Experiencing love and Life in Peek-a-Boo Canyon

Grizel Caminas, Artist

The night before we explored Peek-a-Boo Canyon in Kanab, Utah, my husband Eric and I cuddled up on the front porch of this beautiful and simple cabin tucked away in the desert, drinking red wine and listening to the wind toss the red sands. We watched our two dogs teach our three-month old puppy how to be more dog. We skimmed a 3-ring binder packed with info on Kanab and all the outdoor activities that can be found just a few minutes away. And our  pre-planned conversation, which we knew needed to be full of focus, patience and technical coordination, escalated to that place where we both needed time and space apart. Eric took the dogs on a long walk through this beautiful property and I angrily (and quite poorly) played violin in the living room. Ah, the joys of vacation!

When he returned with sad eyes, I didn't acknowledge him. He courageously asked if I wanted to see the canyon. I gave him one word: “Fine.”

When it was time to hop in the truck, we drove 10 minutes down the road. The roaring engine of our 1998 Ford 350 diesel truck broke the discomfort of silence. When we arrived, I quickly jumped out and stalked the sandy path. If I hadn't still been angry, I might have noticed how late it was and how deep the sand actually was. Eric quickly caught up and wanted to talk. The walking helped me release negative energy so I was feeling more open to listening, to remembering why I married this man, and why I was here in the first place.

We paced the dunes frantically for the next hour, listening to each other and feeling the desire to understand. But by 5.30 pm, the sun was setting and we were still three miles short of our goal.

It was lucky I heard a motor coming up the hill. I immediately stuck my thumb out — a habit I picked up when I was on long trails.

“Y’all look like you may need a ride,” the driver said. The fellow, Brant, was fair skinned with red hair and a smile that glowed in the desert sun. He owned Razor Edge Tours. And his phone was dead from working all day while he drove tourists back and forth across the dunes. 

With a gentle curiosity he asked, “Does your phone have music?” 

“Heck yeah it does!” I snagged the power cord and selected something comforting. Brant started across the dunes toward the canyon. The ATV’s engine was loud so I put my ear to the speaker as the tunes began to play.

As a melancholic artist who loves to feel, I find it humbing to really think about what matters most. And I felt humbled by this stranger’s kindness. It reminded me of a truth I have come to value throughout the overwhelming storm of 2020, Covid, the toxic political climate and friendship heartaches: Life isn't often what you think it's going to be. One minute you're on a mini-vacation with your wonderful husband, then your adorable puppy chews on the violin you’ve treasured for 20 years. Then you catch a ride from a stranger who is kind enough to value another human and their experience.

As much as I crave to feel in control, I am beginning to accept that sometimes all we can control is how we decide to interact with what’s going on internally and how we choose to experience the world around us. That’s it. 

We finally arrived at the slot canyon, and Brant offered another kindness. He’d seen other hikers and wanted to pick them up so they could see the slot before it got dark. “Maybe I could pick you all up and take you back to the parking lot,” he said. I smiled ear to ear, and told him as long as I could choose another song for the way home. He laughed and drove off.

Before we took another step, I grabbed Eric’s hand and squeezed it tight. Then he grabbed me and held me close. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I love you, and we are going to figure this out.” And with just 45 minutes to see my first slot canyon, I breathed deep to calm my nerves and come back to the reality of where I was and who I was with — the love of my life. We disappeared into the crack within the walls. I lightly touched the sandstone on either side of me, watching the sand slowly float down into the wash as if it were dust. Eric’s footsteps echoed and the vibrations from my voice bounced between those canyon walls with intensity, never to be heard again. It was just us and this moment — all that ever mattered, anyway.