May 7, 2008

A Jamaican in the Grand Canyon

As our tour bus passed the stone angel at the entrance of the Hoover Dam, Kanan, our fellow passenger from Dubai, my wife and I marveled at the sheer genius that it took to imagine and construct this engineering marvel. As I gazed at the 726 foot concrete wall, I was once again reminded of the remarkable talent that North Americans have to pull together and create something spectacular. And it was.

From Lake Mead to the "Gothic-inspired balustrade," the Hoover Dam was an extraordinary site to behold as we made our way from the bright lights of Las Vegas on our way to the Grand Canyon. But we also had a few diversions. Our tour guide, Jim, regaled us with all kinds of stories about Las Vegas and its suburbs. He also showed us videos about early pioneers such as John Wesley Powell and took us through Route 66 where we met the family of the late Juan Delgadillo of Snow Cap fame, who are still continuing the old man's tradition of fake mustard and dead chicken sandwiches. And that was only the start of the journey.

And although Jim had prepared us by telling us all about rock formations and the uplifting of Paleozoic strata (yeah, Jim knows his stuff!), we were not ready for the sheer majesty of the Grand Canyon. It was more impressive than I had ever imagined and also humbling.

From the safety of the barrier at Yavapai Point and watching the Colorado River--a brown snake winding through rock--I realized that I was looking back to the earliest cooling of our planet to the uplifting and folding of tectonic plates into mountains and plateaus of grandeur. We were witnesses to the marriage of stone and water--the obduracy of stone and the subtlety of water that created intricate caverns and monuments of quartz that mark their brief stay with beauties and disasters before they crumble into sand and join the detritus of time.

Staring out into the vastness of the canyon, I also wondered if at fifty, a casual observer could have said as she witnessed my passage through time--the things I have created and destroyed-- and said, "It is good."

The feeling of awe remained with me as we drove back to Las Vegas that shimmered in the distance. And even after a day's tour, Jim still managed to keep our interest with trivia: Why does the Luxor have a spotlight on the top and smaller lights running up and down the sides? Why does the MGM have a green color at night? (You'll have to book with Jim to get the answer.)

As we left the tour bus with our friend Kanan, I also understood that for all its twisting and turning, its upheavals and settlings, the Earth needs us and we need it to tell the stories of our travels through time.

For more photos, please follow this link: Grand Canyon

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Rethabile said...

I dig the fresh look.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Thanks, Rethabile! Yeah, I was getting tired of that template and decided to try something new.

Glad you like it!

Anonymous said...

So glad you got to go to the Grand Canyon!

Geoffrey Philp said...

So am I. It was worth every moment.