My family and I had never been to Grand Canyon before. In fact, before this trip, the most relevant Grand Canyon experience I could recall was watching a three-part episode of the Brady Bunch (that’s the one where Bobby gets lost in the Canyon and rescued by Native Americans — remember?) I had assumed that I would find Grand Canyon to be beautiful, like a familiar postcard come to life. But I didn’t really think I was going to be awestruck. I mean I had seen the images of Grand Canyon in IMax movies and so forth — how much more impressive could it be in real life?
Well, there’s no photograph that can come close (and there some amazing photographers, mind you) to capturing the majesty of this natural wonder. I think the Romantic Poets would have called the experience: Sublime.
Long story short, we had a blast. And of course, since this wasn’t simply a family outing but an educational adventure, we learned gobs of stuff! I was pleased that our reserach of Native American cultures paid off — we encountered many words and references to the various tribes we had recently read about in “The History of US.” For example, one of the train cars that we rode on was named, “Anasazi.” The girls remembered this tribal name from last week’s history lesson. “Hey, Dad, aren’t those the cliff dwellers?” (I was beaming with pride as I thought, “They remembered! It’s actually sticking!”)
We picked out some great books and field guides. When we were hiking about or dining at the lodge, we were reading. The girls were fascinated by a handy geology guide. And they had also brought along a Guide to North American Birds. (They were even more hooked on the bird book after the Ranger’s California Condor lecture.) Oh, and by the way, we did get to see a Condor — and a whole lot of Turkey Vultures. The book I selected was a bit morbid: “Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon.” Like the title suggests, it documents all of the known deaths that occurred in the national park. Anything from dehydration to dropping off a cliff is covered. It was creepy yet fascinating, and it made me a VERY, VERY CAREFUL DAD as we walked around the park. After reading the book, I was shocked to see so many poeple hoping over the walls and disregarding signs, just to take a snapshot.
Our favorite part of the trip was the Jr. Ranger Program. The girls completed four activities and attended two ranger talks. Afterwards, they received a signed certificate, they pledged an oath to protect and enjoy the Grand Canyon, and then they earned a plastic (yet adorable) ranger badge.
Fun was had by all… And not a single fall.