“I don’t think you’re ready for this,” Anna warned as we approached the entrance gate. 

Peering out the window at the miles of flat land the seemed to stretch on forever, I wasn’t convinced that there was any sight as impressive as what I’d been told out there. I was intrigued.

We drove through the gate and parked at the scenic overlook. Opening the car door, the winds of the west Texas high plains immediately whipped my hair into my face. As I struggled to keep my hair out of my eyes, we walked out to the overlook. 

There it was. 

Palo Duro. 

photo courtesy of Anna LeBaron
The Grand Canyon of Texas.





I’m a woman of few [spoken] words in any given situation, but I had none as I looked across the canyon. The layers of colored rock, the hazy horizon in the distance depicted the rugged beauty my Carolina girl eyes aren’t accustomed to appreciating. To the left, to the right, to the fore–the canyon continued as far as my eyes could see. 


It’s the word that came to mind as we stood there, and that has stayed with me since. 

This year has brought many unfathomable, deep, impressive events. 

Like the rough landscape of a west Texas canyon cuts through the earth, 2017 has cut a crevice in my heart, mind, and soul that will forever be there. 

Just as the red clay of the canyon has properties with the power to stain, so have the events of this year stained my spirit, in ways both lovely and unbearable. 

As I gazed across the canyon, trying to make sense of its vastness, I also found myself struggling to make sense of this year, of these months whose memories are so intertwined with sweet and bitter. 

These months that have allowed me to experience so many different landscapes with both my eyes and my heart. Landscapes so breathtakingly beautiful and so bleak and unwelcoming. 

Part of me wants to sit with pen in hand for hours and pour all the memories into the page. But part of me does not want to remember, because every single fun memory is tinged with the red-dirt stain of loss. 

I want to write about those 23,461 miles that took Anna and I across the country. I want to tell the stories of how an introvert survived a four-month road trip. I want to share the pictures that prove we actually did it (because sometimes it all feels like a dream). Yet, remembering is hard right now. Not because I can’t remember, but because the bitter memories are still too fresh, too personal, too intertwined with the sweet. 

They are unfathomable to my brain that still tells me I can text my sister. 

They are a deep crevice that has been ripped through my heart. 
They are a vast wound in my soul. 

Nothing could have prepared me for 2017. 

I wasn’t ready for this.