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Because I am a good wife, and I love my husband, a couple years ago, I let Hank talk me into spending our vacation driving around what he calls "the real Southwest."
Which meant two weeks of driving this scenic route to that national park, listening to guys with faces like old shoes talk about this boring shootout, and that bug-filled hideout. Hank had the time of his life. I bought a very cute cowboy hat in Durango.
(Which I then lost two days later, on a Jeep tour of Monument Valley. My god, would it have killed them to wait two minutes while I went back for it? So what if we didn't get to see every single butte -- you've seen one butte, you've seen them all.)
As part of Hank's fixation with "the real Southwest," he considers the South Rim of the Grand Canyon strictly for "tour buses full of douchenozzles who want to take their picture on a mule, buy a fridge magnet and hightail it back to Great Neck."
So of course, we had to drive 12 hours out of our way -- literally, all the way around the actual Grand Canyon -- to the North Rim.
But it turns out, Hank is also a good husband, because when we finally got there, he had reserved an honest-to-god room inside an honest-to-god lodge for us to sleep in. Not some snake-filled cabin, not some horrible plastic tent, but a room with a shower, bed, and everything. Heaven. (And the dining room was also pretty amazing -- we ate overlooking the canyon, as the sun set. Oh, and they made the BEST margaritas. Not too much salt, which is where a lot of margaritas go wrong, if you ask me.)
Little did I know, Hank was just buttering me up, because come 4 a.m., I feel a little nudge. It's Hank. He wants to know if I'm awake.
I'm thinking: God, let me sleep, you horndog. But no, Hank wants to watch the sun rise.
We just SAW the sun set, but sure, why not. It's just the middle of the night and pitch-black outside. Why not just go wander out and walk along the edge of the biggest hole in the ground? What could go wrong?
But he's got some plan, so off we go into the night, him following some signs only he can see, me following the back of his 2003 DEA FUN RUN hoodie, until we end up on some chunk of rock, next to a tree.
Underneath the rock? Whole lot of nothing. Overhead? Ditto. Straight ahead? You get the picture. So I curl up next to Hank, and figure, I'll just drift off, and next thing you know, it'll be morning and we can go back to the dining room and see if they've got crepes...
And all of a sudden, a bird starts singing. I've lived in New Mexico for a lot of my life, okay? I know my birds of the Southwest. This was... not like any bird I've heard before.
Then this squirrel comes running along the ground, runs up the tree, and sits on a branch, about two feet from us, and looks at both of us for about four minutes. (Probably thinking: You idiots. Don't you know it's the middle of the night?)
Then? The whole sky turns this unbelievable pale, pale bluey-pinky color. And that's when I realize that the whole Grand Canyon is, like, magically appearing out of thin air and every second, there's more of it than there was before.
I... don't even really know how to describe what it looked like. You had to be there. But it was the best 20 minutes I ever spent on a cold rock in the middle of nowhere.
Hank goes: "How about that?"
Which, he had a point. And yes, he was right about getting up to watch the sunrise, and ever since the trip, that's officially on the list of Things Hank Was Right About, along with My Car Should Not Be Making That Noise, and Sugar Gliders Do Not Make Good Pets.
Here's the weird thing -- we drove all over the state of Arizona, plus some parts of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. We visited a number of national parks, saw things of great beauty, learned many boring historical facts about cowboys and outlaws. We didn't visit a single spa, or sit on any beaches, and it turns out, no, the North Rim Lodge dining room doesn't have crepes for breakfast. But if I'm honest? It was the best vacation we've ever taken.
And I say that, even though we didn't purchase a single novelty souvenir spoon, which is apparently the must-have vacation memento. I don't even need my lost (and very cute) cowboy hat to remember those two weeks, the long drives, the unbelievably red dust that got everywhere, and especially, Hank's warm shoulder under my cheek, as we sat on the edge of the Grand Canyon, watching the start of a new day.