Wednesday, November 26, 2008

reality is all the god there is

I used to get really stressed out when I visited Arizona: there was too much to do, too many places to be, too many people vying for my time. In fact, I used to treat vacations as marathons, seeing how many people/events/cities/countries I could pack into two weeks/spring break/one road trip. It made me miserable and a terror to be around, in all honesty. So now, when I go back home (or anywhere, for that matter) I try to take a deep breath and leave my expectations behind. I set vague goals and other than that I just try to (such a concept) enjoy myself. Relax, in other words. This time these were my vague goals: spend time with parents and the two excellent friends I have in Flagstaff, go hiking, cook dinner for said friends and family, eat some of Macy's veggie biscuits and gravy (I swear, the best I've had anywhere), and maybe bring back a few pictures. It turns out that's just about all I had time for, but it was just enough. There were two long hikes and one short one, a dinner of french-ish food (tilapia with french mushroom sauce and a side of baked cucumbers, which much to my disappointment received mixed reactions), Sex and the City flashbacks to spring break 2005, long conversations about love and sex and family and ecoporn. I even got to have biscuits and gravy twice :)
But back to the hiking. I can always count on Erica to take me on hikes that push me and this time was no exception. My first day in town, we went for a hike on the Inner Basin Trail, starting at Lockett's Meadow and heading up towards the summit of Humphreys, the tallest mountain in the state and part of the San Francisco Peaks. We didn't make the summit (as erica said, next time we'll start earlier and at a time of year when the sun sets later), but we made it above treeline. Which is 11,500 feet in Flagstaff. Which is way, way higher elevation-wise than I've ever hiked before. Luckily the trail isn't too steep, but there was definitely a fair amount of gasping on my part. I laughed at myself hiking in a tank top and gloves in the snow. We ate lunch at the top and listened to the most profound silence I've heard in a while.
The short hike was at Red Mountain with my parents and my friend Emily. It's a short, flat hike, but ends near a wall of red cliff and a ton of eroded stone.


My mom, none too happy to be having her picture taken

Erica and I had planned another hike for the Monday before I left, and on Sunday she called me to suggest that we go hiking in the Grand Canyon. Even though I grew up about 75 miles from the canyon, I've been there a total of two times and neither of those trips involved much hiking. In fact, when I went at the age of nine, we hiked very briefly and then I slipped and fell in a big pile of mule shit, so that (and my dad's endless river stories) has been more or less my association since then. Needless to say, I was excited. We hiked down Hermit trail to (perhaps) the Cathedral Steps before heading back up.

from the rim, near the Bright Angel trailhead

A tree growing out of a rock upside-down

my feet. this is where we ate lunch.

Also taken on lunchbreak

I can barely walk today because my calves hurt so much, but it was totally worth it.
Now I'm back in the relative chill of Chicago. But... Maybe not for that much longer. One of the things I kind of came to terms with on this trip is the fact that, no, I don't want to stay in Chicago forever. My goal is to have this be my last Chicago winter, to be in Denver or Albuquerque or somewhere else by about this time next year. It's terrifying to think about picking up and starting over, but every time I get away and into someplace where I can see farther than a city block I realize how much I want the choice between city and not-city to be a part of my daily life. My life here is expanding in ways that I had long ago given up on (and are also sometimes alarming, frankly), but I'm choosing to believe that my life can expand somewhere else too.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

your pictures are beautiful!