You would think a place themed like an old 70s cartoon would still want to hang onto the charm of the show and carry it into entertaining the guests. However, aside from the giant Fred Flintstone and a few other paintings around the campground, there wasn’t much going on. There was a giant wall separating the campground from the “theme park,” which was poorly advertised. Try as we did, we could not get a view over the wall to see what was going on back there. I still think we would have been able to make fun out of going back there, even if it was just as run down as the front face of the camp and kid-oriented.

After packing up our belongings, we headed into Fred’s Diner, a tiny little breakfast spot on site. Next to it was a much larger gift shop, with standard trading post items, a few Flintstones shirts, and cowboy hats. Breakfast was delicious. It was peculiar to us that there were regulars inside. I couldn’t imagine being in my later years and frequenting a Flintstones themed restaurant every morning.

After breakfast, it was a 30 minute ride up to Grand Canyon. Caroline said we should take our time to get there, but knowing tourists, I wanted to be early so I rushed her. The lines were getting longer to get admission with every passing minute. Once through, parking was hectic but we managed to find a great spot by the visitor center. We still hadn’t decided if we were going to man up and take a hike into the canyon or just do the tourist thing and see it from the south rim.

We checked out the gift shop first so Caroline could grab a National Park Service patch, and I got a postcard pack. I have so many post cards to send out. I can only hope I find the energy to write them all. One for every person who helped me on my journey across the USA, one for all of my friends around the country, and one for each person in Florida I formed a friendship with.

We made our way to Mather Point, the idyllic location for that picturesque view of the Canyon. Aside from all of the other tourists, it was breathtaking. It was truly wild to think that the Colorado River had created such a vast landscape. It blew my mind- some people have dedicated their entire lives to hiking and exploring the canyon, and for good reason. There was so much to see. Every step in any direction showed us a unique formation we hadn’t seen, amazing colors of rock and sand unknown to us prior, and just an unlimited imagination to think of how it turned into what it is today.

We found a rock section where people have signed their names. Admittedly being as touristy as possible, we signed the rock with”CM + CL” in eyeliner. Of course it won’t stay forever, but a picture of it was good enough for us. I jumped around on the rocks like a child as Caroline looked on in horror, exclaiming that I sent her anxiety through the roof. Something about tourist spots takes away all of the danger and potential for risk to me- with fences and a million people around us, no matter how unsafe I was acting, I knew nothing could go wrong.

The more west we walked the fewer people we saw. Many people just went to get a picture of themselves with the canyon, others took a geological interest, and we took an adventuring interest. I anticipated future Calleigh- delving into the Canyon to see it for more than we could appreciate from above. “Some day,” I told myself. While both Caroline and I adore camping, I am much more of a backpacker and adventurer. She enjoys camping with a drive to the location, exploring the wildlife and vegetation, and generally avoiding all of the hard work it takes to make an adventure worth it (to me).

I needed to get a photo or video clip of me skating or holding my skateboard with the canyon. I knew that skateboarding is illegal in any National Park, so I didn’t do much skating around. Plus, there were so many people I couldn’t justify being that much if a nuisance. Of course, all of those thoughts left my mind as I held the board in my hand. The setup I had was just simply built for fun, flatland and low risk skating. Whipping around smaller paths and holding it up as a trophy, I forced Caroline to film for me. Had she not been with me (I wouldnt be there without her anyways), I would have skated around the whole South Rim.

Seeing the canyon was about as much fun as we were going to be able to have. If we took a week long vacation to Arizona, we would go hiking and camping every day, but since it was only a 2-day pit stop as a rest, we took it face value. We exited the park, spotting some Burros and Deer in the wild. I tried to get a picture, but an overly annoying guided tour jeep ride was behind us, incessantly beeping. I flipped them off, which provoked them to beep longer at us, as if we were the ones holding everyone up. All of the cars in the vicinity were stopping to see the animals. The beeps made my blood boil. In my brain I thought of jumping out of the car, smashing in the headlights of their car with my skateboard, and engaging in a fight. I envisioned all of the possible outcomes- none of them being me with an impressed girlfriend or a higher sense of self worth. I took a note from Caroline, swallowed my pride, and stared ahead. It bothered me that in such a natural and beautiful area of serenity, a person could be in such a rush to leave, or to cause anger in anyone else. I just didn’t understand it. Humans truly have this instant gratification illness, and anything getting in the way of a constant state of moving forward is cause for uproar. I just don’t feel that. Neither of us did.

Racing against an almost empty gas tank, we pushed on to Williams, an hour’s drive away from the canyon. I faced my own hypocrisy when a car going 20mph under the speed limit was holding us up, and I made Caroline pass them. “Interesting,” I thought. Of course, there was no wildlife or grand canyon in the view. There was no reason to go so slow. Still, my pride was swallowed. If there was anything to learn from this, it was that I didn’t have to be the hot head I always was, and my family is.

With our itinerary for the day complete, we checked in early to our motel right along route 40 so we could leave early the next day. Almost immediately Caroline fell asleep- I wasn’t as tired, but I also hadn’t driven as much. With my highway hypnosis diagnosis Caroline gave me, she hardly trusted me behind the wheel. I picked up my laptop and got to work on a few clients I had for my online web development business. I just picked up a new client and wanted to act fast.

In the time of Caroline’s nap, I was able to complete a draft site for the new client and discuss terms with an existing one. Everything was going smooth for me. Once she awoke, 5 hours later, she jumped on a FaceTime call with her sisters while I wrapped up my work. I could tell she missed them- she was very close to her family, and for the next 6 months she wouldn’t even be seeing them. It would just be her and I.

It was time to eat. We wanted Dairy Queen because it was close by and cheap, but they closed for the season. It made no sense to me that a place like Arizona had “seasons.” Especially when temperatures typically stayed the same. The area we were staying in was right along old route 66- a historical marker soon to be obsolete once my generation’s children were our age and nobody alive was ever around to actually experience the old route 66. I debated with Caroline the thought that everything looked like it was due for a renovation- was it a lack of money from a dying generation of people traveling to see the grand canyon, or did they purposely keep it “old-timey” to hang into that old route 66 theme? I placed my wager that the town of Williams had laws instated to keep new businesses from coming in, and old businesses from updating for the new generation of gentrification. Regardless, it was difficult to gauge whether the town was run down, or they were thriving.

We decided to eat at a Thai restaurant. The menu was outdated, poorly written, and had few options. I wanted to go out and eat at the diner next door, but knowing that my girlfriend, as a vegetarian, wouldn’t find anything to eat there, decided to stay. I got a Fish and Seafood combination plate at “spicy level 4” (out of 5) and she had the yellow curry. We were both blown away by how good it was. We made the right choice to stay.

After stopping at a grocery store for some 40s of beer, we retired back to the motel and snuggled up, drinking and binging Netflix shows. Time escaped us when 230am rolled around. I had to be up at 7 to do a Skype interview for a potential job, and then we were off to familiar territory, to see my friends back at my old home in Oceanside, California.