Adventure #1 of 7 has been completed! Well wow. This blog post sure took me long enough to write. It’s already been 2 whole months since I was fortunate enough to journey and explore the mile deep views of the Grand Canyon (looks like it’s safe to say we know who won’t be getting the “most timely-blogger-of-the-year” award).
People roam from near and far to travel and tour one of the most beautiful places on earth. A stunning desert disaster, a beautiful mess of all sorts, a wondrous space of both catastrophe and loss, beauty born from rubble, a light created from the dark. Yes my friends, the one and only Grand Canyon.
The ever so wise Rumi says that “life is a constant struggle of giving and taking. Of holding on and letting go” and I suppose that’s exactly what awaits each traveler and passerby that wanders and roves into this majestic landscape. According to our good ol friend Mr. Dictionary, Arizona’s Grand Canyon is a natural formation gorged by the Colorado River, distinguished by its layered bands of red rock and its vast scale, averaging 10 miles across and a mile deep along its 277-mile length.
Woah, that’s one crazy gorged rock formation. For so long I had only heard about the Grand Canyon and saw pictures of it, learned of families and friends traveling and hiking it – always wanting to experience it for myself. And wow am I glad I did! (insert hoots and hollers and a round of applause).
When going on a trip it is both habit and necessary to pack suitcases of everything we want to bring with us while traveling – what we want to wear, enjoy and experience while on our trip. But in a way – these same suitcases full of our belongings and preparation become the same very thing that preserves the memories we bring back home with us after every journey we embark on.
Suitcases full of memories, moments, smells, tastes – they all continue to remain inside us. Suitcases from the road and suitcases from ourselves. Suitcases of our best moments and our worst. Suitcases of the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. When I went to the Grand Canyon I was lucky enough to wander and rove with a friend, and I am grateful that we got to build a suitcase of moments and memories together, of course never realizing that at the time. I mean do we ever realize we’re creating a moment we’re going to look back on and remember and be grateful for? Rarely. And that is such a shame.
Now while I’m usually not a big believer in pre-planning any big adventure (ironic given what my job is) or trip one is going on, I did realize and appreciate there were some tips and tricks I wish I would’ve known in advance before embarking on this journey that would have led to an even greater experience. So here you go party people – 5 tips for you to be able to wanderlust like hell through the Grand Canyon.
It’s that simple folks.
Have a map – but be cool with tossing it out the window. Or veering away from it. Or completely ignoring it and following your own way. We can only plan so much. And sometimes right when we think we’re just about to hit that one moment we’ve been striving for – and that one place we’ve been moving towards and driving to and following the path on, boom. The car stops, the road turns unexpectedly, life smacks you around a bit, crumbles in front of you and you’re just left looking at the rubble thinking, wow. How did I get here? And what do I do next? I’ll tell you what you do. You. Freaking. Move.
The only thing we can control in life is ourselves, nothing more and nothing else. While yes we may have the best intentions in place for the future and vacations and journeys and trips and the best life goals we may have ever dreamed of – sometimes life doesn’t work like that. And when I say sometimes, I mean most times. And sometimes that can even be a good thing (like wayyyyyy later down the road, like way later down the road when you’re cool with the fact your life didn’t go as planned). Life likes to surprise us – to add some twists and turns and bumps along the way to see if we’re paying attention + to remind us of what we’re really made of. To see what kind of guts we have and tug on the heart strings we need to pull on.
In life, on the road, at a crossroads, whatever. Don’t over-think it. Just move, put one foot in front of the other – and go. I didn’t have anything booked before I left San Diego for the 8 hour ride ahead of me to Arizona (to the woe of my travel companion. Thanks for being flexible!). Yep that’s right, no campsite booked (tent camping only obvi!), no pit-stops marked, no excursions or hikes or bikes or donkey rides, no nothing was planned. I. Just. Went. If I would’ve waited until every little detail was planned out and perfect and ready and waiting for me – who knows when I would’ve actually taken this adventure, if ever. I chose a date, packed and drove. It’s that simple peeps. So many wasted moments are spent on over analyzing, over-thinking and over-evaluating. We become paralyzed in fear and then hesitate to take the most grandest moments we have available to us because we got stuck, and caught, and stopped. So just go. Wherever it is – or whatever it is. Just. Go. Do it. Right now.
Spend less on things + more on experiences.
Your time, your money, your energy, your whatever. I’m sure most people on their death beds don’t look back and wish they had more things in their lifetime, they most likely wish they had more time. More time with those they love, in places they adore. Be as simple and minimal as possible.
Adopting this mindset will allow you to be able to do some crazy and awesome and scary and memorable things that you will look back and be SO GLAD you did! Spending less on things and more on experiences in the Grand Canyon for me meant a helicopter ride and a guided sunset tour. Two things that may not be that big of a deal to you, but let me tell you, two things that absolutely took my breath away.
(Pic above of the actual helicopter we took, I did not take this picture though)
I am a talker – a big talker. And I was pretty speechless during each of these spectacular moments.A famous Grand Canyon sunset and a helicopter ride over the gorge? Yes. Please! The helicopter played classic rock as we came upon our first big view of the Canyon from up above and I’ll never forget that moment – how I felt, what it looked like, everything. It was like time stood still in that moment. I don’t remember what I was wearing, or what I had in my lap and with me – I remember how I felt.
In simultaneously being able to reduce the amount of crap and junk I would’ve brought on this trip, and clutter I have in my house, and life/etc. I was able to enjoy some once-in-a-lifetime experiences instead – making memories to last a lifetime with a friend and seeing the world through a whole new lens.
Less stuff, more experiences. Period.
And stay there. This for sure is a personal challenge to me because I want instant gratification to feel better and fix and happify the second I or anyone around me is feeling anything anything short of stellar. Don’t.
Instead, wallow in it, and breathe through it because it won’t last forever. Nothing does. The good or the bad, remember that, nothing lasts forever.
If you’re usually pretty spontaneous – then get a little ridged. If you like a good solid plan and some certainty in your day – take a wild leap of faith in trusting that everything could work out and jump into the unknown. And hey what’s the worst that could happen? Sure you may not have a place to stay and may get trampled by an Elk (no seriously, that’s the worst thing that can happen when you don’t book a campsite in advance at the Grand Canyon and you have to go claim a spot in big, open land) – but would you survive? Hopefully. And if not? Well then I guess you just met life’s exit strategy for you. And what a cool way to go! You were eaten by an elk on a girls camping trip in the Grand Canyon? Sorry mom!
Be spontaneous. Say yes. Jump in. Try it. Be down with the weirdness. Not your routine, your style, your way?
That’s cool, do it anyway – in life or in a desert. Get uncomfortable and stay there.
Collect as you go.
(Ok I know this seems like an oxy moron to #2 above but just go with it, metaphorically speaking people)
Photos, memories, moments, places, people, things, mints, souvenirs. Everything. Talk to strangers, ask questions. Learn, learn learn. And listen. You’ll be richer for it. In anything in life – we of course try to remember what we saw and did, but more often than not – we vividly remember how we felt. And how we made others feel. Bring a journal, write, draw, capture, collect, remember. And remember to collect the present too. Put down the phone and pick up your eyes (guilty!).
On the helicopter tour there was an old man sitting next to me, I’m talking like Grandpa status old-man. And guess what? He had an old-school video camera with a vhs tape in it – recording the entire thing. And he didn’t stop. Not once. Maybe the video wasn’t for himself or maybe it was – but regardless, love that no matter the age we all want to remember it all. To take it all in. I guess no matter what that will never stop and I really dig that.
Our minds and our bodies and everything will start to go and fade away the older we get. So maybe we collect things in a desperate attempt to hold on and keep things close. No matter the reason or the rhyme or the why – just collect. Everything. All the time. Because one day you will look back at it and even the smallest, stupidest most minor thing will be able to bring you the biggest sense of joy. Collect things while you can and while your mind will remember them.
Act in the light.
Because man oh man, it’s going to get dark, fast.
Just like any good actor or model knows – you want to be in the light. And while camping this rule is very important. Do as much as you can while it’s bright – dance, cook, setup the tent (no seriously, doing it with headlamps on for the first time assembly of a new tent is no beuno), take pictures, spend time with those you love and try to extend it as long as possible.
Because the darkness will come – but you can be ready for it.
Do as much as you can while it’s light – set up your tent, organize your wood, prepare your food, secure clean water, hug those you love before they pass, be grateful for laughter and silliness, you get my drift.
Enjoy it all before things go dark so you are ready to be fierce and brave and conquer the shadows.
Well there you have it – my insanely valuable words of wisdom on 5 tips for how to accurately navigate both the Grand and Life Canyons that we all continue to experience in this lifetime.
Did you think you’d read about actual trails to hike, excursions to book, places to stay and food to eat? Well yes, I probably would think that too. And I could’ve written about that, but decided not to because I didn’t need to.
You see, if you pay attention – and you truly notice and listen you will understand that life is constantly teaching us about two things at once.
Both the actual experience we’re currently in (yes the bad ones too), but also the overall, greater plan. The big stuff – the good stuff. The stuff that life is really made of.
In the end, aren’t we really all just on this same kind of Grand Canyon adventure I went on, in our own lives, everyday?
Trying to navigate which path is the right one of the options we’re presented, who to pick up along the way, who to keep walking by, and which way to go.
Until we get to the place we’re meant to be, may we wander and roam and do everything in between.