12 July 2008

Camping: The Grand Canyon

July 5, 2008

We decided the best way to salvage our trip was to take the longest and mos adventurous way home. We opted to go south of Lees Ferry to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We figured we would take a scenic drive through the park, then take small roads through other scenic areas all the way home. We expected to waste time and money and we were okay with that.

It was southbound 89 when relaxation finally hit. We were driving in a sparsely populated area. There were mountains to the left and there was desert to the right. The music was on and finally our idea of "summer" had arrived. We were happy and singing and optimistic about what the day would bring.

For a while, the scenery stayed the same. Then all of a sudden it quickly changed to from mountains and desert to sand... and then to trees. I love trees - maybe even more so now that I live in the desert. I love the way they smell and the way they're strong, yet flexible. In my eyes, trees represent the presence of life. They're women: fertile, nurturing and beautiful. I see mountains as their opposite: masculine, unyielding, and powerful in a way that is almost majestic. In a matter of miles we went from what I saw as a barren stroghold to the Kaibab National Forest. At the time, it seemed really small to us. We were in it for maybe 15 minutes before we were out of it... and on Grand Canyon territory.

It costs $25 to get in to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. But admission is good for seven days from the date of purchase. There are several points set as designated stops, complete with nearly overwhelming views, historical information, and restrooms. The first stop even has a gas station - where regular gas was $4.68 a gallon. We stopped had plenty of gas bus stopped there anyway, because that's what the guy at the entrance told us to do.

I learned both more than anticipated and less than expected at the Desert View Watchtower. First of all, there is little historical significance to the structure. It is tall though, and as soon as we saw it, Jesse wanted to go to the top. I took some pictures from the rim, then up we went. Each floor had pictures on the walls but we didn't stop to look at any of them. We got to the top and it was the same view as outside - only obstructed by glass. To my further annoyance, Jesse had no interest in the view. He said he'd be sitting while I took pictures. I tolfd him I had no interest in taking pictures through glass, and down we went.

I did make it a point then to take pictures of the walls because (knowing nothting about this tower) I assumed they had some historical importance. I was wrong. I got my history lesson on the way out. The tower was built in the early 20th century as a gift shop. Time wasted? Not really, just less than expected.

It turns out the Grand Canyon is a hit with the international crowd, specifically Germans. And honesltly, I was surprised. I mean yes, I've been to tourust attractions in other countries. And yes, I live in an international attraction. But my idea of Grand Canyon visitors has always been made up of American families driving from coast to coast. I never thought people from all over the world would come to see it. It's not that I don't think the canyon deserves the fanfare - I just never saw it as having international appeal. And apparently neither did the Department of the Interior. All of the signs are in English and only English. I have appreciated my native tongue used for information in other countries. So I think it's a courtesy the United States should extend. Interesting. And a lot more than I expected.

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