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A Taste of the Desert Day 6

sunny 94 °F
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Upon waking, T looks at me and murmurs, “I love waking up in your arms.” The words are bittersweet as today we travel to our last stop on this trip, the Grand Canyon. We both feel the sadness that comes with the nearing end of a great thing and are doing our best to stretch out every remaining moment. We indulge in a hot shower after enduring a swarm of nats while breaking the tent down and packing up our gear. T's response to the nat swarm: “Staying here is not a good idea.” So off we go, taking a short cut via Cottonwood Canyon road, a dirt road that takes us through the Grand Escalante.

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Though it is tough on our little putt-putt, the short cut reduces about 1/3 of the driving and affords some beautiful views along the way; we pull over to take in the panorama and collect a stone. Tom still takes the time to point out every cactus flower and desert lizard that jets across our path. Seeing Tom marvel at the landscape and native animals compounds my enjoyment of the experience, and, as I am thinking this, T turns to me and says: “I love doing the things I love with someone I love.” Me too.

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We reach Mather Camp Ground after six hours of driving the winding roads up and down and up again. We stop at the charming general store for supplies but find it is geared towards day trippers so a bit lacking in essentials. We hike over to the enormous and fluorescent grocery store to stock up on food. While there, I point out a massive sign with “eat a rainbow everyday” scrawled across it in bright colors hanging from the ceiling. T & I giggle over this, finding it way more funny in our low glucose level state then we normally would. T became a philosopher while checking out, responding to the clerk's polite “Have you found everything you’re looking for?” with a whimsical “Not in life....”

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While we are feeling sluggish, we can't help ourselves and climb up the stairwell of the tall Watchtower at Desert View with the rest of the tourists for a spectacular first sighting of the Grand canyon. It was so vast and many layered that it looked as though it were a painting rather than the real thing...so majestic in magnitude and grace that I felt overwhelmed looking into its deep chasm.

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Finally, we check in with the ranger and reach out tent site. Our section is aptly named 'Juniper Loop' and Tom and I joke about making juniper moon shine while setting up for the night. As soon as the tent poles are secured we scoot into the tent and spend some time cuddling and napping. We emerge a few hours later, in the nearly pitch dark, and Tom quickly makes a cook fire. We nom on some (humane) ham & cheese sandwiches, salad and popcorn then watch the embers die. While back in the tent, we listen to the animal sounds of the nocturnal world and I break out in goose bumps. I beg Tom to whisper ghost stories to me and he relents, relaying spooky bits from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark until we fall asleep in each other’s arms, warm & cozy. Today was so full of grandness.

Posted by Yonderlust 20:22 Archived in USA Tagged canyon arizona grand south west road camping journey campfire cottonwood story escalante telling

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