Favorite vacation

The other day I took my notebook to school so I could write while the kids were testing. (SH!)

Well, of course it didn’t turn out that way. What I discovered was it was my notebook where I’d recorded two of our vacations. Our favorite ones, as it turned out.

The first was in 2002. We went to the Grand Canyon.

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The dh had wanted to go to the Grand Canyon for years, but every year we didn’t have enough money or we went to see family. We decided during the Christmas of 2001 that we would go. We’d gone to New Orleans the previous year, hadn’t had a lot of fun, so I didn’t hold high hopes, especially since me and the outdoors are not the best of friends.

We left the day after Josh got out of school for the summer. We left at something like 5 AM, stopped in Kerrville for breakfast as the sun was rising in the hill country. The plan was to stop at Carlsbad on the way, go through the caverns, spend the night in the resort there. The dh had planned this all, I was just along for the ride. We drove through miles and miles of Texas, just like the Ernest Tubbs song, saw towns long abandoned (and for good reason.) We got to Carlsbad at 1:30 ish. We checked into the hotel (resort, yeah, right) and went out to the caverns, did the tour and were surprised by people who proclaimed it HUMID, ate the godawful food there, went to see the bats (this was really cool.) We went back to the hotel, played on the water slides, took baths in the very nice tub and hit the sack early, so we could get an early start.

We were astounded that the sun rose so early in New Mexico. By the time we got to Roswell at 6 AM, it was full bright, and all that was open was Albertson’s and WalMart. Got my Roswell souvenirs at WalMart, you bet I did. Ate breakfast at McDonald’s. Drove on through a not-too-pretty part of NM, saw my first reservations as the day progressed, ate lunch at McDonald’s just before the Arizona border. The land was really gorgeous out that way.

Once we crossed the Arizona border, it was like we’d driven into a wind tunnel. The whole way across Arizona, we battled wind. We stopped at the meteor crater, but I balked at spending the money. Of course, I still haven’t lived that down. We got to the Grand Canyon itself at 5 PM their time, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the little village there, complete with Laundromat and grocery store. We checked in, put our stuff in our room (which wasn’t pretty, but was very clean and functional) and headed to the canyon.

All I can say is, wow. The pictures you’ve seen can’t do it justice. If you’ve never been there, you MUST GO. All I could think was, “How can one little river have done so much?” We scoped it out, walking the trails that were very nicely paved, heard languages from all over the world, stopped again and again for the breathtaking view before we went back to the village to eat in the cafeteria (very reasonably priced, too.) I saw some honest-to-God Hot Shots there and was very excited. We went back out to the rim for sundown, then, miracle of miracles, they had a star party. One week a year, a group of amateur astronomers go to the Grand Canyon, and we hit that same week. My dh, also an amateur astronomer (albeit a poor one) was in heaven. The boy and I, while we enjoyed it, were freezing to death in our shorts and t-shirts. We got blankets out of the car and wrapped up in them before the dh finally called it a night.

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We slept like rocks.

We woke at sunrise to see the, well, sunrise, again wrapped in our blankets. We went to breakfast, then back to bed, then back to the rim and walked around to El Tovar. Now, the place where we stayed was on the park property and was very nice, but if you’re going to the Grand Canyon, you want to stay at the El Tovar. See, every time we wanted to go to the rim, we had to drive or take a shuttle. At the El Tovar, you just have to walk out the front door. Even cooler, there was a raven on the edge of the path, “talking” to the people who passed. It was so determined that we understand him!

The best thing about the Grand Canyon was that there was no timetable to keep. The only schedule was to be at the rim for sunrise and sunset, and then be in the parking lot for the star party. That was it. For someone who lives by a timetable, it was glorious.

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While we were there, we scoped out a flat rock that extended into the canyon and that was where we would sit when we weren’t hiking (we didn’t go into the canyon, though. I was a little nervous about that.) It was just the most relaxing place. I was so sad to leave.

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While the Grand Canyon was a relaxing vacation, New York was high energy. I’d debated going to the conference in 2003 way before I knew I was a finalist, and a friend advised against it. She said I’d hate NY.

Boy, was she wrong.

We flew into La Guardia, took a cab into the city, and looked like hicks as we leaned our heads back as far as they could go, mouths open. Wow. We checked into the hotel, and hit the streets as fast as we could. We walked all the way up Fifth Avenue from the park,

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got as far as the Empire State building before turning west, toward the river where the Circle Line tours meet. We walked through Times Square and past to the boats. We’d prepurchased our tickets and were so excited. The tourguide was excellent, pointing out everything, talking about 9/11, just really putting us in NYC. We were still on the boats as the lights came on.

Unfortunately, we didn’t plan how to get back to the hotel once the tour was over, and ended up walking (alone, yes, hello, we’re tourists) through Hell’s Kitchen. GULP. I was so scared.

Except we emerged in Times Square. At night. It was like sunrise. It was the most breathtaking manmade thing I’d ever seen. So energizing. So by the time we got back to the hotel, I couldn’t sleep.

The next morning, I joined the other RWA ladies at the Today Show, only I didn’t know they’d changed the times, so I was an hour late. Met Eileen Rendahl, who had just sold her first novel to Pocket. Now she’s a Rita finalist! Did some RWA stuff while the boys saw the sights.

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Met up with my NJ cousin and did the museums, learned to ride the subway, was very tired with all the walking. Pooped out in the middle of the Egyptian exhibit of the Met – and I love the Egyptian stuff! Did the lit signing, but was so so tired.

Did more RWA stuff, went to the zoo with fellow SARA (who I’d only just met in NY), had a blast. Came home and met up with the Hive Mind, ladies from AOL who I’ve become good friends with. We had so much fun.

Saturday night was the awards, and I was so nervous, but the Hive bought me lovely silver heart jewelry which I still wear when I feel the need, and I enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Sunday, NJ cousin came again and we went downtown, to the WTC, but she wouldn’t go to Ground Zero. Went to Chinatown and Little Italy, fell in love with Battery Park, saw the Washington Square arch (all under construction) before we had to catch the subway back to the hotel, check out and get to the airport. A hectic trip, but one I’d take again tomorrow.

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Trish Milburn said...

NYC was fun. I was a bit anxious about it, but it turned out great. Wasn't scared at all -- except for one hairy cab ride.

Haven't been to the Grand Canyon, but I'd LOVE to go. I'm so in love with the Southwest.

Toni Anderson said...

DH went to the Grand Canyon about 10 years ago with his crazy brother. They climbed down and up before lunch, ending up dripping at the hottest part of the day. They were fit then!! I would love to go :)

And I love NY too. People always said 'you wouldn't like it' but as a tourist I LOVED it :)

Anonymous said...

I drove through Arizona and New Mexico and just loved it. Although the radio reception kept going in and out, due to the mountains.

New York is also great for visiting. I love the restaurants and the style. :)


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