Why “Back” to Bryce? Because that is what I do. I keep going back to Bryce Canyon*. Unlike almost everyone else with whom I grew up in Bryce Valley during the 50s and 60s, I was born elsewhere, my mother returning to move in with my grandmother in Cannonville following my father’s death. While very young, I spent my days with my mother at her job as postmaster at the Bryce Canyon Lodge post office, either underfoot there or wandering around the Lodge, being looked after by her and all the lodge employees. Later we actually lived in a rented apartment in the park during the summers, going down the “dump” (the affectionate term for the road down to the valley) to tend the garden, take care of things at home, etc. My summers in Bryce Canyon were glorious, free and life-shaping. Now, I go back. It’s not the same, of course, I’ve changed. As a parent I brought my children, hoping that they too would have their own Bryce Canyon experience and each, in their own way, has done so.
Now I go back, not to recapture what I had, although the memories are wondrous, but to seek the peace and absorb the beauty. The canyon is still beautiful, the forest, with its pine-vanilla smell still whispers with the wind, the air almost sparkles with freshness. The blueness of the sky and sharp whiteness of the cloud against the white-pink-orange-red limestone reminds us that our world is one of kaleidoscope color, brilliant, subdued, ever-changing with the movement of sun and shadow.
This canyon is a place of stillness. Its remoteness doesn’t lend well to the corporate tourist who travels according to a franchise-like itinerary. The buses still come, full to stuffed with those wanting to see in person what they’ve only seen in photo books, calendars or on Ken Burns’ PBS series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea**. I’m glad they come. If even one accepts what the canyon has to offer, it is worth it. If just one of these many feels the spirit of the canyon and remembers throughout their life, telling others what they felt, it is worth the buses, the exhaust, the temporary crowds. The crowds eventually leave, moving on to the next destination and the stillness returns.
If you come to Bryce Canyon, spend some time alone. If you come with a busload of people, go off on your own, even if for just a few minutes. Go to a place where you no longer hear other people and listen. Listen to the birds, the wind, the random rock sliding down the eroded face of the canyon. Feel the breeze, smell the freshness and drink in the beauty. You too will be changed.
More to come on Bryce Canyon:
1. The Geology, how the canyon came to be and how it continues
2. Life in the park
3. Trails, oh the trails….
4. So I drive all the way out to Bryce, what else is there?
5. Bryce Canyon in winter