BootsnAll Travel Network

Articles Tagged ‘Grand Canyon’

More articles about ‘Grand Canyon’
« Home

The Grand Canyon: A Big Fucking Hole

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

It was mid-afternoon, around 4pm, and the sun was already low in the sky, ready to kiss the horizon good night. I drove the big SUV, a Ford Explorer, through the snow covered plains north of Flagstaff, towards the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

I expected the landscape to be more dramatic, but the road refused to budge from its dead-straight line, easing across the lightly rolling land. Christmas trees lined the road, and patches of ice hung onto the asphalt in the shadows.

Entry to the park was paid, only $25 for a 7-day pass for the three of us, and we continued along the road as it began to slowly wind through the forest, yet beyond that the landscape offered no further clues as to the gaping cut that scarred the earth just up ahead. We reached the main village, perched near the edge of the canyon, but still it lay hidden; my eyes focussed on the slippery road, my mind concentrating on driving.

We were moving at little more than walking speed; the roads covered in ice. We began to leave the village. Two cars were stopped just up ahead where a sign showed a map of the area. I put the brakes on, a little harder than necessary.

“Holy fuck! There’s a big fucking hole!”

“What, where?” Bec craned her neck to look down at the road in front of the car, expecting to see a pot-hole that had stopped us in our tracks.

“No, out there!”

She turned to look out the passenger window, where to our right the trees had parted to reveal an earth that simply fell away to depths we couldn’t see, fell seemingly forever, laying bare jagged red walls dusted with snow. She gasped. Literally gasped. I don’t believe I’ve ever actually heard someone audibly gasp before. I hadn’t been to the Grand Canyon before.



I planted the accelerator, and we raced along the canyon’s edge. I wanted to look out the window, but had to watch the road. Cars stopped as four or five deer munched on the icy grass by the side of the road. We kept on, racing the sun as it dipped ever lower. A lookout was reached, cameras set on tripods and clicked and clicked and clicked. Colours changed, faded, slipped away. The sky melted from blue into pink into nothing. The canyon walls cried yellows and oranges and reds, or hid under the snow. The air grew cold, and my fingers began to hurt. Cameras clicked and clicked and clicked some more. Heads were shaken as glances were exchanged and smiles of incredulity spread across faces.

The sun was gone, replaced by a smiling moon. We drove back to our motel to eat some steak and listen to an old cowboy tickle Johnny Cash covers on his banjo.

Next morning was cold. Still dark and real cold as we started the car at a little after 6.30. We made the canyon as the first light began to creep into the sky. The canyon edge was covered in ice that had been worn smooth from constant foot traffic. My feet started sliding, and I crashed onto my arse walking from the car, holding the camera above my head as I landed. No harm done.

A light wisp of cloud swept across the sky and turned slowly pink as the sun, though still out of sight, shed more light on the immense hole below us. It was a mesmerising sight. The desert reds of the land told my eyes that it should be warm out, that the sun should be piercing with its heat, but my fingers were frozen, my beanie pulled down tight over my ears. The first rays brought welcome warmth, and the canyon walls began to sparkle in the light.

We spent the morning driving slowly East along the canyon’s south rim, stopping at lookouts for jaw-dropping views, and stripping off layers as the sun climbed and delivered an unseasonable but entirely welcome warmth.

We left the park a little after lunch, and drove north on Highway 89 across Arizona, through the Navajo Reservation, and across the border into Utah.