Whenever out-of-state relatives visited, my family would always take them on a weekend trip to give them a chance to see a different part of Arizona other than the valley. It would be an adventurous activity up north, in an attempt to prove to them that Arizona isn’t all saguaros and dirt like most perceive it to be. One year, we took a friend on the must-see Pink Jeep Tour where we went deep into red-rock country for some bumpy four-wheeling fun. Another time we took our grandparents on the Verde Canyon Railroad, which is known as the longest-running nature show in the state. The train weaves through a valley at 12 mph, allowing passengers to see the flora and fauna in between Clarkdale and Perkinsville. All the trips are filled with gorgeous sights and long-lasting memories.
However, the number one most memorable moment was during a trip to the Grand Canyon with our aunt, uncle and cousins who were visiting from Indiana.We made the drive in two cars via the Flagstaff route. Once we reached the park, we settled into our two cabins before going to see one of the world’s wonders. The best part of taking friends or family that have never been to the Grand Canyon is watching their face when they finally see it. Their eyes grow twice their normal size as if trying to take in the entire vastness of the canyon, and their mouths drop open saying “wow” in a non-verbal way. After the initial shock-and-awe wore off, we took them down the Bright Angel trail a bit. We walked down the trail that was no wider than arm’s length, hugging the side of the canyon wall and moving out of the way of the donkeys. When we felt we had gone far enough, we turned around to make the tiring hike back up.
We went to bed early because we were all tired, but also because we planned to catch the sunrise the next morning. You cannot visit the Grand Canyon and not watch the sunset or sunrise. It let’s you see the shadows slip away and the shades of red painting the walls and valleys. We drove to the lookout where a bundled-up crowd had slowly started growing. Right before the sun began to crest, we saw a light in the distance grow brighter and brighter. You could hear surprised gasps escape the mouths of everyone around you once they realized what the light was that they were seeing. It was a meteorite falling into the earth’s atmosphere right over the Grand Canyon. The flaming fireball zoomed right at us and many ran to hide while other tourists began snapping pictures. I clung to my father, as I watched my life flash before my eyes – literally. However, we were lucky that day. The meteorite disintegrated as it flew through the atmosphere and disappeared right over the forest behind us.
A quiet had enveloped the crowd. Everyone was looking at each other with large eyes and open mouths wondering if they had really witnessed what they just had. The sun rose over the horizon in a silence, as all the minds were still replaying that morning’s site that was now burned into memory.