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Wednesday, March 9. 2016
A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of an old church in Europe, commenting "I wish we had old things like this here in the U.S." My tongue-in-cheek reply was "We do! The Grand Canyon is much, much older." It's also much more beautiful, in my opinion.
This was my first trip to the Grand Canyon, and I enjoyed it immensely. There isn't much to say that hasn't already been said. I'll toss in a few pictures of Sedona and the Grand Canyon, but pictures simply can't capture the grandeur.
We were on the South Rim, about mid-point of the canyon at Grand Canyon Village. The final picture is looking back at the entrance and the El Tovar hotel.
The canyon is 18 miles across at this location, and the North Rim is higher than the South Rim, so you look 'up' at the far side. There is no longer any private property in the area, except for whatever was grandfathered in when the park was created. At this location, the El Tovar Hotel is situated right next to the rim. We didn't stay, but it is a beautiful hotel if you enjoy the look of the rustic West (which I do).
The Grand Canyon Railroad is a good way to get to there, especially if you're a family with kids. You don't get much time at the canyon itself, about 3 1/2 hours, but it is a leisurely means of arriving. It leaves at 9:15 am from Williams, Arizona (the last town bypassed by Interstate 40, and a town chock full of Route 66 memorabilia), arrives at 11:30, and a tour guide gives a running commentary as cowboys stroll up and down the train strumming guitars and singing tunes for tips. A variety of vistas along the way, you get a great feel for just how expansive the West is (or was). High Plains, forest, ranch, and mountains are all part of the two and a half hour trip. We saw elk, antelope, and jackrabbit galore. And cows. Lots and lots of cows. I think there may have been a jackalope, as well, though I've been told they are really denizens of gas stations, tourist traps and honky-tonks. I'm sure I saw one in the wild, though.
Will follow up with pics from Sedona and Williams, Arizona.
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The difference between Europeans and Americans is that Europeans think 100 miles is a long way and Americans think 100 years is a long time.
And denizens of Texas, or any Western state think 100 miles is "just down the road". Anyone who enjoyed Grand Canyon will enjoy pretty much anywhere in southern Utah. Canyons and high plateaus, mountains and hoodoos. Lots of pastel colors. Speaking of Europeans, I've seen many who fly into Vegas, rent an RV and make a big loop of the Southwest.
I first saw the Grand Canyon on my way to college (BYU) in 1971. I had seen tons of photos and film footage of it before then, but none of that prepared me for the reality of the canyon itself. Pictures truly don't do it justice.
We go to the grand Canyon twice a year (spring and fall, the weathers better). Last year I shared the Bright Angel trail with a large nervous Bighorn male. I thought he was going to push past me but at the last minute he went off the trail. We sadly saw a large bull elk (7/7) that had to be shot after he charged and gored a man that had gotten too close. We also saw our first Condor last year. Every time I go to the Grand canyon I try to find something I haven't seen before. Last year I hiked down to the three mile rest and my wife continued to Indian garden. The hike down is pretty cool but the hike up is grueling made worse by my two lung operations. Don't miss the rim trail when you go. The best section is 8 miles long (you can hike short segments and the bus will drop you off and pick you up) between the lodge and Hermit's Rest. There is an inside trail that is within a few feet of the edge with better views. And an outside trail that is mostly paved and occasionally comes to the edge of the canyon (otherwise from 20'-100' from the edge). Walk this early in the morning and you will see deer, coyotes and elk within a few yards of you. The best way to see the park is to camp there and use their bus system to visit the specific sites and trail heads. We will be there again this spring from late April to early May, then off to Las Vegas.
One of the geologic wonders of the world. It is almost a requirement for a geologist to visit the Grand Canyon...the other requirement is Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. Both National Parks and both in the USA. Even my geology colleagues from around the world want to see the Grand Canyon.
My old stompin grounds. I hope you didn't miss the Church of the Red Rocks in Sedona.
I've noticed that in travelogues, Europe is shown as castles and such, while America is shown as natural grandeur.
My old stompin' grounds, too!
Talking about lil' ol' Williams, in the Summers the little town's Safeways is so full of foreigners that if you're judging from the dialects spoken you'll think you're in the "It's a small world after all" ride at Disney World, Orlando.
English becomes a second language after Dutch, German, Mandarin, Bekasep, Tagalok between the Dairy and greeting cards aisles.
Apples and oranges. (Europe vs America). America is the most beautiful (for spacious skies, Amber waves of grain as much as gorgeous desert and wilderness). But Europe is best for art, architecture (our artists and architects are mediocre by comparison). And any student of history would obviously prefer Eurooe because of a longer history of civilizations we value. I mean, Aztec, Inca remains, and a few of my Red Indian ancestors' remaining structures are barbaric or just plain ugly compared to Chartres or the Parthenon or St Paul's Cathedral. Even that site of mass murder, the Coliseum, is better looking than anything in this country. My ancestor TJ's Monticello is nice but not distinguished compared to many country houses in England.
The reason to admire the European palaces is that after awhile any democratic American becomes sated w them and thinks longingly of a New England clapboard farmhouse. Because all those palaces were built by despots exploiting the toiling masses. I feel proud that we have no real palaces. Our ancestors came here to escape plutocrats and tyrants. So one can admire the art and architecture, and pay one's respects to our cultural forebears, see ancestral hovels or estates over there, but better an aesthetically inferior country of equals than rich patrons, great art, and wretched masses...
I backpacked from the north to south rims in 1986 - three nights, four days; a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The day before the hike, we explored the south rim - the first time I had ever seen the canyon. We drove from one observation point to another and walked some of the trails along the rim.
The whole day I was on the verge of tears - completely overwhelmed by the indescribable beauty and massive size of the canyon. On repeat visits it has had the same effect.
One funny anecdote of the hike - the morning after staying at Cottonwood campground (halfway down the north rim) we were having breakfast. We noticed several people jogging down the nearby trail in running gear, carrying water bottles and not much else. We asked one guy what they were doing. "We're running rim-to-rim; takes about 14 hours." That's 23 miles; 6000 ft down and 5000 ft up. Sort of took the wind out of our sails ...
I had a similar experience. In 1973 I made that same hike and met two men who were also hiking rim to rim. One was a U.S. Marine whose pack weighed 70 lbs (he wanted to prove something to himself). The other was a college student studying for his doctorate who was carrying his books in his pack along with his camping gear. I was carrying as little as I could but my wife had insisted that we bring a tent. I would guess my pack weighed under 20 lbs not counting water. Interestingly my 5 year old son was also making the hike (without a pack) and in fact it was literally a walk in the park for him. I probably wouldn't have brought my son but I did the same hike in 1972 and in our group was a young couple with their three year old son who also walked the entire hike without complaint.
A friend from my Tucson era founded the Grand Canyon Music Fest. He was just a super good looking guy who played the harmonica way back then, and look at him now. The Fest is a must do if you go to the GC in late August or September.
36 years ago My-Better-Two-Thirds and I, to celebrate out pending betrothal and my upcoming ETS, hopped aboard our smallish motorcycle, rode over Wolf Creek Pass and on to the Grand Canyon. When we arrived we went and tried to rent a campsite but were told they were all taken. We toured around and walked down into the canyon for a while (marveling about how the climate was changing so quickly) but were not at all well prepared with water and proper shoes so climbed back out after a couple hours or so of heading down.
We later rode into a camping area and found a camp spot that was empty and pitched our tent. Then a couple young Aussie guys rode in on bicycles (there were riding across the US LA to NYC). The spot was big enough for two tents so we invited them to share with us. Had a great time. Always enjoy Aussies. They love to laugh, or at least the ones I've met do.
It is stunningly beautiful, the Grand Canyon. Just flat out jaw-droppingly beautiful. We stayed a couple days and started on our way back home via The Painted Desert. Unfortunately a massive storm front was chasing us so we couldn't stop and enjoy the Painted Desert as we'd hoped. We had to stay ahead of the storm and find shelter which turned out to be a laundry mat in some little town I've long since forgotten the name of. Man did it downpour.
What a great trip that was. The Grand Canyon is a sight everyone should see if at all possible.
On my first trip to Romania in 1998, I came upon men burning the cemetery grass around an old (17th C) wooden church (no nails.) A shabby new cinderblock structure was being erected in the back of it all. They wanted very much to show me the new church, which they were clearly proud of.
I reflected that one would not be able to carry a cigarette lighter within 50 meters of that old wooden structure if it existed in America; the newer one would not pass code in any jusrisdiction here. I intrigued and mentioned this to my host. "Ah," he smiled. "We have plenty of old things here. It is new things that we lack."