Cheesy Sunset

Despite numerous hairpin curves, the small bus moved easily along the winding road. The driver expertly negotiated each twist and turn while juggling a small microphone into which he promised wonderful views on the way to our final destination, an overlook where we would stop to watch the sunset. Through speakers in our cozy seats we learned interesting facts about the formation, geology, and wildlife of the Grand Canyon.

With his presentation finished, the driver put away his microphone to concentrate on the last few hills before our stop. We passengers peered through the huge windows of the bus and anticipating the wondrous awe of it all, waited quietly.

“Crunch!”

Silence was broken.

“Cruuuunch, crunchcrunchcrunch.”

“Hand me a few, Marion.” the man said as he held out his hand.

“Hold the tub, Stanley.” the woman responded. She handed him a large plastic tub. I craned my neck to see what made the obnoxious sound.

Cheese puffs.

The couple’s synchronized crunching was the only sound in the bus.

Several heads jerked around with mine to identify the noise, but as the driver’s voice came again through the speakers we turned back to the windows. We had arrived at our final stop and the sun would soon go down. We were told to hop off, enjoy the view, and prepare for a beautiful sunset.

We filed slowly from the bus and parted ways as we drifted towards a railed edge of the canyon. In the waning light there was a reverent beauty to the place and each of us carefully picked our way over rocks towards private spots from which to soak up the natural grandeur in peace. We had come from all over, various cities and countries, to enjoy this place each in our own way.

“Crunch!”

“Here.” Marion said, her voice muffled by a full mouth. She handed the cheese puffs to Stanley who took the tub in one arm and locked the other around Marion’s. They helped each other onto a rocky ledge next to me and cradled the plastic tub between them, their hands alternately reaching inside for another puff.

I slowly moved away, along with several others who were standing near Stanley and Marion. I like cheese puffs as much as anyone, but we were there to witness the spectacular sunset in silence. The glow from the lowering sun hit the opposite wall of the canyon and lit up ancient colored layers. Breathtaking, and I was lost in the sight.

Hues of blues and stripes of whites with sun’s rays shining straight onto slate-grays in glorious ways were amazing. From the canyon’s brink the pink and delicate greens were seen and further down the browns and taupes melted into rocky slopes…

“Crunch!”

“That’s a long way down, Marion.” Stanley reported as he casually wiped his mouth.

“The Gram Camyom is bootiful.” Marion replied, pushing two more cheese puffs into her already full mouth.

I moved away, again joined by several others. Some shook their heads at Marion and Stanley as we sought quieter vantage points. We were here to enjoy this experience in peace. I focused again on the massive canyon lit by the setting sun and stared into its vastness.

Ravens rode the winds and the river’s bends cut through rocks and blocks of ancientness. Sand and lime and water and time allow erosion’s explosions of color sublime…

“Crunch!”

“There’s a river down there.” Stanley pointed and nudged Marion with his elbow.

“The Cororaro Rirrer.” Marion clarified, as she plugged a few more cheese puffs into her mouth.

Irritated, I moved further away from the couple with several others right behind me. We had the right to enjoy this special sight as we wished and the disturbing nuisance of this couple was unacceptable. Several near me grumbled that those two could not possibly enjoy all that was before them if they were going to stand there and eat. I agreed. This was a magical display and it was doubtful those two noticed. We walked even further away from the couple.

“Marion!” Stanley shouted. “There’s orange everywhere!”

I stopped. So did others in the group. We could hardly believe the excitement in Stanley’s voice. Could it be that the wonder of it all finally hit him. And her?

The history and mystery and arid display of scraggly shrubs clinging and bringing life to ledges with wedges of color was a wonder. Colors the couple finally noticed?

We turned towards them seeking their source of excitement, expecting maybe, a glorious glow of tangerine bluffs illuminated by the final seconds of the setting apricot sun? No.

Stanley was wiping orange cheese puff dust from Marion’s face.

Exquisite scenery and wonder of the place aside, we laughed.

They laughed too and as Stanley continued to brush away dusty crumbs, Marion held out the plastic tub towards our group. With orange fingertips she pointed at the puffs, offering some to us all.

Laughter and giggles continued as Marion and Stanley insisted on sharing. Some accepted, so then did a few more, and soon orange finger tips pointed out rock formations and layers of various deposits. More orange fingertips pointed at one last raven making its way to roost. Orange fingers scrambled for the last few puffs at the bottom of the tub as the sun made its exit and orange hands applauded the golden orb as it disappeared from sight.

Riding back on the bus in the dark I pondered the Grand Canyon. Truly a wonder of the world, I’d eagerly anticipated my trip to see it. Though the experience may not have been the quiet spiritual one I’d imagined, thanks to Marion and Stanley, who was I to begrudge them having the experience in their own way?

Could be they enjoyed the canyon more than the group of teenagers who will only remember it as a backdrop for their selfies. Or maybe they enjoyed it more than the men who remained huddled smoking cigarettes beside the bus. And they may have enjoyed it more than the groups of kids who never left the branches of the crooked pine tree they climbed several times. Still, in this world full of millions of people, we were the only ones there at that time in that place, enjoying it together. And that was how I was supposed to experience it.

But, it might be nice to have a little more serenity during my next visit. I was surprised when the others who followed me away from the distraction of the couple then actually chose to join them, laughing, eating, and forgetting their desire for a peaceful sunset. Had they given up and given in? I was amazed by the sight of the canyon. It’s surely something to behold and I’ll never get the stunning formations and colors out of my mind.

Or the cheese puff dust from under my fingernails.

Stuart M. Perkins

89 Comments

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89 responses to “Cheesy Sunset

  1. Love a cheese puff. Forever etched in your memory, the Grand Canyon and Orange!!!

  2. HA! I would both have run and accepted the cheese puffs!

  3. shann273

    Admittedly I would have run from those 2. Bless their little orange hearts…

  4. I had to chuckle reading this as it reminded me of a not-to-dissimilar experience I had in New Zealand this past winter. We were among a large group of people enjoying a sunset in the small ocean-side town of Hokitika. It is famous for its sunsets and in particular, a driftwood sign that spells out the town name. This scene is surely a favourite photo of many tourists. The view of the sign was obstructed the day we were there by someone’s Go-Pro propped on a toilet paper roll so that they could get the best vantage point of the sign. The only problem was that it encroached on everyone else’s once-in-a-lifetime photo. I would like to say that I was as generous as you were with Marion and Stanley, but I wasn’t.

    If you are interested, you can read the full story at https://wellspokenblog.com/tag/hokitika/

    I loved your story, as always,
    Kim Ross
    http://WWW.WellspokenBlog.com

  5. There’s a childlike quality in their wonder at the sights and simultaneous enjoyment of cheese puffs that makes me think I take myself – and the world – much too seriously.

  6. Well expressed, as always. I wonder what would have happened if you had asked them to be quiet? It reminds me of the time a friend and I were looking at a beautiful view and she kept exclaiming how peaceful it was. I didn’t ask her to be quiet either.

  7. A truly memorable experience, and I had to laugh. As someone else said, maybe we do take the world too seriously.

  8. The title grabbed me, as did the cheese puff couple. Despite everyone’s irritation, I like how everyone enjoyed the sunset after all. You never fail to engage me as a reader. Thank you for an enjoyable story yet again. 🙂

  9. They ended better than I thought it might 😉

  10. You are quite the story teller and I loved it! I’ve been to the Grand Canyon several times and thankfully no one was crunching Cheese puffs. Cell phones? Oh my gosh I could throw them all into the canyon! 😦

  11. Such a bad time for that intruding crunch!. Noise pollution in its many forms upsets me — TV in the Dr.s waiting room when I’ve brought a book, noisy people on their cell phones — everywhere— restaurants, markets, on a plane.

  12. Interesting cheese puff slant. Orange fingers point to magnificent sightings amidst “you can’t eat just one” type of overindulgence. The best view of the Grand Canyon comes from the bottom of it, in my humble opinion. Suddenly, I’m craving a cheese puff.

  13. Thanks, Stuart. I read your story to my daughter while we waited, seemingly for hours in the Dr.’s office. It made her chuckle despite her feeling just awful.
    Well done. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon. It’s on my list.

  14. It’s not easy being cheesy, isn’t it? Loved the poetic prose punctuated with “crisp” details, flavored with color, tinted with thoughtfulness. Did you at least get to take a selfie with your once-in-a-while wonder? Although your written selfie paints the story nicely too.

  15. Crunch – that awful sound would have driven me up the walls of the Grand Canyon! Great Story! Thanks!

  16. Fun story. I enjoyed how you mixed the beautiful descriptions of the canyon with the contrast of the crunching puffs and your new orange fingered friends.

  17. Laughed so hard!
    “…I like cheese puffs as much as anyone…” lol.

  18. well written and a little different. enjoyed reading this 🙂

    a wee link to the first two chapters of my book here as well guys:

    https://jamesjacksonsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/a-distraught-dad-my-story/

    My life story.

  19. I was so expecting something to go very wrong there. Nice way to end it. Everyone learning a lesson in seeing things from a different perspective. I was intrigued to the end.

  20. Garrie Madison Stoutimore

    Love this. I was so dreading that it would go in a different direction. You did not let me down.

  21. Well,that is definitely one experience you will remember Stuart! Maybe not quite as you wanted to, but it sounds like it is with fondness, cheesy puffs and all! 🙂

  22. Ah, people will be people… Love the humour you found in the occasion. Happy Thanksgiving to all in the US. God bless you

  23. Paulina Radzisauskas

    Great story, as always. Happy Thanksgiving.!!

  24. This is quite frankly hilarious and profound at the same time, I have no clue how you do it! Thanks for sharing!!

    Meno<3

  25. Sorry this is off the topic of the post, but I saw you were following my blog. I would like to thank you for supporting my blog, it means a lot to me. If you’ve been enjoying my posts you may want to follow my blog on my new domain therosetintedchapter.com. I’m not sure if my old followers will automatically be moved over or not, but if you enjoyed my content I would recommend double checking. Thank you!

    (This post got me wayyyy too in the mood for a cheese puff. Thanks a lot, haha)

  26. I’m surprised no one made it rain cheese poofs into the canyon. A quick whack to the tub followed by tiny (pff) (pff) sounds as hundreds of puffs land on the dirt…. 🙂

  27. Thanks for reminding me that the Stanley’s and Marion’s of the world actually serve a very important purpose…..they teach us tolerance. As always, thank you for sharing.

  28. Such a beautifully written piece! ❤️

  29. Hehehe. So sweet a narration. I could see the orange of the puffs and that of the Canyon. You write vividly.

  30. Well told. I’m of mixed thoughts. Yes, I agree, that different people will experience things in their own way, and *to a point* that is fine. However, the quiet people aren’t going to ruin the noisy people’s experience, while the reverse isn’t true. There always has to be at least one of those annoyances in a group. People are weird.™

  31. what a wonderful narrative. All through I was saying to myself “This is why I don’t go on Bus tours”. Maybe I should be less indignant and more spontaneous, enjoy the moment, whatever the moment brings.

  32. Ah, I love the flow of inner and outer observations. It is so interesting how our expectations and the reality of life intersect. So much time spent in resistance because, let’s face it, sometimes people are a bit unconscious in their movements through life. (Cheesepuffs and all.) But when we honor the detours from expectation -because resistance is futile- that’s when things become magical.
    Thanks for this post!

  33. Wonderful story moving along with the well-timed beat of the “crunch”es.

  34. We do each have our own way of taking in the wonders of nature and life. Who’s to judge?

  35. woodenhenk

    Sweet story

  36. When you said that group of people were the only ones in that moment experiencing that place at that time, your post seems to highlight an appreciation for experiences in life that are commonly taken for granted. It made me draw comparisons to moments in my own life, even unpleasant ones like being at work. What you said about that moment in time and the people you are sharing it with holds true. There is so much more to life that often goes unappreciated. Granted, some moments are easier to appreciate than others. Thank you for sharing this.

  37. Sometimes our expectations of our own personal moments of communion with God,or with nature, turn out completely different than their fulfillment.
    I wonder if we were to be dropped back in time, to that very first recorded communion service in the upper room, would we “tut tut” the disciples lack of table manners for being such a distraction? Or would we just join all the rest of them lying down around the table?
    As always Stuart, you have given us a thoughtful, well crafted piece. Thanks again.

  38. Ray Taurasi

    Thanks for sharing another great story- I felt like I was there too…although I dont think I could have restarained myself…..then again laughter does help in such situations.

  39. Thanks for the grand levity! A great story to end my day:)

  40. Like a lot of commentators, I thought that we all might jerk into cheesy conflagration the rubber. Great scene! I enjoyed it.

    I think it’s really hard to do alternative dialects. Whether it’s original slang, or a mouth full of cheese puffs. I’m impressed with the fluently you pull that off!

  41. Oh, what a fun story. Can I narrate for my podcast?

  42. Wonderful story with a good lesson. Sometimes beauty is to be surrendered to in the glory of the moment, alone with our thoughts of grandeur. Other times it is best to share the auspicious occasion with friends and a tub of cheese puffs.

  43. You deserve the love you are getting on your writing. Excellent!

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