I never think about swim practice as much more than practice and exercise. However, when the April sun shines high in the sky at 4:30 pm and the concrete pool deck warms up to the perfect temperature for a dog to enjoy a nap, that all changes.
The girl swam every stroke with a smile. Not just any smile; it was like Christmas morning smiles. Didn’t hurt that is was breaststroke day. And each time, a set was finished, she stood at the end of the pool instead of crouching under water.
My normal routine while she is the pool is to walk and stretch or run errands. But on the first sunny day after the pool bubble is removed, it was time to sit on deck and enjoy the sun. All of the parents had the same idea – otherwise I would not even noticed the de-bubble phenomenon.
Her face seemed to fall when the hour was completed and she had to leave the pool. Luckily, there would be many days in the next four months exactly like this one.
Driving each day to and from school provides lots of teaching moments. Especially if Bailie chooses the radio station. This particular morning, a Viagara commercial was on. And she asked more about what it was.
I took a breath and dove right in…
Some men, during sex need help getting and sustaining an erection, I explained.
She looked momentarily puzzled and asks, “Is that the same thing as a boner?”
“Exactly, Bailie. There are lots of nicknames for everything to do with sex and drugs. Be sure to ask if you ever need help with the translations because you may hear some people use terms incorrectly”.
Each year, Bailie’s class hosts one mass. This year, like many in the past, Bailie was chosen to read. As she practiced the Psalm at home, we talked about Great Grandma June’s graveside service. Pastor Monte had told the story of how Grandma June was very upset when the translation was updated from greener pastures to verdant pastures. Her point of view was that all people identified with green but most would not know what color verdant was (or that it was a color). Of course, Grandma June’s favorite color was green.
The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want.
In verdant pastures He gives
Before restful waters He leads
me; He refreshes my soul. (etc)
So I challenged my by-the-book daughter to reword to Grandma June’s way to honor her memory. She was very reluctant, but thought about it for a while. I was very happy the next afternoon when she reported that she did read the passage Grandma June’s way. What a great way to honor her!
Our goal for the day: Hike Bright Angel trail
Last night, we made our plan: either hike 3 miles in or go the 4.5 miles to Indian Gardens. Leave about 8am so the hot sun would not affect us immediately. We easily had water for six miles; hoped maybe we could push it to nine miles and get to the Indian Gardens. But there was not likely a spot to refill our bottles (and they don’t sell bottled water at the Grand Canyon, it is refill only). The guide suggested it was 4-6 hours to hike 3 miles down. And plan 6-9 hours for Indian Gardens. So we’d play it by ear.
With the temperature at a cool 17 when I woke at 6:30am, I immediately decided we would not leave until it had warmed up to 38. Good thing, Bailie was very, very sleepy even at 8 am. We finally made it to the trailhead (just steps from our cabin) a few minutes after 9am. The air had warmed up to 39!
We started our descent. It was fast. And dusty. And the edge was often close. And the view was always amazing. I fell behind many, many times stopping to capture the moment in pixels. We stopped for a rest around the first hour down for a snack as we were good at sipping water along the way. The downward pace was already felt in some muscle groups for both of us. We continued down to the next rest point where we met the pack mules coming up. As we rested and refueled;
- We admired the dirty red film on our shoes and legs.
- Bailie teased a squirrel with her cough drop – accidentally
- The squirrel got Bailie back as he stared her down from the top of the view-point she reluctantly climbed (I forced a photo shoot)
- And we decided since there was not option to refill our water bottles, and our knees and ankles were feeling the toll of the descendent, it was smart to read the postings “you can choose to go down further, but remember you must go back up”.
So we headed back towards the rim – a ,2120 feet incline. And Bailie took it in stride. I put the camera away to focus on keeping up. But that didn’t make a difference. That swimmer stamina made me look 100% out of shape. Luckily, there was another family on the same ascend schedule and their youngest was also moving at a fast pace. So they stuck together, waiting for the two of us Mom’s every few switchbacks. The other brother and Dad took their own pace behind us. Although most of the trail out, I dropped into the fourth spot, the last few switchbacks the four of us hung together making it back to the rim right at 1pm. Bailie showed up the guide by beating the four hours for the six miles! This meant it was time to celebrate with ice cream (for lunch)!
We finished up the afternoon people watching at the rim and splurging at the Tovar for dinner. Thankfully, dinner was an improvement over the previous night. Other than the French onion soup, I admit we won’t rush to dine there again. The view was amazing – as we sat right at the windows. The night finished with more people watching, of course!
I can’t help but think of the movie “Raising Arizona” as we board our flight for a few days in the warm sun. Bailie has her nose stuck in a book, so I am mostly on my own. The nose continues to focus on reading, until I chide her into putting it down and becoming my navigator about an hour’s drive north of Phoenix. She navigates us perfectly into Sedona, stopping at a viewpoint along the way to get some great photos of the red rocks. As we approach the heart of Sedona, ready for lunch, we struggle to find parking. Finally, we have success just a little east of town, finding a deli (and candy shop) to fill our empty bellies. Then we forge on through Flagstaff for both a refuel for us (breakfast and snacks for the upcoming days at the Grand Canyon) and for the car (as the map looks pretty uninhabited between here and there).
We pull into Grand Canyon National Park just in time for sunset. We just parked in the first lot we found and headed to the rim. Luckily, it was only intermittent clouds, so the sun reflected off the canyon walls to my delight (Bailie was delighted too, but the cool wind kept her thinking more about getting to our cabin). When we both could no longer stand the cold, we went in search of our cabin at the other end of the village. We stayed at Angel’s Peak in a cluster of cabin rooms complete with half bath and fridge (I could have bought more food in Flagstaff!) and then a community shower. To our liking, each shower was its own room so it didn’t feel like a locker room. Of course, the room paled in comparison to our last girls’ trip. We spent the evening planning our hike into the canyon the next day – and Bailie alternated between her book and researching the canyon rock formations. Dinner at the Lodge was nothing to write home about – Bailie was certain she could cook better food herself. The evening closed with a last look at the bright stars as the rain clouds have completely disappeared.