November 27 – 30
Trailer Village Campground
The Grand Canyon is one of the, if not THE, most iconic American Sights to See. It’s one of the seven wonders of the world, in other words, and everyone in the world has seen it, at least in picture or film form. You know what it looks like. I know what it looks like. This is why I wasn’t planning on going.
But, as you have doubtless figured out, I did go and discovered that I had no idea what it actually looked like. It is cliched but true: pictures don’t do it justice, nothing really captures it and nobody can tell you what it’s like. You have to go and look at it for yourself and, you know what? You should. Everyone should. It is unique and amazing and fuck, the seven wonders of the world are called that for a reason. They’re worth seeing.
If you’re me, you must also then take EIGHT SQUILLION PHOTOS of it just in case your photo is the ONE that actually captures the magic and the majesty of the Grand Canyon. Fat chance. But I had fun. And, I didn’t die!
The Grand Canyon is huge. Like, enormous. Like, imagine the biggest thing you have ever seen and then imagine that it is about a hundred times bigger and hollow and upside down. There, that’s the Grand Canyon, sort of. It’s also jaw droppingly beautiful. And, the part nobody really mentions, dangerous as fuck. There aren’t any railings, except at Mather Point, which is the place right by the visitor center where everyone gets off the tour buses and rushes to the edge to fall off like lemmings. It’s a good thing there are railings there: if you go over the edge, well, that’s it, that’s all she wrote. It’s really quite astonishingly dangerous. As best as I can tell, the Grand Canyon Industrial Complex (and it is a huge complex) counts on most of the truly stupid people not getting much beyond Mather Point and does not, for the most part, bother with railings elsewhere. And to be fair, how do you fence off hundreds of miles of canyon rim or even the twenty or so that are in the tourist section of the park? It isn’t really doable, so they don’t, contenting themselves with very mild warnings. If it was me everyone who came into the park would have to sit through a horribly graphic ten minute video sort of like the drunk driving one everyone has to watch in high school, but I’m a firm proponent of the nanny state.
I thought I was the only one with these morbid thoughts, but then I chatted with an Australian family who felt the same. They couldn’t believe there were no fences and said that in Australia, everything would have been safely gated away with lots of helpful notices. I thought to myself that my understanding was that people were constantly dying in Australia due to the crazy vicious wildlife but perhaps the spiders all have placards. Who knows? I still felt morbid, but then at the gift shop I found a whole book about death in the Grand Canyon. That and a little exploratory googling taught me that I was not alone: lots of people notice the sheer, unguarded rocky 400 foot drops and think, dude, people must die here all. The . Time. About 7 people a year, it turns out, although some years are deadlier than others.
Well! Nobody died while I was there, although some teenagers were climbing rocks by the edge and certainly pushing their luck. I had to walk away.
So, okay: there are two parts to the Grand Canyon: there’s the canyon itself in all its gigandor murderous spectacular beauty and then there’s the Grand Canyon Industrial Complex, which is also pretty huge. It’s a whole town. There’s a post office and a train station and a supermarket. There’s mass transit – very efficient mass transit – and housing and multiple restaurants and taverns and shops – lots of shops. Even some shoppes. – and a laundromat and a garage and a medical center. There’s way more stuff, I’m sure, that I never even saw, and that’s in addition to the campgrounds and hotels and motels and bathrooms and mule stables and water fountains. The place is crowded. Even in the very end of November, there were tons of people everywhere. And the people are from everywhere. I heard languages I have never heard before. I could not even begin to tell you where these people were from. It was really cool: you so rarely see a truly international crowd in this country outside of the big cities. In fact, there were a few times when Americans were in the distinct minority, which I always think is probably very good for my fellow countrypeople. Perspective!
This is what I did at the Grand Canyon.
- I rode the blue line shuttle buses from the campground all around.
- I walked the Rim Trail from Mather Point about a mile, I’m not sure where it was, and then I walked back again.
- I went to the tavern in the Yakapai Lodge and I chatted with the bartender, who used to work at Pisgah Inn (truly it is a small world, etc.) and I chatted with the couple next to me, who were real estate people in Texas and I chatted with a sort of odd guy down the bar who was from Seattle. I had a lovely time.
- I did not get up in time for sunrise despite setting my alarm but I did get to the rim of the canyon by 8:30 am and I hiked for an hour and took a squillion pictures and visited the geology museum, all before I even had any coffee. I did all this with all my showering needs in my camera backpack on top of 4 cameras, 3 lenses and assorted sundries.
- I rode the buses back to the shower and I took one, which cost $2 for 7 minutes and would have been glorious, except for the part where I cracked the hell out of my head on the coin machine. It still hurts.
- I then hiked half a mile back to my campsite. Really my only complaint about the Canyon is the lack of showers in trailer village. RV people like to get clean too.
- That afternoon I rode the Red Line up the road to Hermit’s Rest, carrying my giant camera backpack AND the fucking tripod all the way. I got off at every stop and took too many pictures.
- I tripped and fell down in the bus and nobody said anything. Not a single, are you okay? Can I help? This hurt my feelings but, oh well! I did not love them either. It did cement a decision I made a while back which is that if anyone falls down near me I will by GODS at least OFFER to help. I mean, come on people. I make the effort to get up every morning and put on my human suit, so should you.
- I went to two gift shops. They were good gift shops!
- I decided if I stayed at the Grand Canyon and attempted to see any more of it I would either, a) die from too much hiking while carrying 4 cameras, 3 lenses and a fucking tripod or b) spend all the money I have in the world on yet more refrigerator magnets and going back to the bar.
So I left. And I hope HOPE HOPE I someday get to return, because there is so much I didn’t see. It was awesome in the truest sense of the word.
And, to top it off and make me completely happy, there were ravens.