May 13, 2010

Love on the Rocks

After months of planning and preparation, the day is almost upon us. To celebrate our 20th anniversary, Dan and I are headed on a very special trip. Alone. Just the two of us.

If you’ve followed this blog for any time you have an inkling I like adventurous experiences and don’t usually do things the easy way. Therefore, there’s no cruise or tropical vacation to celebrate this milestone.

Nope, in just a few days we’ll find ourselves at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon ready to embark on a rim-to-rim backpacking trip. For four days we’ll eat, sleep and breathe the Canyon. No modern comforts or conveniences. And on Wednesday, our official anniversary, we’ll emerge from the rocky paradise, tired, dirty and hopefully filled with amazing memories (and pictures). Then we’ll scurry to a secret location (which I’m surprising Dan with) for some R&R, sightseeing and best of all—a shower! I am so excited I can hardly stand it!

What’s cool about this trip is that while we were dating, Dan introduced me to backpacking. While it wasn’t exactly what I’d call fun, it became a turning point in our relationship and a turning point in my attitude toward physical challenges. This is also the trip that led to Dan uttering those now infamous words, “Buck up little camper.” When I didn’t ditch Dan on the trail right then and there it was a sure sign our relationship was destined for long-term success.

Now we’re revisiting our “love on the rocks” with our first backpacking trip in over two decades. This time I’m older, wiser and far more prepared. And I've developed quite a respectable “buck up little camper” resume.

I marvel at how wonderfully hiking and backpacking symbolize a marriage and how this trip is a perfect metaphor for a life traveled together. It's poetic really. (I actually wrote a story about this very topic that will be published in a book coming out later this year.)

I'm so happy Carrie still wants to be my
friend after I almost killed her!
One thing I’ve learned over the years is, in order to be enjoyable and not tortuous, a trip like this requires physical preparation. For the last couple months I’ve added longer walks, yoga and some bike rides to my exercise routine. But the coup de grace of our training has been practice backpacking outings to a nearby deserted ski slope, aka Belle Bump. While the vertical rise classify this as a big hill, its 250 feet come at quite a steep ascent—and just keep coming until the top. Just ask Carrie who accompanied me one day.

The dark little speck on the hill is me.
The light speck next to me isTess.

Each weekend Dan and I hit the hill to train with backpacks and hiking poles (and of course our dog, Tess). What we couldn’t achieve in elevation, we achieved in weight and reps. Definitely not exciting hiking, but so necessary. And I’m proud to declare our training a success. I’m up to 40 pounds in my pack and at last Sunday’s hike, we ran out of training time before I ran out of energy.

Dan's so much faster than I am he probably took my
picture from the bottom and beat me to the top!
Tess thought every hike day was the
"best day ever!"
I don’t know exactly what this trip will bring. I wonder if it will live up to my tremendous expectations. I wonder if I’m really physically ready or if some detail will fall out of place and mess things up. And I wonder what unexpected surprises await. All I can do at this point is go with confidence that I've done what I can and trust that all will turn out.

At the least, I can't wait to view the overwhelming glory of creation, especially when we stand at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and look up. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps!

I ask you pray for our trip. Pray that Dan leaves his copy of Death in the Grand Canyon at home. Pray for a sense of humor, strength and perseverance. And pray that God fills us with wonderful memories and renews the union He joined together twenty years ago.

If it's not even possible to take in the immensity of the Grand Canyon,
imagine how immense and awesome God is.
 Our mountains don't usually have spectacular scenery like the Grand Canyon, but we're all hiking through something. What mountain are you climbing right now?


Terri Tiffany said...

Oh I am so excited for you and think you have planned the perfect celebration! I hate to hike but sounds like you two do and will love it!! The shower sounds best!!lol
Enjoy and be sure to tell us about your adventures!

k80 @ onegirlsjourney said...

Wow! That sounds amazing! Have a great time! I loved the metaphor...would love to read your story when it comes out! I hope we are as happy and strong 20 yrs from now, too! :)

Cheryl Barker said...

That's so great that you guys are going back to the Canyon, Kelli! You will have an unforgettable time to be sure. Don didn't get to go with his students again this year because of our son-in-law-to-be's graduation. Maybe next year...

Have a great time -- and happy anniversary!!

JerryLyn said...

Happy Anniversary! So thrilled for you guys. You are a great couple and I love the poetic metaphor (of course). Kelli, I especially love: Pray for a sense of humor, strength and perseverance! Don't big doses of those things help in having a good marriage centered on God. The two of you are an inspiration to so many. Enjoy God's creation...and each other! Jer

Susan S said...

Have a wonderful trip and celebrate each other! It's so funny because yesterday I got the idea to take Kevin to the PA Grand Canyon for his birthday this summer. But make sure to bring your documentation of US citizenship...just in case, ha ha.

Peggy said...

Have a great anniversary, you too Dan!!!
May God bless you both and give you a most impowering experience while you are see the wonders of His hands.
Enjoy the hike, the R&R, the shower and may God bless you both with 20 or 40 more years of hiking.
May God bless you both with traveling mercies as well.
Blessings and Love....Peggy

Sassy Granny ... said...

You are going to have such a blast! What a marvelous way to make a milestone of your 20th anniversary, too. Memories last way longer than roses.

Safe journeys. Wave from the North Rim and I'll wave back.


Sue J. said...

As prepared as you are, know that once you hit that canyon again, anything is possible--and I mean that in the best way! I'm hoping you get swept away by the scenery and stop to rest in the moment of a significant "mini-climb." Life is way more about the journey--celebrate the journey of 20 years!

Celebrating with and praying for you both. Looking forward to the pictures (when you get home!)....

Have fun, not-so-little camper!

Kelly Combs said...

I'm very excited for you and wish you a very happy anniversary! 20 years is no little milestone. It's huge - like hiking the grand canyon.

While it's not MY idea of a great vacation,(Did someone mention a cruise or tropical vacation?), I know you'll have a good time little camper. :-) Be blessed!

Laura said...

Happy Anniversary, Kelli! What a wonderful way to celebrate. Enjoy all of God's creation as you rejoice in your marriage covenant.

Melanie said...

I love this! Happy Anniversary.