Grand Canyon Here I Come by MacEva Wright

On July 7th at 1:07 AM, I piled into the backseat of my dad’s 2012 Toyota Rav-4 and bid my hometown adieu. Although I knew this goodbye wouldn’t be forever, with the journey I was about to embark on, a little piece of me felt like it would be. You see, traveling 1,800 miles and 26 hours away from your place of comfort can be a little daunting. And I was indeed daunted. But after several hugs and coos of “We’re so proud of you *Pengah” from my parents, and the reassuring looks from my brothers, I felt ready and at ease. Traveling across country was just the beginning of the amazing opportunity I had in store for the end of summer. As my brothers and I backed out of the driveway onto the street, I took one last look at my family home and whispered, “Grand Canyon, here I come.”

Six states and 12 hours later, we arrived in Oklahoma City (OKC) to retire from our first leg of driving. From Georgia to Oklahoma, it was interesting to see how the landscapes of all the states we passed through changed. The greenery and hilliness of the southeastern US slowly turned into the flat plains of the Midwest. As we were approaching our arrival to OKC, we weren’t sure what to expect from the city. Was our stop going to be filled with good eats and adventure or was it going to be a stop strictly for sleep? To our surprise, OKC was a stop filled with good eats and adventure. Immediately after we arrived at our hotel, we dropped our bags and headed out into the city. The first thing we did was eat, and let me tell yah’, we DEVOURED the food in the restaurant we ate at. The food was so good–too good I fear. After we chowed down, we went for a walk around the city, stopping at every mural we could find for a photo op. OKC had exceeded our expectations, and we were grateful for an eventful first stop on our road trip.

Had to take a photo in front of this super cute mural under a bridge in OKC.

For our second leg, we stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our experience at this stop was the exact opposite of our experience at OKC. I don’t know if it was because we were so tired from the day before or if it was the heat that kept us from “living our best lives”. What I do know is that as soon as we arrived at our hotel, we passed out. Not many memories from Albuquerque, but it’s okay. We’ll be back at some point.

After what felt like eons of travel, we finally arrived in Arizona. I held my breath as we crossed the state welcome sign. The thought of traveling so far away from home hit me again, so much so, that a wave of anxiety washed over me. I knew that my journey with them would be over once we got to Phoenix. I would have to drive to Grand Canyon by myself, and that scared me. For the next three and a half hours, I tried not to think about it. I laughed, sang, and screamed car tunes with my brothers. We listened to true crime podcasts and talked about everything for the next few hours. And then, just like that, we were in Phoenix, and it was time to say goodbye.

My drive to Grand Canyon was a quiet one. I didn’t feel the need to call anyone or listen to music. I just drove in silence. During the drive, I thought a lot. I thought about my family. I thought about my friends. I thought about everything on the planet, except for Grand Canyon. I didn’t want to think about that until it was time I actually needed to think about it. And sure enough, that time came. I had officially arrived at Grand Canyon. THE Grand Canyon. As I entered the park, I pulled over at one of the lookouts and observed what would be my new home for the next 3 months. “It sure does live up to its name”, I said to myself as I peered my eyes across the rippling ridges and dips of the canyon. I sat with myself at the lookout for a couple of moments. It was in those moments that I felt calm, relaxed, and safe. I felt ready to be here; ready to experience all that the canyon had to offer. I looked at the canyon one last time before I left to retrieve my house keys and whispered, “Grand Canyon here I am”.

*Pengah is short for Tupengah, a pet name my dad gave me after I was born.

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