It is probably telling that, having indicated in a previous post my inability to deal with the scale of the landscape in our journey, my second national park stop was the Grand Canyon North Rim. I won’t waste your time trying to put words to what so many before me have written about. I will, however, tell you that you must go – to the north rim at least. It is the shock that makes it special, more so than the scale. You are in one minute at 9,000 or so feet amidst thick pine and Aspen and then, in a blink, are confronted with nature’s largest and deepest storybook of what once was, but is no more. You can read it in the canyon walls if you know how, or you can stand agape and stutter about your own inabilities. Which is what I did. We hiked around and out to several points, but then left the park proper and drove 25 miles through Kaibab National Forest so that we could pitch camp literally on the rim of he canyon. We went to sleep to the sun setting and awoke to it rising over the Grand by-God Canyon. As I said earlier, you really should do this. Period.
Today we had our coffee and talked about the glory of our country and our pity for those who live all their lives and don’t have coffee at daybreak overlooking the Grand Canyon without another soul within who knows how many miles. Then we packed up and traveled north to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. There are too many people at each to settle down and get comfortable, but the scenery is no less awe-inspiring and, many cases maybe even more so than the Grand Canyon. It happens too suddenly and rises too high in the case of Zion; it unfolds over too much space and with too many disparate structures all perfectly settled together in the case of Bryce. But it does happen and it changes you when you see it. It forever affects your sense of what our country is and how it looks. It establishes a permanent counter-balance to every mistake in structure, population, development density and neighborhood covenant you will ever confront.
It changes your expectations about what is around the next bend. Forever.