Our Train Trip to the West – Part III

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon PanoramaWednesday, May 9th:

After a restful night in normal bed, we got up pretty early. There was a good buffet breakfast at the lobby’s hotel and by 8.00 am we were ready for our trip to the GRAND CANYON. The tour organizers did hire an area guide, Joel, who seemed to be very knowledgeable. Actually, he made sure that we knew that he knew his stuff and didn’t stop talking all the two hours that it took us to get to the Canyon.

Marite & the Grand Canyon
An awe inspiring view of the Grand Canyon

Once we got to the parking area on the South Rim we walked about 100 yards to the Mather Point and there it was. This immense geological formation, of indiscernible beauty that awes with its terraced buttes and mesas, rising thousands of feet from the canyon floor. The landscape inspires reverence, while you can see (as we were told) half the earth’s history that is represented in the canyon-layered rocks. Let me quote the anonymous writer of Frommer’s introduction to the Grand Canyon National Park’s guide, which describes the view, much better than I could:

"Here, reward is everywhere. It's in the spectrum of colors: The Colorado River, filled with runoff from the Painted Desert, runs blood red beneath slopes of orange Hakatai Shale; cactus flowers explode in pinks, yellows, and reds; and lichens paint rocks orange, green, and gray, creating art more striking than the works in any gallery. It's in the shapes, too -- the spires, amphitheaters, temples, ramps, and cliffs -- and in the shadows that bend across them before lifting like mist. It's in the myriad organisms and their individual struggles for survival. Perhaps most of all, it's in the constancy of the river, which, even as it cuts closer to a beginning, reminds us that all things break down, wash away, and return to the earth in time."

Joel had brought with him a “spying glass” mounted on a tripod and we all took turns to see “close up” some of the marvels that lay before our eyes. We had only one hour to walk around the viewing area and were whisked to the Bright Angel Lodge, where we had our lunch and more feasting of our eyes on the ever-changing beauty of the Canyon.

Watchtower
Anasazi (inspired) Watchtower

We had one more stop at the Southeast end of the park: the Desert View overlook. Here the Colorado River is clearly visible as it enters the canyon and winds through at the seemingly endless bottom. There is also a Watchtower, build in in the early 1930’s by architect Mary Colter, who was hired by Fred Harvey’s Company to construct a building which would attract visitors and sell them souvenirs. The building mimics an Anasazi watchtower, but much larger than the original indigenous constructions.

Next destination: Las Vegas