more golden things

Oh, 2020. Although it feels like 17 months ago now that the calendar changed, I remember how much hope you held. And now? Well, now I think you’re kind of a jerk. And it’s only June.

In hindsight, how many times have we heard ‘don’t get your hopes up.’ And how many times do we do exactly the opposite because, things! They hold such promise! And I turned 40 at the Grand Canyon! And Connor had a golden birthday! And my dad turned 70! And Connor finished middle school! And Alyssa graduated from college! And we were going on trips!

And that’s where that word that rhymes with zovonatirus broke everything. Because we had a grand family trip planned (after the other trip CJ and I had to cancel) to one of my very favorite places in all of the entire universe (which my familiarity of travel-wise is fairly small, but still) … Colorado. We were planning on leaving this coming Monday.

And while it is really, really difficult to put my hopes back down about a hot air balloon ride in the middle of Rocky Mountain country (wut?!), there is still cause for celebration. And this is where I’ll peel my temper tantrum-throwing body off the floor to share something really sweet.

These two? They’ve been married for 50 years. 5.0. Fifty. Weren’t they adorable? That was February 14, 1970. The day my dad proposed. And for the record, my mom was still in high school.

Now, I can’t sit here and pretend I know the secret to a staying power like theirs because … I’ll just say that I will likely NEVER be married for 50 years (yo! potential husbands! we are running out of timmmmme!). But, just like Forrest Gump, I know what love is.

And it’s what they’ve got.

My devotional actually led me to the love chapter this morning. You know … the one they read at all the weddings. I’ve been especially taken with The Passion Translation as of late and the seventh verse hit me in a special kind of way.

Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. 1 Cor. 13:7 (TPT)

I should have asked them what the trick is to tolerating the same human being for that.freaking.long but after watching them for the past forty years, I have a few ideas. I’ll be as brief as I can (grab a pencil and some paper, too. it’s a golden list. duh.)

  • You become best friends
  • You know every good and bad and even terrible thing about the other and love them anyway
  • You compromise (often). This is also known as sacrifice. Which is also known as do the hard thing sometimes because you choose them first
  • You find things you both enjoy so you can keep that date thing a real thing
  • You opt for shared interests in TV when going out isn’t an option for whatever reason zovonatirus. This might include such gems like Law & Order: SVU, NCIS, Chicago Fire and America’s Got Talent. And, when the time is right (is it ever?), Hallmark Christmas movies
  • You wear matching jackets occasionally. These can include both spring jackets as well as mauve-colored leather. I’m still so proud of my dad for being that bold
  • You share in major decision-making … home, kids, work, finances, etc.
  • You celebrate each other’s successes. And you still celebrate even if you are struggling
  • You make each other coffee. That’s a total given, right? But you also know how the other takes their coffee; which is more important
  • You take care of the other when they’re sick or if they’ve had not one, but two, major surgeries and they might be a little ‘difficult’.
  • You show each other affection. Even if your kids think it’s so, so gross. Which they will. You talk openly about how hot and bothered the other makes you. Again, so gross. But looking back, it’s something I am so grateful for (except for a few interesting moments. ha!)
  • You find out the other’s love language and love them that way; even if it feels weird and foreign to you
  • You take care of each other’s feet. And if you have the money, you go get pedicures. Together. This is an actual thing
  • You pick a side of the bed and it’s yours forever and ever, amen. And, if you’re super nice and it’s cold, you warm up the other’s side before they get into bed. 50 extra credit points for that
  • You find a comfortable couch just in case you lost your spot in the bed (that can be due to coughing fits as well, to be clear)
  • You side with each other when your kids are trying to play one of you against the other. Or you at least apologize when your daughter(s) are far too convincing
  • You know that there is literally no one else on the planet that you would want by your side for the rest of this life. And you act that way

Quite frankly (dad! lol), I could go on and on with what I’ve witnessed in a marriage that spans 50 years, but here’s the very simple truth …

You just don’t give up. That’s it.

How many times do you think my parents failed each other? I’m guessing at least a few. But both of them; both of those young and adorable ‘children’ decided on June 12, 1970 that they were choosing each other. They were choosing to be each other’s safe place of shelter. And they were choosing that regardless of anything this completely questionable and seemingly unraveling world could throw at them, they were going to make that choice to fight for the other day in and day out forever and ever amen.

Love never gives up.

I love you and your love, D & C. I pray that some day I can have something like you do, if only so that I can show you that I DO know what love is. It’s what you’ve got, even if I have to break up your arguments over how to operate the FF button.

Cheers to your golden day. And to many, many more. ❤

a fierce-hearted woman

I read a book a couple years ago that quickly came to mind this morning as I considered how I could humbly and even remotely honor the mamas.

See, I consider myself so incredibly fortunate to have a number of women in my life that fulfill the role of a mama. To be clear, I have one mama. More on that later. But I also fully believe that you do not have to have given birth to another human to be a mama. I’ve witnessed the incredible pain of women who have battled infertility only to never have the opportunity to conceive a child. Those women (and men who stand alongside them) have the heart of a parent.

I’ve seen women who have had to carry on through miscarriages and loss near, at or after giving birth; some experiencing loss after their child reaches their teens or even their twenties. Nothing takes away their role of being a mama.

And then there are mamas who choose not to birth biological children (for one reason or another) and yet opt to pour their heart and soul into children who were birthed by another and, out of some circumstance, made available to love. (These women are true heroes, by the way.) Mamas still.

The women in my life have been shaped by many of the paths to becoming a mama noted above but they chose to love me like a mama without giving birth to me. (And I bet to all high heaven they are surely glad they didn’t get the privilege of being my actual parent. Only God could have prepared the two I got for that monumental task.) I started going through all the names in my mind and it was actually a bit overwhelming.

I’m so grateful and blessed beyond measure. I have women who have held me during intense shake crying; women who have silently prayed for me (some even with paper reminders in their own prayer room); women who have spoken such life to me that I can’t put words to it and then of course, just women who have befriended me with such sweet tenderness that they still call me friend despite my constant sucking at being a friend back.

To all of these mamas, I just humbly whisper ‘thank you.’ (Like with tears and red cheeks but you already knew about all that because you chose to know me.) And because I’m getting up there in years, I’m going to forego the actual list. I don’t want to forget anyone. But I feel like you know who you are. And that I love the crap out of you.

Finally, there is my own mom. The one who gave me life. I will NEVER be able to be the daughter I feel like you deserve. Thank God for Nikki, right? I mean, I know I have given you more to worry about, to stress over, to be fearful of, to shake your head about, to find a padded room to step into over and to likely just want to run outside and shake your fist at heaven and say, ‘whyyyyyy me, God?! whyyyyy?’ And yet, you have loved me in the way that only a fierce-hearted mama can. You have chosen to love me despite my myriad of flaws, to show me kindness when I didn’t deserve it, to fight for me when I couldn’t fight for myself, to demonstrate what a successful professional woman looks like, to stand next to your man in the dirt pile (figuratively and literally), to speak up for injustice and give generously to those who need it (even when it doesn’t make any sense at all) and to rise up from a pile of freaking ashes, dust myself off and realize that I can take another step. And of course, how to give all of that to a child of my own. I will never feel adequate or equipped. But, I’m doing my best.

Mostly, though? You’ve shown me what a Godly woman looks like; how that Proverbs 31 woman comes to life. You are her. And I will always be the lucky one for having such an inspiring example in my immediate (non-socially distant) circle. I love you, mama.

Finally, for all the fierce-hearted women out there, I want to share with you the intro to that book I mentioned … the words I take line by line and write about in my own journal. To remind myself of who this woman is and who I aspire to be. Happy Mother’s Day, mamas.

friday photos

It’s Friday. It’s the end of five weeks of being a fully remote employee. And it’s snowed off and on all day.

So, to celebrate the end of the week and to avoid any more ‘s’ words, let’s revel in a recent trip outside to a mildly angry lake, shall we? It was rather chilly and the wind was intense but after five weeks of the same work space, it was a pretty slick office for an end of the day meeting.

brief intermission

I would say that I grew up rather uncultured when it comes to attending on-stage events like plays or productions. Now, before you start assuming I’m just a country bumpkin who thought a trip to the movies or the mall on Saturday was a big deal … well, never mind. You’d be assuming right.

To be clear, I’m not mad about it. But the idea of an intermission would have been relatively foreign. Instead, I knew all about the pause button. For the kids these days, pause is like what you do now when you need a break during a tv show. Back then, it only applied to VHS or cassette tapes. And if it was in the context of watching a movie on VHS, you had to be swift because there was no telling if that pause button would be overcome by evil spirits and rebel. And then it became about rewind and hoping and praying you could find your spot. Man, those times were tough.

Fast forward to the present, though, and I think we can all say finding our spot is a little challenging.

I was walking one day a week or so ago and saw one of the sweetest classic theatres around and its marquee held up black lettering reading, ‘WE WILL BE BACK AFTER THIS BRIEF INTERMISSION.’

And it got me thinking.

While possibly a bit foreign, I’m not completely unaware of what an intermission is like. The very simple definition of an intermission is ‘a pause or break.’ A pause. And doesn’t this season we’re in just feel like someone pressed the proverbial pause button? And I’d also argue that because someone else’s finger did the doing that we literally have no control over when activity will resume.

And that’s incredibly difficult for some of us.

As I was thinking, I realized that I’m not typically for an intermission. Maybe it’s the rebel in me, but if I’m at a movie (or any other more fancy theatrical thing), I’ll get up when I want to. My bladder is the size of a peanut so if there was an unspoken rule I’d need to wait for intermission, I can guarantee you that wouldn’t matter. And I’d prepare in advance and have drinks and snacks purchased pre-show. And no, Connor, you can’t have more! I also just don’t love crowds so when everyone and their date rises to rush concessions or the restroom, you can count me out.

But the fact remains, we are on a break (Ross and Rachel anybody?). We’re in a state of brief intermission.

So what is brief? We don’t know. And that’s hard. School has been shut down. Spring sports are just, not. Employers have labeled employees and services as essential (or otherwise). And can I just state for the record for those who are not considered essential? You are. You so are. Don’t take it personally. Hair salons and tattoo parlors are closed. And my biggest first world problem? Coffee shops are drive-thru only. I really, really miss working and sipping on my coffee. Mostly, the people-watching. But just that sweet space I could hold for hours away from the couch. Bliss.

I’m here to offer up some perspective though, if you’ll humor me. It’s as much for me as it is for anyone else but that’s why this is my blog. And we all have that beautiful thing called choice. Anyway, while we don’t know what brief is, I can attest that we’ve been told this life is but a vapor so while some days can feel like years right now? This life truly is brief. So there’s that.

But there’s also the pause; the intermission. And because I’ve been in a bit of an intermission for much longer than this stupid virus has imposed, I am coming from a place of empathy. I promise.

While life feels so very different right now, I see some light and some hope. Here are a few examples:

  • For the first time in my lifetime, I see the real heroes finally (FINALLY) being celebrated. I work for a healthcare organization. I can’t even begin to tell you how inspired I’ve been by the stories I’ve read of those on the front lines, all the way from patient access folks to the CEO of Spectrum Health. Employees in all roles have risen to the occasion of supporting our community in any way necessary. And I just have to say it’s about freaking time we’re acknowledging these people instead of those who normally occupy the limelight.
  • Families are together. This can be good and bad, amiright? Many of us are not accustomed to being home this much nor are we familiar with how to step in as educators. And while we might not do either well? This is actually a gift. For many of us, this will be the first time we can be a part of our child/ren’s days from start to finish and while it’s safe to say we are going to annoy the crap out of each other at times, this is time we would never have gotten. And because of that whole vapor thing, it’s nothing short of priceless.
  • We’re realizing the gift of connection. I need to be honest that I’ve distanced myself from people for a number of reasons. But can say this: this intermission and social distancing thing makes me miss relationship and closeness. Closeness probably most of all. Every time I’m at the store or out walking and I see the distancing in practice, I get emotional. It makes me so, so sad to see people almost afraid (?) of other people. We were made to connect and while we have to be in this place, we can maybe find ways to appreciate the connections we can make a bit more. We can appreciate technology that makes it possible for us to talk and learn from each other in different ways. I was gifted with a Skype call earlier this week with two of my favorite humans on the planet and it was so life-giving. For sure, we wouldn’t have done that otherwise and I’m thankful for the opportunity in this unknown.
  • We’re forced to find ways to entertain ourselves in new ways. The pace of life is now completely upended for most of us. We were gearing up for travel (bye, spring break 2020. wah. wah.), spring plays, spring sports, summer camps, etc. and now? Well, now, we might have time to take up a new hobby or immerse ourselves in an old one. And that’s kind of fun, right? I know I’ve been in a season of intense studying and that’s coming to a close so now I have some things I want to get better at and it makes me kind of excited that I don’t have to navigate around all of the other things to work those in.
  • Many of us will be able to find ways to save. I know not driving to Grand Rapids is saving me both mentally and financially. I’m only buying the essentials when it comes to groceries because like I said, I can’t much handle being out with people who veer as far away as possible when they see me. I’m not buying as much coffee because drive-thru just isn’t as cool. And I can’t get that tattoo I was hoping for. But Lindsey, I promise, we will asap!

Geez, that was a lot. I’m (not) sorry for that but the other quick thing I want to mention during this intermission that I’ve now just hopped on stage for is that I think there is a comparable season for us to consider as we enter into Holy Week.

I’m considering the notion that maybe this entire life is actually just an intermission … the break in the action between when Jesus is going to come back to restore what was lost all the way back in the garden … the Eden one.

We sometimes call it the messy middle. I’ve heard it likened to the space between the two gardens. But suffice it to say, this life isn’t even what we were made for! And that totally makes sense to me. We weren’t made for the pause button … at least not forever. We were made to seek something more.

We were made to be reconciled back to a God who aches with us as we ache over what we thought was our normal. And truly, I believe it’s okay to grieve some of what we’ve had to let go of in this space. But, surely, normal and home are found on that day when we come face to face with Him. When the intermission ends and the activity resumes, we can choose to come into the final act fully refreshed and ready to spend an eternity with the only One who can make sense of this messy middle. And while we are here, we can make the most of what we’ve been given (see above).

In the end, it’s just Him. And I think in the space of this brief intermission, He wants to show us that. He wants to show us the value of relationship despite distance. Truly, we were made to find rest, to restore our likely weary souls, to find our way back to our people to show them what His love looks like as it lives in us and to create out of the passions He gave us.

Thanks for humoring me. And thanks for allowing me in for just a hot second. And if you ever need to blow off some steam about how ridiculously frustrating the middle can be, I’m here for it. Because while I know it’s easy, in the moment, to offer perspective, this is likely one of the most difficult seasons we’ve ever had to face. And no one should feel like they don’t have a safe space. So just know that there is one right here.

Have faith, hold on to hope and be love. Just. be. love.

golden child

Does anyone still do golden birthdays these days? Are any of you old enough to know what that means? I was sitting here thinking back to when I turned 17 on that one fine (and I’m sure, cold) January 17th back in … eh, it doesn’t matter the year. Because I’m too old to remember. But doggoneit, we just had a golden day around here and it was for my one and only golden child.

I was so super proud of myself this year because at least three weeks in advance of Connor’s birthday I had a cake ordered, gold-colored candles, a gold-flanked 14th birthday banner and a shirt I’ve wanted to order for years from Amazon in-hand. I’ve not ordered it previously because it isn’t on Prime (which is so dumb!) but it made sense for the golden theme. I mean, you only turn 14 on the 14th one.time. It might be totally lame but I love it; it says, ‘February 2006 – Limited Edition – 14 Years of Being Awesome’. And yes, I made sure he wore that sucker to school. But my hunch is no one saw it because the child lives in a hoodie. It’s fine.

We also had our ducks in a row a couple weeks prior about our plans because Connor’s birthday happens to fall on the highly-anticipated love fest that is Valentine’s Day so instead of trying to do dinner out, he chose B.C. Pizza, cake and ice cream in with the fam bam. Honestly, it’s one of the many reasons I think the world of this child. He’s not terribly high-maintenance (maybe just thank God in general for boys) and he is ridiculously happy to eat gluten free bacon and cheese-laden bread. Also, a huge shout-out to Connie’s Cakes in Grand Rapids. They delivered what I heard was ‘the best cake I’ve ever eaten in my life.’ So, good job on that, too.

So, while it was a golden birthday, I really mean it when I say this child is golden. Maybe it’s supposed to be man child now. I don’t know when they make the official switch but I do know that we talk more about him being a man (ahem) than we talk about him being a child. And I’ve watched him change so much again just from a year go, deep voice aside.

I thought I’d put a quick list of ‘things I never want to forget about Connor at 14’ together so I can refer back when I’m much older, like 41.

  • This was the year Connor fell in love with golf. He spent much of his summer days at a few different courses with my parents and has decided he will probably be playing that instead of baseball (yes, I die) when he gets into high school. Side note that my parents are the greatest grandparents on the planet
  • This was the year Connor got sick. And it sucked and we’ve talked about it. But, it was also when he showed amazing resilience, courage and commitment when it came to his school work. He was nominated for Student of the Month when he missed the most school he’s ever missed (16 days).
  • Speaking of school, the kid is a straight-A student. And it’s effortless for him. That was never the case (still isn’t) for me, to be clear.
  • He is also super diligent about getting his homework done. That, or he is doing the gchat thing with a few ladies that make his little face grin in a way that frightens me. I’ve seen the grin. I know the grin.
  • We also likely know by now Connor is a sports fanatic (FAN-A-TIC). He has dreams of being a commentator of some kind and I have no doubt he can do it if he so desires. I hear there is a good school for that in Oregon. *wink*
  • … which means he is obsessed with football and basketball. Well, those are the two he is obsessed with anyway. And it also means that he plays on fantasy leagues. Not just one. Multiple. He played in a league with some guys from church and it was literally the sweetest thing ever because those adult (I mean, are they really though?) men welcomed him into their little clique and then gave him awards at the end of the season. More than that, they just loved on him and it always warms this mama’s heart to see it.
  • In the world of outdoor sports, Connor has shown crazy promise fishing as well as now, hunting. We went camping for a bit last summer and he spent H-O-U-R-S fishing. Sometimes, I had to beg him to come to the camper to eat dinner. That’s not like him. He also snagged his first deer this past gun season. I mean, it was his first time out. And, the second time (aside from sighting it in) that he shot his gun. I actually cried watching the whole scene. It might have been because he was gutting a poor, defenseless deer as well. I can’t be sure. But, it was a beautiful buck and I’ll be honest that I was actually crying because his brother-in-law (my hero) took him out and showed him all the ropes and celebrated alongside him. I’m serious. I’ve never felt more thankful and appreciative for the man my sister sucked into this chaos. It was also sweet because his dad came to see. We were both so excited for Connor.
  • He grew and he grew, too. CJ is now hovering just over 5’10” which is officially the height that makes it too hard to let go of him sometimes. He just needs a little more meat on his bones and then he’ll be my perfect snuggly companion.
  • Nearly everyone that I encounter who has spent time with CJ tells me what an amazing young man he is and how much they just love him. I pray that is always the case despite his age

Connor’s 14th made for a good sampling of who he is right now. He had a great day at school (which he said was easy), a dance after (to which he said he didn’t dance with anyone … can we just all pause and say a big ‘hallelujah’ about that?), a shower (in which he takes too freaking long), his favorite meal (that he can devour in three minutes-ish), gift-opening with the fam (where I had no choice but to get him a membership to the Dollar Shave Club – save me) and a basketball game that he forgot to tell me about until ten minutes before he wanted to leave (yep, that’s 14).

I love him. He is my hero. He makes me more proud than I ever could have imagined he would (even when he does act like a teenager, because he does!). And I just know that God has so much more for ahead for my golden man child.

new year, who dis?

Oh gosh. It’s official. I’ve reached that point in life where I’m no longer allowed to say the stuff the cool kids are. Or have I?

Regardless of your perspective, here we are at the onset of what many are considering the year of clarity. Or, at least better vision? It’s 2020, people! We shall see!

She’s going down quick, Jim.

Here’s what I can tell you with no lack of clarity (i’m not even sorry for that one). The new year is upon us as is the new decade as is … 40 years for me on this planet. Now, I know the math doesn’t add up because I’ve been holding steady at 28 for several years now but I’m just going to boldly proclaim that I. AM. 40. And I’m friggin’ excited about it! How many other people get to jump right from their 20’s – the decade of growth and change and sheer naïveté about life – into their 40’s – the new 30’s?! This girl. That’s who.

It may also be possible that I want to forget my 30’s. But let’s not talk about that. Cool? Cool.

What I’ve decided is to stop viewing this imaginary line that stares me in the face whispering, ‘hey, don’t you even think for one second about crossing,’ and instead boldly step into some life I’ve not yet lived. Because what else is this life for? Let’s do some living, shall we?

With that, I opted to go somewhere I hadn’t yet been for my birthday. Connor had a youth group retreat and I literally had these few questions for myself to answer:

  1. Where have I not yet been that I’d like to go?
  2. What could I feasibly see and appreciate in under 48 hours?
  3. Where does Grand Rapids fly direct?

And that settled it. I booked a flight to Phoenix in the hopes of setting my sights on the Grand Canyon.

Now I know that many would have picked a warmer destination in January but why get warm for less than 48 hours? It’s a tease. And I’m also lily white. It wouldn’t have made sense.

I also just really wanted to get my camera out to take photos of something other than people. Don’t get me wrong. I adore taking portraits but there’s just something about the way God’s painted this world that just speaks right into my soul. I’ll also note that before I share what I captured that I don’t feel like I did this scenery justice. Not even for one second. But I enjoyed almost every moment of this 48-hour adventure with every ounce of my being. And I hope that at least a little of what I can share will make you wonder about an adventure of your own. Just look up direct flights. It’ll do wonders.

Day 1


I actually woke up at 2:30 a.m. (because who actually can sleep before a flight? and because I won’t admit how close that is to standard wake-up.) and the boyfriend (it’s my truck) and I headed out to jump on to our 6:30 a.m. flight. What’s cool about heading out west is that you get there just two hours after you leave home even though the flight is four hours long. Praise GOD for window seats and my level of exhaustion that let me doze the good majority of the flight.

When we landed, we deplaned outside (which is awesome in January, am I right?) and i headed off to Hertz to pick up my ride. Well, happy birthday to me because I was upgraded to a small Cadillac SUV (and yes, the boyfriend was jealous). But seriously? Can we just talk about all the nonsensical gadgets on new vehicles? I miss my key. And my turn dial radio. #oldladystatus

Anyway, the first stop that a good friend had referred me to was just over two hours north. So off we went … after I figured out how to put the car in drive.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I love detours. So, when I should have taken a right leaving the castle, I saw a sign for Fort Verde so I turned left instead. I was on a bit of a clock but it wasn’t far and well, it sounded neat. This detour would lead me to a sweet little historic park that cost me $7 to walk through for five minutes, HOWEVER, the nice park ranger people told me about the best spot to visit at the Grand Canyon and the best way to get up there so I now LOVE.THOSE.PEOPLE.

And, the park had a couple of cool views, too.

On the way back towards where I should have headed, I caught a glimpse of Montezuma from the road. So I stopped. The good news is that there are multiple places to pull off and … that it was a rental. Curb checks in abundance (that’s for you, dad).

The route north took me through Flagstaff (so cute) and off of the main highway (read: speed. i am speed). I stumbled upon this most adorable chapel and of course the only human in the world it made me think of was my Grandpa Lowman. He would have adored that little chapel. It gave me a chance to pull over and put some layers on and also to try and break in. Which you can’t. But it was still worth it! And when I drove away I took a peek behind me and smiled so big at the mountains in the background. I also heard once that it wasn’t real if you don’t stand in the middle of the road and take a photo. So I did that, too.

I drove through Williams and then up into Grand Canyon National Park. It was about 4:00 p.m. so I knew I didn’t have a ton of time (hello, detours) but my entire goal was to catch the sunset. Now, the good people at Fort Verde told me that I’d have to Google the point before arriving because service is poor and it’s not well-marked. They were right. And I’m glad I listened. But first I turned on to the road headed towards my tiny parking area and saw it … the Grand Canyon. And holy crap. I lost my breath. And then I cried. It was birthday gift (to myself). But now was not the time to stop! I had a point to get to. And it’s name was Shoshone.

I arrived and parked and was so jacked that I grabbed my camera, my extra backpack and my phone. That meant I left my flashlight, my compass, my portable charger and pretty much all good sense in the car. I didn’t remember that until I reached the point though so … it’s all good. Right?

I can’t really talk about how I felt up there. I’ve never felt further from humanity than I did in that moment and at the same time, I’ve never felt less alone. There were moments I could hear the wind and maybe a rabid animal or two (mom, that was for you. and i’m kidding) but otherwise, it was absolutely silent. It definitely was cold but after the near mile hike up there, I was just fine. And honestly, I had to be on my game because being solo that close to the edge of a cliff will definitely keep you on your toes. And then when your phone dies? Yep, even more aware. So this is the part where I felt like my photos took a nose dive but there are reasons! Like I said, I couldn’t have done it justice if I tried but I also didn’t want to drop my camera or myself. Regardless, I sat up there for about 45 minutes. Knowing my phone was dead and there would literally be no way for anyone to find me should an animal eat me, I decided to head back before the sun formally set. I will never forget (surviving) Shoshone Point.

Since the sun hadn’t set all the way and I needed a Starbucks, I headed back towards the main entrance. At that point, the crowd of people had dissipated and it was just me and some obnoxious teenagers (there’s that old lady coming through!). At this point, it was noticeably cooler and darker but I knew this would be my last view of the Grand Canyon because I had a full Saturday planned. Was I there as long as I’d hoped? No way. Was it enough to be what I’d hoped for? Without a doubt.

I actually had another two-hour drive left to get to my Airbnb for the night, thus the Starbucks. The best part was the drive. I saw probably 25 cars (or whatever, you get me). I stopped once because it was so, so dark and I’ve heard that many parts of AZ are zero light pollution. I’m here to tell you that is a very real thing. The sky had more stars than I ever knew existed. And then I got scared because it was so dark and so quiet and I knew my mom would be mad. So I kept trekking. I arrived to my place at about 9:30 and headed for bed not long after because I had planned on a sunrise stop near there. Because why would I not punish my old and feeble body with an early wake-up?!

Day 2

Page, AZ > Sedona, AZ

And that was worth it, too. So here again I felt like I could not capture what I was seeing. Maybe I should buy that special and expensive lens I would have needed? Or maybe … I’ll just remember it in my mind and you can appreciate the cropped photos. That is a much more feasible option. Either way, it was awesome. And the local gal that was there as early as I was gave me the good idea to go outside the fence and in her words, ‘travel at my own risk.’ So I did just that. It wasn’t as frightening as Shoshone but I definitely paid attention to my steps (for my mom).

The bummer about my trip north was that the canyon I’d hoped to see that would be less people-y apparently started selling guided tours last year sometime and I missed that little nugget so that was my one adventure fail but my local friend also told me about visiting the dam just up the road. So, before I headed back south, I detoured up there. Honestly? The dam itself felt kind of ‘meh’ to me but the walk down was so cool. I felt like a real hiker person! And a girlfriend at work totally gave me her hiking shoes so I even looked official. And this time, I brought the right gear (just for you, mom).

I’d heard a lot about Sedona so that was going to be the last area of the grand 48-hour tour. The drive from Page to Sedona was ridiculous. Like, my favorite part of Arizona is that everyone drives a Toyota (#4runner4life) and super fast (almost always 75mph speed limit). These are my kind of people. There are also so many pop-up communities on the side of the highway (read: tiny houses in abundance). On the way, I had to make a couple of roadside stops and a quick hike around this wicked cool trail surrounded by lava, pines and trees shaped much like I feel … kinda bent and saggy.

When I got on the drive towards Sedona, I stopped at Slide Rock State Park. The river that runs through it was as cold as locals suggested and I actually saw some young (and I’d have to imagine very dumb) kids swimming. I’m kidding. They weren’t that young.

The AirBNB I booked near Sedona required me to meet the host in person. That was … different. I wondered when I booked it, honestly, if it was a fit for me but I knew again that my time there would be short and I really liked the bed in the photo. Hey, I’m not terribly difficult to please. She also had a wicked beautiful view out her front porch. She also may have been watching Jeopardy as I was trying to retire for the night, had a rule about flushing before 5 a.m. and a beeping sound that meant my early wake-up became about two hours earlier because I literally couldn’t sleep. But hey, the bed was everything I hoped it would be. So we met and she gave me some Lindor truffles and I took off again for the Sedona Airport Scenic Lookout. That? Was incredible. And totally worth the $3 to the guy listening to 60’s rock far too loudly.

I’ll be honest. The hike at the lookout made me a bit late for the sunset I was craving but I headed towards the crossing I was planning to visit anyway. There were about 15 pregnant woman getting maternity photos taken so I found a quiet spot to snag a couple pics and then headed back towards Sedona because as I told Airbnb lady, all I wanted was a salad I could make myself. And man, did Whole Foods deliver! I’m seriously that high maintenance. It was honestly the first time I’d stopped for real food. Otherwise, I’d packed astronaut food in my bag so I didn’t have to plan for stops. Also, thank goodness I didn’t do restaurants because apparently it was MLK day weekend and literally everyone came to Arizona! I also love hiking because everyone else loves downtown Sedona. Birthday adventure win.

Day 3

Sedona, AZ > Phoenix, AZ > GRR

The only real bummer about the trip besides a lack of sleep and a hairdryer that second night was a delayed flight home. And finding out when I had been on the road for about 30 minutes which meant I was not about to turn around to head back and I’d have a lot more time at the airport. Apparently … Grand Rapids got all kinds of ‘weather’ and the plane was frozen to the ground. That’s at least what the counter agent shared when I cried, ‘whyyyyyyy?’ to her. Honestly, it was not a bad airport to wait around at. It’s about as big as Kalamazoo and they have outdoor seating. And it was nearing 60 degrees when I left. No worries, though. I landed (what felt like) twelve hours later and was thankful for the layers I took with me. See? This is why you do not find warm places for 48 hours lest you forget!

The very best part about the trip was coming home to a really happy kid who had just spent 48 hours with his youth group enjoying the arctic tundra of Big Rapids. He was good. I was good. Life. Was good.

Here’s to 40 (or whatever age you happen to find yourself this year). To stepping boldly over that imaginary line. Just don’t step over the edge. There’s no coming back from that.

And just for giggles, here’s a rough map reflecting my trip. I’m just thankful for unlimited mileage.