The Majestic, The Breathtaking…The Grand Canyon

On our second to last day on the road, we headed west and then north from Santa Fe to the Grand Canyon. We drove through most of the day and early afternoon, finally embarking on a quiet and winding back road that wove through rural northern Arizona, chasing the sinking sun that slowly melted beyond the dark outlines of the canyons.

At 6:30 p.m., the Mather Campground on the South Rim was already enveloped in darkness, so we set up our tent and fire by lamplight. This time around, there were no gates to be locked; the Grand Canyon is open 24/7/365, with people coming and going at all hours of the day and night.  A minute away from our campsite there was a short road that led to a huge general/grocery store and a trading post shop and cafe.

Our campfire was wildly successful and burned late into the night. We drank wine and beer and made s’mores with peppermint patties for chocolate. Despite the roaring flames from the fire, when we looked up into the sky, there were more stars than we thought ever existed and each one shone brighter than the next. Several carloads of new campers arrived after us, a comforting contrast to the desolate emptiness of Lake Norman campground in North Carolina.

On Sunday morning, we packed up our site early and drove a few minutes toward one of the overlooks to the canyons. The photos simply don’t do the landscape justice, but they give you an idea of just how vast and beautiful the Grand Canyon truly is:

We left the Grand Canyon with a sense of awe, feeling blessed for experiencing something so exceedingly beautiful. When you see a part of the Earth, a part of nature, that literally takes your breath, you feel small yet inspired at the same time: small for being so close to something so vast and immense; inspired to become as beautiful as what you’ve seen.

Our journey continued on.

Categories: Camping, Road Trip | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Camp Night

Yesterday, we headed southwest from Virginia to North Carolina.  We had booked a $20 campsite at Lake Norman State Park, about 40 miles north of Charlotte, and after a solid seven hours of driving, we were ready to make camp.


We headed off I-40 into the long and lonely back roads of Troutman, NC in the direction of Lake Norman.  I thought it was pretty creepy but wanted to make the best of our camp night. We agreed that we we wanted an early night since we were hoping to be on the road by 6:00 a.m. to get an early start on the drive to Tennessee.

When I had booked the reservation last week, I was told that the campground entrance gate closed at 8:00 p.m., so all campers had to be in the park at that time in order to camp the night of their reservation. What they weren’t so clear about was that the entrance is also the exit, which means that at 8 o’clock on the dot, the park ranger literally locks the entrance gate until 8:00 a.m. the next day.  Needless to say, this stifled our morning driving plans. And if I had a heart attack, I’d likely have to wait it out until morning. Nevertheless, we got to our site, bought three bundles of firewood and settled in for the night.

By the time we found our site, it was completely dark, so Austin and I set up the tent with a headlamp and a flashlight.  Then we moved on to starting a camp fire, which turned into a thirty-minute ordeal of blowing on quick-dying embers and getting excited every time a small flame appeared.  We gave up after we realized the wood wasn’t completely dry and the air was so still that it was probably killing any chance of a fire.

Then the real fun started.

We crawled into the tent after combating hundreds of Daddy Long Leg spiders just waiting until our tent flap opened up so they could race inside and torture me.  I even had a minor panic attack after one got in, but thankfully Austin doesn’t have any irrational fears so that fun only lasted a few minutes.

Once we turned off the lantern, I could hear Austin start to breathe deeply, falling into a peaceful sleep.  On the other side, I lay with my eyes wide open, jumping at every sound I heard (which was EVERYTHING).  There was no breeze so the tiniest leaf or acorn falling from the trees landed on the ground with a loud CRACK.  So many things were falling, that it started to sound like footsteps all around the campsite.  At least a dozen times during the night, I was convinced that an axe murderer had crept into our camp and was circling our tent waiting to kill me.

Around 12:45 a.m., we heard loud police or fire sirens, probably a good distance from the park grounds but loud enough to sound like the forest was on fire.  Then the cracking noises of the leaves began to sound like fire, and I thought for sure we were all goners because the park ranger locked us in for the night.  Shortly after the sirens died away, Austin woke up and told me he couldn’t sleep either and then we both heard what we’re almost positive was a speedboat racing back and forth across the lake.


The restless sleep, coupled with some crazy-ass dreams, left me wide-awake at 7:00 a.m. ready to hit the road.  So we packed up and left the park at quarter after 8, happy to know that a hotel was in our future for tonight.


We just arrived in Nashville, the City of Music, and are about to do some exploring and eating. Updates to follow.

Peace & Love.


Categories: Camping, Road Trip | Tags: , , | 3 Comments