Monday was what I consider the most amazing day of this entire trip. The day began with a drive out to the Grand Canyon. It was bizarre. As we headed towards it, a forest seemed to grow up out of the desert, until we were surrounded by tall, fire-scarred ponderosa pine trees. The air was heavy with expectation, but also with doubt. Was there really an amazing canyon hidden in this tangle of trees? Would it live up to expectation?

It did, and more. It’s kind of hard to describe the size and feeling of the Grand Canyon. It’s a lot like the traditional meaning of the word ‘awesome’, before it became another word like cool or neat. The awe was a big part of it. Las Vegas was pretty and Oregon was fun, but seeing nature at its greatest was something that you can’t imagine unless you’ve been there. It was almost spiritual, in a really extreme way. We drove 13 hours out of our way to get there…and it was completely and totally worth it.

We went to the North Rim, with is supposedly less touristy. I adored it; it was peaceful and not crowded and really allowed you the feeling of being alone on the end of the Earth.

If you’re debating whether or not to make the trip just for “some rocks”, here’s my advice. Do it. You won’t be sorry!

Later that afternoon, we followed signs on the highway to something called the “Coral Pink Sand Dunes”. I’m not sure what I expected, maybe some pinkish sand dotted with little bushes or something, but what I got was amazing.

The dunes were beautiful, to begin with. They were very pure pinkish sands, with no rocks or plants, and the wind had pulled them into amazing shapes. They were what you usually think of when you hear the word ‘desert’ which made them feel even more exotic. No one else was around, so everything was quiet and still. The sun was low in the sky, and everything just seemed to be waiting.

On top of that, these dunes were incredibly fun. You were allowed to climb all over them, since the winds would just smooth them out overnight anyways. I was the first one to the top of the big dune, and we all stayed up there for ages. The sand was so pure; it fell like water in ripples. This meant you could bury your legs, and it would look at normal as it you hadn’t moved the sand at all. I should know. I tried!

Underneath the warm upper layer of sand was a cooler, thicker sand. You could almost mold it, and it made the most excellent sandballs that held together in the air but splattered wonderfully when they hit someone.

Calum and I had the not so brilliant idea of rolling down the dune. I actually did, and it was hysterical. I should have taken a breath first, because I end up with sand everywhere, including my mouth and nose and ears! I enjoyed it immensely, especially turning a glittery orange.

We discovered the best way to slide down was head first on your back, pushing with your legs. Yes, this required getting extremely sandy, but if you were willing to take that risk, it was great fun!

The walk back to the car was a long one through a lot of sand. I was lagging behind Dad, and Calum was even farther behind me, so Dad started writing messages in the sand to encourage us to pick it up. I, of course, had to reply to each of these, which made Calum want to reply…it was amazing we even got home at all! However, it was a lot of fun, and something I will never forget!

-Iona-

NOTE: Iona’s posts appear courtesy of Broccoli