After a goodnight sleep and an incredible breakfast courtesy of Aunt Georgie, I said goodbye to my family and pulled off into the next leg of my trip. Day 2 was a big day, because I would be seeing two of our nation’s most recognizable features: the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. Seeing as I have no idea when I will be in the Southwest again, stopping at both was essential.
The Hoover Dam was only an hour drive from the Brown’s house, so I arrived quicker than I expected I would. And holy hell, was it hot. LA is almost always some degree of warm, and I have known my far share of unbearably hot nights (living for two years on the third floor without AC will do that to you), but stepping out into the Nevada/Arizona sun immediately made me skin feel like old parchment.
But the whole area of the Dam had a lot to it, which was cool. Before reaching the Visitor Center for the Dam, I pulled off and walked over the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge, which overlooks the Dam. I became very aware of how easily my phone could slip out of my hands and into the depths below while standing by the railing of that bridge (so much so that I started making contingency plans about how in the world I would get the rest of the way across the country should I drop it… I think I kept the spare flip phone, so I could contact Mom).
I then made my way down to the actual Dam. It’s baffling how the men and women of our past figured these things out. I would panic trying to find a gas station without the help of Gretchen, my iPhone, yet our ancestors figured out how to build dams and bridges across huge chasms. I have nothing but huge respect for the engineers of our world. After marveling at the Dam, I took an extra pit stop to admire how beautiful Lake Meade is, and then I was off to a national wonder of our world: the Grand Canyon.
Staying in Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon was more than an hour off my route. But, it’s the Grand Canyon! When I pulled into the parking lot, it felt very familiar. The paths to the various parts of the Canyon felt a lot like walking around a Disney World resort: clean with clear signage. But as soon as I got up the hill and saw my first glimpse on the Canyon, my heart stopped.
It was so vast that at first, my Hollywood brain thought it must be nothing more than a backdrop that you could rip down to reveal a strip mall with a Target. It was all you could see in either direction, and the various piques blended into each other as one never-ending scene of blue sky and orange rock. My pulse raced. I became acutely aware that I may actually be afraid of heights.
I spent an hour or two walking the outer rim of the Canyon, watching daredevils climb out on rock formations and girls with their legs dangling over the sides of cliffs for that perfect Instagram photo. I heard one man say, “I can’t believe they let you just take your life in your hands out here.” I agree, buddy. The Grand Canyon policy appears to be that if you’re stupid enough to risk your life climbing out there, have at it.
After a while, I found a little ledge to sit on and stare out at the Canyon. This place is so big. And so old. It has been here for so long and would be here longer still. I felt so small. Not in a worthless way, but in a “wow-my-problems-are-so-inconsequential-compared-to-this” way. In terms of my life, I’m doing a big thing by leaving my LA life behind and starting a new chapter. But in the grand scheme of the world, it’s such a little blip, not even reading on the radar. It’s humbling to remember that. If the Grand Canyon can change and endure for so long, I can endure, too.
I ended my day with a reunion of another kind. My G little, Marie, made the drive from Phoenix to have dinner with me! We ate these incredible burgers at Diablo Burger in Flagstaff and caught up on two years of lost time. This is why I’m coming home… to have more chances like this to spend time with people who make me happy. Our time comes and goes so fast that it’s useless to waste those moments with anyone or anything that brings you down.
Until Next Time,
Casey Brown | Ga; about Town