The Grand Canyon

So many feels around this trip. It’s amazing to me that after so much traveling that major lessons are still being learned. The Grand Canyon is one of Vlad’s most favorite places in the US. When he first immigrated to the states his family went on a vacation to the canyon, and when we took the long van trip last winter his only request is that we stopped to see it again. At that time we had never backpacked before but we were going to try and hike out to the plateau and back, which was ruined when I ended up with a high fever. I felt better later in the day but we had run out of daylight so we settled for a walk down to the 3 mile rest house. It was hard to ignore the heartbreak in Vlad’s face, he wanted to get down to the bottom of that canyon so damn bad. I promised him that we would come back to finish out that hike and I meant it. The last couple of years we have spent a lot of time and money chasing my dreams, this trip was all about chasing his. 

By this time we have done a lot of backpacking. Joshua Tree, the Redwoods, Rocky Mountain, Red River Gorge, Chatahochee, and multiple northern Michigan spots. So I am feeling confident, we are experienced, we have all of the expensive lightweight gear, this is going to be a breeze. Well, not quite. The advantage of hiking the Grand Canyon is that you are one of a hundred doing so. There are a lot of people around you, running water and real toilets at the bottom, even a restaurant that serves steak and beer. However, this hike, is not one to be underestimated. Walking nearly 8 miles straight down into the earth and then crawling another 10 miles out of that hole a couple of days later, all in 100+ degree heat took a toll on my body. Vlad is a true Russian mule. He probably could of doubled the trek, smoked two packs of Marlboro reds, and still done kart wheels at the top. I think he only drank one liter of water the entire way up, compared to my six. 

We were actually pretty beat post hike. The line at Wendy’s was probably 30 people long, but that french fry never tasted so good. One night while we were in the canyon I woke up to find myself alone in the tent. Vlad was gone, and so was the camera, so I knew he was out exploring the night sky. After he didn’t return for close to an hour I began to panic. I couldn’t stop imagining that he had slipped and fallen off of one of the trails and was now floating down the Colorado. I laid there shaking and choking down vomit silently waiting to hear footsteps. Just as I jumped out of the tent to start my own search party I saw his headlamp bouncing down the trail in the distance. He had gone out to the river to watch the moon rise, to stare at the stars and take in our last few hours inside the depths of the canyon. 

The next day while we were sitting at the laundry mat, I watched his eyes fill with tears as we looked through the images on my laptop. Despite my anxiety and knee and toe injuries, seeing how much that hike meant to him made everything very much worth it. The beautiful suffering will be a story to tell for years to come. 

Other than the Grand Canyon we did some exploring in New Mexico, stopped at Horseshoe Bend, hiked through Waterhole Canyon, visited Arches National Park, and spent a couple of days doing more hiking and relaxing in Colorado. We ended up returning home a couple of weeks earlier than initially planned because Vlad accepted a new position. His career change had made the trip more significant than expected. The goal is to be able to eventually work remotely, however it is likely going to be a year or so before he will have that flexibility which will change our ability to travel for such long periods of time in the immediate future. The realization does make me sad, but I am also incredibly proud of Vlad for successfully making such a big jump that I know he has been working very hard for, for a long time. I was already really trying to make this time about celebrating him, and the universe gave us one last big hoorah to close out almost a full year of being on the road. I am really excited to see how this next adventure plays out, and all of the new places our opportunities will continue to take us. 

As always, so incredibly grateful for this life. For the ability to explore, for a partner who adores me and carries my pack when the trail gets too tough, and for loving being home as much as I do being away. Until next time.

Meghan KindsvaterComment
Savannah, Month THREE

This was our last consecutive month in Savannah. I will be returning for the month of May and October for weddings, but this was sort of the end of our beach walking, yoga loving, book reading days. 

I set several intentions at the beginning of this trip and I really feel like they were all accomplished. I wanted to make yoga a daily habit. I have practiced on and off for several years but I wanted this chunk of downtime to start feeling the benefits. And it worked, I am totally hooked and have been committed to fitting this me-time into my schedule on the road and at home. I also wanted to get more comfortable with cooking and to check many books off of my reading list. 

Vlad had to fly home to be with family halfway through the month whichwas a total bummer and an agoraphobic flare up, but per usual, despite lack of sleep and appetite, I survived. We don’t get the chance to spend a lot of time together back home, but after being inseparable for 75 days, dropping him off at the airport made my heart ache BAD. 

After leaving Savannah I had to head down to Key West, FL for a wedding. Thankfully my very close friends were able to meet me and spend the week keeping me company and even took me snorkeling along the rock reefs where we found starfish and numerous crabs and other unique and sometimes scary little creatures. From Key West I was able to reconnect with Vlad and we spend a couple of days laying on South Beach and lounging around our amazing AirBnb treehouse. And then of course, on the way back north we couldn’t resist making a stop in Asheville for dinner, our favorite Himalayan gift shop, and sunset mountain views. 

We had to return to Michigan for a few days to get some work done and pick the van up, but we will leave early next week for our road trip out to the Grand Canyon. Last year I was sick during this leg of the trip and we missed out on backpacking down into the bottom of the canyon. This has always been a goal of Vlad’s so I am really thankful that we are able to do a “makeup” trip. 

We spend a lot of time and money chasing my dreams, so this coming month we will be chasing his.

Savannah, Month TWO

I can’t believe that two months have already flown by. Looking back on this month it feels like we didn’t really do a whole lot. Which I suppose is the goal. We did a bit of traveling, visiting Atlanta for Vlad’s birthday, backpacking the Panther Creek Trails, joining the Women’s March on Washington in DC. (DC has it’s very own blog post, so if you haven’t checked that out, you can do so at www.sdfasfasd)

There was a lot of relaxing in between the trips. Many lazy days of reading and yoga and attempting to cook. Long phone calls with my mom and best friends. Running loops around the island, bike rides to the post office, Netflix binging. Even grocery shopping has made a day eventful. We were invited to photograph our AirBnb host’s beach wedding. It was the coldest day in Savannah that we have experienced yet, but was also our first southern country boil. Vlad tried an oyster, I politely declined. 

Soon life will pick back up to normal busy schedules so I am really trying to embrace the boredom and allow my mind and body to recharge. It is hard, it makes the days feel less purposeful, but I know that in a couple of weeks I will be wishing for these slow sunny days. While there are still a lot of travels to be had before returning to Michigan for the summer, these travels will be centered more around work than play. 

Vlad has obligations back in Michigan for a couple of weeks in February so I will be roaming solo for a bit which I am actually dreading. Even though I spent much of the van trip last year by myself the anxiety is always present. I will leave the little beach cottage in just 2 short weeks to make my way down to the Keys for a wedding and then we head west to finally backpack the Grand Canyon (Vlad’s only goal since we left there last March). 

Even though I will miss this time in Savannah I am looking forward to creating in more new places. Continuously thankful for these opportunities, for our freedoms and adventurous hearts. 

Meghan KindsvaterComment