By Saher BalochSaher Baloch

After missing my chance three years ago, I finally got to visit an absolute and amazing wonder, the Grand Canyon.

During my last trip to the United States, I didn’t have enough time to visit the national park and see for myself the place everyone around me kept talking about.

“Lucky duck.”’ That was the response from my editor as I informed her I would be leaving for the Grand Canyon. Other colleagues said that a day and a half is not enough to view the Canyon, as one needs at least three days to get around to its different vantage points. For me, however, the day and a half proved to be fruitful as I spent the time sitting right in front of the Canyon amid the peace and quiet the place has to offer. And it offers a lot, if one just sits long enough.

On Road to Grand Canyon-Saher Considering various travel options while planning the trip, I chose the one I love best: a road trip. Los Angeles to northern Arizona via Las Vegas, through the Mojave Desert. The decision was easy because riding in a bus gives one a chance to see a lot on the way as well as interact with a number of people. The tour group I selected to tag along with included families and students from China, India, Vietnam and Cambodia. Since the first language of many people on the bus was not English, people decided to communicate by offering food to each other and narrating in broken English the distance they covered to visit the Grand Canyon.

We were destined for the South Rim of the canyon. Though the journey from Vegas took about four hours, with 20-minute bathroom breaks and food stops, there was excited chatter all around once the bus entered the parking lot of the national park. It was noon and, surprisingly, a cool breeze awaited us along with a cloud cover that was in stark difference to the scorching heat we endured in Las Vegas.

Grand Canyon Tranquility Point Saher

Nothing can prepare you for seeing the Grand Canyon with your own eyes. No stories do justice to how the canyon actually looks. There are no cameras advanced enough to capture its beauty. It’s stunning. The realization hits you once you come to the end of the trail and witness the canyon perched like a queen on a throne, oblivious to her surrounding grandeur. The beauty makes one jump like a child and point. There were over a hundred people already present at the park, but there were moments of complete silence when people seemed in awe, merely blinking.

Carved by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon was named a world heritage site in the late 1970s. A 34-minute documentary shown to us before we visited the canyon delved into the stories of Native Americans settling around it and how for thousands of years explorers from Europe and United States have taken huge risks to explore its vastness.

While walking on the trail facing the canyon, I came across what is generally referred as the meditation point. The name is given to the three edges of the canyon where people, really brave ones actually, could sit and view the canyon up close and personal. While my knees buckled and heart pounded wildly, I decided to walk towards the point to take a picture. With my iPad and a small shopping bag in hand, I made it to the peak and decided to sit instead of standing, as meditation is done by sitting, I said to myself, pacifying my buckling knees.

Eventually I felt at peace. I could have sat there for hours and understood why people go into natural environments to seek peace. But the honking of the bus brought me back to terra firma. After giving the Canyon one last glance, I was on my way, with one more item ticked off my bucket list.