Sunday, 14 November 2010

Happy doing nothing....

Currently it is 3.36pm on a Sunday afternoon and so far I have watched last night's X Factor while Mr P was still in bed (saying he is not a fan is an understatement and frankly there is enough whingeing and bitching between the judges to keep me entertained without adding in his twopenneth as well), watched the Grand Prix while squealing behind a cushion ( - so close and yet so far for Lewis) oh and put 2 loads of washing on, but generally that it is it.....and that's just how I like it frankly. Well it is Sunday after all!

Yesterday I read an article by Amy Molloy in this week's Grazia about people suffering in the "Burnout Generation" Molloy describes how she is one of a generation of mid twenties over achievers who are struggling to be able to down tools and just relax doing nothing - not something clearly I struggle with - apparently with all the stress and distractions of work/looming redundancy/debt alongside twitter, facebook, urban family demands as well as the real family it appears there is a whole generation of people so focused on building their career and packing every moment of their day full of experiences so as not to miss out on "opportunities" they are completely missing the joy of just being in the moment. It would appear that these Burnouts push themselves so hard to be the indispensable one at work, the friend that everyone turns to and as well as being the perfect son/daughter/boyfriend/wife etc that they completely miss out on all the small pleasures that life can offer up.

Now while I can relate to the manic lifestyle described by Molloy in this article as being indicative of my late twenties where working for a large retailer as a Marketing Manager I seemed to work very long hours, weekends and holidays and yet never really seemed to achieve anything. Looking back I can see now I was working not just to do the job/further my career etc but more working so hard as an escape to avoid facing the reality of being unhappy at home. And working in retail certainly offers an escape route as even the most family of events, Christmas, is the busiest time of year - gearing up for the boxing day rest for the marketing team then!

Fast forward 3 Christmases and I still work in marketing but only a 4.5 day week and instead of living to work it is working to live - and some of my happiest times are now just being able to enjoy the simplest things like sitting on Mr P's couch reading a good book (or a trashy magazine) while he zooms around playing cars on the PS3 (no I don't want to play and yes the graphics are fantastic) but the true pleasure is just being there in the moment, a snapshot of contentment and ease at just being ourselves but coexisting happily in the same space.

Admittedly the view isn't quite as awesome as the Colorado River from Plateau Point in the Grand Canyon but it is the same sense of contentment I feel looking over as he wins another race just without the exhausting walk back up the Canyon to look forward to.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

An afternoon jaunt at the Grand Canyon.....

So midway through our trip to Vegas we spent the weekend at the Xanterra Lodge on the edge of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon - a national park. Anyone who has been to the Grand Canyon will know the awe and beauty of the place which simply can't be described so I shan't even try however as they say a picture speaks a 1000 words.....

However what I can tell you all about is our adventure trekking down into the Canyon and the near death experience of getting back out!!

We arrived on Saturday afternoon and had a little amble around the top of the Canyon which is where this photo is from and we walked around looking for a good vantage point to watch the sunset, which was just stunning and causes all the rocks to change colours and hues continually as the sun drops lower and lower into the sky one of my best memories of the entire holiday (if you ignore all the other annoying tourists who were there - did they not know that we were claiming that spot of ground to watch so rude!!)

So while padding around we popped into one of the many gift stores and picked up a trekking leaflet and lots of information on the different trails that people can do. I also picked up the book "Death in the Canyon" and used it as the guide of what not to do. It would appear that most of the deaths in the Canyon are from 3 main reasons - not weather or rockfalls or even the local wildlife the main reasons are:

1. Photography - taking too many steps backward to get a good photo - I mean seriously you are on the edge of a cliff face and yet people loose all sense of danger in pursuit of the perfect landscape photo
2. Tomfoolery - again it is a cliff face made of rock and therefore crumbly but this doesn't seem to deter people leaping from rock to rock to show off and then slipping and tumbling
3. Stupidity - trekking up and down the Canyon takes a long time and involves using a lot of energy. Seemingly fit people have perished by simply not thinking it through and not taking enough water and provisions with them - something easily avoided by reading up on the do's and don'ts!!

So having read the book and the trail leaflet and deciding that the Bright Angel Trail was for us we figured we would see how far we could get - after a quick pop to the general store for the following key essentials:
  1. Water - 2 half litre bottles each (knowing that there are drinking water taps on the Bright Angel trail meant we could refill these on the route)
  2. Salty snacks - pretzels, nuts and Reese's pieces covering salt, carbs and chocolate wayhey
  3. Gatorade - packed full of essential electrolytes we would need to get back up the hill
  4. Torch - just in case it got dark
  5. Hats - keep the sun off and heat in - being bargain hunters we managed to get 2 Grand Canyon baseball caps for $10 bargain and we looked v cute in our matching headgear honest!!
And then it was time to set off, we left about 11.15am quite late it would appear as we passed so many people already on the way back up and frankly looking like death (it was the midday heat we figured as the walk down was deceptively easy we bounced down the hill at quite a speed). Walking down you get to see so much of the Canyon although I wasn't allowed to stop and look as Mr P said you can look at the view on the way back up you'll need the rest - charming!! So after reaching Indian Garden where we thought we would turn around to come back up we got chatting to another walker and realised it would only be a 20min flat walk to get to Plateau Point and a view of the Colorado River - stunning view and well worth the extra walk or so we thought at that point - of course it had all been downhill!! But to of gone all that way and not seen the river would have been a travesty.

So the long trek back up begins and oh Boy its long. They say it will take twice as long to walk back up as it does to walk down and as we left Plateau Point at 2.45 that meant using the maths it took us 3.5 hours to get down it would take 7 hours to get back up - and we'd arrive at gone 9pm!!! Eesh. So it was hotfooting it time and power walk the cliff side.

And it was hard going I really struggled the first 2 segments of the walk up with the lovely Mr P cheering me on we finally get to the last rest stop where we only had about 1.5 miles to go and had made amazing time as it was only about 5.30 and got chatting to 2 other guys who had been trekking from 6am that morning as they had walked from the North Rim (now that is a long long long walk) and here I got my second wind ready to bounce up the rest of the trail with the end in sight. However Mr P having for so long been our cheerleader crashed and burned so it was left up to me to be chief motivator for the last stretch. Following the chaps from earlier (a shiny yellow mac became my guiding light to follow) we ploughed on one foot in front of the other and then  torchlight with one foot in front of the other until joy of joys we turned a corner and there were LIGHTS we had reached the top and could see lodge lights and it was only 7pm so we did the entire 12miles in less than 8 hours not bad for two unfit novice walkers (no sticks or waterproofs which posed issues when it started raining halfway up) and all thanks to the Gatorade.

I would go back in a heartbeat though and next time I want to hike all the way down to the river and camp down there - just as soon as they get a lift in to take us back up to the top!!