Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ben's Take: A Mini-Moon to Remember (Plus, a video!)

95 degree heat.  Bone dry.  The cracked earth would sweat lava if it could, but no such reprieve is granted.  It simply bakes.

Suddenly a whipping of air.  Sure it’s hot air, but the stirring breeze is almost enough to make the nearby cactus forget its scorching reality…almost.

The air is still again, but the reverberation from the Mustang’s V8 can still be heard.  The engine’s growl rolls over the flat land like rumbling thunder.

Inside the vehicle are newlyweds.  Smiling.  Sunglasses.  Top down.  The road belongs to them.  Their destination may be far, but they will arrive soon for they are but a blur.

At least that’s what things WOULD have been like had I sprung for the upgrade.  Instead I decided to clutch my wallet and settle for the standard full size.  Behold the beast of a vehicle Chrysler has dubbed “The 200”.  A 2.4 liter 4 cylinder MONSTER that sports a jaw dropping 173 horsepower.

Of course I am being facetious.  The 200 is a whelp.  A kitten.  Actually, kittens have made me bleed before so maybe a declawed and toothless kitten on tranquilizers.  Jewel and I loaded up into the smallest “roomy interior” I’ve ever seen and headed toward Route 180.  It’s a mostly straight highway with a few steep, curvy hills along the way.  It wasn’t long before the whine emitted by the 200 is it struggled to maintain 80 mph began to annoy me as Priuses blew past us.

Amidst my regrets for not upgrading to something sportier I tried to think back to the first time Jewel mentioned her desire to visit the Grand Canyon.  It had been at least three or four years since she expressed her desire to see the apparent number one travel destination in America.  It wasn’t until we started searching for a suitable location within the country for a “Mini-moon”  that we really considered doing our trip to the canyon this year.  Jewel was pretty discouraged when she found out her doctors had forbidden travel outside of the country for at least a year after her transplant.  Our real honeymoon to Greece would have to wait.

Although the trip was a consolation prize at best, we were determined to make the most of it.  I couldn’t tell you how long the drive was from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, but I can assure you I had no interest in driving any further along the hypnotically boring road anymore, especially in that toy of a car.

The park and welcome center are placed strategically.  Not once do you actually get to see the canyon itself until you get out of your car and walk about a quarter mile along a paved trail.  Needless to say it was quite the site.  I won’t wax poetic trying to describe how amazing it was; poets have been trying (and failing) since forever.  It felt like there was a giant canvas that we were looking at and at any second it was going to be taken away to reveal the real canyon.  But it never did.  The people who say that every American should see it at some point are spot-on.

During our visit to the canyon, we were granted a secluded camp site and pitched our tent with relative ease.  We roasted a cliché dinner of hotdogs and s’mores for dinner.  We slept on rocks, listened to coyotes howl in the distance.  Jewel cried in the morning when I wouldn’t escort her to the bathroom.  She was afraid the ravens blocking her way would “peck her eyes out.”

In all honesty, I don’t remember much about our trip to Arizona.  I’m known for this, not remembering things.  But I do remember the first time Jewel took in the canyon and all its glory, and how excited she was to mentally check this off her bucket list of National Park visitations.  I remember the feeling of getting to experience it with her—her first visit to the Grand Canyon and her first trip as Mr. and Mrs. Ashman, as our own little family.  I remember hoping that every trip we take from now on will be just as special.

**P.S. Jewel is trying to start a new tradition for our family of recording everything we do.  Enjoy our first Ashman Home Video of our first vacation as married folks.**

Arizona Mini-Moon, Aug. 2013 from Jewel Edwards-Ashman on Vimeo.