got lost in the mail and arrive long after we’ve returned home.
We arrive late afternoon at the Grand Canyon, just in time for lovely lighting.
The overlook with protective railings is packed with people, all snapping pictures, the sounds of chatter and shutters filling the space directly around us.
An exhale, a sigh.
We linger long, much longer than most people, and the noise level drops. I hear my son ask a question and my husband advise my daughter on the best position of her tripod. I look around and realize…
It’s just us.
I point this out to my family and we fall silent a moment, letting space fill the space. I breathe slowly in the fading light, drinking in the silence.
Then one of the kids asks when we’ll leave.
Spell broken, we discuss dinner plans and head back to the RV, debating whether or not to wake in time for sunrise. We decide to do it. Once in a lifetime and all that.
In the morning, we hustle to the overlooks where, again, crowds gather, though not as many as at sunset. It is, after all, five in the morning. As the sky lightens, we wait for the moment the day’s first shafts of light streak over the far side of the canyon.
And shutters snap nonstop like paparazzi.
I snap, too, feeling guilty for contributing to the noise, but unable to stop, hypnotized, mesmerized. People slowly leave the overlook, finished capturing a digital dawn, but we’re still here, lingering despite a few weary moans from the few who preferred sleep over sunrise.
And once more, we are alone out here. The six of us and the Grand Canyon. I stop snapping pictures, as does my daughter. In the second silence, we pause and take it all in.
There’s nothing to say. There’s only the silence, the space, and us.
In time, it seems right to leave. We stand up and move toward the parking lot, passing a young couple heading toward the empty overlook to take our place on the rocks.
Posts about our trip:
RV Trip West: Heading into the Unknown
RV Trip West: Petrified Forest
RV Trip West: Winslow, Arizona
Photos by Ann Kroeker.
For about a year, I’ve followed this blogger with interest. His stories and photos inspired some of our planning.
This post caused me to be so still, it almost seemed wrong to ‘clickety-clack’ on my key board….
My life is so rarely still, I’m glad to invite others into this moment.
One of our favorite vacations was this one, Ann. You captured a beautiful digital dawn, and a lovely feeling. My boys were younger on this trip, and there were four of them. I spent my time counting heads and making sure no one was leaning over too far or climbing on a rail… But it was a beautiful trip. Thanks for bringing up that memory.
Laura, I was nervous as we walked up the trail. One slip, and it’s sheer dropoff. You were wise to count heads and hold hands. That’s not a place for monkey business.
I’m glad we went, but I think I’m okay with that being my one-and-only trip.
Megan Willome says
So glad you and yours lingered–twice.
I guess it sometimes pays to procrastinate!
Hazel Moon says
So blessed to enjoy this vast country of ours. Silence is sometimes golden !!
We were in awe on this trip so often. And I think I crave silence.
Janis@Heart-Filled Moments says
That space–that awesome space and the silence. It’s like breathing in the Spirit of God. That’s what I felt as I read your post–the presence of God.
The sunrise was awesome, Ann. I could hear the camera shutters and then the silence. Simply WOW!.
When we were there, 100 years ago, I don’t remember seeing that overlook. There were others where the bus stops and you get out along the rim. Was this one of them?
Thank you for sharing the response from reading this post. I enjoyed going back there in my mind, drinking in that silence. I crave it. This was “Mather Overlook,” an outcropping almost directly out from the main visitor’s center. Standing on Mather, looking to the right, is another. I don’t know what they call the other one. Another overlook was farther on the left, but we only went to those two because they had the best view. Then we did take a shuttle up to walk the rim trail in another spot, over by Kolb Studios. I’ll write about that next, I think.
Diana Trautwein says
Ann, I am loving this series. It’s such fun to see these familiar places through your eyes. And wow! You got some lovely weather at the Canyon. We’ve been about four times and it is often so hazy, you can barely see the color differences. These shots are just lovely. Thank you.
Diana, you travel so much–you inspire us to step out and visit more places. I’m sorry you haven’t seen the canyon all lit up like we were able to enjoy. I tried to pick a few that turned out nicely. As you can imagine, we took a bazillion. Well, a lot.
Amy L. Sullivan says
A couple of years ago, we hiked down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the little village there, Havasupi. I loved the whole experience. It made me feel so small, and sometimes, it’s good to feel small.
You are amazing, Amy! I could not set one foot on Bright Angel Trail. Something clicked off and I had a visceral refusal to go. So I’ll never be able to camp at the bottom. That isn’t a dream of mine anyway, so I’m okay with that. I’ll just live vicariously. 🙂
David Sanderson says
I stumbled across your blog through the Petrified Forest National Park sharing it on their Facebook page. You are making memories with our National Treasures and quality time instead of the artificial entertainment of some amusement park full of man made distractions, and I love it!
I prefer to spend time in places where God is large and I am in awe of His Creation.
Should you choose to peruse my flickr website, you will find many photos from our National Parks of the Southwest where I have attempted to help God show off His Creation and give Him glory for helping me understand who He is and my place in His Creation.
I share the link with you here, and hope some of these fine art images bring you as much joy as I got from reading your journey.
David, I’m so glad to hear your reply to this post and learn about how your photography and faith intersect. Thank you for sharing and for sending me to your flickr page. I love seeing those photos from Arches and the Wave! Will dig through your collection soon, as they are beautiful. I love this line you said:
“I have attempted to help God show off His Creation and give Him glory for helping me understand who He is and my place in His Creation.”
Laura Brown says
We have a Mather Lodge at one of our state parks. I wonder whether it’s named for the same Mather. Probably not Cotton, right?
This reminds me of when we went to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. We went at midday and it was very crowded, lots of tourists, lots of vendors setting up their little booths. We went again one evening at sunset and it was much quieter. We felt like we were *there* more the second time.
Ann Kroeker says
It’s not Cotton Mather, no. It’s Stephen Mather: “Mather Point is named after Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service.”
The family I followed (and envied) as they drove all over the U.S. in their RV would try to avoid the crowds. They preferred having the hike or the overlook to themselves. Maybe most of us do?
Ann Kroeker says
And, to be clear, we did not literally follow them. They had a website and I read about their outings, inspired to take my own at a later date.