I appreciate all the counselor does; his amazing work ethic, his determination to stay healthy, his unconditional love for family, God and country, but one thing I could with a little less of is the counselor’s unwavering agenda whenever we go on vacation.
Vacation to me means rest, lounge, veg out! An even better vacation means staying up late, sleeping in, eating breakfast and showering around noontime. It means plenty of gossip cable shows and way too much Keeping up with the Kardashians.
But for the counselor, there’s usually a list of things to accomplish; a folded-up map of local attractions and a random piece of scratch paper with his handwritten notes, directing a turn-off down some dirt road to some foreseen part of American he wants to find.
You know men! They want to conquer, achieve, climb higher and that’s exactly what he wants to do . . . with all 6 of us at his side.
O.K., maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but after 15 years of marriage I’ve become accustomed to the counselor’s way of thinking so now we piggyback on days. I have a day to lounge at the park under the shade of a giant tree while the kids run back and forth from the play ground. I share sliced apples from the local farmer’s market and later pick up some Mexican food. We eat chips and salsa at our leisure and dream of Dairy Queen Blizzards on the way back to the hotel because we know the next day the counselor will take us to the jungles of the great unknown while we eat smashed peanut butter and honey sandwiches and pray to make it back alive.
My first example –
on the Navajo Reservation.
I know I’m in trouble when before we even leave, the counselor’s minimizing the time it will take to drive there, let alone the distance of the dirt road.
“It’s only about an hour from here,” he’ll say. I think of what snacks I need to pack and how many videos I need to grab for the portable DVD player.
“It’s only a six mile drive on dirt road once we turn off the highway,” he might say and he has the smile of a kid waiting to pitch his first baseball game.
Yes, we are in for an adventure.
So, off we all go, driving further and further from town, from the mall with the great kids play area, away from the taco shop and the comfort of our hotel jacuzzi. Now we are on the counselor’s vacation.
It starts to rain and we drive through puddles of red mud. The counselor’s directions eventually turn to landmarks; a skeleton tree that looks like its pointing west, a church before an old barn when finally we have to stop. It appears we’ve run into some water; more like the
Little Colorado River.
“Should we cross it,” he asks unfolding his map and I take my hand in his, focusing our attention back at the car full of children.
So, we turn around and wouldn’t you know it, we find the turn off to his destination -
Grand Falls - a waterfall running only during the wet summer monsoon season or in the spring when the snow melts, higher then Niagara Falls, sometimes known as marble falls or chocolate falls.
We are one of two cars at the top of the falls and we pull over in the dirt to park. All the kids pile out, running toward the sound of the waterfall and there we are – 200 feet above
Grand Falls – with nothing between us
but dirt and cliff.
That’s a big drop off. I pick up
and hold her tightly in my arms.
Yes, it’s beautiful and for a moment I take it all in; the landscape, the sounds and the beauty when Mayer decides to look for rocks to throw over the cliff. Yes, they all want to scamper around looking for rocks to throw.
This isn’t the
with warning signs and fences and guard rails.
No, this has none of that.
The light rain we experienced earlier starts coming down a bit more and we make our way over to a little lookout shelter.
Everyone is close and the eminent signs of danger seem a bit relaxed, but before long Mayer wants to take off his shoe because he has a rock in it and Reef is upset his shirt is getting wet. Payson wants to run back to the truck for something to eat and the counselor is ready to explore a bit more.
What’s a girl to do when every kid wants to run a different direction and a 200 foot cliff is just steps away?
“Back to the car,” I say to the kids “And you have five minutes,” I direct to the counselor.
(photo taken near the car)
Back at the car, I turn Tom and Jerry on the DVD player and hand out granola bars. Such a beautiful sight of nature, seen for just a few minutes but from the car, we can still hear the water fall. I watch as the counselor explores a bit more, trying to take the perfect picture.
I couldn’t watch. I just prayed he made it back to us safely.
What is it about becoming a mother and your instincts become aware of every possible thing that could go wrong. Something as innocent as a small town parade and your eyes are scanning the crowd making sure a child doesn’t run in front of the clown car driving around. Yes, I was in that mode – mother bear mode, protective mode. When I finally turned around, the counselor was making his way back to the car.
The drive back to town was a bit more relaxing. We even stopped to take a few photos of the rain clouds.
Now that's more like it. No cliffs!
Red Mountain near the Grand Canyon (not to worry, it's just a hiking trail).
P.S. Missed you guys!