05 June, 2009

Vacation Report: Big Hole in the Ground

Well, my darlings, here they are at last: ye olde Grand Canyon photos. The big hole in the ground's pretty spectacular when you haven't seen it in person for over 15 years. This geologically-inclined native ran around like a kid in a candy store all day.

Alas, I'm no good at recognizing formations, so you'll have to suffer without the intimate details. I'm sure the vistas will alleviate some of the pain.

There are places where you can get right up to the rim, no fences between you and the scenery, and realize the scope of this thing:

If you have no fear of heights and a healthy respect for long ways down, you can nudge right up to the edge and look nearly a mile straight down:

The key is to a) be standing on solid rock, b) ensure that rock doesn't have any ominous fractures, and b) make sure there's a ledge a few feet below you just in case your calculations were wrong. As long as you don't lean too far forward, you can pick up some pretty spectacular shots in near-perfect safety.

Or you can go for the totally safe bet and just sit on the limestone mini-cliff at Mather Point:

When it's cloudy, the light changes quickly. The Canyon shows a different face with every passing cloud shadow:

There are temples all over the place: Vishnu, Isis, even Cheops Pyramid. If you ask me which one the temple at the left is, I'd just stare at you blankly. But it's easy to see why explorers felt moved to call them temples:

Especially when the light hits them:

Those patches of sun and shadow absolutely delight me - they give you quite the show with all the different rock types.

Down below, if you look reeeaaallllyyy closely, you can catch a glimpse of the Colorado River. It's got itself buried deep in that hole in the middle there:

I'm calling this formation the Bactrian Camel, because that's what it looks like to me:

Here's a good shot showing relative rocks. That white stuff in the foreground is Kaibab limestone. The red stuff on top of the next formation over is Coconino sandstone. And then you go down into the bones of the earth. Some of the rock at the very bottom of the canyon is billions of years old:

The whole character of the canyon changes with just a few steps, which is why I have nearly three hundred pictures snapped when we only saw a tiny fraction of the whole:

Mother Nature did some pretty intense carving work on this place. You can get a sense for how complicated it all is when you find these little nooks looking down into the main Canyon:

Whelp, I'm late for the train. Must dash:

All right, so that's not my train - we're actually having breakfast at the Railroad Cafe. But if you get a chance to come here, do try to take one of the train rides to the Canyon. But do what I'm doing: make sure you can afford the dome car.

Today, it's Sedona, Jerome and Prescott - I'll have a photo report for you later. Adios!

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