Or as the official Grand Canyon Web site more gently puts it, "The majority of Grand Canyon hikers are here for the first time, and although many are avid hikers, they find that hiking the Grand Canyon is very different from most other backpacking experiences. They tend to react to the experience in one of two ways: either they can't wait to get back, or they swear they'll never do it again.

"Depending upon how prepared you are and what the canyon serves up at any particular time, your trip can be a vacation or a challenge, a revelation or an ordeal."

I might have come away thinking of my trip, in the words of the Canyon folks, as an ordeal and sworn never to do it again. But I've been back three times since that first visit, without incident. I've had my breath taken away each time, just like the first time, except in overwhelmed admiration not starving fatigue.

I think the Grand Canyon is more than grand. It's an Amazing Canyon. Phenomenal Canyon. Astonishing, Spectacular, Extraordinary Canyon.
And yet I don't know that I'd list it as the number-one must-see destination in the world.

Truth is, I'm at a loss to name my all-time, essential spot.

It's so hard to choose between Wildwood, Gatorland, and Hamburger King. 'Course, those are obvious. Then there are the ones that don't come so immediately to mind: the Amalfi Coast of Italy; Maine in the autumn; the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis; the Blue Mountains of Jamaica; the ruins (like cultural tree-rings - Phoenician, Roman, Greek, among others) of Baalbeck, Lebanon; sunset from atop a sheer rock cliff overlooking the Pacific from Oceanside, Oregon; Harlem; Stonehenge; Big Bend National Park in Texas.
There are others, too many to recall, let alone name.


you can even put the grand canyon. i promise i won't miscount the ballots.