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Grand Canyon tourists get glimpse at natural wonder, despite shutdown

By Alex Cabrero | Posted - Oct 9th, 2013 @ 8:06pm

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JACOB LAKE, Ariz. — Even when she finally saw it, Oregon resident Molly Burton still couldn't believe it.

The Grand Canyon has that effect on people.

"It just goes on forever," Burton said. "You can't even imagine it in any, any, any picture you'd take."

"I'm nearly 70 years old," she said, "and this is the first time I've ever seen this; and it's beauty is unsurpassed and unmatched."

But she almost didn't get to see it. By the time she got to the Grand Canyon Wednesday, it, along with other national parks across the country, had been closed for nearly two weeks because of the federal government shutdown.

However, thanks to the owners of nearby Jacob Lake Inn, Burton and many other visitors got directions on how to still see the natural wonder.

"The Grand Canyon is so vast that you might shut me off in one place, but I'll find another," said Matt Rich, who owns Jacob Lake Inn.

The inn has been in Rich's family for more than 90 years, so he knows the back roads — where you can still see the Grand Canyon without going into national park boundaries.


"In four days I have given directions to at least a thousand people," said Ashlyn Nix, who works at the inn.

"(Visitors) come back and tell us how grateful they are to have had a chance to see it," Rich said. "It's wonderful to help people in that way."

Bill Bowler came from Missouri with his wife to see the national parks of the West. He also was able to get a view of the Grand Canyon Monday, thanks to Rich. It may be one of the few parks he gets to see.

"We planned on spending three weeks on this journey, and I think we'll probably be cutting it short," Bowler said.

"We've had to give refunds to many of our customers who were planning a trip to the Grand Canyon and now had to cancel because the canyon is closed," Rich said.

But that's why he feels so deeply about helping those who do still come. He knows this canyon is more than trees, rocks and great views — and he's going to share it, shutdown or not.

"Every time I come out here, it renews me; it fills me. I feel joy, I feel wonder, I feel awe. It is deep within me," Rich said. "I love this place."


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