Saturday, March 29, 2014

to see something grand

"splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty fill His sanctuary." ~ psalm 96:6
when i was 12 my parents decided it was high time for our family to go gaze at the grand canyon.

we lived in cleveland, ohio, and since money wasn’t growing on trees in our yard, the plan was, we would use our christmas break and we would drive --- from cleveland to the grand canyon. 2000 miles across the country. and because it wasn’t exciting enough for six of us to travel all those miles together in one van, my grandparents were invited to join our expedition.

1 van. 8 people. 2000 miles.

now in order for you to get the full picture, it's important to also explain our seating issues. though my dad's van was great for his painting business, it was a little lacking for his passengers. you see, the van only had two seats: driver and front passenger. but dad, being the ever-resourceful guy that he is, figured out a way to attach two aluminum lawn chairs inside the van for grandma and grandpa's seating pleasure. the children?  well, we, in  typical 1970-something fashion, were left to roll around like a quartet of paint cans in the empty shell of the van's back.

and so on a snowy, december day, our gray van holding 8 people, all their luggage, and a whole bunch of high expectations, left ohio and headed for sunny arizona.  and it was good for a little while.  we didn’t have iphones or ipads or itouches or i-anythings, but somehow we survived. somehow in the back of that van, my siblings and i kept ourselves occupied for several days.  i'm not certain what exactly my brother and sisters did,  but i read through every nancy drew mystery i had been able to stuff into my suitcase. in fact, i remember reading the last one slowly, afraid i'd have to make the return trip home without the escape of my reading material.

i'm sure we also did our share of antagonizing my parents with comments like, "i'm hungry" and "she's touching me" and "when are we going to be there?" i don't exactly remember my dad threatening to pull over and spank any of us, but i'm pretty certain that scenario must have occurred. in fact, i'm positive.

one of the most vivid memories from that journey is my grandmother. you see, every time we’d go around a little bend or curve in the road, grandma and grandpa, in their aluminum chairs, would sway slightly left or slightly right. for grandma this was on par with riding a roller coaster and she reacted in like fashion giving a big "whoo-hoo!" though grandma might have enjoyed her theme park experience in  the back of our van, i'm sure she and grandpa were doubting their decision to tag along by the time we crossed into kentucky.

add to grandmother's whoo-hoos, my own mother's, "would you look at THAT, kids!" and the memory is pretty much complete. though i get it now, i didn't understand her enthusiasm back then. every 10 minutes or so, my excited mom would yell out, “look kids, look. would you just look at THAT!” and we’d all clamor out from the depths of the van only to just miss that amazing wildflower display roadside or a piece of texas tumbleweed rolling down the highway.

and this went on hour after hour, day after day, and somewhere around oklahoma, i remember saying to my almost-teenage self .... "how in the world did i get here?”


that was 33 years ago.

this past week, my husband and i took our own kids to go gaze at the grand canyon. we too, thought it "high time" for this adventure.

assuredly, our travel looked a little different. we all had, not only seats on our 747, but also a variety of apple products in hand to occupy us for our 2 and 1/2 hour flight. gone were the aluminum lawn chairs, gone were the nancy drew mysteries, gone were the long hours of a long road trip.

and though travel and time and even i have changed, i found myself asking that same question: "how in the world did i get here?"

except this time it wasn't about the circumstances of my travel, but it was me watching my kids gaze into the canyon with mouths open and eyes wide in disbelief. this time it wasn't me escaping into my mystery book, but me enjoying my kids take in the mystery and grandeur and wonder of this great canyon.

for as i thrilled as i was to see the grand canyon again, i was even more thrilled as a mother to witness my kids seeing it for their first time.

and though i am happy our travel didn't require lawn chairs or long hours, i am thankful, even now, for that experience my parents gave us 30 some years ago.

regardless of how we travel, regardless of the time, regardless of the trip, it is always a gift to go see something grand and to experience some adventure.

can't pass up an opportunity to have a little extra fun ...

we used sedona as our home base. loved sedona and the red rock!

emily, getting her sedona on.
we celebrated sarah's 14th birthday with a surprise helicopter ride! wow. just wow.

my trio of photographers! we've all got the photography bug.

3 sisters
the adventurers! what a tribe.
ATV-ing in the desert

climbing camelback mountain -- to the tip top!
mountain climber connor
back to phoenix for a little RandR after all that adventure.
lazy river. lazy mama!

made a shutterfly book on the way home ... they sent the link to my blog.  slightly obsessed over here with shutterfly books!

Create your own custom photo books at

1 comment:

Jane Klingenberg said...

Love love love seeing these pix ... and even more, reading about your childhood memories from your family's "Great Adventure".

Still praying! :)

Hugs from MI!

Jane Klingenberg