My husband and I finally succumbed to tradition.
We packed up our kids and headed to the most time-honored family vacation of all American family vacations; The Grand Canyon. Short and jam-packed our trip itinerary was to drive to Williams, AZ stay the night, train to the Canyon, tour, sleep over, sight see, train back to Williams, home. (Well, we drove to Laughlin and then home but that’s a different story.) As with most of our trips the things that we planned were not the parts that hit us the hardest. Those things are impossible to plan, but they always seem to appear somewhere amidst the souvenir shops and photo ops.
During dinner our first night in Williams, Ollie noticed a zip line across the parking lot. Williams was the last town on Route 66 before the I-40 bypassed it. It is still a tourist favorite due to its proximity to the Grand Canyon, the railway and its rich history. There are 50’s cars and Route 66’s shields on almost every corner. The zip line had a red & white 50’s era Chevy coupe as its passenger car, hiding the motor that pulled it’s passengers about 100′ into the air before releasing them to slide screeching (by sound effect) into the “garage” below. She had to try it.
Zip lines and thrill rides
Ollie & Jeff set off to see about the zip line and Ethan and I went to see about a nap, however both were cut short when they returned to tell us that we all had to go. Something about 3 paid rides and Mom rides for free. So the entire family heads off for a ride. Jeff & Ollie go first, from where we stood watching it seemed like a smooth ride. However they both look shaken as they disembark. Worried about Ethan holding, they say the car tips a little, its sorta jerky, it goes fast in reverse. The ride operator does not look worried. Ethan is unfazed. The car, which is truly only two seats hanging below the zip line engine, your feet dangle freely, two straps to belt you in arrives and we climb in. I tell them I will hold onto his paralyzed arm “just in case”. In case of what I have no idea, Ethan weighs twice as much as me if he was slipping there is nothing I could do but they seem relieved that I am holding on.
We start our ascent in reverse, it does climb quite fast. Small bump as we get nearer the top and the last several feet are much slower as we get to the very top. Paused above the small town for a moment, Main street was right below us. The sun set is stretching across the sky towards us. Fingers of pink, purple and yellowy orange drug across the clouds like fingers on a lake. The darkness of the night rushing to take the place of the last drops of sunshine. It was gorgeous and then we are in free fall.
Sliding down the line towards the street, across the parking lot, and safely back to the end of the line. Jeff and Ollie are nowhere to be seen. They are not on the platform waiting for us. They are hiding down the stairs, away from view, afraid to watch us fall. Terrified that something might happen to him. Ethan and I chuckle at their over zealous caution.
Standing on the edge of fear
The next day we arrive on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Each of us in awe of its beauty, immediately impressed by its danger, humbled by the realization of our insignificant blip of time here on Earth compared to the millennia it took to carve through these rocks. Ollie is especially concerned. Warning each of us to stay away. Pleading with us to keep clear of the edge. That night she has a nightmare. She is crying as I try to soothe her.
“He fell, mama. I dreamed that he slipped and fell. I’m scared for him, here.” Her anguish is heartbreaking. Her fear legitimate.
“It’s only a dream baby. He’s not gonna fall. We will all watch out for that. I know we get scared, but that’s because we almost lost him. We are much more aware of losing him. It is only natural for us to worry, but we need to be careful not to be overcome by fear.”
Moral of the story
I am not sure what the moral of this story is. My husband and daughter expressed fear that are only natural considering all we’ve seen but I am often caught off guard by the amount of faith I have that everything will be ok. None of us can predict what will happen in our lives, we can make plans, have goals but those are merely hopes and dreams, life happens in the middle of those stories. Tangents we never dreamed of take place and lead us far from our plans. These too shall pass. I pray that my family heals from the fear of loss, I pray that you find whatever you may have lost along the way.
Life may at times be terrifying, but you can’t beat the views.