“Everyone must see the Grand Canyon at least once in their life,” a close family member said to me after her visit to northern Arizona’s natural wonder.
“If we must see it once in our life,” I said to Jerry, “let’s go.”
As we stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon with only a guard rail between us and eternity, we felt the reverence of magnificent colors plunging into a massive chasm. The vastness of the deep canyon gave us an awe-inspiring moment. I didn’t hear angels sing, but I did hear children crying because they wanted ice cream or they were tired of the Grand Canyon’s beauty. I’m not sure which.
Having seen the canyon and having admired it with awe, we focused on the gift shops teetering a few paces behind the canyon’s edge. Every gift shop sold a souvenir book detailing all the tourists who lost their lives during their joyous visit to the Grand Canyon. One chapter describes a lady who posed for her picture at an ideal spot where she could have the glorious canyon view behind her. She didn’t notice when she chose the spot that a guard rail didn’t exist in this location. When she took a step back… whoops! Her unfortunate demise made an entertaining story for the gift shop’s featured book. “That’s kind of creepy,” I said to Jerry, who sported his new wide-brimmed fedora he had just purchased. He reminded me of Indiana Jones. “Yeh,” Jerry said, “It happens to the best of us.”
You might wonder what other places or sights are a once-in-your-lifetime, must-see. If you have, wonder no more. Here’s my list.
1. You must see the Maricopa Public Library once in your life. People might have heard of the town of Maricopa because Bristol Palin once lived here. I think in 2010. Journalists and news reporters and the television show “E!” trekked to Maricopa to get an interview. Bristol moved out in 2011, but not before placing our town on the map. Years before Bristol made her appearance here, John Wayne made Maricopa his stopping-off point on the way to his ranch. The restaurant where he stopped for breakfast still stands, although it does look a little shaky for all the years it has served Maricopa citizens. For me, the main attraction in Maricopa is the public library. Not only does it have some of the nicest librarians ever~as a matter of fact, one told me I have a lovely literary name. Anyone who tells me that becomes my friend for life~but… where was I? Oh yes, the library has a shelf with my book Five Minutes For France adorning it. What currently troubles me is that my book does not have a spotlight shining on it, like landscape lights that light up plants at night. My book requires a little more attention that it’s currently not receiving. I’d like to see a disco ball in the aisle where my book is shelved. I’d also like to see a librarian stationed at the shelf, saying in enthusiastic, soft library tones, “We have Bronwyn Wilson’s book” and then she or he points to it with white gloves.
2. You must see the shoe department at Nordstrom once in your life. You might already shop shoes at Nordstrom and that’s fine by me. I love Nordstrom’s policy of shoe return and their quality of shoes is top-notch, which makes some of their shoes a good buy. But that’s not the reason for your once-in-a-lifetime visit. You must go there for the amusement. You pick up a pair of Valentino ‘Rockstud Watercolor’ T-strap pumps and wonder what the shoes might cost. The sticker on the shoe’s sole reads: $1,145.00. I love to laugh and no better place than in the Nordstrom shoe department. Some women (I apologize if you are one of them) pay over a thousand dollars to squeeze their feet into shoes that inflict sheer misery. And where would one wear pricey Valentino pumps anyway? Might I suggest miserable, torturous steps to the Maricopa Public Library to gaze at my book? You can take your pumps off in my aisle, I’m sure it’s okay with our librarians.
3. You must visit, at least once in your life, the public restroom at Joey’s restaurant at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, Washington. It’s the only public restroom I have ever been to that has a gorgeous oil painting hanging behind the toilet in the stall. The stall feels like a little home and while you are there inside it, you wish to ring a butler bell and ask for a cup of tea served in fine bone china.
4. If you haven’t yet done so, visit a hotel that has “Dive-in Movies.” These poolside movies are popular at Arizona hotels. What could be more fun than floating in a magnificent hotel pool, relaxing on your air mattress or inner tube, just as the sun sets. The giant outdoor movie screen lights up and the feature film begins. Tiki torches surround the swimming pool, casting romantic light on the water. The evening almost seems like a dream. You get caught up into the story, as you drift and rock ever-so-lightly in the pool, swish, swish. Suddenly kids begin to shriek out of nowhere. One splashes and kicks and you feel a foot in your mouth. You paddle away like crazy, along with your sister who came with you and who paddles away also. You get out of the pool and hurry to the Jacuzzi where you can’t see or hear the movie, but you and your sister get some peace. A gaggle of teenage girls soon follow you and squeeze next to you inside the Jacuzzi. You hear them chatter to one another amid the bubbling water: “Like I did this, and Like I did that, and Like he says, and Like you know, I like, Like, like it.” You and your sister exit the Jacuzzi hollering, “You’re Like driving us mad.” You race back to your hotel room and sit on the balcony in your wet bathing suits where you and your sister shriek and cry.
5. You must visit a beautiful public garden once in your life. There is the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island in Washington. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a vicious swan chase you at the Bloedel Reserve. The garden offers beautiful blooming flowers, a picture-postcard lake, and two swans that wish to cause you severe pain. The swans don’t appreciate you wandering near their lake and they will come after you with the intent to kill. They actually chase you while holding large daggers in their beaks. Other gardens, less violent ones, that you’ll want to visit include the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix which has nice gifts in the gift shop, unlike the Grand Canyon gift shops. You can buy cactus candy and prickly pear tea. If anyone has lost their life at the garden, there are no books with an account of it in the gift shop. My all-time favorite garden of all public gardens is the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C. There are no mean-spirited, killer swans and children wouldn’t think of shrieking or crying there. It is Canada after all where children are properly quiet in public places. For sure, children in Canada wouldn’t stick their foot in your mouth. At Butchart Gardens you will enjoy strolling the breathtaking flower gardens and you will say over and over to yourself, “If only Bronwyn’s book were at the Victoria Public Library, I could live here forever.” I guarantee, that’s what you’ll say.
♥enjoy your once-in-a-lifetime adventures.