I have been imagining this trip for the past 6 months. When I registered to run the Grand Canyon Marathon, Nate and I decided that we were going to make a HUGE trip out of it. With all the energy and enthusiasm that Nate could muster [which is a lot...], he planned a 2 week vacation where we could explore the wonders of Arizona and Southern Utah. I was definitely apprehensive about how Jace would handle 17 hours each way in the car, but he was wonderful. Nate planned it perfectly that we wouldn’t have to drive any one leg of the journey for more than 5-6 hours at a time. We left Boise on Sunday, the 6th and traveled to Springdale, UT, which is a tiny town right outside of Zion’s National Park, our first official stop, just one hour west of St. George.
In SLC, we picked up our rental car, because honestly, our little “Mitsu-shishi” would not have survived the trip. This Ford Explorer is now my dream car… Sigh. Maybe someday. Actually, probably not. ; )Due to my preparations for the race, I was supposed to take it relatively easy; no hiking and minimal activity. If it hadn’t been for some great books to read, than I would have gone batty. The system we established was that Nate would take off in the early, early morning to get sunrise pictures, and I would sleep in with Jace. After his morning nap, Jace and I would go on walks and explore the charming little tourist towns that would surround the parks. Below is one of the hikes that Nate did called Angel’s Landing. It was pretty treacherous, but he had a blast. At the top, he was attacked by rabid chipmunks, but the view was worth it. After his long hikes, he would come back, get Jace and I and we would take lunch into the park and ‘leisurely stroll’.
This was another of Nate’s long hikes called The Subway. It was 10 miles long and Nate thought he might die a few times, but he made it back to us safely and had this beautiful image to show for it.
This is the first of 3 Panorama pictures that Nate took. You can use the mouse to scroll around within the picture.
On the 4th day of our trip, we were changing locations from Zions to Page, AZ. Nate and I were booked to do a tour of Antelope Canyon, and as we were pulling up to meet our tour guide, I saw these two figures leaning against a wall. I kind of chuckled and thought that it might just be some cute locals starting their day with the morning paper. But as we drove closer, I saw eye holes… and then the papers were shaking with laughter…. and all of a sudden, they whipped them away, and simultaneously I started scream my lungs out!!!! Mom & Dad Perkes had come to cheer me on!!!! I’m the luckiest girl in the world!!
Horseshoe BendThe entrance to Antelope CanyonQuite possibly my favorite shot of the entire trip…From Page, AZ we finally made it to the Grand Canyon. Our little brother Max, and his sweetheart, Ashlee came down from Provo to join us and I was SO PSYCHED to have them there!! THIS is our very first view of the Grand Canyon. My eyes could barely comprehend what I was seeing, almost like they wouldn’t focus. I think that the US Government has been tricking us the whole time, and it’s actually the worlds biggest green screen.
Jace and I were equally blessed to have Mom and Dad here to take care of him. So that I might be able to get enough sleep the night before the race, he had a slumber party with his grandparents. I doubt that even I am able to take better care of him than they do. I am so, so grateful that they came. Here I am in the EARLY morning of the race at the starting line. I have 4 layers on, and I am so glad that I did. The concept is that you bundle up and then strip the “wicking layers” and chuck them as the day warms and as you warm up. The forecast had called for a snow storm that day with freezing temperatures, but it turned out to be the most glorious, sunny, beautiful day I could have ever wished for.
Meanwhile, my supportive fans got to arise a little later than I did…The first 16 miles were along the rim of the Canyon, and then the last 10 miles were through the National Forest into the little town of Tusayan. The entire course was hilly, which was very exhausting, and the part through the forest was ridden with mud pits, slicks of ice, cattle guards and active railroad tracks. NOT ideal conditions. I didn’t dare hope [but I did] that Nate would find a way to see me on the course. At Mile 16, I heard him before I saw him and was so, so happy that he was there. He got a BIG FAT KISS, and then I trucked on [I know that I look pretty frumpalicious in those brown pants, but I chucked them anyways at Mile 17 when the mud got really bad. Besides, staying warm was the priority].My fans waiting at the finish line…The very last leg…Crossing the finish line!!!The moment I had been waiting for…
I was literally treated like royalty, which made running the marathon worth it. ; ) I got to sit down, which alone was heavenly, and Nate brought me some sandwiches and ORANGES [the best tasting thing on the planet at that moment]. I got wrapped up in ‘aluminum foil’ and then they took off my running shoes [another taste of heaven] and got me into my sweats and slippers. It was… just wonderful. They let me nap the day away after I soaked in a hot bath and then we went out and had a celebratory dinner at the ‘Arizona Room’. It was a wonderful, perfect, glorious day!Running this marathon brought with it a myriad of emotions and epithets. The race itself was riddled with feelings of exhilaration, camaraderie, exhaustion, despair, pain, power, gratefulness, love and desperation to ‘come home’ and use my last bit of energy to launch myself to Nate. That scene is what I envisioned EVERY single time that I would run during my training. I would imagine myself crossing the finish line and collapsing into Nate’s arms. Through this experience I learned that I am the master of myself. I control everything about ME, and that is a hugely empowering emotion. I also learned that I can do hard things, and coming to realize that has changed my life. I can do ANYTHING, especially things that are hard. Probably the most wonderful ‘understanding’ came to me around Mile 9-10 of the race. I am running along the rim. I am feeling strong and energized. I look over to my right and I see the wide expanse of the Canyon. A part of me feels small, but the greater part of me feels like a champion. I haven’t done it quite yet, but TODAY I AM BECOMING A MARATHONER!! Regardless of how big that Canyon is, today I am bigger. In fact, ALWAYS I am bigger. My Heavenly Father loves me MORE than the greatest of His material creations. TO HIM, I matter more than the 7 Wonders of the World. The most powerful Being in the Universe is my Father and I am His precious daughter. Marathoner OR NOT, He loves me perfectly. That pure knowledge is worth running a hundred marathons.
The next day was Sunday, and after a life-changing lunch of Beef Stroganoff we went to church at a tiny LDS branch. I hobbled around for the next couple of days. Mostly it was just my left knee and hips that hurt the most, but I alternated hot and cold compresses and got better lickety-split! By Monday morning, our family had departed, and it pained us to see them go. We enjoyed our time with them SO MUCH! Playing games and spoiling Jace and seeing the wonders of the Canyon together… and EATING, of course [mine and Dad's favorite activity]!!! Nate and I left Monday afternoon and here are our last pictures with the Canyon.
On we were to the next chapter of our adventure: MOAB and Arches National Park!! It was during this drive that we wished we had a sun roof. This was our view [Blasted plane kind of ruined it...] :
Here’s Nate doing a handstand under Delicate Arch:
Sunrise at Mesa Arch:
This is our last day in Arches and we used that time to take family pictures. We had dinner with my brother, Andrew and his beautiful wife, Danella, and Nate’s mission comp, Josh and his lovely wife, Lacey that night in Provo. The next day [after a phenomenal lunch at Zupa's], we finally hit the road to head home.
Here are pictures of some other dear family and friends that we got to see on our trip. My Aunt Belinda and Uncle Paris:
My dearest friend and sweet mission companion, Leanne and her son Beckham [she also has a beautiful daughter, Eden, and husband, Kevin, that aren't in the photo]:
Nate’s mission companion and friend, Josh and his gorgeously, pregnant wife, Lacey, who were SUCH amazing hosts and friends [thanks for everything guys... we owe you]:
And my brother, Andrew, and his beautiful wife, Danella:
This was quite the life-changing experience. Not only was the marathon itself, and the training included in it, one of the hardest things that I have EVER had to do in my life, but we got to see some of the most beautiful vistas that we’ve ever seen in our lives. It’s been so good to be home, and to unpack and decorate for the holidays. There’s nothing like “Home Sweet Home”. I do have to say to Mom & Dad… thank you, thank you, thank you… for loving me enough to come and cheer me on, for taking care of Jace better than anybody, and for spoiling us all rotten. We love you, miss you, and CAN’T WAIT for Christmas. Oh, and here is Nate’s post about the trip on his photography blog.