Grand Canyon Day
Waking Up in Williams, Arizona
I am a mess of bruises, I slept with my eleven year old; she kicked, she pushed, and she rolled on top of me. This kid is sleeping in the rollaway tonight. Today is Grand Canyon day. We have a routine now; I am always the first to wake up. I make motel coffee and go back to bed, sipping and reflecting. This is good coffee, and an affordable motel room. I like all of us sleeping in one room; I can observe each child deep in sleep, no talking, and no interrupting. Even our dog is sound asleep with deep, oxygen replenishing breaths. My older daughter with her friends in another motel room is pretty much on her own. We meet at the motels at the end of the day and we meet if they want me to pay for a meal. This Grand Canyon side trip is our one big side trip. I have been to the Grand Canyon once before and it is too magnificent to be within one hour and not see it. We eat, shower, and leave for the Grand Canyon.
We are going to the South Rim. The South Rim is in Arizona and the North Rim is in Utah. Ninety percent of the visitors go to the South Rim. We stop at our first lookout and get out of the van. The first view is mind blowing; the Grand Canyon is 1.6 miles deep and about 18 miles long. The deep blue Colorado River winds through the floor of the canyon. The first sight of the Grand Canyon is overwhelming; it is so vast, the impact of the first view is almost too much. There is too much to process in one view.
I remember my children and I realize the only thing between my children and the bottom of the Grand Canyon are metal railings designed for well behaved, rule abiding people. My 14 year old son has aspergers syndrome and my 8 year old daughter is moderately retarded. I look for them; I see my daughter, not my son. I go to my daughter and take her hand and we look for my son. I spot my older son and daughter and they have not seen him. Suddenly, he appears out of nowhere and he shows me the ledge where he was and I suppress a panic attack. I insist we go back to the car and find another spot.
I cannot do this; every view of the edge of the rim gives me images of children falling off a cliff. I am too scared, this is too much. My older son senses my fear and tells his brother and sister to come and pretty soon we are safely in the car, in the parking lot. We look for a restroom and find another parking spot. Soon, my older son reports to me that he found a lookout that I would like: There is a building atop one of the cliffs with a wall of glass that is curved; from this window we can see the length of the canyon and the Colorado River. We spend a lot of time looking out the window and we go into the gift shop and purchase post cards and a matching game of Grand Canyon views. We go to a cafeteria for lunch and we see my driving daughter. We find another large souvenir store and I let everyone select a memnto. I am done with the Grand Canyon for now. It's time to go to Flagstaff.