Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bryce Canyon

The canyon is named after Ebenezer Bryce, the Mormon missionary who first settled here. Beyond this simple fact, descriptions become difficult. If the Grand Canyon amazes you with its scale, this “little gem” of a canyon defies words for a different reason. It is fantastic, in the very literal sense of the term. The term for the columns you see is “hoodoo” and here they cluster into town, villages, congregations of stone people. At one overlook several of us agreed that they looked at times like the terracotta Chinese “stone soldiers.” But rather than being man-made, these are natural and the ancestors of Paiutes believed that the gods had turned an ancient race of people to stone for some unknown transgression. Regardless, Bryce takes your breath away.

In fact, Bryce leaves you breathless in more ways than one. The park, the rim of which can be circumscribed by an eight mile hike, ranges in altitude from about 7,500 to 9115. We followed our usual pattern of walking about a mile and a half after breakfast and then reverting to the car to see the more distant sights. Except that this walk wiped us out for the day and we staggered from vista to vista through the afternoon. I suspect that had we an other day here we would have either slept in the afternoon or read on the expansive veranda or the Bryce Canyon Lodge, where we did not stay, but did provision and eat.

This canyon is simply not to be missed. Our only regret was that we did not visit when we were younger and could have hiked down into the these phantasmagorical formations.

Just a final note, anything is possible with Photoshop. The only processing I have done on any of these images is with Preview and that only to apply auto level color adjustment when I thought it necessary to make things more lifelike. And, for those who care, I took 218 images yesterday and I am really having fun with the new Panasonic GX7.

The morning light makes some of these formations appear translucent

The green forests that dot the canyon add another color highlight

Erosion is what made this canyon and this is a striking example

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grand Canyon to Bryce

Another travel day today as we move from the Grand Canyon, which totally knocked us back, to Bryce. We made several stops along the way, beginning with the Little Colorado River Gorge, maintained as a site by the Navajo Nation.

We stopped there for pictures, of course, and ended up buying some exquisite jewelry for Anna (our daughter) and Sharon and a gorgeous piece of pottery for the house.

With Arizona Highway 89 washed out south of Page, Nevada, a detour added about 30 miles to the trip. I don’t know what the scenery is like along 89, but 89A offered some stunning scenery, including the Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon.

Those of you who know me well know that it had to happen at least once on this trip. Kudos to the Utah Highway Patrol. When I came up on him fast from behind, the officer was good enough to just issue me a warning. I promised him I’d slow down. Gotta be more careful.

And our last set of stops after turning onto the road leading to Bryce Canyon was at Red Rock Canyon.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Grand Canyon: Day Three

One wonders what this place must be like in summer. This morning we decided to return to the El Tovar for breakfast and spent fifteen minutes, at least, looking for parking and then another fifteen waiting to be seated. The breakfast was worth it.

El Tovar also brought to our attention two aspects of Grand Canyon and Park Service history, first, the architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter who worked for the park service concessionaire, the Fred Harvey Company from 1910 through about 1940 and built a number of significant buildings in the Grand Canyon for the Harvey Company which is often credited with helping to open the Southwest to tourism.

After breakfast we searched for parking some more and then boarded the Red Shuttle out to Hermit’s Rest (site of another Colter building), and walked a mile and a quarter portion of the rim trail. Today I limited myself to fewer than 100 images.

It was another grand day in the Grand Canyon. Tomorrow we traverse about 280 miles to Bryce Canyon and, as Sharon put it, we will have more fun with another hole in the ground.

Grand Canyon: Day Two


Not too much to say, the images trump any words I might offer. But here are a few factoids. Yesterday we walked about 2 miles, drove about 50 and I took 189 photos.

We began, as yesterday, at Mather Point and walked the Rim Trail about 1.5 miles to the Pipeline Vista. The walk took a couple of hours not because we are old and out of shape but because I seemed incapable of taking more than twenty steps without taking a side trail and shooting a handful of images before moving on. Sharon was reasonably understanding. From there we took the shuttle back to the Village, jumped into the car for the twenty-five Desert View drive, stopping at a number of vistas including the Grandview, the Watchtower and the ruins of a Anasazi village named Tusayan by those who excavated it in 1930.

We’ve been told that 5,000,000 people visit per year. The more accessible parts of the trails and overlooks reflect the crowds, but off the beaten path you can find solitude and the grandeur of nature’s god is all around you.

The ruins at Tusayan

The Desert View Watchtower, one of Mary Colter's buildings

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Boulder to the Grand Canyon

Yesterday took us from Boulder City, Nevada to the Grand Canyon, a drive of about 250 miles through an array of landscapes from the barren to scrub and pine forests to the elevations of the Grand Canyon.

We arrived at the Grand Canyon in early afternoon after detouring to pass through Williams which was once a stop on the famed Route 66 and which now bills itself as the last Arizona town bypassed by Interstate 40 in 1984. The town seemed  amusing and I stopped to snap a couple of images.

Ironically we would return to Williams for dinner since they have a well regarded restaurant, the Red Raven, which almost justified the 100 mile round trip drive. Sharon must have been very hungry as she did not object to the pace of travel which got us there in about 35 minutes.

And there has to be a Corvette on Route 66, right? Though this is not the same 1961 convertible that Milner drove on the TV series. I'm no 'Vette expert, despite having owned a '59, but this looks to be '66 or '67

I’m working with an amazingly slow internet connection in Tusayan where we are staying outside the park, so I may not be able to post much Grand Canyon stuff for the next few days, but here are a few teasers.

 We lucked into a ranger talk at this overlook and she helped put the place into some human perspective. To cut to the chase it is about 270 miles long, an average of 10 miles wide and is about a mile deep, making it the largest canyon in the world.