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Jim Williams: Our grand experience will never be forgotten

The early morning drive to Buffalo Niagara International Airport on a snowy January day only heightened our excitement of a weeklong trip to Arizona. Once the plane was de-iced, the promise of an approaching Buffalo snowstorm faded into thoughts of Arizona’s sunshine and the Grand Canyon.

Nine months previous, my wife and I had attended a charity auction and became the successful bidders of a week’s stay at a condominium in Scottsdale. We invited our son and his girlfriend to join us and decided on a date mutually agreeable to all. And now we were on our way!

Five hours later we landed in Phoenix. A landscape of cacti passed by as our taxi took us to the condominium. After a few minutes of juggling the lock box, we successfully opened the door and entered our new home for the week. It was perfect.

A few hours later, our son arrived with his girlfriend, and not long after that we were enjoying a delightful meal in a nearby restaurant that the condo owner had recommended.

The next morning and for the following two days, armed with an assortment of brochures and a well-planned agenda, we set out to see the sights. Old Scottsdale, the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix, the Arizona Biltmore and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West were just a few of the sites we visited.

On the fifth morning, we set out for our “grand” experience. A four-hour drive with scenery of cacti-filled deserts, snow-capped mountains and fertile valleys brought us to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. All of sudden, there it was! Words cannot describe and pictures cannot convey the unspoiled beauty of this magnificent landscape. Our awe echoed in silence in the canyon. Our cameras started clicking to capture that “Kodak moment.”

Later that evening, we returned to the canyon’s edge to watch a magnificent sunset create a spectacular watercolor on the canyon walls. We ended the evening under a canopy of hundreds of bright stars like we had never seen before.

The next morning, our son and his girlfriend rose early to watch the sun rise over the canyon. We opted to sleep in and met them for breakfast, after which we decided to drive to the far eastern end of the South Rim. We stopped several times along the way to look at the ever-changing landscape.

At one stop, our son announced that he had something to share with us. To our complete surprise, his girlfriend proudly showed us a beautiful engagement ring. Our son told us that he began planning this proposal almost a year ago, right after we had invited him to join us, and that he wanted us to be part of this memorable occasion.

The fact that we decided to sleep in that morning provided the perfect opportunity for a proposal. As the sun rose on that chilly morning, illuminating the canyon walls, Michael turned to Samantha and said, “You know, Sam, we’ve seen a lot of rocks these last few days and I think you should have one of your own. Will you marry me?”

For us, this trip will always have special memories. Thank you, Michael, for a truly grand experience.