When my husband suggested a mid-July vacation to the American southwest, I was excited about the venue, but felt trepidation about the timing. Just how hot would it get? (A common symptom among those of us with multiple sclerosis is the inability to adjust to high heat. We’ve got funky wiring to begin with, and combining that with extra heat can really throw your system out of whack.) When I got off the plane in Las Vegas and was confronted with 113 degree heat (even without the humidity, 113 is HOT), I could only think, “This is going to be a long vacation.” But as our trip progressed, we gained altitude and the temperature moderated, so I was pleasantly surprised.
We visited five national parks: Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Rocky Mountain. We also rode the cog railway to the top of Pike’s Peak. And we toured the very tall Glen Canyon Dam. All of these involved canyons, cliffs, mountains, overlooks, drop-offs, and/or peaks.
I’ve never been a daredevil when it comes to high places, and I expected I would embarrass my son. But I was so bad I even embarrassed myself. When I was standing at the bottom of the canyons looking up, I was fine. Being on an overhang with nothing below me wasn’t much of a problem, as long as there was a railing. Climbing the ladders up the cliffs at Mesa Verde didn’t scare me particularly. The thing that terrified me was the paths that had big drop offs on one side or the other with no barrier.
To observe me walk you wouldn’t recognize anything peculiar about my gait, except that perhaps I’m a bit more clumsy than the average person. I don’t fall down regularly or walk with a noticeably awkward stride. But I wonder if somewhere in my mind, whether real or imagined, I have a sense that I’m not quite as stable as the rest of the world, and each step puts me slightly at risk of losing it, which on some of these trails could be devastating. As long as I could use my hands as an additional source of support, not relying solely on my legs, I was okay. Just a thought.
Either that or I really am a namby-pamby, lily-livered, faint-hearted scaredy cat.