Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon. About a week before I left for the road trip, I was on a plane flying west to Anaheim for a business trip. About three quarters of the way through the trip the captain came on the loudspeaker and said "Ladies and gentlemen, on the right, for your viewing pleasure, the Grand Canyon. Everybody leaned over and below were the red and brown rifts of one of America's great wonders. I almost didn't want to look, but a rift of excitement went through me - "I'm going to be there in two weeks," I said. It was a planned stop on the road trip and everybody was looking forward to it. Matt, Drapo and I started for Arizona midday on a Wednesday, a day that had already been chock-full by anyone's standards. Up at five, we'd gone to the balloon fiesta in Albuquerque and were delighted by all we saw. Quick breakfast, then to the top of a mountain called Sandia Peak by a tram car. A quick stop in Old Town, Subway for lunch and topping off the gas tank.

Matt began driving us through the desert where we hit the first traffic we'd seen on the road trip - construction. Off in the distance it was raining and we could see huge bolts of lightning. Yet, on the other side of the car, the sun was around, as were blue skies and clouds. That day was a long drive through long stretches of desert and not much else...but we could feel Arizona coming - the red mesas were starting to show up on the horizon. By the time we were nearing the canyon, the air had turned told, the world around us had turn to forest trees, and the smell of burning was in the air - controlled fires for continued forest growth.

We stayed in the small town of Williams, about 60 miles from the canyon. It was a small town and I had that feeling that no one could find me - as long as I didn't pick up my cell phone. The following day we started for the canyon, and began the day by seeing the Imax film for the history. After that we drove another seven miles or so and as we got closer, I felt more and more excited. We drove all the way to the Bright Angel Lodge, where the tour we were taking was leaving from. In the back of the lodge, the first glimpse of the canyon. This is one of those places that you cannot believe you are standing in front of. It is almost too beautiful to be real, the purples and dusty rose colors of the rocks, the cerulean of the Colorado flowing through it.

We took a bus tour around one side of the canyon, stopping at various lookout points and taking photos and photos and photos. What's cool about the bus tour is also all the history you get...our tour guide was a former park ranger who had almost fallen into the canyon twice - on the same day. She did literally fall, but caught something both times and was able to pull herself back up. Crazy. I think Matt and Drapo would both agree that the day spent at the canyon was one of the best on the trip...and I was really glad that we drove the distance needed to see could you not love it when you see it?



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