As someone who was born and raised in Arizona, I definitely take living in the valley of the sun for granted. Hiking and camping are things I enjoy doing from time to time when the sun isn’t threatening to melt the flesh off my bones. The heat is the main reason I’ve never wanted to stay in Phoenix. I would actually seek jobs out of state over the summers so I would skip the +100º temperatures. Not to say I don’t see the beauty around me and often taken back by the astonishing sunsets, but I don’t travel outside the city often.

After a five-month process of applying and waiting for approval to become a permanent resident in Canada, last weekend my boyfriend finally flew into Phoenix from Vancouver for the first time. One of the main things he wanted to experience while he was here was to see the Grand Canyon, something I had done plenty of times with family and friends.

It’s the cliché of going to visit your friend in LA and asking to go to Disneyland. As seen in this photo, my brother and I always enjoyed our visits. My mother was always overly concerned that we were going to fall over the edge and most of our footage is her scolding us for getting too close to the railing. Once I got older, I did take a road trip with a friend up to the canyon and maybe spent an hour in the park, tops. There’s not much to do other than walk around the visitor center and take selfies behind rocks to make it look like you’re falling.

After his plane landed, we had dinner with my family and then drove the two hours up to Flagstaff. The hotel we stayed at was on Route 66 and Wayde though this was the coolest thing. I had probably driven along that road hundreds of times and not thought twice about it. We weren’t in any rush to get to the Canyon the next day, since we didn’t make any plans to do anything in the park, so we slept in and had breakfast nearby. After a quick stop at Walmart, it only took about an hour and a half to arrive at the gate. We had an incredible time, walking along the south rim for about a mile, stopping to take pictures and video chat with Wayde’s mom in New Zealand for her birthday. She had no idea he was visiting me, let alone currently standing in front of the canyon. When he said, “I have a birthday surprise for you”, planning to turn the camera to show her the landscape, he noticed her face light up. Later, Wayde told me he was convinced she was expecting to see an engagement ring on my finger…

We didn’t stay long since we couldn’t view the canyon from the north rim, the sunset wouldn’t be as exciting. Once we were in Flagstaff, I drove us to a local pizza place I had eaten at many times as a kid. After checking out, we took our time driving back down to Phoenix, stopping in Sedona for lunch. I was particular about where to eat some good Mexican food, even though Wayde had been to Mexico and has eaten the food there. He picked a restaurant right off the main street and we had a great view from the second story patio. We enjoyed refreshing salty margaritas, delicious enchiladas, and each other’s company.

It was humbling to see him be amazed by things I see almost every day. Not only did I enjoy showing him around and introducing him to my friends and family, but this would probably be the last time traveling to the national park for the foreseeable future. Since I’m going to be moving to Seattle in about a month, I will take this experience as an opportunity to be more appreciative of my time left in the Grand Canyon State.

TLDR; I took my boyfriend to the Grand Canyon for the first time and felt appreciative of the landscape I take for granted most of my life.

Thanks for reading and go drink some water
-Ri

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