A Grand Experience

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Last summer my family decided to get out of the routine of going to Duluth every summer. We decided to go to the southwestern United States, landing in Arizona and eventually making our way to San Diego. Of the many sites that we visited, the most memorable, was the Grand Canyon. It is absolutely indescribable. Pictures and postcards just don’t do it justice. The Grand Canyon truly is astonishing.
Before going to the Grand Canyon, we stayed in a town that was somewhat close to the canyon. This town was very interesting, since Route 66 went through it. This town was able to capture the vintage southern feel, which was very enjoyable. It was also a very fun place, as there were street performers that re-enacted old western gunfights. Later in the evening when it started to get dark, the town got even better. Almost every shop or store had neon lighting, which really made the town feel vintage. It was a joyful experience to explore the shops and walk around the town.
We got to the Grand Canyon not by car, but by train. There was a train station in the town we stayed in, and we took a train from there up to the Grand Canyon. The train ride itself was a lot of fun due to the fact that the street performers offered entertainment during the ride. One of them played the fiddle, and the other played the mouth organ. They played many classic southern tunes that even we could recognize. The scenery going up to the Canyon was also breathtaking. The landscape is so different there than here in Wisconsin. We went by lots of beautiful mountains and vast plains on the way there. Traveling by train was icing on the cake, because it felt like you were back in a time where there were no automobiles and trains were the main way of transportation. I felt like I was put into a time machine and it was now the late 1800’s. We saw a lot of wildlife on the way up to the canyon as well, including deer, fox, rabbits, and a lot of cows. The train had to go up some very steep inclines, which also made the journey more interesting. I also learned a lot on that train ride, as the conductor acted as our guide throughout the voyage. He pointed out landmarks and old buildings and explained everything to us. The conductor pointed out old train stations that were in ruins, and even an old section of the track that had been destroyed by a mudslide. When we finally made it close to the rim of the Canyon, the conductor said if you look out the left hand side of the train, you could see a little bit of the canyon. Everyone on the train hustled to the left side of the train, eager to see the canyon. What I saw was difficult to comprehend. Although you could only see the other side of the rim of the canyon, that first view blew my mind. The sheer size of the canyon was amazing. The amount of space the canyon took up was very puzzling.
We got off the train, and then got onto a tour bus that would take us alongside one of the rims and stop in certain places to explain things. So far I had only seen a glimpse of the canyon, so I had no idea what was in store for me when we got close enough to see the view again. Our tour guide, Bill, was very enthusiastic about his job, and as soon as we got onto the bus he was filling our brains with information. After Bill told us some background information on the area and geography of the Grand Canyon National Park, we began our journey. When the trees in front of the rim parted, a remarkable sight appeared. The view was unbelievable. One of the most beautiful, remarkable, and intimidating sights I have ever seen stood before my very eyes. I cannot describe with words the view I saw. The canyon was massive. You could see for miles and miles into the canyon, and you could see the other side of the rim, which was very far away.
Bill stopped the bus at a scenic point, and we all got out. The scenic point was right alongside the edge of the rim, so you could see all the way down into the canyon. Bill explained that the Canyon is so massive and so deep that your mind actually can’t comprehend it. As I looked down into the canyon you could see what looked like a small stream running through the canyon. Bill told us that it was the Colorado River. As I looked at the small, muddy stream, I couldn’t believe it. The river winding through the canyons appeared to be very small and unimportant. Bill exclaimed that since the Canyon was so big, it made the Colorado River look like a stream. In reality the Colorado River was actually around 700 Feet wide. It was just like looking at one of those optical illusions where one shape appears to be bigger than the other but in truth they are the same size. I could see little white caps on the river that looked like little bubbles on the surface of the river. Bill told us that those little bubbles were actually class 5 rapids, which is the 2nd most challenging class of rapids. Whitewater rafters go down the rapids every day, and Bill stated that if we had a pair of high-powered binoculars, we could barely see the bright yellow rafts that are bigger than a full sized van. It really was unbelievable. Bill then pointed out one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Bill reminded us that the Grand Canyon is the 7th natural wonder of the world. Bill then pointed out a large plateau in the middle of the canyon and asked us if we saw anything special. I stared at it for a while, unable to find anything. Bill then pointed out that there was a number 7 carved into the side of the plateau. He stressed that it was created naturally, and it has been there for as long as the Canyon has been discovered. It was all very hard to take in. We got back on the bus and went to many more scenic points, including one that stuck out over the canyon. It was such an experience to look down into the canyon and realize how far down you are looking. After the tour was done, we ate lunch at a restaurant next to the rim. Then we decided to go to another part of the rim to see even more.
After our adventure, we decided we would pack dinner and go watch the sunset. We found a place that was perfect for watching the sunset. We headed off the paved trail and climbed out on the edge of the rim. As we ate, I noticed the different colored layers of rock that make up the canyon. It really added to the beauty of the plateaus. The sun set was beautiful. The only problem was that our view was sort of blocked by fog. I realized that the fog was caused by the extremely hot air that was stuck in the canyon all day that was finally starting to cool. I also couldn’t help to notice how peaceful the canyon was. At first, the canyon appears as an intimidating place. But after a while, you realize how tranquil the landscape is. Other than the noise from other tourists, it was extremely quiet. I think that this is partly due to sounds not echoing off of a lot, because the canyon is so massive. It really made you wonder how the Grand Canyon could have formed.
After watching the sun go down, we were pretty tired. We were not used to the time difference, so we decided to turn in early. My dad and I decided that the next morning, we would set out to watch the sun rise. I was very excited to see the sunrise so I went to bed right away. The next morning, I woke up a 5:15. Because of the time difference, it actually wasn’t that early for us, but it was for the people that lived in Arizona. I was really excited to see what the sunrise would look like so I hurried outside. In order to get the best view, we would be taking a bus with other sunrise seekers to a scenic point we visited the day before. When we arrived at our destination, it was still extremely dark. We got our camera ready and waited for the view. There was just enough light to see down into the canyon. Then the moment we were waiting for came. The sun started to peek out from behind the other side of the rim. The sky behind the canyon lit up like a firestorm. One of the coolest effects the sunrise created was the shadows that the plateaus casted. You could look down into the canyon and watch the shadows slowly disappear as the sun rose higher into the sky. Another interesting event that occurred was all of the birds taking to the sky as the sun marked the start of the day. The moment was perfect; the sun setting fire to the sky behind the view of the Grand Canyon. The image was so magnificent that it still remains etched in my mind. It was an experience I will always cherish.





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starfighter77 said...
May 20, 2011 at 8:41 am
Wow! that sounds like a lot of fun going to the Grand Canyon. I took a trip once from Dairyland across the Northwestern U.S. and it was definitely much more beautiful than Wisconsin. I think it's really cool whenver you take fun summer vacations like that
 
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