Look at that skinny, awkward teenager hiking the Grand Canyon!
In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I’m going to begin a weekly post about travel experiences I’ve had that I have yet to write about.
This goes way back, but traveling around the US and staying at truck stops led to lots of greasy spoon type meals. One ubiquitous offering, especially in the South, was biscuits and gravy. I took the opportunity to have some every time, not because of the yummy factor – mass-produced gravy somewhat resembles glue – but because of the memories.
I am transported back to 1999. I am 14 years old and have just graduated from middle school. My mom is turning 50 over the summer and she has wanted to see the Grand Canyon for ages. We take a birthday trip out there for her special milestone (or tragic occurrence, depending on one’s view of turning 50). As most 14-year olds are, I am eager to test both my parent’s boundaries and my own.
We stayed close to the Bright Angel Trail, which led deep into the canyon. My parents, surprisingly, gave me permission to hike alone, something I am grateful for to this day. Seeking adventure, I would awaken at 4:30, drag my usually lazy-in-the-mornings butt out of bed, lace up my hiking boots, and hit the trail well ahead of the scorching summer heat. Being an inexperienced hiker and also being alone, I would only hike an hour down into the canyon and then turn around and hike back out, but the beauty and solitude was one of the most exhilarating things I had experienced in my young life. It was made all the sweeter by my newfound independence. I could linger at the vistas I wanted to, break for water when I wanted to, and not have to pose for 85473758 photos. It was like being a grownup.
I would arrive back at our cottage, shower off the sweat, and join my parents, who would suggest going out for breakfast.
Now, my 14-year old self was a somewhat picky eater. Hard to believe these days, given that there are almost no foods I don’t like. But 14-year old Amanda was 100% NOT a breakfast person, yet I had two parents who loved a good, hearty breakfast. Most times if we went out for breakfast, I would make do with nibbling a bagel.
After two+ hours of hiking, a bagel would not be sufficient fuel, and it was far too early in the day to get a burger. I turned my nose up at eggs, bacon grossed me out, and pancakes were only acceptable if my mom cooked them. So, with few choices left, I tried something new – biscuits and gravy. To my rumbling stomach, they tasted like heaven. I had them every morning that week.
So 18 years later, I rarely turn down the chance to indulge in biscuits and gravy, even though I’ve since developed quite an enjoyment of all traditional breakfast foods. Not because I’m a Southerner, not because they even objectively taste that good. To me, they taste like gorgeous vistas and freedom.