My visit to the Grand Canyon last September© 2003
Awesome? That word doesn't even begin to describe it! I was stunned, bowled over, open mouthed, incredulous, amazed, bemused, stupefied and just plain impressed! After I'd finished looking in the mirror, we set off for the Grand Canyon!
Seriously, it was so awe inspiring no other natural or man made phenomenon could begin to compare. I was almost overcome with emotion, then remembered I was a man! Several million years of erosion, volcanic activity, earth-folding etc had produced the most powerful culmination of the wonders that Mother Nature can muster.
I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to tourist attractions, my philosophy being if you can see it on TV or in a book, that's good enough. It helps, of course that I have a vivid imagination and the ability to shut my eyes and transport myself to a location by the power of thought alone. But no book, film, words or even dream could come close to the sensation of wonderment overwhelmed me when I first looked down to the bottom 5000 feet below and across to the other side 30 miles away of the Grand Canyon. Its sheer size defies human comprehension, its variety of rock forms and colours defy the imagination, its variety of weather conditions within a few miles defy believability, as I was often in baking sunshine whilst 20 miles across in a deep gorge there was driving rain and flashes of lightening!
My camera didn't stop recording, my mind wanted as much of this spectacle as my body would allow me to visit, so Mum and Chet and I drove from one vantage point to another to peer from promontories perched peerlessly over this powerful primeval precipice (Good gracious! That was almost alliterative!)
I punctuated spiritual moments of soaking up the magnificence of it all (I'll never complain about the price of beer again!) with chatting to people from all over the States and the World, often taking pictures of couples for them, occasionally worrying the owner of an expensive camera when he/she realised I could only use one arm! They had not realised because of the efficiency with which I alternated between using my Pentax and the digital camera! So I got plenty of practice in with my German, French, pidgin Spanish and even occasionally spoke English!
We arrived at 11am and left at 730pm with a 2 hour break for a picnic in the surrounding pine forest and a trip to the Imax theatre where on an enormous curved screen perched on steeply raked seats for maximum vision we saw the most incredible film of the history of the Grand Canyon. It started with only a disappointing one eighth of the screen being used. Then in a jarring senses-defying breathtaking moment, filled the screen with shots taken by a helicopter born camera swooping deep into the Canyon then soaring high above it. I actually had to shut my eyes to avoid feeling giddy (I hate fairground rides!) I said to Mum "Let me know when it slows down!" To which she replied "I can't, I daren't look myself!". I finally forced myself to peep and focus on some stationary point and soak up the wonderment of the rich colours and variety of it all. We got back to the Canyon to take shots of the sunset over it and record the constantly changing shadows as they lengthened and finally disappeared for ever (well today, at least!) The yellow, brown and rust coloured rocks changed to gold, crimson and finally deep brown as the hot Arizona sun settled down for the night.
We wended our weary way home (I'd been standing on one leg for 6 hours), our senses reeling with impact of it all. Even Mum and Chet who had been there 6 times were awestruck by the sunset over it. But more was to come! As we drove across the arid Arizona desert amazing thunderheads were sending incredible lightening flashes from one cloud to another in a display of sheer electrical power. I lasted for nearly 2 hours, and for the first time in 6 months I saw real rain! I was driving at the time and strained to see through the windscreen but we safely arrived home at about 1030pm. Thanks Mum and Chet for my greatest experience in America ever-2! I was totally and utterly mentally and physically drained so went to bed soon afterwards, but STILL woke up at 330am!
As an interesting postscript, the average length of stay of a tourist at the Grand Canyon is 8 minutes! Unbelievable!