The Canyon they call Grand

If there ever were a contest for geological clichés, the Grand Canyon of Arizona must be pretty high up on the leaderboard.

It’s resounding fame ensures a great gathering of global admirers each year. And every summer, my Facebook feed gets clogged up with pictures of University (College) students posing on the same bloody rock (seen in picture number 4), usually with their backs facing the camera for the “inspirational” look, then in comes the predictable list of perfunctory likes and comments below it.

Frankly, I was getting rather sick of seeing them, so we decided to swing by, check out what the fuss is all about, and to take our very own Canyon Cliché photos.

Due to the incredible large volume of tourists, all of the affordable lodging were taken up within 2 hour drive radius, so we set up camp in Page, near Lake Powell. We made the terrible discovery the day before we set off for Grand Canyon, that the usual route was closed for maintenance, and the detour was a three and half hour drive (lucky that the petrol was dirt cheap in Arizona). Sounds like a great start right? Well anyway, we set off at 5 am, eventually got there with the help of breakfast and coffee at Denny’s en route, and a copious amount of Depeche Mode.

The day was beautiful! Azure sky with a few clouds gathering; National Park signs indicated that fire hazard that day was extreme! The canyon was still a little hazy at just past 9 am. We parked the car, slapped on some factor 50, and out we went.

The canyon was GRAND indeed. The sheer size of the place was enthralling. But it almost felt too big to be fully appreciated, whilst standing on its rim.

As we walked towards the National Park Shuttle stop, we realised that the day was going to be a more of struggle than usual– The stop was jam packed full of tourists. We could hear European accents, American ones, but the overriding tone was that of Mandarin Chinese being spoken. Families of 3 generations travelling together were a common sight: grannies and gramps with walking sticks, fanning their irritated grand kids in prams with copies of the Park Guide, while great beads of sweat dripped from their faces; mummies were busy deriding daddies for their inability to read maps like “a proper man”… The day was going swimmingly.

We took the shuttle to the terminal stop, at the starting point of an iconic 1 mile walk, descending the rim of the canyon. There we decided to pause for some food, and for dessert we tried out a curious ice cream, that consisted of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two jumbo cookies. It was delicious! It had probably also shorted the life span of my pancreas by a couple of years, but it was completely worth it.

After the ice creams, we decided to take a look around. That’s when the ominous looking cumulonimbus rolled in on us. Soon after, low groans of thunder came with increasing frequency. No prizes for guessing what happened next…

We learned a lot about Grand Canyon National Park at the visitor centre. It seemed that there are much to do, from white water rafting to hiking, there is also abundant wildlife and plant species, not to mention it is practically a geologist’s wet dream. I think, we would have enjoyed Grand Canyon more, if we had lodging closer, or even within the park. The scenery, although impressive, were not quite what I had imagined. There are many things to like about Grand Canyon, but for me, somewhere smaller and less crowded (such as Bryce Canyon), is much more preferable.

Apologies for the rant about “inspirational canyon photos”, it’s been therapeutic…

Coming up: More Canyons

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