The Grand Canyon is one of the most jaw-dropping sights on earth. People come from around the world to see our big hole in the ground, only to find that it is an even bigger hole than they ever imagined. It is a bit of a tradition for just about anyone who has lived in the Valley of the Sun for any period of time that you take first time visitors to hike Camelback Mountain, see the red rocks in Sedona, and penultimately to our state moniker's namesake (for all of you scoring at home, that would be The Grand Canyon State). Sometimes it can feel less like a tradition than a burden. Other times, it can feel less like a burden than a trip to the dentist. Not your standard DDS accredited dentist, mind you. More like Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors. That is until you actually get there, and step out of the car. The nuisance of the trip, stopping for lunch at Bunhuggers in Flagstaff for the umpteenth time (though saying that name never gets old), the $20 to get into the park which brings your yearly total up to roughly six grand ... it all melts away when you get that first magnificent view of the canyon.
Years ago, long before I entered this profession, my mother's aunt and uncle came to visit us from Mars, PA. Yes, you read that right, Mars, PA. To my knowledge, they had never left the state of Pennsylvania before this epic road trip. Their first priority upon hitting town was an immediate trip to the canyon. It was already mid afternoon, and would take a good four hours to make the drive, so my mother suggested we put it off until morning. Undeterred, they wanted to leave right now until my mother stopped them in their tracks by mentioning that it would be too dark to see anything by the time they got there. After several seconds of silence, Uncle Pete, clearly not grasping the sheer enormity of what he was to see, blurted out, "Don't they light it up?"
It is much like showing property to someone who is new to the area on those days when you are just not feeling it. You grimace about the thought of pointing out the same landmarks, telling the same jokes, looking at the same houses, setting up your appointments. All while making sure that you are "on" from the minute you greet your client to the time you drop them off. Any malaise falls away, however, once the appointment starts and you are in your element: showing off the community you love. Sometimes I think of Pete when I pick up a first timer from the airport. Just glancing their changes in expression as we drive through town, I can see that this is not the cactus and tumbleweed community that was expected. Or maybe they knew it would be nice, but not quite this nice. Suppressing a grin, I have to restrain myself from mentioning how beautiful it is when they light it up.