- 17 November 2001
Oh my goodness! Hard to contain my excitement and adoration of the Grand Canyon, one of the most spectacular sights/sites we have seen in the last 35 months! We woke at 7 a.m. to crisp, chilly weather (32F, 0C) and drove into town (we are staying on the canyon at El Tovar, the first hotel ever built here in 1905) to the airport and took a helicopter tour (50 minutes) over the canyon. Wow. I continually took photographs of the red, brown, gray and pink rock strata that date back two billion years; the youngest rock here is 250 million years old! Flying over we saw the massive depth (one mile), the confluence of the Little Colorado (turquoise in color) and the Colorado (muddy looking), the northern rim that receives much more precipitation so far more fertile, the southern rim that looks barren as desert, the massive peaks named after Indian gods (the first geographer who named them, back in the early 1800s, had a fascination with Asia and thought the peaks here resembled the temples there), the majestic colors and curvaceous formations at every swoop, and the countless trees in the park surrounding the 277-mile-long canyon. Surprisingly, we saw no animals in the wilderness area, covered with tall, thin evergreens; I’m told the park service recently reintroduced condors in the northern rim.
After the amazing flight over the canyon, Jim and I walked part of the south rim for several hours, stopped for an ice cream in Grand Canyon Village, and, while eating our cones, sat with a couple of photo-friendly ravens. The village is a modern affair, but began as a modest tent-colony meant for iron ore explorers. Developers soon realized tourism was more profitable than minerals and began building cabins and lookout points and offering mule rides into the canyon, a still-thriving tourist draw a century later. We stopped in the oldest curio shop, Verkamps, (opened in 1922 and still run by the founding family), where I bought an unusual, nine-stone silver ring, designed by Lynol Yellowhorse, a 39-year-old Native American (renowned for his jewelry described as “art”). No matter the hype of Lynol, I adore the ring and, every time I glance that way, I will remember the spectacular, stately Grand Canyon, where Jim and I enjoyed a utopian day.