Going someplace ‘Grand’

I’ve been impatiently counting down the days, hours and minutes until it’s time for me to say hasta la vista to Worthington — for just a little bit.

By the time you read this, I'll be on a plane to Phoenix, Ariz. with my mom and Maria, a Norwegian that stayed with my family in 2012-2013 — my senior year of high school. Our girl’s trip will take us to the Grand Canyon to witness one of the world’s greatest natural wonders — the first time for both me and Maria.

We don’t have concrete plans regarding our trip to the Grand Canyon beyond knowing that we’re going (and we have at least half our hotel stays booked)!

I’m excited to get away for a week, especially to have the time and ability to share in new memories with someone whom I remain close with despite the approximately 4,000 miles of land and Atlantic Ocean that separate us.

I’m also excited to explore a natural phenomenon that is relatively close to home.

Trips like this get me thinking about why more people don’t take in the beauty and opportunities that are right at home. It’s something I’m just as guilty of. Quite frankly, I’m ashamed it has taken a visitor from another country to be the incentive for me to take the time off to visit a world-known landscape.

I think back to when I temporarily lived in Norway. I jam-packed those five months with travel and adventure to take advantage of the opportunity I had while over there.

I’m learning really quickly that as I distance myself from childhood, it takes a very deliberate effort to carve out time to get away. Even as someone without kids, I find myself easily sucked into a myriad of activities, hobbies and responsibilities that keep me plenty busy beyond my 40-hour work week. I was thankful to be able to carve out some time last weekend to spend with Maria at my folks’ place in Nebraska.

Saturday was such an enjoyable day, as we visited Ashall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, which is in my parent’s figurative “back yard.” Named literally after an ash fall event about 12 million years ago that led to the extinction of animals that roamed northeast Nebraska’s grasslands, the state park allows visitors to view the fossils that continue to be uncovered. Perhaps the most amazing part of the park is a rhinoceros barn, which includes fossilized barrel-bodied rhinos at a former watering hole site where they perished and were preserved in the ash bed.

While we were there we took a slight detour to feed the trout at Grove Trout Rearing Station near Royal, Neb.

Operated by the Nebraska Game and Parks, visitors can purchase food to feed the fish. Despite how many times I’ve fed the fish and how old I get, it’s still ridiculously fun to throw food to the fish and watch them flop near the surface to beat others to it. The facility aids in angling and conservation at Nebraska rivers and lakes.

Near or far, there’s always something to see and experience.

Our little trip has reminded me to reduce the “next time” attitude and embrace the opportunities that come my way as they do. As cliche as it may be, it’s true that “next time” is never guaranteed.