By Matt Keibler
“Do you want to go to the Grand Canyon to see the sunrise?”
Now, I am one for adventure. Hiking Mt. Baldy, snorkeling on the Atlantic shelf, walking alone through a Moroccan market, traversing the hills of Scotland through sleet storms – I have no trouble with getting outside. The real issue is getting friends to go with me. Happiness is only real when shared, no?
So, when I asked my dear friend Rachel to spend her one day off on one of the last weeks of Summer 2015 to drive seven hours across the Arizona desert in the middle of the night for a few dawn hours on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, I was nervous that she would say no. After all, this was the last thing on my summer bucket list before senior year. Who knows where we would both be next year? I warned her. It would be an exhausting task. We would need coffee and Clif bars and maybe some 90s throwbacks to get us through the night. And I knew that she was the only one crazy enough to say yes to this.
And she did.
“Great. Go take a nap. We leave at 9:30pm. Sun rises at 6:37am.”
She did not realize the immediacy of my question and yet, she took it in stride. Within a few hours, we were packed, caffeinated, and midway to Barstow, where we would leave the traditional route to Las Vegas, instead opting for the 40 freeway and another 4 hours of desert. Musically, we had moved through The Great Boy Bands of the 90s, and into 90s alternative rock. Blink-182 was a better vibe for a midnight drive through the California desert anyways.
Now, I am a boy from Florida, and I thought I knew heat. Summer nights are a balmy 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a light breeze, if you’re lucky. My best memories are sitting on the beach after midnight in the late summer, watching the lightning from a far off storm illuminate the ocean. The flash of blue mirrors itself on the water, and for a split second, you can see the beach around you. Sometimes you could see a boat far, far in the distance. Most of the time, you saw the horizon of blueish black meet the stars. But only for a second. In that consuming darkness, you are left with nothing to do but sit down and bask in its awe.