We have officially made it two full weeks of being in an RV together as a party of five plus a dog. Will has the driving down (still won’t let me drive), yet every drive has a surprise for him whether it is steep grades, hairpin turns or wind bursts. I have the food prepping and cooking down, as well as, remembering where we stowed away certain items that are not needed all the time. The kids have become comfortable being in their bunks as we drive and have worked on their napping skills, as well as, helping whenever asked. I even think Eli has taken over being the “reader” in the family as he has finished over four books! Betsie is wrapping up one and I just started on my second. There isn’t as much down time as I was expecting due to the constant moving of locations. And Pawley is simply living his best life having all of us around him nonstop.
I will say at this point most of us have hit the point of too much togetherness seeing as we have been very close since March 11th. We knew this time would come and it doesn’t surprise me as we are at the halfway point. And to be honest, the only time it feels too close is when we are driving long distances or when we are all in one area of the RV (the living room/kitchen/eating area combo) early in the morning before we are really awake or late at night when we are ready for bed and simply tired.
One child was quoted saying “No offense, but when we get home I am spending days away from everyone as we would have been together for the last 126 days! We have had more than enough family time!” For the record, no one wants to end the trip as they love going and seeing new places. And to be honest, if COVID-19 never happened, I don’t think the feelings of being too close would be the same.
Yesterday morning (Wednesday) Betsie, Eli and I woke up at 4:45 am so we could leave by 5:00 am for a sunrise hike to Delicate Arch. It was the first time since I was probably Betsie’s age that I slept in my clothes I was going to wear the next day! I didn’t want to make too much noise in the morning to wake Anna Cate, so this was the best option. The kids also got a new appreciation for Will, as this is the time he is up and working by most days.
We knew there were going to be times on the trip when we would have to divide and conquer as some things Anna Cate would not be able to do, and this was one of those times. Work wise it was best for Will to sit this hike out, so I took the kids. We knew going into the hike it was 1.5 miles up and 1.5 miles down, but didn’t look into anything else.
Sunrise was 5:55 am. We arrived to the parking lot of Delicate Arch at 5:29 am as it was a 30 minute drive from the RV resort to this point. It was dark when we pulled in and within 10 minutes of our start it was getting lighter. At first the path was level and smooth, even up a curvy hill and I said to the kids, “it looks like we could have pushed Anna Cate in her wheelchair on this trail.” Within five minutes we hit the path with steps and Betsie said, “thinking this is where the wheelchair would end”. She was correct and little did we know what was ahead for us.
As soon as we reached the top of these steps, you hit this huge piece of sandstone rock we had to walk up. It felt like it kept getting steeper and steeper as you climbed with no end in sight! Eli was leading us to the top, with Betsie in the middle and I was holding up the rear as I
wanted to take pictures of the kids in front of me was huffing and puffing! This was much harder than running both of the half marathons I have run!!!!!
Once we hit the top of the rock, you think you are there, negative. We had another short walk around a mini cliff to the actually arch. Eli arrived minutes before Betsie and I rounded the corner at 6:03 am. I always say the same thing after a hard climb, the best views come after the hardest climb. This is incredibly true to anything hard you are facing in your life. I can attest by having a daughter with Rett Syndrome, there have been so many pits we have had to climb out of over the years, but the view and what was waiting for us at the top was better than we ever expected.
There were many more people up at the top than I was expecting. We sat on this rock looking at the arch which was much bigger up close than it was from the lower and upper viewpoints from yesterday’s post. As we were taking pictures a family next to us, had their sons walk along the edge to go stand under the arch for a picture. A part of me wanted to stay comfortable sitting down on this rock taking in the sunrise, yet another part of me said you don’t come all this way to not walk under the arch for a picture. Shaky and a bit nervous (me, not the kids) we walked over and had a family from Birmingham, Alabama take our picture. I am so glad I walked over with the kids!
The climb down was slippery in some spots but much easier than I was anticipating. When we were walking up my main focus was getting to the top with lots of prayer asking the Lord to give me strength to keep going that I did not notice the scenery around me until we walked back down. I love the smell of rosemary and as we were walking down I stopped because I smelled rosemary. Wouldn’t you know there was rosemary growing everywhere! It reminded me of when Will and I were hiking in Cinque Terre as we saw rosemary on the hike there as well. I leaned in to take a deep breath as it smelled so good!
Side note here about rosemary: I have taken many retreats with my dear friend’s cousin and I would call her my mentor. Before our trip I wrapped up a 6 week online retreat with her and one of the tools (there are twelve) she teaches on is Imagine. Everything is biblical and followed up with scripture. With the tool of imagine, you look in creation to see where God is and how He is speaking to you. I know this may seem far fetched for some of you to, well imagine, but believe me when I say her teachings have changed my life. It wasn’t until I saw the rosemary growing all around me that I had two thoughts. One, the placement of the plants was at the top of the hardest climb which I prayed all the way up. And two, why is rosemary up here, what are the benefits of rosemary? I know I love the smell and the taste, but there has to be more. Well, thanks to Google, I found rosemary has a range of health benefits and you can look them up; however, there is one I want to highlight. According to research outlined in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, the main aroma from rosemary can improve a person’s concentration, performance, speed and accuracy, and to a lesser extent, their mood (emphasis in bold is mine). On my way up at the point of where the rosemary was I felt my best shortly passing it as I remember thinking to myself, I feel great right now. It was not until my way down that I saw the rosemary bushes and started contemplating things on a deeper level. The aroma of rosemary helped me up without me even knowing it, and after I breathed it in on the way down I felt so much calmer. I know that plant was not there by accident.
As we were coming down you could feel the warmth of the sun on our backs and I said to Betsie, “I cannot imagine doing that hike walking directly into the sun”. We were back to the car by 7:15 am and back to the RV by 8:00 with breakfast waiting for us! As I was eating breakfast I read the pamphlet about Arches and noticed for the Delicate Arch Trail it said difficult trail, elevation gain of 480 feet, exposure to heights, no shade, take at least one quart of water per person. Well, part of me is glad I read it after the hike, and part of me would have liked to have been a little prepared for what we were in store for! Within 40 minutes we were packed up and rolling out to our next stop.
After dropping off the rental car, we had a five and a half hour driver to Flagstaff, Arizona where we were picking up another rental car for our time at the Grand Canyon. It was a long desert drive making one antsy to get out of the RV as the terrain wasn’t as picturesque. We only took a few pit stops for Will to hop on his computer. The kids slept the majority of the way as they were tired from our early morning adventure.
We arrived to Flagstaff shortly after 3:00 pm and gained an hour back as now we are on Pacific Mountain time. Once we picked up the rental car, we had a short drive to our RV Resort in Williams, Arizona. It’s adorable and within walking distance to the town of Williams. Will and I both agreed, we were very thankful we did not take any out of the way excursions today to add extra time to our drive as it was relaxing to get to a site early. We were going to stop at the Four Corners, but it being an hour out of the way to simply see a marker in the ground that said Four Corners we opted out.
The cell reception on our drive yesterday was the worst of all our drives, making my post yesterday much later than I had anticipated. I had to finish the majority of it when we arrived, as Betsie made turkey burgers for us to enjoy for dinner with a succotash/edamame blend for a side and a salad. Right before dinner Will and I took Anna Cate for a walk around to stretch our legs and to take in the clean air. The weather was breezy and 82 with 17% humidity. As we were walking around, we noticed literally straight across from us there is a brewery! I don’t know how we didn’t see it when we pulled in as it is that close. Will and I decided to enjoy a much needed one hour date after dinner seeing as we could see the RV from the brewery and the kids were locked in. It was a very nice unexpected surprise!
Showers were done and everyone was out like a light by 10:30 pm to get a good night’s sleep before a day of exploring the Grand Canyon and the town of Williams.