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Road trip: The Grand Canyon

After living in Arizona for 27 years, I finally made it to the Grand Canyon. I had family in town this past week and received a text inviting me on their Thursday road trip. I was ecstatic.

Several Arizonians have told me that after you see it once, you've seen enough. But I couldn't disagree more. It was breathtaking, stunning and unlike anything I'd ever seen. We were there for a little over four hours and I felt like it wasn't nearly enough time. We walked around Mather Point near the visitor center. We drove east to make lunch and eat sandwiches at a picnic table in the shade. After, we stopped at Grandview Point where we hiked down a trail a little bit. Last we drove east to the Desert View Watchtower.

I'd love to go back and experience the train ride from Williams or see what it's like in winter or hike to Havasupai Falls or go on a three-to-five day white water rafting trip.

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Tybee Island: Day Six

Once again, dad and I woke up to watch the sunrise. This time I wore a sweater, but still no coffee. At 6 AM, we drove the 0.4 miles to the beach and parked near the wooden walkway. Once we reached the sand, we sat on the empty swing to the right. The swing to the left was occupied by three people bundled in sweats and hoodies. Waiting, just like us. About five minutes later a couple arrived. They went close to the shore, sat in the sand, and bundled up next to each another.

At around 6:33 AM, the sun peaked up from the Earth and I can't imagine anything being more peaceful than that oceanfront sunrise. It was beautiful. In silence, we stared out into the vastness of the sea. Freezing cold, we walked to the car at 7 AM.

The next few hours were spent showering, packing, cleaning the house a bit, and signing the guest book. The first entry told the story about the cozy cottage and how the owner's mom had lived out her days there as an artist. Much of its charm and the way its designed is owed to her. I loved reading other entries about the happy times so many people had there.

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I loved our few days in that cottage. It felt like home and hopefully I'll make it back there again one day. I'm so, so thankful for the time we had there. It was the first family vacation we had in 14 years, and it was wonderful.

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Tybee Island: Day Five

Dad and I made the plan the night before to wake up at 6 AM. We walked to the beach to watch the sunrise and thought we might find some of the cooler seashells if we woke up early enough. Well, it was high tide and we decided after exploring for three hours that 9 to 10 o'clock was probably the best time to hunt for shells. No matter. That morning was glorious and peaceful.

A handful of people were on the beach. Most were there to walk or take a run. It was windy and the coolest it'd been the whole trip long. I'd only wished I had a cup of coffee and brought my sweater. I admired the sun coming up over the ocean, one of the prettiest sites I'd seen. And the last 30 minutes where we just sat on the rocks and watched the waves kiss the shore.

We walked back to the cottage. Shortly after, we left for breakfast to a spot the bro and sis-in-law wanted to go. The restaurant had a hot plate in the middle of the table where you make your own pancakes, which were pretty darn good. We had fun squirting the mix into different shapes--flowers, smiley faces, and the like.

We went home to pick up the dogs and went back to Fort Pulaski--so the bro and sis-in-law could check out the site. When we got home, some napped. I sat outside. After a while, mom, dad and I took a drive to the store where I bought a Tybee Island tank top. The parents went back after my bro and sis-in-law awoke. I walked to the beach solo, laid out my towel, and sat watching the waves until they joined me later. We stayed at the beach for several hours. Mom, bro and I swam, wadding out until the water was above our hips and getting soaked as the waves crashed against us. I loved it. 

That evening we ordered pizza from Huc-A-Poos, which was excellent. Mom and I went on our last walk around the neighborhood. The roads were lightly lit and the wind pressed the beachy air softly against my skin. Tomorrow we would be leaving and I knew I'd have to say goodbye to this happy place.

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Tybee Island: Day Four

Today we decided to head to a different beach--the one by the pier where they'd been filming Baywatch for a little over a month. Unfortunately, the pier was closed. The lady in one of the shops said they'd wrapped filming with the main stars (Efron, The Rock, etc.) a few days prior. Today, they were filming some stunts. Dad and bro watched a motorcycle scene where the stunt driver drove up on the pier while yelling, "Get out of the way!" 

Mom, the sis-in-law, and I walked near the Baywatch tower on the beach. There were several crew members riding four-wheelers, dragging something behind them to smooth out the sand that had been roughed up from filming. Not far from the tower was an obstacle course with ropes, a wall and tall mounds of sand. Few people were on the beach. In the distance, dark clouds were rolling in and the sky poured down on us after about 15 minutes. Flip flops in hand, towels over our head, we walked past the crew scrambling to cover up their equipment and went to the car. On the other end of the island, near our cottage, North Beach wasn't stormy. So we went there instead and spent several hours searching for sea shells near the rocks and digging in the sand.

Later that afternoon we went to Savannah for some shopping and dinner. We stopped at The Paris Market (again), Prospector Co., Savannah Bee Company, and The Coffee Fox. Bro and the sis-in-law ordered Cuban coffee, which came in a tiny cute cup. They let me try a taste, but I couldn't handle its odd sweet + bitter flavor. I ordered an iced Mexican Mocha. Delicious with dark chocolate, habanero, and cinnamon. 

Unlike the previous day, we actually explored some of the squares, including the one where Forrest Gump sat on a bench (note: there's no bench there) and told his story. For dinner, it was The Pirates House where mom and I had visited two years prior and had platefuls of seafood. We left Savannah at sunset and stopped at the store on the way home. That night I took a bath, went to bed early, nestled in bed and watched the digital copy of The Choice. Absolute contentment.

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Tybee Island: Day Three

It was another early morning with a short walk to get coffee that was consumed along with french toast made by mom. Shortly after breakfast, I went on a walk with my mom, sis-in-law, and her and my brother's two dogs. 

We stopped at a farmer's market a few streets down where we purchased homemade popsicles. I chose the strawberry mojito flavor and felt like a little kid on the walk back to our cottage, the melted popsicle turning my lips bright red, thankful for a treat to provide some relief from the warm sun and Georgia humidity.

Sometime around 10 we drove a few miles down the road to Tybee Jet Ski & Watersports to rent kayaks. Mom and dad rode tandem, as did the sis-in-law and I. Brother rode solo. Life vests on and instructions given, we set out to Cockspur Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse is usually covered by high tide, but at that time of day we were able to walk the small bit of land comprised of oyster shells and marsh grass.

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The weather was perfect, just a bit of wind, but not too much that made the trip difficult. We set out for another beach and saw dolphins as we paddled our way. Bro tried to get video on his GoPro since none of us had our phones to take pictures. We squealed with excitement.

For three hours we kayaked, explored the lighthouse and beach, hunted for sea shells and ended the excursion near the docks where the dolphins (one a momma and it's baby!) were enjoying a free meal--fish remains dumped out by a fisherman's boat. The dolphins came within just a few feet of us. Mom and dad came the closest, as their kayak was flipped over by one. A dolphin touched mom's leg as she was getting back into the kayak. Now mom and dad can say they've swam with dolphins.

Those three hours were a blast and my favorite part of the trip. It was my first time seeing dolphins up close.

The evening was also eventful. After coming home and showering, we drove to Savannah where we stopped at The Paris Market before walking down River Street where we got pecan pralines from Savannah's Candy Kitchen. We ate our goodies while waiting for a Ghosts & Gravestones tour to begin. The tour started shortly before sunset and consisted of a trolley ride through town with a few stops along the way. There were a lot of theatrics, but the actual history was fascinating, like how Savannah was built on Native American burial grounds and other stories of death and violent events--from slavery, epidemics, hurricanes, and the like. 

Minutes after our trolley ride, it started to downpour. On the drive home, we stopped at Target, where I started to realize just how much my foot was starting to swell and blister. (Apparently I only put sunblock on one foot while kayaking.) A thunderstorm followed us on our way back to Tybee Island. Lightning struck above the ocean as we crossed the main bridge. At one point, the sky lit up green. I'd never seen anything like it. (It looked something like the first three seconds of this video.) Seeing that bright green sky above the vast ocean was my second favorite thing that happened that day.

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