The drive to the canyon was a beautiful, steep, peaceful drive. We saw so many different scenes, from the red rocks, to forests of pine trees, open fields, roaming buffalo, etc. It was a testament of God's creation, and I was (for the most part) able to ignore the "How much longer?" and "Are we there yet?" questions from the back seat once the drowsiness of the medicine wore off.
Luke's cell phone's screen is a photo of the Grand Canyon. It makes me smile every time that I see it. I love that my children appreciated the beauty of one of God's greatest masterpieces.
I sent Megan off in search of some ice cream as a treat (FYI-there is none to be found at the North Rim.), Joshua was trying to use the compass on his key chain, Luke was viewing his key chain, Ellie was quietly enjoying the surroundings, I was trying to get some remote cell phone service to look up my in-laws mission address, Drew was crying and whining about why he didn't get a key chain and why can't he get the telescope, and Mike was...
Let's see. I think Mike was off enjoying some beautiful views A.L.O.N.E.
Mike soon returned, as did Megan with the bad news there was no ice cream to be consumed, and everyone was mildly disappointed my promise of ice cream would not be fulfilled. Except for Drew, all he cared about was the telescope he so desperately wanted.
In a very weak parenting moment, and throwing all sane parenting lessons of entitlement and giving-into-tantrums out the window, I pulled that brown paper shop bag out of my purse turned around to Drew, shoved the bag against his chest and said, "Here! Have a telescope!"
I turned back around and began marching towards the car. Much to my dismay, I knew full well I had a 6 person entourage following me. Which really, what did you expect them to do? No words were needed, but my body language had just announced, "Our time at the Grand Canyon is over."
For about 15 seconds I heard no sound from Drew behind me and began silently praying thanks that toy telescope manufacturers exist in this world. Before my toy manufacture prayer of gratitude was over, without having to turn around, I heard Drew's silence stop and the tantrum start again, this time more passionately than before. Mike--the sane parent among us, was not going to reward Drew's behavior, and took away the desired telescope from Drew almost as quickly as I had handed it to him. In my heart I knew I should be thankful for a good, sane, deliberate co-parent, but all I could wish for in that moment, was why couldn't Mike make a bad parenting choice with me and shut our child up by giving him the damn telescope!
(Disclaimer: Drew is soooo not typically like this. I'm not sure what had gotten into him!?! Too many late nights? Too many hours on the road?)
We loaded into the car, with a couple of brave children courageous enough to speak say, "Is there a chance we could eat before we begin the long drive again?" We pulled over to a nearby picnic area, pulled out our trusty cooler and sat in one of the most beautiful places we have ever "picnicked". Yet no one really spoke, no one enjoyed themselves, and no one basked in the beauty of our location.
If you look at nothing else but where Megan chose to sit, you'll see why this photo speaks a thousand words.
Although I have chosen to share only the "negative parts" of our trip to the Grand Canyon, I know from hearing children speak of it since returning, that it remains one of their top highlights of our recent trip. We made some wonderful memories and had a fabulous time together, but the fact remains, I want to be able to remember the realness of our time together too. I don't want to look back and think traveling with five children in a car for hours was easy and blissful. It isn't and wasn't, but it is the difficult parenting moments, that make the good moments so much better.
The Grand Canyon was beautiful! I wish I could have spent more time in such a wonderful place. I wish I could have sat in a chair overlooking the canyon for hours with a journal in my hand, recording all of my thoughts and feelings. One day Mike and I will return to the Grand Canyon sans children.
(I had no idea Mike took this photo, until I saw it on my computer! Very fitting.)
Our journey home, took us via the Pipe Springs National Monument in Arizona. It was very, very hot, but a nice step back in time to the history of the American Indians and Mormon Pioneers trying to negotiate land, water and rights.
Hours after our ice cream search at the Grand Canyon, we rewarded our children with ice cream at a Indian Reservation gas station before beginning the long drive straight home. If you don't count the few times Joshua had to stop and pee, our non-fast visit to a fast food restaurant, we made it home with relatively few detours and stops.
It was a grand adventure I'm not sure we'll repeat anytime soon.
"Sometimes we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey."
~Dieter F. Uchtdorf