If you haven’t heard it enough yet, I will add my voice to the choir: the national parks are not underrated. If you have a chance to go to one, do it!
We made it to Grand Canyon National Park this week and you guys…it’s amazing! I never understood what was so fascinating about a giant hole in the ground, but now I get it. It’s breathtaking and majestic and you can stare at it for hours and still find new things to notice.
Now folks, there are two ways to do the Grand Canyon. One is to get out of the car, walk to the gated viewpoint, take a photo, remark how beautiful it is, then get back in the car and check it off of your bucket list. I tried it this way for the first few stops along the path. Then I opted for the second way. See, just to the sides of the marked viewing points, there are trails that lead to the edge and around the rim…and there’s no one there to stop you…and there’s no sign that prohibits explorers.
Can you spot me in this picture?
THIS is the way to do the Grand Canyon. Sneak off of the beaten path and find a ledge to sit on. You can sit in solitude for hours watching birds and dragon flies catch the updrafts from the canyon walls and feel the rush against your face from below. You can truly respect nature and the bounds you have been given as a tiny specimen on this great earth. You can see the sheer terror spread across your partner’s face as he yells at you from the secure viewing point to “crawl honey! Four contact points are better than two!” and thank him later for taking your picture and starting the discussion on life insurance.
Now some take this off-the-beaten-path attitude to an extreme. Allow me a silly story. As you travel along the rim of the Grand Canyon and stop at the different viewing points it is not uncommon to repeatedly see other travelers doing the same. We ran into lots of families time and again and there’s one that sticks out. One family had a…a…let’s go with “festively blessed” tween boy that knew no bounds. At many of our stops the peaceful sounds of awe spoken in a multitude of languages was broken by the desperate screams of a mother at the end of her rope on account of her son.
And there was Braden…why are they always named Braden? Is there a single well-behaved kid out there named Braden? Some men want to watch the world burn. Those men are currently in their formative years needlessly upsetting their mothers, and they’re all named Braden.
Braden was a…a…round young man in a bright yellow polo shirt that felt the best way to enjoy the Grand Canyon was to give his mother a heart attack. Braden could be seen skipping precariously along the safety retaining wall, jumping out to the farthest ledge and pretending to slip into the canyon, and running full speed towards the canyon only to stop at the last moment and laugh at the paleness that had permeated his mother’s face. This is NOT the way to appreciate the Grand Canyon by leaving the beaten path. But it made for some entertainment along the way.
The Grand Canyon is so much more than a large hole in the ground (FYI it’s a mile deep and 10 miles wide). It’s a chance to connect with nature and feel the humility of your humanity. It’s a place to awaken your spirit and feed your soul as you smell the sweet scent of the Utah Junipers and explore to the edges of your mortality. It’s a place to sit and sort out your thoughts. A place to feel tiny and insignificant, and yet connected to it all.
So if you get a chance to go see it, it’s worth it.