Given its close proximity to "the state that I am in love with" you would think that I would know a great deal about The Grand Canyon State. I really don't. I know that it's hot. It takes a lot for me to admit that a place is hot, you know, given the fact that I thrive in 90 degree weather and turn in to a veritable popsicle when the thermometer hits 62. But darn it, Arizona is hot. As in, a great deal too hot for me to really enjoy myself there for any length of time.
When I think of places in Arizona two things come to mind. Number one, The Grand Canyon. Number two, Lake Havasu. When we went to Lake Havasu I was, I don't know, five or six. We boated to our own private campground and, I'm sure the entire trip would have been smashing fun if it weren't for the mosquitoes. Y'all I am pretty much deathly afraid of mosquitoes. This does not bode well for my general happiness during Salt Lake City summers. Such a fear was developed as a result of the Lake Havasu Experience. We had a port-a-potty that we'd hauled out to our campground so that we didn't all have to spend a week, or however long we were there, relieving ourselves in the bushes. It was down a pathway and stuck modestly back into the brush. One day I tootled my unsuspecting kindergarten butt down the path, pulled down my bathing suit and squatted upon Sir Potty. At this moment 89 gajillion mosquitoes attacked my unsuspecting flesh and, if I remember correctly, the pain was almost unbearable. I don't even know how we ended up getting them off. All I know is that our golden retriever puppy, tied to a tree a few yards down the path, was nearly hanging herself trying to get to my screams. When all was said and done, I had 827 mosquito bites. Okay, I didn't. I think I had something like 71, but you'd have to ask my mom for the official count. Whatever the number, there were a great many of them and they caused a great deal of discomfort. I think we determined that the Satan mosquitoes had just hatched themselves and, when they saw my pasty white flesh, they knew they'd found dinner. So, uh, what we have learned is that Arizona has blazing heat and mosquitoes. Strike one and two.
But it also has The Grand Canyon. I've only been once and I must have been in about the fourth grade because every SINGLE picture of me shows yours truly wearing glasses and rocking the side ponytail. Let me point out that I have not ever needed my glasses for your average, every day, peering at a gigantic hole in the ground. I need them for seeing a blackboard. I need them for watching TV. When I turned sixteen, I needed them for driving (praise God for contacts). Apparently, in all my nine year old glory, I thought these new spectacles were stylin'. These were not awesome Tina Fey glasses. These were not tiny little wire rims that made me look fashionable and mysterious. These were big ole chunky rims. We didn't need a date stamped on our pictures, take one look at my glasses and it's obvious we were rocking 1989. Although it may have been '90. Those late elementary years are kind of a blur of layered neon socks and big bangs. It should also be noted that, during the Grand Canyon trip, I was at the height of my obsession with posing for the camera with one hip stuck way out and a hand bent ridiculously on it. It was sort of like Punky Brewster imitating Vanna White. But for this awkward little girl, the canyon itself was majesty. I remember standing in awe of sheer immensity and wondering, as I often do, what compelled the Creator to paint such a wondrous piece of art. Was it so that I could not, in my right mind, deny his existence? "To stand upon the edge of this stupendous gorge, as it receives its earliest greeting from the god of day, is to enjoy, in a moment, compensation for long years of ordinary uneventful life." John Stoddard.
I will take the heat and I will take the mosquitoes if that is the only way to take the Grand Canyon. Arizona is certainly not my favorite state, but I am glad to know that right now, as I sit shivering in the winter of Utah, there is a painted desert and a huge hole in the ground south of here, shouting the name of the Almighty God through its creases and crevasses and reds and browns.