I'm joking, of course. We arrived home around 6:30 on Wednesday. "Highland Drive looks so different!" Owen exclaimed as we turned into our pine-shaded driveway. He was right. It was hard to believe, but we had been gone for 16 days. Amazing.
I'm not sure I've sorted through everything yet. There is much to write and many more thoughts to think before I can get some perspective on the whole matter. I just tell people I've been all over Arizona and New Mexico, and I keep quiet about the things I learned about Ellie, Owen, Jonah-Bear, Jenny and myself. (I'm still trying to figure those things out.)
Anyway, I wanted to post some more pictures from our trip. I'll focus on my friends the Van Eyks, and our trip to Grand Canyon.
On Sunday, John took the kids and me to Canyon de Chelly. This canyon is famous for two things: first, it was where Owen had his meltdown of the trip. It started when we were doing the very stressful activity of having our family picture taken. When Owen didn't smile for the picture, I threatened to take away a promised candy. He screamed, he cried, he even threatened to throw himself over the edge of the canyon. It really ruined the day for me. We left him in the car to see the spectacular view of Spider Rock (left). It's the most spectacular vista in the canyon. I found it interesting, because it doesn't look like a spider at all. Its name comes from its resemblance to the weaver's shuttle used by the Navajo women. The Navajo believe that their people were born in Canyon de Chelly (two cliff dwellings predate the Navajo). It was here that the Spider Goddess gave mankind the shuttle and inaugurated the practice of weaving.
John and Kellie (along with Brooke and Baby Josie) were our hosts on The Rez for five nights. After our last night, we drove to Albuquerque and picked Jenny up at the airport, returning through Gallup, New Mexico, where they got to meet Jenny for dinner, and where we got this picture. My first thought when I see this is--man, there are a lot of kids! How did we handle all of them? I'm not sure why Jonah and Owen look so crazy in this picture. I'll assume it's because of all the grape juice they drank at Kellie's house. I regret that I didn't get a good shot of Baby Josie, although you can see by the picture that Ellie and Brooke had become good buddies. We ate at Earl's, a local Gallup diner which was chock full of Native Americans selling jewelry. There were tables outside where you could browse, and if that weren't enough, Navajo young and old circled among the tables as we ate, offering to sell us rings, necklaces, belts, and all manner of brikabrak.
Our first stop with Jenny aboard was Grand Canyon. We camped at Desert View, where we took in the sunset (right). We liked Desert View because it was a little off the tourist track (the roads from the entrance to Mather Point were really clogged). It also helped that the lower elevation kept us from freezing overnight. It was quite cool when we awoke, and we kept the kids bundled all morning.
Later, after a tip from a ranger, we returned to the Rim Trail and took the kids a short way (about 1/4 mile) down the Bright Angel Trail, which Jenny and I have taken before to the bottom of the canyon. The kids cruised down with little trouble. Jonah gave us heart attacks every time he got close to the edge of the trail. We also saw two bighorn sheep grazing on a ledge just below the trail. The way up, however, was predictibly tough. Jonah only made it about 100 yards before holding up his arms and saying, "Hold me, Mama," a request which Jenny never seems to be able to refuse. Owen made it about 1/2 way back out of the canyon (a pretty steep climb) before he told us: "I am completely out of energy!"
I'm happy to report that we made it out of the canyon safely. We had a great time--although Jenny made the kids and me swear that we would return to backpack to the bottom together. She really hated missing out on the hiking/backpacking experience.