February 26, 2019
When one thinks of the most spectacular places in the world, this location is always near the top of the list. The nearly 5 million visitors a year who trek to its rim, no doubt, help to confirm this impression. Tomorrow, February 26, 2019, marks a century since it was designated as the 17th National Park in the United States. Happy 100th birthday to the Grand Canyon!
Its statistics and early history, from the Infallible Wikipedia, are as follows:
“The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).(snip)
… Nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While some aspects about the history of incision of the canyon are debated by geologists, several recent studies support the hypothesis that the Colorado River established its course through the area about 5 to 6 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River has driven the down-cutting of the tributaries and retreat of the cliffs, simultaneously deepening and widening the canyon.
For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans, who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon a holy site, and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540.”
It’s one thing to read about a place in an article or even to see a program on TV or in a theatre. Only when experienced first hand, however, does the grandeur of The Grand Canyon hit you and inspire you to marvel that such a place could exist.
In the one time I visited, I learned a valuable lesson. Do not pick up hitchhikers.
When the Hubby and I visited the Grand Canyon in July 1982 we did just that although we didn’t know it at the time. Our road trip – which took us on an over 3000 mile two week adventure – led us to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Because we were in the National Forest they allowed you, at that time, to camp outside of developed campgrounds. We found a lovely spot not too far from the Canyon rim, pitched our tent and ‘roughed’ it for the night. There was no picnic table or shelter. It was just us, our Honda Civic wagon, and our tent.
The next morning we were up early with the intention of driving to the South rim to visit the National Park. By this point in our trip, however, we were tired of sleeping on the ground and it was time to head home. So we drove the 215 miles to the visitor center, looked down into the gaping hole that is the Grand Canyon and called it good. Then we drove across Arizona, over the Hoover Dam, and up through Nevada to Las Vegas.
It was close to 8 p.m. and we’d been up since 6 a.m. I lobbied to stay the night in Sin City but the Hubby made a really valid point. It was, literally, still 108 degrees outside and he did NOT want to be driving across the Nevada desert during the heat of the day. So we continued north. The sun set and we switched drivers. I was now at the wheel, speeding across Nevada in the dark. And I was feeling a bit sleepy. Because we were young and foolish we kept driving despite our fatigue. We had the windows rolled down so the relatively cooler air would cool us and keep us awake. This seemed to work pretty well until around 11 p.m. or so when I noticed something was moving on the dashboard. At first I thought it was the rag that the Hubby kept there to wipe the dust and film from the insides of the window. Then, when the ‘rag’ moved again, I screamed and proceeded to stop the car in the middle of US Highway 95. By this time the Hubby, of course, suggested in a rather firm way that perhaps I should pull over to the side of the road. Which I somehow managed to do, despite my fear there was a snake or a giant spider in the car.
Doors flew open. Overhead lights illuminated. There we were, unloading the car in the middle of the night in the Nevada desert. Out came the cooler and the bags of food and clothes. We were about to start on everything stored in back when our hitchhiker revealed his (her?) identity: a deer mouse.
Around the interior of the car our guest scurried and, we were sure, was more frightened of us beating on the backs of seats, than we were of it. I guess it decided that we were no longer the friendly hosts we had been since he got in while we camped on the north rim of the Grand Canyon some 700 miles earlier. The mouse leaped from the car and scurried across the highway into the night.
The adrenaline rush provided me with an alertness which lasted another hour or so before I needed to sleep. The Hubby took over the wheel once again and he made it until about two a.m. when he parked on the side of the road and we both slept in the seats of the car until sometime after sunrise. Later that day we discovered that our guest had chewed through a sleeve of saltine crackers, gnawing off the corner of every single one. I hope he enjoyed his meal because we threw out the rest. And did I mention we were young and foolish? We did what young and foolish people do – we drove all the way back to Seattle that day. It was an epic road trip.
As always, a couple of links: