Perspective is something that is easily lost in the midst of our modern lives. The near-freezing temperatures that filled the night preceding brought that reality to the forefront as a cadre of astute gentleman (and one in training (read: me)) stood atop a small hill and gazed into the heavens above. Small lights emanating from our rustic accommodations didn’t hinder the night sky from revealing all her secrets to the patient eyes that slowly adjusted to one of the darkest skies seen in a while. As our teeth chattered and joints froze, more and more was slowly revealed, until the objects above became infinite, and the reality that a well-stocked fire and accompanying tea awaited us inside.
Onto the next morning, where it was time to learn why this ranch was here. More than the prime grazing grounds, more than the scenic vistas, more than the remoteness merged with an endless supply of fresh mountain spring water, the Bar 10 Ranch lies less than a dozen miles from the Grand Canyon. Since the homesteading days that once made the Arizona Strip (the land north of the Colorado River) the most populous place nearby, sparsely-sighted ranches in varying states of existence remind you that you’re definitely outside of any cellular service. And for a few days this month, the lack of being connected became a thought on what connected means.
The laramide orogeny took what was once a bleak landscape and turned it into what we now call the west. Mountains of all shapes and sizes rose from the ground as matter below thrust the earth into the sky. The Colorado Plateau that is located across the four corners area brought rivers and streams a new challenge. Many years later, those waters slowly eroded the varying strata of earth away and created the Grand Canyon. Not being a geologist, I have to rely on the brief lesson my father-in-law shared with our group, as four side-by-sides stopped halfway to the rim eyeing a large deposit of basalt that left large mounds of the stone across our path. Quite the picturesque and practical classroom for a geology lesson.
Approaching the end of our motorized trek, we arrived at the south rim of the Grand Canyon near the Whitmore Rapids. Looking down at what appeared to be at least 1,000 feet of altitude between us and the Colorado River, my good friend Perry asked if we were up for a hike. Looking down from the top of a cliff made of once-flowing lava, a few pieces of the trail were visible as it meandered down the sheer cliff of the rim. Inventorying my own strength and abilities, I looked towards my children who braved peering over the edge and saw more than a few heads and voices exclaim no. But this trip was about trying new things, and the realization that the opportunity to try these things at this point in time at this specific place with these same people was a remote opportunity that demanded a more enthusiastic answer. A few words of encouragement lit the spirit of adventure within our family, and not a moment later, the first few steps along the trail were made.
Oakli loves nothing more than doing things herself. Somehow, the youngest in the brood has a lot to prove to her family, and who am I to get in the way of that train. With all her might, she took each little baby step down the rim, many times being faced with obstacles that were twice her size. At every one of those giant steps a helping hand would be found, and when she caught sight of it, a casual “I can do it” reminded you that at three years old, she’s got this. As the steps grew larger and larger, and the fine line between trail and perilous cliffs became even more fine, the conditions necessitated a little more intervention. Eventually, Stefani took Oakli on her second-favorite travel method…the piggyback.
Her infectious smile, her beautiful eyes, and her resilience and perseverance in that very moment reminded me of her mother, a woman who clearly brings those traits (and a plethora more) to the Evans Consortium. For eighteen years this Halloween I’ve had the sheer luck to catch one of those beautiful eyes, her infectious smile, and to see how much a woman is willing to persevere being in a relationship with yours truly.
The reality that adventures like these, and all life as I know it, would be impossible without her isn’t lost on me. For years Perry invited us to join him on his yearly visit to this magical place, and as all my close friends can attest to, unless it’s written on Stefani’s calendar, it either didn’t happen or it won’t ever happen. One thing I’m not good at is playing middle-man. Now that Perry and Stefani text each other dutch oven recipes, this year’s Bar 10 adventure made it to the calendar.
I spent three days away from the outside world, and traveled to one of the seven natural wonders of the world. I found myself in the company of some amazing friends and family, and enjoyed meals fit for a king. And while I choke up at the memories of adventuring with my family, who were at first quite hesitant at the thought of hiking in and out of the Grand Canyon, the reality is that these heartfelt tears are coming from a place of perspective, and pure admiration for that which is more powerful than plate tectonics, more beautiful than nature, and more important to me than anything. My one true love, my partner in crime, and the one who makes this all possible. Stefani. xoxo