Catholic Traveller is back on the road! We're visiting missions, shrines and more, hoping to motivate and encourage you to make pilgrimage part of your life. Come along as we roam the country in our travel trailer, by train and by plane. Buen camino!
I just spent the most awesome day at the Grand Canyon with my daughter and her friends. It was kind of a last minute thing, they were camping up there for the weekend, would I like to meet them? Hmm...how much gas is in the car? Yup, I'll be there. I really needed a day off from my worries and anxieties and I can't think of a better therapy than a day in one of the National Parks. Of course the fact that I live only 90 minutes away helps, also.
Our adventure started in Tusayan, with a visit to the Indian PowWow Swap Meet. While the younguns shopped for beads and baubles I chatted up some of the Navajo vendors and even found one with whom I shared a mutual friend. I wished I had some spending money, because the silver, turquoise and beading was authentic Navajo, exquisite, and inexpensive. Next stop, the IMAX Theater for a showing of Grand Canyon: The Movie. I enjoyed the film for its reenactment of the Anasazi occupation and Major John Wesley Powell's river exploration of the Canyon. Afterward we took in the Condor Encounter in the courtyard. Hoping to see actual California Condors up close, we were disappointed to find out that only injured and non-flying California Condors were allowed and none were currently available. However, we were entertained and delighted by the "smart" raven who took a dollar bill from an audience member and dropped it in the donation box; and the dancing crane.
Finally we proceeded to the park. Prepaid passes are the only way to go during peak season. Our cars were ushered straight into the prepaid lane and our entry into the park expedited. The first stop, as usual was Mather Point and the main Visitor's Center. Boy, have there been alot of changes in the six months since I was last there! Extra parking, more bathrooms, and a complete remodel in progress on the visitor center. I walked in and back out, making a beeline for the bookstore. At least everything is still familiar there. The boy and I picked up our summer visitors guides and stamped them with the commemorative stamps (free). We browsed the new offerings, and played with the raven puppets, then regrouped with our peeps and went for a 2 mile stroll down the paved, safety-railed Rim Trail.
Several times we noted tourists trying to feed the squirrels. Bigtime no-no! Those cute little friendly furballs have fleas and ticks which will jump onto humans just as happily and transmit lovely souveniers such as bubonic plague, lyme disease and if little furball decides to bite, he could be transmitting rabies as well. Not to mention that feeding them does them no favors, as they become reliant upon human handouts and will not survive the winter on their own. Best to enjoy the wildlife with your eyes, not your hands! Okay, rest now, my rant's over.
Though I much prefer to visit the Canyon mid-week in the off season, this particular Saturday was glorious. There were crowds, but they were friendly and not overwhelming. I think the presence of extra park rangers on the trails greatly contributed to the relaxed, genial atmosphere. Our recent rains seem to have given the sky a more sparkling blueness, and made the air more fresh and sweet. The view from the Rim Trail is dramatic. Some spots drop straight down over 5,000 feet. Others are deceptively inviting, yet treacherous and slippery. You can walk the trail a hundred times and get a different perspective every time.
It was such a refreshing day, and totally occupied my mind, relieving anxiety, and relaxing tension. Once back in my car at the IMAX, with a cup of coffee, I was ready to get back to reality, though perfectly willing to stay at the canyon if that had been an option. I know that God, who made such a glorious wonder as the Grand Canyon, also cares about me and my seemingly insignificant troubles. In getting my mind off of them for a day, I found some solutions and rediscovered gratitude.