“Jesus, it’s only the biggest God-damn hole in the world.”
–Clark Griswold, in National Lampoon’s Vacation, 1983
There was no dead body, and no robbery to spice up the scenery, but it was a very Griswold day.
The Grand Canyon follows along the path of the Colorado River for about 277 miles. It is about mile deep and 18 miles wide. It took Mother Nature about 2 billion years to build it.
Ya think we would have been awestruck….
But consider these statistics, as well — Nine days. 2,746 miles (give or take a rest stop or two) and 110 degrees. The eastern entrance to the southern portion of the canyon is about 180 miles from Goulding’s in Monument Valley. It took us about four and a half hours on desert roads to get there, including a 10 minute pit stop at a roadside Indian market for some beef and buffalo jerky to nourish the troops. By noon, it was already a long day.
When we began planning this trip, we knew there would come a day that we would we hit a wall. July 19th was that day. The Grand Canyon was the wall. We were ready to move on almost as soon as we arrived.
In all fairness to the canyon, we had really only planned a Griswold-style break here to begin with. Initially, I had dreamed about a mule trip into the canyon, Brady-Bunch style, but with 2 coasts to see and just 31 days to do it, Bobby and Cindy getting lost would certainly put a kink in our itinerary. We had places to be, darn it!
So we planned a picnic and a quick once-over. It was crowded and hot, and I was terrified of losing a child over the edge.
But still, there is no denying its “Grand”-ness and its beauty and its ability to make mere mortals feel really, really small.
We also learned a bit about the history of this geological wonder, and how tourists arrived first by stagecoach, then by train and then by car, changing the landscape around the canyon in the smallest of ways. Roads paved. Hotels and lookouts, built, abandoned, and rebuilt along its rim, like ant hills on a prairie. All for our convenience and the privilege of being reminded how briefly we travel here on this earth. We pondered that…for a moment or two…and then moved on.
Next it’s off for a few kicks on Route 66, and a stop at the Canyon Lodge in Seligman, AZ.