Days one and two.

The adventure begins.

On the first day, we travelled over 2400 miles. We started with an early morning at the Charlotte airport, flew to Chicago, and then flew to Las Vegas, battling incoming storms, high winds, and turbulence. We were able to see the jagged mouth of the Rocky Mountains beneath us, the small gash of the Grand Canyon, the curved thumbnail of the Hoover Dam. the Vegas airport was all glitter and fritz and slot machines, and I suffered from immediate sensory overload, just trying to take it all in while navigating baggage and taxis.

We got our RV, stopped at an In and Out Burger joint, stopped at Wal-Mart for vacation supplies, and hit the road. The desert was this alien, unfamiliar landscape — but so wild and open and beautiful. We stopped several times just to take pictures and drink it all in. Thomas said, “I’ve never been so compelled by the wilderness just to wander into it before,” and I couldn’t agree more. There is something about the emptiness of the desert that makes me feel powerful, somehow. I feel more individual, more separate. Perhaps it’s the solitude; perhaps it’s the beauty. Perhaps I’m just invoking the spirit of pioneers past who arrived in this crazy wasteland and said — yes; this is for me.

The RV lifestyle is a lot like that, so it’s a very compatible lifestyle with this Western attitude. Pack up all your stuff, take it with you, and go. There’s something very gypsy about the entire ordeal. Initially, I thought I would hate it — being in cramped quarters, never being settled, always on the move, struggling to sleep or shower or use the bathroom in comfort — but I’m beginning to fall in love with the lifestyle, and I can definitely see why people do this full-time.

It took us forever to drive to the Grand Canyon. We were suffering from jet lag and seriously experiencing the time zone difference. James was tying t o get the hang of driving the RV around, which is not exactly easy to do. Then, our GPS threw us off onto the most bizarre, backwoods route to get to the RV park at the Grand Canyon — it was ten o’clock at night, we’d all been awake for nearly 24 hours straight, and we were driving down these crazy access roads that spit us out in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, we realized we were on the wrong track, and we walked outside the RV to take a look around. It was open, and the sky was full of amazing and beautiful stars, and we realized we were miles away from any other single living human being. So, we reveled in that for a moment (I walked outside and screamed at the top of my lungs to the moon and the stars, “I AM ALIVE IN THIS WORLD!”) before heading back to find the RV place. It was midnight before we pulled in, got hooked up, and settled in, and we were exhausted. Still, sleep didn’t come easy — again, the time zone difference, and also the fact that it dropped down to nearly twenty degrees Fahrenheit that night, and we all shivered under our blankets.

Day two, however, made it worth it,

Stacy’s was up at the crack of dawn, bright-eyed and excited because she’d seen on the map that we were less than a mile away from the Grand Canyon itself, and it could just be a short morning walk to go explore it. What we discovered was that there was a Greenway trail that hugged the lip of the Grand Canyon, and there were hardly any people there at all, especially at 7am on a Sunday morning. It felt like we had the entire Grand Canyon to ourselves. Stacy, James, and Thomas climbed out on outcroppings of rocks for breathtaking views, and since I couldn’t stop picturing them all falling to their deaths in the vast chasm below, I walked on ahead, stopping every now and then to sit on a cliff, take it all in, meditate, breathe, and watch. It was incredible. We wandered around these mostly deserted cliffs for hours before finding the more public overlooks and quickly deciding we’d found the best part of the Canyon already.

We drove on south from there, with Thomas at the wheel this time and the canyon teasing us on our left every few miles. We stopped again at Desert View, just to see another part of the canyon — this stop was much more crowded, however. We went on to visit the Watupaki ruins, to drive by the Crater Volcano mountain, to eat delicious TexMex food at Salsa Bravo in Flagstaff, to park ourselves for the night in this quirky, kitschy little RV park near the Meteor Crater in Winslow. Everywhere, the ghost of Route 66 follows us, and everywhere, I feel both a strange kinship and a strange alienation from the culture I encounter.

And tomorrow is my birthday. And tomorrow we will visit this crazy meteor crater, and we will drive on Route 66, and we may even make it to Sedons if we make good time.

But tonight, I’m going to drink this beer, and I’m going to drink in the red horizon and the mountains and all of the stars, and I’m going to drink this beer, and I’m going to enjoy the company of my loved ones, with historic Route 66 to my left, and the wide expanse of desert all around me.

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