Last summer, my family went to visit the Big Hole in the Ground, which is known in some circles as the Grand Canyon. Let it be known that my sister Colleen and my idea of a nature-filled day was one spent watching the Discovery Channel. A sweaty August day spent hiking and observing was not high on our list of ways to spend a summer vacation. We trailed far behind our enthusiastic parents, who were more than eager for our life-changing experience to begin. Stifling yawns, we began the half hour bus ride from the parking lot into the National Park. As the bus slowly made its way up dusty, hot roads, Colleen and I slathered on sunscreen and turned up the volume on our iPods. My sister and I are anything but your stereotypically self-absorbed teens. We just happen to appreciate the beauties of city life much more than that of nature.
At the bus’s first stop we exited in a crush of bodies and languages. We were astonished by the myriad of people that had chosen this scorching desert as their vacation destination. Of course we weren’t one of them. We had been coerced. My parents led us down a small trail and all of a sudden we were at the edge of the world.
The landscape and skyline were of such magnitude and glory that they looked artificial. Staying safely away from the sheer drop, I began taking pictures with a wild ferocity. There was so much, and I had to capture and make art of it all. After a few minutes, I began to realize that all my pictures looked startlingly similar. I was incredibly frustrated. This trip obviously had no merit in it.
The rest of the day was spent in a dusty, hot fog. We walked along the edge of the canyon, read signs and heard stories of all the people that had fallen off the edge and died. Needless to say, those stories did nothing to rouse my excitement and resulted in me staying even further from the edge. Finally, at about three in the afternoon, we ran into a small gift shop. Being the only source of air conditioning for miles, it was extremely crowded. I bought a small turquoise ring as my souvenir. I figured I deserved to get something from this day.
As I continued to browse, I came across a wall of paintings of the Big Hole by some local artists. The paintings astounded me. I had never seen such beauty captured on canvas before. The colors and shadow were impeccable. I looked out the window of the gift shop but the landscape I saw there was nothing like the one in all the paintings. For the rest of the day and the bus ride back, I wondered. It hit me as I got into the car. All I saw of the Grand Canyon was dirt and rock because that was what I chose to see. The paintings showed me the beauty that I had overlooked. Every subtlety made the landscape one of the most beautiful. Now as I look over my pictures on the computer, I see the wonder that my closed-off mind missed in person. While the city will always be my style, I will never again underestimate nature’s beauty.
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