The Grand Canyon has a rep. Other national parks and tourist destinations have their allure, but there’s something about the Grand Canyon, something profoundly archetypal, that sets expectations high: it’s not just big, it’s grand.
It’s always been a wonder to me how these standard beliefs find their way into Zevin’s mind. I’ve always thought of television as the normal vector for distribution of cultural axioms, and we don’t have one, and yet he knows that the Las Vegas is full of Elvis Presleys, Niagara Falls is romantic and the Grand Canyon is a Natural Wonder of the World. I mean, he never watched The Brady Bunch Grand Canyon episode, so where does that come from?
Well, wherever it came from, it came. Visiting the Grand Canyon would take three days out of our itinerary, between the getting there and back (and, of course, the being there), and it’s a difficult place to visit if you want to go deeper than “Scenic Overlook Tourism”. There are lots of beautiful spots to get out of your car and take in the grandeur, but if you want to get into it, well, it’s a good four to five hour hike down to the canyon floor.
And that’s down, and if you go down, you have to go back up.
So, having visited Arches, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion at this point, Michelle and I wondered to each other whether it would be worthwhile to make the trip to the Grand Canyon, or perhaps it was time to exit the 100°F+ heat of the southwest and begin making our way to Phase II of our journey, the California coast.
“We have to go to the Grand Canyon! It’s the whole reason we went on this trip!” Zevin told us.
Alrighty then, Grand Canyon it is.
So off to the Grand Canyon we went: we arrived at dusk, just enough time to take a peek at Bright Angel Viewpoint on the North Rim, and cook ourselves a bit of dinner at a nearby pull-off / picnic area. Zevin had by now developed a powerful combination of hunger for the company of fellow children, and a fearlessness in approaching them, so he spent our dinner playing with an eight year old he introduced himself to before the van had even stopped rolling. (The boy, the youngest of four, explained of being the only boy in his family, with a professorial matter-of-factness: “it sucks”.)
It was a good half hour+ drive back out to the national park land where we spent the night, but it was quiet in the woods (and free!) so a spot I’d happily recommend to anyone else visiting the area. In the morning, after a quick breakfast, we headed back in to take in one of the Seven Wonder of the Natural World: the Grand Canyon.
Getting Zevin out of the car to explore, though, proved to be a challenge. He was engrossed in his book, and, when we told him that it was beautiful, and he really should go see it, he calmly explained, as you might to a nine year old, that adults enjoyed different things than children did, that he was not interested in seeing the Grandy Canyon, and that it had been our idea to come here, not his.
While the privacy concerns associated with it disturb me as much as the next guy, I swear there are times that I wish that everything we say could be recorded for later on-demand playback.
But fine, whatever, we did manage to get him out, and took ourselves a lovely stroll from various viewpoints around the North Rim. It’s pretty, even grand.