NPS photo, Grand Canyon National ParkMost national and state parks offer enough things to see and do to fill a vacation, and one solution to higher gas prices is to spend more time enjoying a single destination.

Many of us like to visit new places, however, and the siren song of “just one more stop” can be hard to resist. Proving that anything can be taken to excess, the character in the following true story gets my vote for an appearance on “Extreme Stopover – Whirlwind Tourist Edition.”

Most visitors approach the Grand Canyon from the south, via either Flagstaff or Williams, Arizona. At the time of this story,  the first place you could stop and actually see the canyon was called Mather Overlook. As the event was described to me by a fellow ranger, a family pulled into a parking spot at that overlook, and the doors of the family station wagon all flew open.

Mom and three kids jumped out of the car and rushed to the safety railing that follows the edge of the canyon rim. They were suitably impressed, exclaiming about one part or another of the spectacular view.

In the meantime, Dad was busy with his cameras. This was before the days of digital photography, so he had an 8mm movie camera and a 35mm film model slung around his neck. The man stood near the edge of the overlook and panned back and forth with the movie camera until that roll of film was apparently exhausted. He then switched to the 35mm and fired off a quick series of shots.

After one more scan of the horizon to be sure he hadn’t missed any possible photographic targets, Dad glanced at his watch, turned around and headed at a brisk pace for the family vehicle. “Okay, everybody back in the car,” he shouted. Total elapsed time was probably under five minutes, which, based on the man’s tone, must have been a little behind schedule.

“But, Dad,” one of the kids protested. “We just got here!”

“No problem,” came the reply, “I’ve got it all on film, and you can see it when we get home!”

True to the code of the Whirlwind Tourist, Mom reminded the crew to “keep moving,” because they “still had two more parks to see that day.”

I hope Dad had lots of film!

Jim Burnett

Life – it’s an adventure…. Find something to smile about today!

This story is adapted from the book Hey Ranger! True Tales of Humor and Misadventure from America’s National Parks . © Jim Burnett and Taylor Trade Publishing, used by permission.

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