Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon

We arrived at the Grand Canyon right after the sun had set, we knew the canyon would be too dark to see and we had plans to catch the sunrise the next morning anyways. So we headed to our hotel room and enjoyed an evening of bouncing on the bed and watching Chopped.

Sunrise the next morning would be at 6:40am, an easy wake up for the parents of a child named Max. We looked at the map and suggestions from the park newspaper and decided to watch it at Lipan Point, it would be about a 30 minute drive so we would have to get a bit earlier, but we figured the view would be worth it.

We woke up, got dressed, Kyle had to run back in to grab an extra blanket just in case and then we were off. Following a map in an area we had never driven in, in the dark.

We missed our first turn but realized it about 20 seconds later. Once we got our bearings we were off. Slowly the sky was already starting to turn from darkness to light and with each minute my anxiety grew and grew. We were following a tour van that pulled off at Grandview Point and for a moment we considered doing the same but decided that we would surely make it in time, we still had 20 minutes until sunrise and were about 12 minutes from our destination point.

But sunrises can try to trick you. The sky gets lighter and lighter as the earth turns to greet the sun but the actual point where the sun breaks the horizon is what you are really waiting for. I just didn't want to miss it. I chattered away at Kyle about stopping and agonized over the map and clock constantly afraid we would miss the sunrise.

"We are going to miss it..." I would say anxiously every time a minute passed away.
"We still have time, but if you want to stop when is the next viewpoint?"

My nervousness and anxiety was infecting the entire car and soon Kyle was getting nervous even though at the beginning he reassured me that 6:40am was still plenty far away for us to reach it in time.

But we were surrounded by unknowns. We had never been here, didn't know where we were going and although the road was fairly empty, it was curvy and signs constantly warned us to look for animals. It was nerve-wracking all around.

We were getting close to a viewpoint that was halfway between Grandview and Lipan, Moran. I rationalized that surely any viewpoint of the Grand Canyon would be a good one and so with anxiety at its peak, we saw the sign for the Moran and I urged us to take it, to not take the risk of missing the Grand Canyon at sunrise.

It was a beautiful viewpoint, we studied the canyon for the first time in it's early morning purple hued haze. The immensity of the canyon makes it hard to be crisp and detailed from far away. We sat there, bundled up looking down into the canyon and taking turns cuddling Max and taking pictures of it all. We sat there for a good ten minutes before sunrise occurred and when it finally did we watched as streams of light walked down lower and lower into the canyon. As it descended we saw new colors, purples and blues turned red and yellow and we felt grateful for getting to witness it all.

The drive back to get breakfast in our hotel room was curious though. We wondered what Lipan Point would have been like? At Moran there was a portion of the canyon that blocked the majority of the actual sun rising aspect, we saw the effects on the canyon, but missed the actually sun, we were in too shallow of a point. But we couldn't change the choice we had made and we were happy with our experience overall, but still we wondered.

The rest of the morning was spent on a short hike to (I kid you not) Ooh-Ahh Point. The hike descends about a mile and a half into the canyon and the view does in fact inspire oohs and ahhs. After our hike, we packed up once again to finish our road trip back home to Washington. This required us taking that same drive towards Lipan Point and as we drove in broad daylight, the area now familiar, we decided to stop at Lipan point. To see what we had missed.

I am both glad and sad that we did.

We got to Lipan Point and realized immediately that the sunrise would have been incredible there. It was an unavoidable fact. The viewpoint has more panoramic views and we would have been able to actually see the the sun crest over the horizon. We also realized we could have easily made it to Lipan Point had our anxiety not caused us to turn off earlier. It was about 7 minutes away from Moran Point.

I have mulled over this event in my mind many times, I have analyzed and thought about the various aspects and the bigger picture. This story isn't really about seeing the Grand Canyon at sunrise but rather it is about fear causing us to miss out on some of the best of life's experiences.

In my last post, I wrote about learning to trust my body and the experience and process of pregnancy again and my desire to do so is in large part because of this experience at the Grand Canyon. I let fear and anxiety get the best of me and although my viewing of the sunrise was still beautiful, I know that it could have been that much more incredible and affirming. I needed to trust that the sun would rise at 6:40 am. Although the sky was getting bright, the sun wasn't there yet. The experience was still beautiful but making a choice influenced by so much anxiety can leave doubt as part of your memory.

Choosing faith and trust, even when circumstance are beyond your control allows for your memory to be enveloped in peace and comfort. That is what I am striving for in this process of healing. To choose faith and trust, especially when it hard and even when fear exists.

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