MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Imagine you are hiking through the Grand Canyon. The wind whistles. Rocks crunch beneath your feet.
(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS CRUNCHING)
KELLY: Deep in the canyon, the Colorado River rushes by.
(SOUNDBITE OF WATER FLOWING)
KELLY: And on one overlook, tiny little keys...
(SOUNDBITE OF TYPEWRITER KEYS CLICKING)
KELLY: ...Tapping away.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
OK. A typewriter is not one of the sounds you normally hear in the Grand Canyon. But for the first few days of 2018, Park Ranger Elyssa Shalla set one up as a pop-up project.
ELYSSA SHALLA: I wanted to put out a typewriter and see what would happen as visitors came upon it.
SHAPIRO: Shalla is a typewriter collector as well as a ranger. And she had always been curious about what the millions of visitors to the park were thinking as they hiked.
KELLY: So she found an old typewriter at Goodwill for five bucks and set it up on an overlook called Plateau Point. To get there, you have to hike six miles, 3,000 feet down into the canyon. And there she left this note.
SHALLA: Dear hiker, welcome to Plateau Point. You've hiked a long ways. Please take a seat in the chair and relax. Look around. Take it all in. What does this moment mean to you?
SHAPIRO: Well, today, on the canyon's 100th birthday as a national park, we are going to hear some of the messages that hikers typed out.
(SOUNDBITE OF TYPEWRITER CLICKING)
SHALLA: Oh, so many miles, blisters never make me smile, really cramps my style.
(SOUNDBITE OF TYPEWRITER RESETTING)
SHALLA: To me, this is a geologic pilgrimage and a reminder of what my body can do. For all of this, I am grateful, especially because I got to share it with my dad.
(SOUNDBITE OF TYPEWRITER RESETTING)
SHALLA: I proposed to my beautiful girlfriend here yesterday. What better place to tell someone you wanted to spend the rest of your life with them? I love you, Rachel (ph). And then there was a little space. And it said, I said yes. I am so thankful for him in my life. I love you, Benjamin (ph). P.S. This is harder to type with than it looks.
(SOUNDBITE OF TYPEWRITER DINGING)
SHAPIRO: By the way, Benjamin and Rachel, if you are listening, we want to hear from you.
KELLY: Yeah, we need details. Meanwhile, over three days, Elyssa Shalla says about 75 people left messages on the typewriter, which she considers a huge response.
SHALLA: It proves that parks are really powerful places. We need to provide more opportunities to give people the chance to stop and think and feel at the same time and then give them a platform to share their experiences. That's one of the greatest things we can do in our national park.
SHAPIRO: Shalla doesn't think she'll set up the typewriter again. She likes that it was just there for a few days - a snapshot in time on a scenic overlook.
KELLY: And here's one last typewritten message to take us out.
SHALLA: Hearing the words Grand Canyon and now experiencing it for the first time, I realized that the term grand falls far short of what this place truly represents - perfection.
KELLY: A love letter to the Grand Canyon on its 100th anniversary today of becoming a national park.
(SOUNDBITE OF NORTEC COLLECTIVE'S "NARCOTEQUE")
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