I was so pleased to learn a few days ago that Grand Canyon National Park was reopened, thanks to the state of Arizona for covering the operating costs.
Today was my Grand Canyon day, with Nell as my tour guide.
The park is about 75 miles north of Flagstaff. We left the city late morning under clear blue skies. The road to the canyon passes through interchanging stands of Ponderosa Pine on higher elevations and Juniper and Pinyon Pine at lower altitudes.
We have all seen photos of the Grand Canyon. Even if never having seen it, we are aware of the beauty and immensity of it. Even still, that book knowledge doesn't prepare one for the first glimpse into the canyon. It is beyond comprehension how a landform this grand, this immense, gets formed. At least to me. I know the scientific explanation, but seeing this immensity stretched out for miles in front of you is an experience beyond knowledge, beyond scientific facts, historical facts. Standing in front of the vast ocean or the exalted mountains is an awe inspiring event. In some way I can't explain, this first view, this first coming face to face with the Grand Canyon was on a whole different scale than either ocean or mountain awe. I could use more words here to describe the scene, but the experience was more than just the scene, the visual aspect. It was transcendent.
Truly an experience beyond self, beyond now, beyond description. I can only compare my response to one other experience in my life, an overnight walk in October through the hills of the southern tier nearly 4 decades ago. It feels as though something has changed in my life.
A few pictures without words.
There was much more to the day. The stone tower, moon and Venus on the ride back. Another great Mexican meal, etc. I want to leave that for the future book. These photos of the canyon are enough for now.
A day working inside and then a reading in the evening.
A Stellars Jay.
A street corner in the old section of Flagstaff.
One of the old hotels in the city. Opened January 1, 1927 and
was funded by the community. Zane Grey was one of the original funders.
Tom Jones, a FootHills poet who attended the reading.
Afterwards I went with Tom and Nell and her family out to Himalayan Grill for a wonderful dinner and conversation.
A day of driving. Left Nell's place at 5 AM and motored eastward, retracing my route through Albuquerque to Santa Fe. There I turned northeastward and made my way across New Mexico, across a little of the panhandle of Oklahoma and on into Kansas. Putting up for the evening in Hugoton and then continuing early tomorrow to Manhattan, Kansas for a 2 PM reading at the library. From Flagstaff to Manhattan is a little over 1,000 mile drive. I drove a bit over 700 miles today and have about 300 more to go tomorrow. This is the longest stretch of miles between locations for the whole journey.
Eastern New Mexico.
The mountains are now behind me. Almost seems strange to not see mountains in view as I drive down the road. They have been a continual presence for weeks now.
Theater in Clayton, NM.
Into the Plains states and the looming grain elevators in most of the small towns.
So, I move further eastward, a little closer to home. For the first time on the journey I started thinking about the work to be done on Wheeler Hill when I return. I tried to not stay there in my mind. 29 days of the journey still lie ahead of me and I want to remain as present as possible.