A Day to Remember: Our Unforgettable Adventure at the Grand Canyon

Kenneth Sitjar

5/30/20233 min read

What could possibly tarnish a day trip to the Grand Canyon, an experience that only comes once in a lifetime? Well, excessive amounts of sunscreen that transform you into a real-life version of "Powder" from the 1995 film is a good contender. Thankfully, a co-worker of mine lightened the mood by comparing my appearance to Kratos instead. Despite a few comical photos that will be forever preserved - like the time of my ill-advised high school hair-bleaching incident, reminiscent of WWE wrestler Rikishi - at least we have many other photos to fondly reflect back onto.

We departed from Tuba City, hitting the bumpy stretch of road on US-89 towards AZ-64, a journey of approximately 90 minutes. As we turned onto AZ-64 and began our ascent, the sheer magnificence of the natural wonders ahead started to unfold before us. While the path occasionally narrowed, necessitating a decrease in speed, there was no time to spare for simply admiring the breathtaking beauty around us. As the driver, I could only listen as my wife engaged with the kids, enraptured by the wonders that surrounded us.

Eventually, we reached the Southern Entrance, proudly presenting our America the Beautiful pass to gain access. However, our adventure was far from over; more driving awaited us as we navigated mountain passes to reach the Visitor Center. We were racing against time, hoping to make it before the center closed at noon. Fortunately, our progress was steady, allowing us to pause briefly at one of the scenic viewpoints to capture some photographs—a rare occasion when I actually remembered to apply sunscreen.

After capturing memories and savoring the stunning vistas, we continued our journey toward the Visitor Center. Thanks to Sierra's excellent planning, we managed to find parking despite the bustling crowds that typically flock to the Grand Canyon during Memorial Day weekend. With our truck safely settled, we entered the Visitor Center to acquire booklets for the kids, a crucial step towards earning their cherished Jr Ranger badges and expanding their growing collection.

Before embarking on our grand adventure, we stopped by the gift shop for a few souvenirs and Jr Ranger hat for Eli. We then returned to the truck to enjoy the pre-packed lunch Sierra had thoughtfully prepared, diligently applying sunscreen beforehand. Admittedly, I'm not one to prioritize sunscreen, but considering the intense UV index, my recently shaved head, and the inevitable march of time, I felt compelled to take precautions. However, judging by the expression on Sierra's face, I might have overdone it a tad. Ignoring her concern, I stubbornly captured the moment with a selfie, thinking to myself, "Too late to turn back now!"

With our hunger appeased, our skin protected, and our pride somewhat humbled, we set out towards the shuttle buses that would transport us to our desired destinations, where the kids could meet with a ranger who would assist them in their quest for the coveted Jr Ranger badge. Arriving at our stop, we eagerly awaited the enlightening insights about the world that surrounded us. On this particular day, the topic was the Californian Condor, and to our delight, the boys and I volunteered to demonstrate the size and might of this ancient bird from the Ice Age—an interesting tidbit we picked up along the way. The children were captivated, enthusiastically answering questions, and as a perfect finale, we were treated to the sight of two majestic condors soaring in the distance. It was a truly magical moment! With the ranger's stamp of approval on the kids' booklets, we bid farewell and continued our exploration.

As a few more hours elapsed, hunger began to beckon once again. We retraced our steps back to the shuttle and eventually made our way to the car. But before departing, we couldn't resist a quick visit to the gift shop, where the kids would be officially sworn in and receive their long-awaited Jr Ranger badges. The day had been filled with awe, excitement, knowledge, and adventure. No photograph could ever capture the true essence of the Grand Canyon, and as cliché as it may sound, this remarkable place is an absolute must-add to your bucket list. There's simply nothing else like it in the entire world!