The Grand Canyon is such an incredible place to travel. My pictures only partially capture the emotion of watching the sun rise over the north rim.

Sunrise at Grand Canyon National Park, 2013

Sunrise at Grand Canyon National Park, 2013

In the spring of 2013, I moved out west to Santa Rosa California for a job as a tour guide. The job description was to lead tours of 15 international passengers of all ages, across the country, driving a van and trailer full of camping equipment. I jumped at this chance to live on the road and see parts of the U.S. I had only read about. Had I known then what the summer to come would be like, I’m not sure I could have contained my excitement… or apprehension. The next 7 months of my life were wild, crazy, exciting, exhausting and stressful and overall an integral life experience for my own personal growth.

Among the many national parks, big cities and hiking trails I would explore that year, the Grand Canyon stood out as the most other-worldly. 277 miles long, 18 miles across at its widest point and over a mile deep, this epic geological feature carved out by the Colorado River for over two billion years, boasts the most significant aspect of the roughly 130,000 square mile area of the Colorado plateau. Towering sandstone cliffs striped with varying colors of red, tan and brown dominate this region and give a sense of vastness and wonder that is so characteristic of the southwest.

I love how the light from the setting sun brings forth the deep red hues of the canyon.

I love how the light from the setting sun brings forth the deep red hues of the canyon.

While enroute for a training exercise to this popular tourist destination and to prepare for the 7 visits I would make to this national park that summer, I rehearsed my speech to my fellow trainees. I practiced giving talks about our destination and received feedback before we moved on to the next tour guide in training. Each person took turns talking about sandstone, canyons and rock strata. I had rock strata on my mind so heavy my head felt as thick as those cliffs; old and weathered.

A few fellow guides sitting in awe and silence.

A few fellow guides sitting in awe and silence.

Around noon this day we stopped at a gas station for a restroom break and to stretch our legs. I went inside the shop to have a look around and starting browsing through a collection of hats. My eyes caught glimpse of one with a picture of the Grand Canyon, so I tried it on. Feeling confident and satisfied that my new hat would fit the theme of our travels, I showed some friends. “What do you guys think of my new Grand Canyon hat?”

Odd looks were exchanged and laughter ensued as they quickly pointed out my hat had two strips of bacon on it! I looked again and sure enough, in talking about the geology of the area all day, my eyes saw bacon but my head thought, “Hey, rock strata! Cool!!” Crazy how I could confuse the two! Oops.

The infamous Bacon Hat story.

The infamous Bacon Hat story.

Of course I still bought the hat and suffered the nickname ‘Bacon Bits’ for weeks to come. I loved that hat! I had everyone sign it and it made a great conversation starter till oddly enough, months later, I lost that hat in the Grand Canyon.

Being a tour guide tested my limits for patience, stress and exhaustion. That whole season was a struggle between being a leader and making time for myself. Because of this experience, I now know when my spirit can be outgoing and talkative, and when it needs alone time to recharge my batteries. Tipping the scales too far in either direction is never healthy.

Balance in all things:) Click To Tweet

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? What did you think? Did it inspire you or leave you underwhelmed? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

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