Do you have a bucket list? You know, that infamous list of things you want to do or experience, people you want to meet, or places you want to go before you die? It’s sort of morbid I guess (since in reality it’s about what you may or may not be fortunate enough to squeeze into your short lifetime before one day you roll over and croak), but I’ve kept a bucket list since I was a kid. Mine is filled with stuff like “write a book,” “marry the girl of my dreams” (check!), “visit all 7 of the world’s continents,” “go skydiving,” and “see all 30 of the NBA teams play in person” (I only have 9 teams left to go!)
However, having always been an avid travel-seeker and hopeless wander-luster (is that even a word?), the majority of my bucket list is dominated by destinations I want to travel to and experience one day. I’ve been so blessed to have already checked things off the list such as: “go on a wildlife safari in Africa,” “jump off of waterfalls in Hawaii,” or “ride the red double-decker bus in London.” However, there’s always been one dream destination on my bucket list that is so much closer to my home on the west coast than any of the others, and that is simply: “See the Grand Canyon.”
For some reason I went 30 years of my life without ever visiting the blessed state of Arizona (which is sort of odd, considering that I’ve been to many of the U.S. states that are difficult for most people to visit in their lifetime: ones like Alaska, Hawaii, and even Delaware for heaven’s sake!) The Grand Canyon has always been one of those natural wonders that I find myself staring at and drooling over in photos and films that I’ve always been dying to behold in person with the naked eye, but never thus far had found a way to accomplish, for one reason or another.
Which is why I flipped out when Sarah and I were driving up the freeway about a month ago and my wife so thoughtfully, spontaneously, and out of nowhere, said, “Hey, let’s go to the Grand Canyon for your birthday!!!” I almost swerved off of the road. Within a week, my expert-travel-planner wife had us a four-day trip booked to experience the Grand Canyon together over my 31st Birthday.
So, after leaving the kiddos behind with their heroic grandparents, we hopped on a southbound airplane. We flew into Flagstaff (which was a shockingly-pleasant little Arizona town) where we quickly feasted on the nearest Chic-Fil-A before driving about an hour or so up to the Southern Rim of the canyon. We first arrived at The Grand Canyon during the beginning of sunset, where we were promptly greeted by some ginormous local Elk in the visitor parking lot. I went right up to them to take pictures, but my wife was freaked out by their large size (plus, she has always had an irrational fear of deer…long story).
When we first walked up to the canyon viewpoint, Mather Point, it literally took our breath away. It’s hard to express in words or photographs just how overwhelmingly BIG the canyon is. The pinks and purples of the sunset began to take over the massive walls of red rock as far as the eye can see, spread out high above the base of the canyon way down below it (which you can’t help but for a moment imagine how long it would take to travel through the air if you were to accidentally slip and fall before…finally…SPLAT on the bottom). Wow! What a sight to behold. We happily joined the countless tourists in snapping photos, running (carefully) to the next corner to try to get a better view, and just hugging each other and staring into the magnificent hugeness that is The Grand Canyon, AZ. I can definitely say it is well worth the price of admission (and a heads up, they do charge for vehicles to enter the park—it was about $36 for a one-week pass).
The next few days were filled with Sarah and I driving around to as many viewpoints as we could within a 60-mile-radius, sipping cheap wine to gorgeous sunsets, trying to get the wifi to work in our nearby hotel room, singing along to random Arizona radio station songs in our tiny rental car, and eating lots and lots of food (because that’s what we do when we travel; ok, that’s what we do all the time I guess).
Thank you to my lovely wife for giving me this incredible birthday gift, in which I was able to explore new unseen places, check off a bucket list item, and enjoy the best part of all: quality time with the girl I love.
What’s on your bucket list? How can you help someone you love check off one of the items on their list?