Tiny speck in a great creation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2005

Wow. If you haven't seen it, you should try to take a trip to the Grand Canyon.

I only saw one little bit of it n it's almost 300 miles long and I only saw about 10 miles of it n but that little bit was breathtaking. One of the most misused words in the English language is "awesome", used excessively by young people to denote anything that isn't mind-numbingly boring to them, but the Grand Canyon is awesome.

I'm not prone to mysticism or religious fervor, but standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon really does make you think about God the Creator and what He was thinking when He carved this magnificent formation into the dessert floor.

And just down the road, so to speak, is something else that can induce awe for those who have yet to see the Grand Canyon n the Hoover Dam. A testament to the wonders we humans can create when we put our hearts and minds into the task, the Hoover Dam is truly a manmade wonder.

During our Vegas vacation last week, Kim and I took a bus tour to the Grand Canyon that first took us to the Hoover Dam, which happens to be on the way. I must have taken the equivalent of a roll of film just on the desert vista. I'd always wanted to see the desert, maybe because of all the Cowboy & Indian movies I saw as a kid. It's beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I like the lush forests and fields of my home state, but the desert makes the world seem such a huge place while our verdant green landscape restricts our vision and makes the world seem manageable.

The desert sky is bigger, the horizon farther away, and even though there are visible mountains in every direction you turn, this landscape makes you feel like a tiny speck in this great creation. Here, your ego is not so minimized and you feel bigger than you really are.

At any rate, it was a great trip. First we saw some real Nevada towns, onward to the Hoover Dam, through those great desert views, including a Joshua Tree forest, down a bumpy dirt road through a mountain pass, and onward to the Hualapai Tribal reservation where part of the Grand Canyon is located, and then to viewing sites on tours organized by members of the tribe.

Did you know that the Grand Canyon actually resides on the tribal grounds of several different Indian tribes? I just figured it was a national park kind of deal, but you can only see the Grand Canyon if you get permission from these tribes.

I'm not going to try to describe what we saw. The tiny section of the Grand Canyon we saw, the West Rim, was simply breathtaking. The enormity of it, the subtle desert colors, the chiseled-looking rock formations…magnificent.

I hope to go back one day to see more. Other vantage points, our guide told us, look very different from the one we saw. We, for example, could clearly see the other side of the canyon and could see the very green river down below, but at other vantage points you can't seen the river or the other side because it is so wide and deep. Apparently the color of the rock is different at other vantage points.

Some of the brochures we saw said the South Rim is the most beautiful. I don't know if I could have taken that. I was mighty impressed by the West Rim.

I was hot the day we went, but not so bad. With temps below 105 in late July, our guide told us it was a perfect day in the desert. It's usually over 110 degrees this time of year, but as we all know, there is no humidity. For those wondering what that's like, I'll try to describe it. Yeah, you feel the heat of the sun bearing down on you, but you're not the least bit sweaty. If you reach up to wipe your brow, you'll find it perfectly dry. It's not uncomfortable, you're not clammy or sticky, and if you've got plenty of water to keep hydrated, it's a great climate.

It's true what they say, "It's not the heat; it's the humidity."

If you get a chance to visit the Grand Canyon, take it. Believe me, it's worth the trip. The Nevada and Arizona desert region is a whole ‘nother world than the one in Eastern North Carolina. Not better, not worse, just different and very, very interesting. And, in spots, totally awesome.