In the summer of 2003, Charlotte and I decided to take a trip across the country by rental car (why a rental? Don't ask--it's complicated, dull, and annoying.), stopping at various friends along the way, seeing the sights, and culminating in our annual visit to the Burningman festival in Nevada. This is the diary we kept along the way.
|25-26||Hot Springs AR|
|?||Oklahoma City OK|
|31||Mesa Verde CO|
|?||Grand Canyon AZ|
|11-13||Los Angeles CA|
|16-24||San Francisco CA|
|24-Sept 1||Black Rock City NV|
|2||Salt Lake City UT|
Um, yeah sure, whatever. Bad Grammar, most certainly! (Call out the Grammar police for the National Park Service placards--is there a grammar weasel in the house?) Upon viewing the Grand Canyon I realized that I like things that stick up more than things that go down (well, except for belly buttons).
Starting at the top and looking into an almost infinitely deep chasm, whose chief charm is size, doesn't give me the rush that starting at the bottom does. Normally I am a bit of a size queen--Gimme a BMW or Harley, 1000cc's -- skip the cute scooter and its wimpy 40mph. Super-size that please! However the Mandelbrot-like patterns of several hundred million years of geologic, river-cut formations of the Grand Canyon just don't do it for me. It is very tourist-friendly, but the part I like is the lack of fencing around the rim. Careful, that first step is a doozy.
Travelling along the base of magnificent hills, upward-reaching cliffs, heavenwards-soaring mesas, and volcano peaks is awe-inspiring. Climbing up for the view, ascending with perspiration dripping down my forehead, neck and sternum. Breath-taking in every sense of the word.
In the canyon lands outside of Moab, it was glorious. Climbing up and down winding paths, trying not to step on the lizards at every turn, trying to follow cairns and dead wood that mark the trail along what everyone calls 'slickrock.' The views were varied and glorious. Strange formations, arches, dips, hollows and curves, pillars of sandstone glowing red in the twilight, caves created by eroding stone, canyons, and cliffs -- everything heading in two directions at once--positive and negative spaces, created or filled.
The trip to the Grand Canyon no less amazing: through the painted desert, passing stone sentinels, gray-blue in the dusky-mist of the evening--mesas and cliffs stretching up and canyons and crevices reaching downwards. The gray-blue of layer upon layer of mesa, outcropping, and uplifts of stone, one upon another against the distant horizon shimmer in the evening mist. We camp in a primitive campground, Gooseneck State Park, at an almost intersection of a half-dozen meanders, several thousand feet down to the San Juan River. 'Gooseneck' describes the canyon cut aptly. Bats are dipping and swerving at insects like drunken madmen. A hot breeze blows across the plain, most of the night.
Upon leaving the Grand Canyon, we head south along 64. It is beautiful in the early morning light. Passing the not -yet -open stands advertising 'Got Turquoise?' we head down through Kaibab National Forest, and opt for a scenic detour through the San Francisco Peaks. Black sand, uh make that, very gravelly pumice, lines the slopes of dead volcanoes, 1000 years gone. Scrubby, scruffy pinyon pines and junipers turn to ponderosa pines. Pumice formations that rise upward from the fissures long since hardened to stone stand, watching over the long crack where the earth split in two. Small plants are just starting to take hold in what from a distance appears to be massive sheets of asphalt-but it is the valley of black pumice they are trying to fill with greenness.
We pick another scenic route through an outlying bit of Coconino National Park and end up with Sebastian driving though switchbacks (omygod, my first Suguaros we are nearing Phoenix as I write) in a mountainous area north of Phoenix. Ponderosa pines stretching upward, red and beige, and white layers of sandstone reaching up and lush green canyons and valleys heading downwards. The switchbacks are slow and not without the tailgater. I get the pleasure of watching the rocks, and the folds of the layers of earth's history pass by. Sedona's red rocks impress with their rich, deep color.
Soon we are travelling through rounded hills, stubbled with bushes like a two day-beard, they roll around the country-side. 104 Degrees. Seguaro greet us, with upstretched arms.