The Tuckers left the humid jungles of the Amazon and flew up towards the United States of America. This was to be their last place before heading back home to Canada, the Tuckers planned to land in Las Vegas, Arizona where they would travel to the Grand Canyon.
Mr. Tucker had felt ‘The Grand Canyon’ would be a great place to finish their travels around the world. For one, there was no place on earth with such an alluring landscape. The sheer height of the cliffs of the canyon gave it such an expansive feeling with the richly colored landscapes spanning as far as ones eyes could see.
With a smooth landing, the Tuckers found themselves in colourful Las Vegas, Arizona. A place where everything could be imagined. It wasn’t long before the Tuckers left Vegas and found the open road, carefully driving northeast towards the Grand Canyon. With a crisp map in hand, they were sure to find their way!
“You know Charlie, your grandpa and grandma visited the Grand Canyon when they were very young,” Mr. Tucker said with a twinkle in his eye.
He continued, “The first train came in 1903 opening up this grand landscape for travelers to experience, and I’m sure your grandparents must have come here on a train. Here’s something just as ineresting, mules were brought in and people could ride them, taking tours throughout the canyon. Did you know mules are very sure footed Charlie?”
“What do you mean dad? I know mules make this noise, ‘he-ha’,” Charlie responded while chuckling.
“Hahaha, well, yes, that is true. As well, a noble mule knows where his feet are going to be most of the time. People have relied on these wonderful pack animals for many hundreds, if not thousands of years to get them through rough and hazardous terrain.” Mr. Tucker replied.
“Is the Grand Canyon hazardous,” Charlie asked as he leaned forward in his seat very curious to hear his father’s response.
“It could be if you were riding a mule up the side of one of the canyon walls, and something went wrong. Or, if you got to much sun Charlie, or didn’t have water on hand. There’s got to be some snakes too,” Mr. Tucker said focusing on the road ahead, and then gazing off towards the Grand Canyon exit that was coming up quickly.
“Really? Snakes… What else is there in this Grand Canyon mom that you know of?” Charlie said now leaning over to the left as far as he could go with his seatbelt on, so he could see his mom who was in the passenger seat.
“Well, I don’t have any family history to tell you of my little one, but I can let you know a bit about the archeology, also known as the past history of the land,” Mrs. Tucker replied.
Mr. Tucker exclaimed, “Really, you know some of the history of the Grand Canyon? Amazing, your mom does her homework and she isn’t even in school anymore,” Mr. Tucker said smiling at his wife.
“Once upon a time Charlie there was a family of fuzzy packrats. Little adorable rats that liked to collect items as they scurried around. It’s just that, if the little rat found a better item he’d quickly drop his old item.” Mrs. Tucker said while taking a breath to continue.
“Oh, that’s why the early campers would find a bone in place of where their fork was, I read about that somewhere,” Mr. Tucker added.
“Cool,” Charlie said now paying full attention to his mom who was soon to start her story again.
And so she continued, “Over time, the Canyon grew deeper and deeper because the rain and wind that eroded the sand stone. Believe it or not it rained a lot back then even though it is like a desert today out here. This was many moons ago Charlie. It is hard to think that this desert we are in used to be damp and moist. Huge old Pine trees used to cover this area around us, and twelve-foot sloths would slowly move across the land. Oh, and large mammoths would trample through the forest and find water in the canyon that was forming.
“Ha hmmm, but what about the…” Charlie said while making a mouse face and squeaking.
Misses Tucker achkonwledged Charlie’s creativity with a nod and continued, “Yes, and now back to the cute pack rat family. A resourceful bunch, they decided to make middens, large intricate homes put together with their own fluids and other such items they found along their way.”*
Just then, as Mrs. Tucker was about to continue on with her story, they pulled into the North Rim Lodge that was located on the less busy side of the Canyon.
“Oh, wow, this place looks really neat mom, do you think we will be able to see any pack rats here? Maybe we could keep one if we find one and if I caught it… Then we could bring it back to Canada,” Charlie said with a smile as he intently looked at the arid grounds around their car to see if he could spot one.
Before Mrs. Tucker could say that Charlie’s idea would not workout, Charlie looked up and continued, “You know, I, well, I am always misplacing things around my house mom, maybe there is a small pack rat in our house already. Maybe it isn’t me. Or, maybe bringing a pack rat back home would help find items that are missing, like that old Toronto Blue Jays hat of mine that dad gave me…”
“Oh, you thought that was missing eh, your grandpa has that at his house, I’ve been meaning to remember to pick it up for almost a year now, Mr. Tucker responded with a chuckle.
“Well, we now know where your hat is Charlie,” Mrs. Tucker replied while she unbuckled her tight seat belt and looked out her car window in awe of the vista before her sparkling eyes.
Once out of the car, Charlie stated the obvious, “Oh wow, it is really hot out here mom and dad,” Charlie said putting on his adventurer’s sun hat that his dad had purchased for him while they were in Australia.
“I’ve got a couple of … water bottles,” Mr. Tucker said with a pause as two frisky chipmunks ran across the path leading up to the lodge.
He continued, “My those two little fellows must be playing a game of tag!”
“Oooh wow, Chipmunks, hey, don’t we have those up in British Columbia mom?” Charlie questioned as he reached out to help push the door open with the help of his mom.
“Yes dear, we have chipmunks up in Canada,” Mrs. Tucker replied.
After the Tuckers’ had settled in at the Lodge, their time could not have been better. The sun was soon to be setting, and everyone who has been to the grand canyon knows this is one of the most spectacular times of the day to view this magical landscape.
As they all walked to the edge of the canyon and stood almost 2000 feet above the canyon floor, Mr. Tucker spoke with a reflective look, “It has been quite the trip, hasn’t it? We have seen animals we have only read about in books or on the web, landscapes and historical monuments that make your mind expand and leave you in a state of awe. What an incredible world this is…”
“Look at the owl,” Charlie said as he pointed towards the sunset that colored the canyons’ walls with rich crimson reds, and ribbons of orange as the swift creature flew out of the depths of the Canyon’s cliffs.
“My, if it wasn’t the Spotted Mexican Owl. They live in the canyon I’ve heard, but I didn’t expect to see one!” Mrs. Tucker said as a tear fell softly onto her cheek-bone.
Mr. Tucker pulled Charlie in close as he gave his wife a warm hug, “The air is thin, but it is so quiet.”
“Yes, so peaceful,” Mrs. Tucker replied with a smile as she looked at the marvelous sunset while Charlie took a handful of peanuts out of his pocket to munch on,” though a few surely fell to the little chipmunks that stood up on a rock over looking the sunset as it went down too.
“Let’s make every day an adventure, an exploration Charlie,” Mr. Tucker said with a smile as he watched his son marvel at the last of the suns rays.
* Information for this story was sourced from: National Park Service: U.S. Department of the Interior http://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm, November 13, 2011