There are many symbols that automatically identify their location as synonymous with the United States of America.
The Statue of Liberty.
The St. Louis Arch.
But those are man-made. There are a few natural symbols that are unique to this nation, and first and foremost on the list, is the Grand Canyon, in northern Arizona. A place of unimaginable beauty, bordering on breathtaking, it speaks volume about our country and its immense capacity to be spectacular.
Jodie thinks she was here when she was 3 but possesses no memory of that trip (other than revealing her fear of heights). This was one of a few “must see” trips she wanted to experience (Yosemite was another) and I am delirious that I was the one who delivered for her.
I loved the place but my growing problem of “slipaphobia” prevented me from taking an up close and person examination of everything. If acrophobia is the fear of heights, I have slipaphobia – the fear of somehow falling off the edge and tumbling over and over and over to who knows what. I do not enjoy driving along winging mountain roads and peeking to the side, imaging replicating the opening car chase in the latest James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace.”
And with the thinness of the atmosphere (after all, you ARE 7,000 feet above sea level … slightly higher than north Texas), I was questioning my balance after driving such a distance in one seated position. I wasn’t taking ANY chances of being the old duck, caught on someone’s digital camera and being the next YouTube sensation as I roll from cliff to cliff to the endless bottom below.
However, such an ailment did not lessen the pleasure and enjoyment of seeing that place. As we slowly drove around the South Rim area, it was difficult to maintain a steady route, because you just saw a different angle and viewpoint, each producing gasps from both of us.
And while I had gotten “photoed” out at other venues, there wasn’t a moment during which I saw, “I’ve seen enough.” Those words never pass over your lips.
Everyone should visit the Grand Canyon in their lifetime and bring their family for the educational experience and for the sheer magnificence. Yesterday, the park was packed with several thousand people from ALL over the world (I heard at least 10 different dialects). There were license plates from most of the states in the union (minus Alaska and Hawaii) so our car game of seeing all 50 state plates was nearly completed with this one stop.
The entrance fee is a little stiff at $25 per car BUT the price tag to go to Six Flags is almost twice as much and it isn’t nearly as satisfying.
The Grand Canyon is among the biggest and most important of America’s natural national parks (along with Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Glacier) and frankly, we are doing a lousy job of stewardship for all our parks. Not enough funds have gone into preservation and maintenance (many of the facilities need physical upgrades, including access to disabled people and expanded visitors centers with adequate restrooms). It’s a crime against nature, against humanity and against our citizenry.
It’s fine and dandy to rescue the auto industry (if we must) and bankers who were more interested in their own finances over their patrons (if we had to). But for future Americans, as well as other who come here and become inspired by what they see, we need to properly maintain, and INCREASE, our natural resources like the Grand Canyon.
The most frightening thought would be for someone to discover an oil supply underneath the floor of the canyon and listening to the ridiculous debate that WOULD occur concerning preserving vs. drilling.
You can ALWAYS find alternative fuels and different sources of energy. There is only ONE Grand Canyon and we should be everything to keep it that way.
We are on the road today, just a couple hundred miles from Flagstaff to Las Vegas (and a hotel with decent towels that aren’t the size of tea towels and don’t feel like sandpaper). It will be three days and three nights of a varied schedule – the Cirque show “Love: The Beatles,” a baseball game (don’t laugh but for the length of entertainment, it is the cheapest ticket in Vegas), a side trip to Death Valley National Park (just to say I’ve been there), either a second side trip to Zion National Park in Utah OR a lunch drive to Mt. Charleston outside of Vegas.
I don’t plan to spend more than a few minutes in any casino (been there, lost that), but we will explore The Bellagio and notably the fountains in front (which dance to selections ranging from Pavarotti to Sinatra). Perhaps we will run into Terry Benedict …
Mainly, the sight we wish to see is Kelsey, my youngest daughter, who is living in Vegas and studying to be a hair stylist. One of her first “victims” will be me – I need a little work on my ponytail. Seriously, she loves the idea of doing this – and has since she was a young teen.
Until then … from the city of Danny Ocean and my daughter (no, they’re NOT together) … Shalom!