Thursday, July 10, 2008

Unveiling Nature's Grand Masterpiece (Grand Canyon, USA)

It was minus fifteen outside but this is one of the world’s great travel wonders. I can’t recall if that was Fahrenheit or Celsius but it doesn’t really matter when it is that cold. Such temperatures are simply never experienced in my home town in Australia. I was half asleep wrapped in a cosy blanket in my cabin. The alarm had just gone off and it was still dark outside. Should I just sleep like most sensible people or should I head off outside. I bet that I’ll be the only one there.

It was mid February and there was snow everywhere. It had snowed a fair bit during the evening though the roads were open. I warmed a little as I shovelled snow from my vehicle, dressed like the proverbial Michelin Man. At least I think it was my vehicle or did I park in the next spot. Shovelling snow with your arm and a credit card is hardly so much fun that you wanted to do it for a complete stranger as well. Yes, that is my vehicle – now to check that it will start. First time, thank goodness. A few minutes more wait while the car (and most importantly, its heater) warmed up and we hit the road.

And it was only a few minutes drive anyway. The car wouldn’t even get properly warm. At least parking wouldn’t be a problem – there was no-one on the road anywhere. I arrived twenty minutes before sunrise and the dull glow of the emerging celestial globe was starting to break the dark dominance of the night sky. The canyon started to reluctantly radiate a dull reddish orange and awaken from its long evening winter's slumber. The sky was clear and the weather so crisp you could break it off in small icicles.

The high peaks in the canyon really started to catch the sun's rays and glow varying shades of reds, oranges, pinks and yellow, almost to a deep mauve. A dull light even started to penetrate the deeper reaches of the canyon, unveiling its true grandeur that nature has slowly carved over the last two billion years. The dusting of snow glinted as the sun first peeked over the horizon and the light grew more and more intense. The buttes and various towers of rock started to come into full light, casting dark shadows into the reddening valley below.

I snapped a few photos till I realised my left hand had gone numb from the cold and I couldn’t hold a camera any longer. Nature’s light show had erased the temperature from my mind for a few minutes, the senses warmed by the spectacular colours of the morning light. I had this view to myself, not another soul had visited this most recommended and stellar of early morning vantage points. The car remained alone in pole parking position.

The sun was fully above the horizon and light had fully taken over from the evening darkness before. It was time to return to the warmth of the cabin.

The Grand Canyon was more than could be imagined from all the photos and TV programs. Beyond viewing, it is a place to be fully experienced. It is truly one of nature's great masterpieces. But nature rarely disappoints.


Jenny said...

The Grand Canyon never gets old..

jasperjugan said...

went there last march. it really is an awwwwwwwwwesome view!

eunice said...

Hi MarkH,

I really enjoy looking at those photos here, awesome! I went to the east side of USA, and missed out the western part. Your photos have inspired me to go there someday! :D


Carrie said...

Terrific travel writing and wonderful photos to accompany it!

Hi Mark, I wanted to stop by and say thanks for commenting on My Several Worlds and introduce myself to another fellow globetrotter. It's nice to meet you! You've got a great site going here. Well-done. I'm looking forward to more posts!

Mark H said...

@eunice and @carrie: Thank You for your kind remarks. The Grand Canyon is one of the great travel wonders. One of the most special things is you don't see anything till you are virtually at the edge. And then it simply overwhelms...

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