Name Change Please!

November 2, 2011
By Shannon Norris BRONZE, Hoffman Estates, Illinois
Shannon Norris BRONZE, Hoffman Estates, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Sure, I’d seen many beautiful, professionally-taken photographs of it and heard from some of my friends of the splendor I would view. I’d seen postcards with a picture of it on there and calendars with nothing but pictures of it from different angles. Despite seeing all these things and hearing all the good comments from my friends, none of it would ever prepare me for the reality which I actually experienced. As I stepped out onto the edge and looked down, my jaw dropped. Words could not describe the landscape that lay out in front of me. I couldn’t say anything as I breathed it all in. The Grand Canyon will forever be one of my favorite family vacations.

The drive from Mesa, Arizona up into the Grand Canyon State Park was an adventure, to say the least. We all had been at my cousin’s wedding the night before so we were all sore from dancing and tired from staying up late. Irritable would be the perfect word to describe each of our moods that sunny morning when we left our resort in Mesa. The only family member who wasn’t completely short-tempered would have to be my sister, Jenny, who was actually in the wedding as a Jr. Bridesmaid and was still basking in her “ten minutes of fame.” The views were gorgeously scenic as we drove which thankfully kept us all quiet and distracted us from biting each other’s heads off. While sporadically reading my book and then also enjoying the landscape, I dozed off into a light sleep and wasn’t awakened until my dad yelled “LOOK!” with so much excitement I had to stifle a moan. His gaze was fixed on a sign that read “Mule Rides Here” with more information listed about how to contact them. I instantly had mixed emotions about what this event would entail. My first thought made me laugh out loud as I thought about my brother, Jimmy, riding down into the canyon on a mule. A 280-pound collegiate lineman should never ride a mule, ever. Also, having a slight fear of heights, I wasn’t exactly excited about descending into the world’s largest canyon on an unreliable animal. My sister questioned my dad to see if we would be doing this just as we drove by the barn-type structure where the mules were housed. I answered “No” for him and motioned toward the mules within the fences. We all agreed that those mules didn’t look as if they could carry Jimmy and so we wouldn’t be participating in this part of the trip. My dad mentioned several bus and hiking tours that our lodge provided which sparked more interest among my family.

Five and a half hours after we left our resort in Mesa, we arrived at our lodge right in the heart of the State Park. One immediate observation I made was the change in weather. It was late March and eighty degrees in Mesa but only about half of that in the State Park. Another was that it didn’t look so much like the stereotypical Arizona parts we had driven through to arrive there; the deserts and rows and rows of cacti. Instead it was lushly green and full of large evergreen trees. We got the key to our cabin and unloaded our rental car. We decided to eat in the main lodge because they had an “all you can eat” buffet that looked pretty appetizing. While in the main building, my dad inquired about the tours and hikes and found a few that were worth choosing from. Over dinner, we discussed and chose to go on a morning bus tour that had several stops around the rim of the canyon and we would be able to get out and take pictures. After stuffing ourselves to the brim, we trudged back to our cabin to enjoy a nights rest.

In the morning I was woken up and didn’t feel fully rested but I was actually excited to see the canyon that I’d heard such good things about and seen such beautiful pictures of. After bundling up we opened the door of our cabin to leave to go to the main lodge where the bus would come to pick us up along with others who planned to attend the same excursion. The fog was so thick that we could barely see our car parked in a parking space about 10 yards away. But we hesitated only for a moment as my dad took the lead up to the main lodge. We each grabbed something small from the breakfast options because we planned on going to a bigger lunch after the tour. Shortly after finishing our food the bus arrived and we climb aboard as the only passengers for about five minutes (we’re always early) until about twenty other tourists boarded.

We took the back seats and my mom, my sister, and I all got our cameras out as to not miss any nature or unexpected peak at the marvel we were about to see. On our way to our first stop we we’re brought to a halt because of elk crossing the road in front of us. After they made their way across they had a little scruff, or so it seemed because they we’re butting horns. This exciting site kept my eyes peeled and looking for other animals which kept me occupied until the bus began to slow as we approached the opening in the trees that I’d been waiting for. There it was. It was so much bigger than I’d ever conceived it to be in my mind. As I stepped off the bus I was seemingly magnetically drawn to the farthest point where we were allowed to go to.

With my family close behind, I stepped out onto the edge. My mother gasped (she always was a worrier) as my sister joined me. One by one my family stepped to the edge to fully experience the wonder that presented itself in front of us. Breathless and speechless, we all took in our surroundings for the next five minutes. Every once in a while someone would point something out deep in the canyon. But other than that, the natural beauty that surrounded us took the words right out of our mouths. I now understood why they call it the “Grand” Canyon. But for me, that doesn’t seem to embody the true experience. A name change is in order, from the “Grand” Canyon to the “Indescribable” Canyon.

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