Saturday, August 21, 2010

Arizona and the Grand Canyon

Leaving Colorado we entered Arizona. Arizona is a state of both meeting and subverting your expectations. At first great red rock lifted high into the sky, but then fields of green flourished all the way into the distance.

Stopping the car on a dusty dirt road I jumped out and took a few shots of the red rocks towering high. They were what I had expected to see here, and thus what I chose to really document – this is, of course, the problem with a lot of documentation, but I'm just trying to convince my own thoughts, not those of others.

Over the next hill there was a rush of plant life, and why shouldn't there be? The climate here is not much different from that of the other four corner states. Driving on we saw a big tower which looked like a grain refinery. From it a track stretched, bridging over the highway, and continuing on. Where it would stop? I don't know. What it was for? I'm not sure. It looked like some sort of desert roller coaster, and as we drove on, I couldn't help but feel as if I was missing out.

Between us and the Grand Canyon only one stop was made – Burger King. We stopped not just for food, but also because a sign stated that inside those walls was a Navajo code talkers exhibit and cultural display. Strangely enough there was. Military items – uniforms, red cross kits, and even guns, were behind the Burger King glass. Of all places to find such a display, it never would have crossed my mind to find one here.

Reading about those who allowed codes to carry unbroken, and downing a Whopper Jr. we were educated while we were fed.

And then it was time to push on.

Hours later, but not seeming so long after the past weeks drives, we hit the Grand Canyon. We drove to our tent site, where I discovered my plan of only doing a few clips to two poles, getting them up, clipping the rest, an feeing the third pole through (trust me this makes more sense in practice than explanation) did get the tent up in half the time, with none of the previously felt anger and rage. With that done it was time to look down, one mile deep, into the earth.

Now I don't want to sound jaded, but the Grand Canyon? It's alright. It's just alright.

You're there and you think – neat – rocks. Look at those cliff. Sure it goes down a mile, and that's a big deal – but look, I just saw houses built into cliffs. Here there was just a cliff. No houses. There was a river below, but – again – you know, so what?

Yeah, it's neat. Check it out if you're in the area, but don't go expecting to see anything more than rocks.

One twenty year old screamed, “Oh my god! This is amazing! Wow!” and then proceeded to sign a rap song (that's how I remember it, and you'll never convince me different.) He felt awe and wonder. I just felt – neat.

Don't get me wrong – I'm glad I saw it, and standing on the edge looking down was pretty amazing. I was shocked that in the country of law suits there were no railings here just – watch out, most people don't fall in, but... -

It's there, without railings that you feel something special. That the Grand Canyon takes over. But, again it's just rocks. If you took a family vacation here for a week you'd either convince yourself it was something amazing, or you'd accept that maybe you should have thought better.

I wonder how the entire country of France feels? It seems they're all out on vacation here. I've heard more French than English. I can only hope that their desire to push to the front of lines does not apply to viewing this site – otherwise, well there could be problems.

Katherine, once she could convince herself that death would not be forthcoming if she took a closer look, felt the same as I. It was neat, but it was just some rocks. Good to see, not to terrible if you miss it.

I tried to get her to take a closer look, but there was no go. And when I did I heard cries of, “don't get too close. Get away from the edge.” Katherine soon echoed these words, but at first they were not hers. All along the rim girlfriends and wives pleaded with their partners to be safe and not die. I couldn't see the problem, Kath had a set of car keys – its not like she'd be stranded if I went bouncing down below.

Still – there is one thing that makes this site a must see. And it's the sunsets. They are beautiful, amazing, a sky of fire – the canyon showing gradients of depth as different levels push away. In the thirty minutes it took the sun to go down, I shot over one hundred frames.

It was here, on the edge of the rock, watching the sky a glow that I first felt I was some place special. That I could understand the draw. The Grand Canyon – maybe it's not so bad after all?

And then there was dark. A talk by a ranger about her trip below with archaeologists. She tried to sound impressive, but really she was lazy and crazy, “i did nothing my first day but sit in a raft and drink. That night I woke up screaming about a mountain lion that did not exist. I puked many times that day.” The archaeologists must have loved her.

And then sleep. Once more, with rocks right in my back. Fantastic.

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