We all have that one person we can sit with and endure, no enjoy the awkward silence with. My person is Katy. We ponder our thoughts and with precision and purpose we speak. Now as the years have gone on with Katy the length of our silence has diminished, but we still speak with precision and purpose, most of the time. Katy and I spent 15 days on a road trip up and down the west coast two years ago and from that day on I was convinced she’d be in my life for the rest of it. This weekend we celebrated her 26th birthday!
I asked her to have the day available if she hadn’t already made plans for the day after her birthday. I surprised her and took her to one of her favorite spots in Arizona, which also happened to be our last stop on our road trip two years ago, the Natural Bridge just outside of Payson.
One would never think you’d find this oasis in the high desert of Arizona, but some odd years ago someone did and it became a state protected park. When you first enter you drive down about 1,000 ft to the park entrance where you pay $5 per person. You come across a manicured lawn where on a slow day in the park you will see families of javelina. From the parking lot you hike down further into the canyon with a few switch backs to reach the bottom. Towering over you about three stories is the natural bridge. It looks similar to a cave but it is lit up from both sides. Above you water rains on you though the sun is shinning and there’s not a cloud in the sky. The water is clear blue where you’ll find the occasional fish and crawdad. On a busy weekend its a crowded, but on the weekend the solitude is calming and reflective.
Katy and I met through a mutual friend. I’d made my way into a friend group that I had so desperately longed to be apart of. The joy they shared with one another and the support that they had for each other is one that not everyone is so lucky to have. As I made my way in with each member, Katy’s was one of kindred spirits. Our love for outdoors, country, and a cold beer brought us closer. She’s the one I share my joys with, who I call after a break up, one that supports me in my runs and races. I have pride in her accomplishments and her in mine (we’re sure to celebrate with a local cold one). We’ve spent 4 days in the Grand Canyon together, multiple camping trips, and even more road trips not matter how long or short they are. We make our adventure plans over flights of beer that get us giddy for the outdoors. She’s like a sister to me, which we have been mistaken for before.
As we hiked through natural bridge we came across a group, two fathers and their two boys traveling across the country from Minnesota to San Diego to return a vehicle to one of their daughters. We took their picture. Though we may be just a blip in each other’s lives, they will remember our willingness to take their photo and we will their willingness to share their story.
After our encounter with this group we found a football stuck into a hole. The big question running through my head was who put that there? How long would it be there? Why was it there? I like to think that some kid is going to pick it up and be inspired by the football and the nature that surrounds it.
Katy and I had the chance to stop to have beers and lunch at THAT Brewery. After its performance I have to say that it has made the top 5 breweries on my list. The beers were fresh and crisp, light for a hot day. We recounted our hike and looked to our future for more outdoor excursions.
The natural bridge brings great wonders out of Arizona. It is an oasis that is protected and preserved just like my friendship with Katy 🙂
Till the next great adventure!