A Big Hole…But So Much More

It was a glorious day last week at the Grand Canyon. This wonder of the world is basically in our backyard, and we were overdue for a trip. We first saw the Canyon in 1977. We had bought our first house in Phoenix, we were poor and didn’t know how much our electric bills would be for the summer, so we took off on a trip where it would be cooler. Didn’t realize we were headed up to 8000 feet elevation, no jackets, and no reservations for the North Rim. We were SO lucky…one cabin left at the Rim after a seven-hour drive, mostly on two lanes, to get there.

The thing about driving in Arizona is that you know you’re headed somewhere, the signs all point you in the right direction, but it isn’t until you’re actually THERE that you realize you’re there. You round a bend and there’s the lake. You drive through miles of high desert, park the car, walk a few steps, and bam, there it is.

Nothing can really prepare you for the site of the Grand Canyon. Pictures don’t even begin to do it justice. We left Cornville for a three-hour drive up through Flagstaff and the high desert country beyond. It was one of the beautiful perfectly blue sky days, very little breeze. We arrived a the Canyon in time for a leisurely lunch at El Tovar, one of the old lodges on the South Rim. We had never done this, for financial reasons, but something about this trip said “Do it.” Stop waiting for the right time with the budget. So we did – great service, wonderful food – and an amazing view. We were early enough to get a set by the main window, where we could see a hint of the Canyon. (Picture from their website)

After lunch it was strolling time. There’s a wonderful adobe brick building with such character right next to El Tovar. Love the colors and textures. (Except for the above picture, all these are mine, with NO adjustments from Photoshop….just a gorgeous subject to work with….)

This is the Hopi Building. From Wikipedia:  is part of the Grand Canyon Village Historic District, and is part of the Mary Jane Colter Buildings National Historic Landmark. Colter planned Hopi House as a sort of living museum, in which Hopi Indians could live while making and selling traditional crafts. The structure was based on Colter’s interpretation of the Hopi dwelling at Oraibi, Arizona. A variety of interior spaces provided museum, sales and demonstration space. [3] It is one of six buildings at the Grand Canyon that were designed by architect Mary Colter, along with Bright Angel Lodge, Hermit’s Rest, Lookout Studio, Phantom Ranch, and Desert View Watchtower.

According to the park map, there was an interpretive trail along the south rim. Now, I had had a bad experience with depth perception in Taos, trying to walk out on the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. So I figured I would try the trail and see. We started snapping pictures and just breathing in the awesome beauty of the Canyon.

I tried to keep some foreground for a better sense of the depth of the Canyon.

Looking in the opposite direction from the previous picture. Nothing like geology in the palm of your hand.

For a portion of this trail, you have an interpretive exhibit of the geology of the Canyon, starting with the oldest rocks and moving forward in geologic time. It’s pretty impressive to realize you are standing next to a rock that is 1725 million years old….

At this point in my walk I am half-way from El Tovar to the point you see. What I thought (because I misread the map) was a 2/3 mile walk was really 1.5 miles. But it was gorgeous. The trail is smooth, and where it got too close to the Rim for me, I took the handicapped detour a little back – the trail could handle a small car, so I didn’t have to hug much of the “curb.”

The light is beginning to change to afternoon, so the canyon is starting to increase its reddish hues. The whole visit was an interestisng look at the color wheel, and the changes from cool blue to warm red as the day went on.

Doesn’t this example look amazing? Think of all the fossils….

This is as you head out of the park through the eastern entrance. You can see the Colorado River in the center, nice and winding. You get glimpses of the river along the rim. At Yavapai Point you can look through binoculars and actually see the river rafters pull their rafts to shore.

Looking in the opposite direction from the previous picture. Again you can see the changes in the light – as well as a little hint of the river.

Since the depth perception has gone completely, I don’t think I’ll be hiking the Canyon – it’s off the bucket list….I might be able to handle the mules. I might not….

5 Responses to “A Big Hole…But So Much More”

  • June:

    What a great tour.

    Your photos do as much justice to the scene as it is possible to do; now there’s a place to paint “unoriented” space — easy to get to the place where there’s no foreground for orientation. I’ve always thought no artist should deal with the Grand Canyon because it would always trump mere human endeavor. But looking at thisw makes me was to step up to the challenge.

    Thanks, Linda, ‘preciate.’

  • June:

    oh, and Colter also designed, inside and out, the Painted Desert Inn at the Petrified Forest. She is a fascinating figure; very much a patron for the Indian artists of the areas in which she worked.

  • My pleasure – I can’t even contemplate what trying to sketch it would be like. It’s just too grand. That idea of unoriented space – interesting. It’s a new idea for dealing with no depth perception at all, beyond the rational thinking part. ASnd I need to check on Colter – sounds like a really fascinating lady. We need to meet one of these days! And Suzan is thinking of adding internet and a TV to the cabin in Cornville, so maybe another visit……

  • Dee:

    Hi Linda,
    Your photos of the Grand Canyon are gorgeous. I am joining family for a three day stay at El Tovar in the near future. I am AFRAID of heights, but I am absolutely determined to see this magnificent wonder. We will begin this journey in Phoenix. What I have not been able to determine from anything that I have read is what type of highway conditions we will find as we approach the Grand Canyon. Are the roads nice and wide with guard rails, etc.? I was hoping you might share from your trip experience.
    Thanks so much for any response and for posting these gorgeous photos.

  • Hi Dee – the roads to the Canyon are all fie, plenty of guard rails, places to have bathroom stops and gas. You can enter the park on the west end from Flagstaff (2 hour drive?) and then think about coming back the east end – great drive, llots of places to stop and look. THe trails along the rim are good – there is a 1.7 mile trail along the rim from El Tovar east. You can go directly to the edge for a few parts of it, but there is handicapped trails – and trails for those of us with no depth perception — that take you away from the edge. You will have a gorgeous time- lots of places to sit and view without getting close to the edge. There are great lookouts-all with handrails. Enjoy!

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