The article below appeared on the National Geographic’s website which was coordinated with the 2009 documentary about our national parks, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” by Ken Burns . National Geographic asked for accounts of first time visits to a national park:
The first time I visited the Grand Canyon was the occasion of the wedding of my daughter Rachel Anna on May 24, 2008. In 1993, Rachel’s mother, who was an artist, died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 49. Rachel was 20. The family — I, Rachel and her 25-year-old brother Matthew were devastated. We each began a pilgrimage of grief. Several years later, Rachel decided to spread her wings and venture to Phoenix, Arizona to live with a friend from high school days. Once there, Rachel, a communication and art major in college, landed a job as director of marketing for a retail office furniture company. She became a marathon runner and met and fell in love with Brian a geologist for the state of Arizona who was also an expedition backpacking guide at the Grand Canyon. After many, many backpacking trips together at the canyon, the question was popped and, of course, the place for the wedding was a given — the Grand Canyon. A small group of immediate family and friends gathered at a remote site at the edge of a point with a steep and deep drop off. Just before the ceremony was to begin, a Big Horn Sheep kid ascended the shear side of the cliff and joined the wedding party. He remained for the ceremony roaming between the wedding party and the guests. Just before the ceremony, Rachel presented me and her step-mom Chris with an original watercolor of the site of the wedding which she had painted in memory of her mother. The expansive vista, the wedding site, the watercolor, the happy couple, the uninvited but welcome guest — it was all awe-inspiring. I viewed it all through tears of joy. By the way and ironically, the couple had chosen “Goats Do Roam” as the brand of wine for the reception.