luke suggested we go camping the last weekend of summer before he began teaching. we thought of a dozen great places we'd love to camp at, but the top of our list was the north rim of the grand canyon. because you have to drive 4 hours around the entire canyon to get there, it is way less visited. and it is at a higher elevation than the south rim, so it is less desert-y and more forest-y, plus you can see more views beyond the canyon since it is higher up. i camped there by myself (with unica) in college, but luke had never been. so i stalked the online camping reservations until there were two cancellations in a row. and so off we went. i am happy to share that luke was completely enamored with the north rim as well (i've been talking it up for 10 years now) and now says he he is "north rim for life".
the thing about the four hour drive is that it is super gorgeous - you pass through the mountains of flagstaff through deserted navajo lands, cross the little colorado river, drive along the gorgeous vermillion cliffs, and then you get to go through wide meadows full of free roaming buffalo. we saw several herds of them, beginning with the big guy above. we had the "is it a buffalo or a bison?" conversation a few times until we read an article inside the park that said they are a cross breed of cow and buffalo so their proper name is beefalo! i think i prefer buffalo...
we tented up and made dinner and got everyone down and had a few minutes (3 to be exact) to try some long exposures with the camera before little ones needed us again. the best stars i've ever seen have been while at the grand canyon.
here is mateo and i the next morning, modeling "camping chic"
camping at the north rim was everything we hoped for. there were never any crowds or lines, and it felt more like summer camp than a giant tourist destination. above is the view from our campsite, which was right on the rim! (if you ever go, try to book site #16 or close to it).
we brought some simpler times from trader joes which kind of became our weekend (and all the time) motto.
camp breakfast: coffee, fruit, and banana walnut espresso muffins from one of my new favorite cookbooks.
mateo's special camping treat was the individual sized milk cartons. :)
we hiked around a bit and drove to some of the viewpoints. this is what mateo does when you ask him "how big is the grand canyon?"
you can see the peaks (where we live) from the north rim, which is one of my favorite things about it. but not in any of these photos. (sorry)
not everything was super easy, (keeping a constant hand on a two year old runner when you are camping on the rim of the grand canyon for example!), but i am so happy to report that things went much better than they did during our Worst Camping Trip Ever earlier this summer. we had wondered after the first experience if camping wasn't possible for awhile anymore and this trip was sort of going to be our one last try. i think the key is not to drive very far and not to move once you are there. setting up tents and gear and all that goes with it takes so much time with little ones and when you have to move every day plus want to go around to see the sites it doesn't leave any time for relaxing.
a friend told me a story she'd heard once about a woman who was camping with her family and her little ones were super needy and she wasn't finding any time to relax with changing diapers and meals and nursing and feeding and keeping track of things and she was feeling frustrated. some older women were camping near this family and at one point, one of them crossed paths with the tired mama and said "it may not seem like it right now, but these are the best moments of your life." i told luke this story on our drive there and so we really tried to be intentional in enjoying all the work that was involved.
mateo, who likes to wake up at 5am ever since moving to arizona, woke luke up early both days. the first morning he woke up saying "bookmans, bookmans!" which is a used bookstore we go to a lot in flagstaff. it made us laugh. both mornings, he and luke got up to hike a little along the rim and let ruby and me sleep in.
can you tell that just beyond those trees is the canyon? it was incredible.
mateo used my old care bear suitcase. :)
another camp breakfast, this time using our pie iron for veggie omelets, and then we packed up to go. my wonderful husband took the littles and the pup and drove everybody and everything to the canyon lodge, and allowed me a luxurious, quiet, and nothing-on-my-shoulders hike through the woods to the lodge a few miles away. it was such a treat. and then we headed home.
poor unica has to sit at my feet now since there isn't any room anywhere else. :(
we stopped at cliff dwellers to feed these guys and check out the crazy rock formations.
and then again to check out the views of the mountains where we live.
it was a good trip.