That is not to say that on the sixth day we created the Grand Canyon although I’d love to take credit for it. What I mean to say is that, any time someone asked me what I planned to do on my trip, I always said “We’re hoping to make it to the Grand Canyon, but there’s lots of other things we want to see on the way…so, if we get there, we get there.” On day 6, we got there.
It was a relatively short trip from Flagstaff at about 80 some odd miles. The drive up was fun though. I saw at least 2 hawks (which was a welcome difference from the countless ravens…which are the Ponderosa Forest equivalent of pigeons just about 50x larger), 1 alien mutilated cow (no proof though), a dead wolf, an elk sitting in a field, and a group of elk on the way back.
At the Grand Canyon, we proceeded to take the tourist tour of the South Rim. We realized at this point that what we love most about the Southwest and all the canyons available is the solitude that come with them. That said, we found very little about our experience at the Grand Canyon very exciting. Its tough to get all “look at the natural Majesty possible on earth” when you’re excusing yourself for stepping on the foot of the old lady behind you.
True story: While we stood at one of the South Rim overlooks basking in the splendor, I hear someone saying “Wow isn’t it gorgeous?” followed by “Mommy! Look! A helicopter!” Yes, kid, you’re 75 miles from civilization peering down at one of earth’s most spectacular naturally occurring features and all you can say is, “Oh, look! A helicopter.” You might think I’m just grumbling. But everyone else in the group started barging in, “Where? I don’t see it!”
There are no helicopters in the images below. For that, I’m sorry.
If you want a helicopter, watch the local news!
One of our favorite parts of the Grand Canyon visit was not the canyon at all but the “Watchtower” on the far end of the South Rim. It is what it sounds like, a circular tower built to resemble the old granaries built by ancient pueblo peoples in the area. It’s interesting that the ancients used the towers as granaries, but the archetect named it a “watchtower” and built into its base a heartwarming souvenir shop…representing trade and abundant …no, I made that representation bit up. It’s totally hokey. It’s what’s inside the tower itself that’s amazing.
The watchtower’s innards are lined with massive murals painted by one Hopi descendant. It tells the story of a Hopi tribal leader and his son (upper left quadrant). The son wants to know where the river to the Grand Canyon leads. His hope is to find the fabled man who speaks to snakes and has unlocked the secrets to asking the snakes for rain. The entire village comes together to build him a canoe (upper right quadrant). He drifts down to the sea where he meets the man who speaks to snakes.
The man shares his secret with the leader’s son. While there, the son also meets and marry’s a woman (lower right quadrant). They walk the whole Colorado River back up to his village with the power of rain and speaking to snakes (lower left quadrant).
There were many other stories and belief systems strewn across the watchtower walls. From the twin black war gods to the marriage of the son and the woman to the men in the moon and sun to the god of fertile crop production.
What made this all so much more fascinating was that the day before we went to the Grand Canyon and saw these beautiful murals, we met the grandson of this painter!!!! The grandson is a transient artist and guitar playing busker in Flagstaff. NO KIDDING!
He told us the story of the murals, of their significance and of his grandfather painting them. Could not have been cooler if he grew wings and flew into the sunset.