Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Standin' on a Corner...

Location: Winslow, AZ
Miles: 4628

This morning we had continental breakfast at the motel (Hostess donuts and orange drink), and then got on the road. We stopped at the National Park Service office in Williams and paid $50 for our 12-month pass to all National Parks, National Monuments, National Historical Sites, etc. We figure it might pay for itself on the way home; if not, we have another 11 months to make it up.

By a little past noon we were at the Grand Canyon. (We drove through the express yearly-pass holders lane, rather than the pay-per-visit lane with all the hoi polloi.)

Steve Grey is right...out here, it's almost impossible to take a bad picture. You just point the camera, click, and you've got another stunning picture. Here's one:

Another stunning picture of the Grand Canyon. That speck in the upper left is a baby California condor.

Here's Don and Thomas with the Grand Canyon in the background.

The Grand Canyon isn't just an incredible system of stunning gorges; there are also many prehistoric Hopi sites. Here is a picture of some Hopi game pieces from about 800-1000 years ago. Thomas was professionally interested in the fine laser work around the edges.

In the 1930s, this Watchtower was built, inspired by Hopi buildings & ruins. It is the highest point in the Grand Canyon, at nearly 7,500 feet.

The Grand Canyon was incredible. Words cannot convey its grandeur. As Thomas said, it is probably about the biggest natural feature that is comprehensible to the human mind...anything bigger, like the Great Rift Valley, is so big as to be virtually invisible on a human scale. (Okay, maybe the Moon.)

For a confirmed acrophobe like Don, the Grand Canyon was painful. He wanted to go right up to the railings and the 800-foot sheer cliffs, since the scenery was so sublime, but as he approached he inched forward, gripping the handrail with white knuckles. Thomas was most understanding. There were times when Don hung back, while Thomas blithely went forward, leaning over the rail to get a good picture, or climbing fearlessly up to the top of the Watchtower.

At the Watchtower we visited the snack bar, where Don had a hamburger and Thomas had a veggie burger, they shared some fries, and then had ice cream for dessert. (For some reason, some readers of this blog seem to have an unholy fixation with food, so I guess I'd better list what we ate.)

About 6 pm we left the Grand Canyon. Here, again, was a place where we could easily spend a week.

On the drive to Flagstaff, we saw some really nice scenery, mountains and canyons that would be spectacular anywhere else; they have the misfortune to live too close to their big brother, the Grand.

We did stop briefly for a photo op in Gray Mountain, AZ. What's there to photograph in Gray Mountain, AZ, you ask? The tiny hamlet of Gray Mountain, just south of the Navajo Nation, was featured prominently in the first few chapters of Don's book Dance for the Ivory Madonna. So we took a picture of Don standing at the town line, holding a copy of the book:

Eventually we stopped for the night at The Lodge motel in Winslow, AZ. Tomorrow: Meteor Crater, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and New Mexico.


Renfield said...

Acrophobe, huh? All I could think when I got to that part was, "Now the Giant Brown Bat has a wing-span of approximately nine-and-a-half feet..."

Betsy said...

As a fellow Acrophobe, I am with you Don. I can look out when at heights, but not down. No Way.

Winslow, AZ sounds like fun, is there a chance you will be stopping in Lawton OK.? I wasn't sure if that was out of the trip zone or not, but if happen to, grab a postcard for me. Just be careful if you go to the circus there - the trapeze wire act can be wild!

Smile guys, the fun continues!