Last week, Kay and I took our summer vacation. We wedged a week away between our various work commitments. It was both wonderful and terrible. And during more than one of our long drives, I contemplated my choice as to which I'll hold onto – the good or the bad.
Months earlier, Kay'd asked if we could go somewhere to experience a total eclipse. This doesn’t happen everyday (I’d never seen one) so, sure. Before going further, I want to tell you that the eclipse was incredible. I didn’t know what to expect – and really didn’t expect much – but it was beyond anything I have witnessed in a long, long time. I’m so glad Kay suggested it. However…
This inconveniently scheduled astronomical phenomenon fell on a Monday, roughly midway between the two Fridays that contained our available time. So we had bags of time to enjoy Irish Fest and Ren Faire over the weekend, then had to race to cover the rest. Still, having years of experience planning itineraries, I trusted this could be done. I was mistaken.
Among that basic human needs are water, food, sleep, and shelter, all of which were challenged this last week. The biggest obstacle, which led to other challenges, is that Google maps fibbed (Kay’s word) about travel times. Every leg of the journey took longer than anticipated. This led to constantly running late. We cut two National Parks from our itinerary and still had minimal time to tour. Every night was a late night, with us arriving at the motel or camp long after dark. (Setting up a tent in the dark is not particularly fun but it can be done.) The one night we were doing well time-wise, we stopped for dinner – fast food, but at least we were out of the car. Then we got to town and couldn’t find the motel through all the construction. No one answered our repeated calls to the motel. When we finally found it, the office was closed and dark.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. We couldn’t see the eclipse through the eclipse glasses NASA said were safe. ...We got to spend only 45 minutes at Arches National Park because the park was closing early for construction. ...The night we camped at Mesa Verde, the wind was so strong it alternately lifted legs and head, leaving us sleep deprived the next day. ... We almost pulled a Wild Hogs by running out of gas in the middle of nowhere (at night). ... We didn’t have time to stop and eat..Good thing I packed car snacks as we practically lived on them. (I came home a pound lighter than I left.) ... Trying to keep my electrolytes balanced, I ate pinches of my Celtic sea salt, but at the Grand Canyon I could tell I needed more. Without going into detail, I’ll say that James Bond’s use of salt to remove poison from his system works. ... Tired, tired, tired...
During my driving shifts, exhausted, it was too easy to dwell on the bad stuff. So I rehearsed the good stuff, like:
- The clouds clearing just before the eclipse. In spite of surprising traffic in eastern Nebraska, we got far enough to witness the full eclipse.
- Walking through alpine tundra, and snow (in August), at Rocky Mountain Nation Park and ...
- Driving above the tree line and even the soaring hawks.
- Spotting three moose, for a total of five animals.
- Elk at Grand Canyon NP (“There are babies! They have spots! I though that was only a deer thing.”). Also, a turkey vulture.
- Mule deer, I don’t remember where.
- Kay visited four new states.
- Watching from a distance as she took pictures at the Grand Canyon.
- Re-experiencing what I treasure about the high desert.
- Learning that Butch Cassidy’s Hideout has Wi-Fi.
- Seeing Arches NP during the golden hour.
- Watching distant western lightning while we drove.
- Tsebetai (Shiprock) seen from Mesa Verde.
- Scanning cliffs for ancient houses.
- Three days at fairs.
- Turtles in the pond at Ren Faire.
- Getting home a day early to recuperate.
- Spending time together with my best girl while driving.
I know that there’s nothing better for them but to enjoy themselves and do what’s good while they live. Moreover, this is the gift of God: that all people should eat, drink, and enjoy the results of their hard work. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 CEB