I recently wrote about a trip my wife, daughter and I took to New York City. As I mentioned in that column, I found New York to be very … big. It’s tall. And loud. And lots of fun.
So you can imagine that my next trip was quite different. I went to Arizona with my son and father. I can tell you that Arizona is also very big. But not tall. But a different kind of lots of fun.
We traveled to Arizona for a conference that my father and son were attending. My father is a retired herpetologist, and my son is just getting started on his career as a herpetologist, and this conference was all about turtles. People often ask me why my father and son are in this business but I am not. The answer is simple: I am, kind of. I followed a different career pursuit after college – first journalism and then nonprofits – and found my work passion there. But I have always had a love of nature, and I have been fortunate to be able to continue taking part in fun field trips with my father and then my son (and now the three of us) as a fantastically rewarding hobby.
This was our second trip to Arizona as a trio, and we were excited to return to the same place we had been on the previous trip, and to explore some new ones. Among my observations: Arizona is hot. But Arizona is also cold. We hiked in 110+ degree weather, and in weather that was 55 and rainy. Both took some adjusting to. I have to say I am far better suited for the hot than the cold. When we returned from our chilly, rainy hike, I was shivering cold. I was not expecting that in August in Arizona.
Hiking at high altitudes is a different experience. I live on the coast, so our altitude is, like, 20 feet. When we were on a couple of different mountains at 7,000 or 8,000 feet, all of us sandlappers found us finding the walking WAY tougher than we were used to. My dad and I both started feeling a little out of shape and self conscious as we were sucking wind at the peak we were hiking. We both felt better when we saw my 19-year-old son who is in excellent shape also finding himself having to adjust to the altitude as well. I truly have no idea how the Denver Broncos ever lose at home.
We drove one day from Tucson to Flagstaff, and I can safely say that for a good three hour stretch, there is possible the most inhospitable stretch of land I have ever seen. It’s beautiful as can be. But holy cow when you are cruising along and it’s 110 and there is nothing but cactuses and dirt as far as you can see, it truly makes you wonder how in the world cities every got established there.
New York City and Arizona are big, but the Grand Canyon is REALLY big. It’s the second time I have been there, but the first time for my son. It was an amazing treat to see him walk up to a ridge for the first time and see it, and just say, “Wow…” We stood and just looked for I don’t how long. And it was worth every second.
That said, when you do go to the Grand Canyon, by all means take pictures. Capture that moment.
We sure did. But please. I am begging you – don’t live stream it. Don’t try and get Instagram posed pictures. It’s one of the most beautiful things nature has ever produced. Enjoy it. Soak it in. Let it be for you.
While there, we were fortunate to find a lot of critters we were hoping to see – rattlesnakes, coral snakes, gila monsters, scorpions, tarantulas, etc. I know that what we find to be a delightful vacation seems like a horror movie to many. But trust me – if you take the time to learn about some of these things, you, too, can really learn to appreciate the amazing beauty that abounds in nature.
I don’t know where my next trip will be, or which combination of family it will be with. That’s part of the fun of adventure. We often look for new adventures that just present themselves, and we figure out who would most enjoy it. And that’s what I recommend you do. Go find an adventure. Explore everything. And don’t worry about live streaming it. That trip is for you.
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