Well I made it through the Grand Canyon yesterday and I must say it was quite the experience. This is not just some ditch in thr ground, it's a BIG ditch! Some might even call it Grand... I legt out of my hole in the woods early, and passed several other weary travelers who'd chosen to just drive off into the woods and sleep. Either that or I have discovered where people go when they go missing. I drove up to the canyon, and too HWY 64 east along the south rim. About every three miles or so there are pull offs so everyone can stop and gawk at the greatness that is the canyon. The first one I pulled into gave a limited view of the canyon, and I was mildly impressed. The next one I went to gave a better view of the canyon and I was more impressed. I believe it was at about the third stop that I found a little placard that pointed out how far away the various peaks and mesas were and I got a lot more impressed. As I mentioned I was on the south rim, and the north rim was clearly visible across the valley. I estimated it to be about 1-2 miles across, and consulted the placard to see how close I was. Apparently my aviator senses were on full disconnect when I'm standing on the ground, as the canyon is nearly TEN MILES across. To put this into scale, on a clear day on flat land you can see about 6-7 miles away. At the canyon you can see just short of forever.
From the rim that canyon isn't quite like what you see in the movies. You wouldn't just fall straight to the bottom as in the movies. The walls steeply stairstep down to a large flat valley, which is then further cut by another canyon known as the inner gorge, which i swhere the lower half of the canyon lies. The inner gorge finally ends at the Colorado river which flows both quietly and violently depending on whereupon the river you are. From the top to bottom, the canyon is over a mile deep, though without anything to give you a sense of scale, one has a hard time determining this. The walls of the canyon themselves appear as many layers of a book, representing different eras of geologic time of the last several million or several thousand years, depending on which side of the "where we come from" fence you fall on. The different layers are clearly seen as various reds, oranges and browns, accented with grays of all shades. The river provides a wonderful light green contrast and anchors the bottom of the canyon. Scrub trees and cedar poke out where ever they can find room, but for the most part there is very little green in the canyon itself.
Back from the edge, the rim hosts all manner of small cedars and desert wildlife. Most prominent are the huge crows which managed to hold RTD's rapt attention for longer than most any toy I've ever given him. I fully expected he'd chase one right off the cliff in an attempt to drool on yet another animal if I gave him the chance, so I made sure to keep his leash short. I also saw signs warning of large cats but never came across any. If the size of the crows is any indication, one had better bring fancy feast in five gallon drums if they don't want to be dinner themselves.
After my trip to the canyon, I headed down to Phoenix to visit my extended family there, and tour the Apache factory. It was great to get to see where the bird I flew is made, and meet the people who turn the wrenches to make it happen. I muse express my gratitude that they build such a survivable aircraft because that death thing really would have slowed me down a bit. Unfortunately due to all the secret squirrel stuff the goes on there, I couldn't take any pictures but it was still cool as can be! Now I'm getting ready to head East tomorrow, so stay tuned for more stories from the road!!