Skip to the recipe here. Cheesy Risotto
The Grand Canyon was brilliant. I walked down the South Kaibab Trail in the bright sunlight and carried a full pack of provisions for our trip. Mystery Man, Hockey Guy and his girlfriend, Lady Hockey, hiked along side me. It was only a 6.1 mile journey, but the elevation change was a decent of 4860 feet with little water on the trail and the sun was already baking. We had a full day of walking ahead, but luckily had a campsite along the Colorado River awaiting our arrival.
Mystery Man had just graduated with his Master’s Degree three days earlier. It had been several long years stuck in classrooms, computer labs and offices. It was time to get outside.
I knew the hiking would be challenging. It would be hot. Once we were on the trail we were at least three days from getting back to civilization. I knew all of these things and more. What I deliberately put out of my mind were the shear cliffs and dizzying views from heights I would not be comfortable. I suppressed my fears. I hiked along. Dealt with it. In fact, we were getting close to the bottom of the Canyon and I thought ‘hey, I might have put my fear of heights behind me.’
Then I saw this.
Are you kidding me?!
I approached the bridge with shaky knees. Mystery Man was fully aware of this bridge, and had kept this little detail to himself. He knew I would do it – if there was no choice.
There was no choice.
The walking surface was made of grates. You could see all the way – straight down – to the moving river. The bridge was suspended between two rock faces and swung slightly in the breeze.
I laughed at my previous thoughts of overcoming my fear of heights. It was real. It was happening.
We were the only people on the trail, so I asked the others to stay off the bridge to minimize any movement. Taking a deep breath, I put my boot on the first grate, looked straight ahead and strode my short, little, tired, shaky, legs to the next grate. Then the next, then the next. It was a long bridge.
The red dusty dirt clouded the air when I jumped onto solid ground. I finally exhaled. The others had started across and where taking their time with pictures and pausing to take in the views. I peeled my pack off and took a rest on a large boulder.
They joined me at the boulder, and we soon decided our short rest was over. Darkness was just two hours away and we still had to set camp and make dinner.
Upon arriving at our home for the night, Mystery Man and Hockey Guy suddenly became slightly panicked. A camera was missing and the search was on to find it. They decided it must be back at the resting boulder and left Lady Hockey and I to set camp.
So we did.
We set camp, prepped the stove, and settled in. I was getting hungry and short tempered. It was time to get dinner on and Lady Hockey insisted we wait until they returned before beginning to cook. Where were those guys?
Finally. Boots kicked up dust into camp. Making my way to the stove to get things going, I hear Mystery Man suggest we take a short walk down to the river to take in the sights.
“I’m hungry”. I groaned.
He promised it wouldn’t take long and suddenly all three of them were prodding me along. I followed reluctantly, until we reached a path to the helicopter pad. The trail head was marked for “Authorized Personnel Only”, and with a chip on my shoulder, I refused to go further. I really, really, just wanted to return to camp, eat, and rest.
Since I was being the stubborn rule-follower, Mystery Man found a nearby overgrown path. It had thickets. I had changed out of my boots into sport sandals. He led on in front of me.
I called up to him, “If I hurt my feet, I am never going to forgive you!”
“Never?” He said over his shoulder.
“Never!” I yelled.
Just a few seconds later he stopped. The Colorado River’s edge was at our feet, and the valley colors were every shade of orange and green with the setting sun. As I took in the greatness surrounding me, my eye was suddenly disrupted by an unnatural sight. Another bridge stretched across the canyon, but this one was bigger, and there was some sort of trash or strange flag hanging from it.
I turned to Mystery Man, “What is that?”
“I don’t know. Here, check it out.” He said, and handed me binoculars.
The view was very blurry at first, and it took some time to adjust the lens in the darkening valley. I finally zeroed in on the spot. This was not trash or a flag.
Hanging on the bridge was a giant white sign. It had five words.
Jessica Will You Marry Me?
Completely stunned, I brought the binoculars down and turned to Mystery Man, who was suddenly on one knee, with a ring.
Here I was. Covered in red canyon dust. Sweaty. Smelly. Cranky. And here he was. On one knee. Asking that we spend the rest of our lives together.
“….well?” he asked.
It didn’t occur to me he had been waiting for an answer. Of course I would!
A few moments later we headed for the bridge to retrieve the sign. Thoughts were flying through my head. The ‘lost’ camera, the stalling for dinner, leading me to the right spot along the river… It was all coming together and making sense. That’s when he looked at me.
“It’s all uphill from here.” he said.
“Very funny. I’m hungry.” I replied.
(We had Mac & Cheese with canned chicken for dinner. Since I can’t have Mac & Cheese anymore, I have found this recipe fills the craving, and brings back memories of the Canyon.)
Print It Here Cheesy Risotto