lost, for a little while


the golden circle’s greatest hits: the grand canyon
June 18, 2011, 11:39 pm
Filed under: trips

View from the North Rim

The Grand Canyon is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. It gets nearly five million visitors each year, and it’s listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

It’s also (please don’t hurt me) kind of underwhelming.

Hear me out:

The problem is, when something is that immense, it’s hard to fully appreciate without the help of a helicopter or a 21-day rafting trip that goes from one end to the other. When you’re just standing on an edge, it looks like any other canyon, and it doesn’t register that you’re only seeing a tiny piece of it. So yeah, in theory the Grand Canyon is amazing, but at first glance, all I could think was Is this it?

The source of my amusement

Luckily, there’s still much enjoyment to be had at the Grand Canyon.

We spent the first day at the North Rim, which seems to get a bad rap because it’s a little colder than the South Rim and doesn’t provide the “expected Grand Canyon experience”–whatever that is. I think it’s really a matter of personal preference and convenience. The South Rim is more easily accessible to visitors flying in from out of state, and as such, gets more visitors. It’s also more built up to cater to all those visitors.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of crowds or tacky tourist attractions that aren’t so terrible that they’ve crossed over into AwesomeLand. This may be why I didn’t like the South Rim as much. It’s true, the North Rim has less amenities and accommodations, but…isn’t that kind of the point of going to a national park instead of, say, Disney World?

I suppose I’m kind of hypocrite, though, because my favorite part of the Grand Canyon was one of those “tacky tourist” things.

I’m talking about the mule rides.

Giddyup, Barbiribob!

We spent the afternoon descending halfway down the canyon with a dozen other people too lazy to hike it. My mule was an easy-going animal named Festus, and I spent most of the ride thinking of Seinfeld quotes or wondering what “Festus” even means. (Note: according to Dictionary.com, it’s “male proper name, from L., lit. ‘solemn, joyous, festive.'” I hope Festus was a dude.) Aunt Barby, Jesse, and I were bringing up the rear of the group, with Jesse acting as the tail-end of our line. This wouldn’t be important except for the fact that, aside from being pretty easy-going, Festus was also extremely gassy. I would have felt bad for Jesse if I hadn’t been too busy laughing the whole time.

Hoop dancing at the Hopi House

We did get around to doing some hiking once at the South Rim, but I honestly can’t remember which trails they were. We weren’t hardcore enough to hike down to the bottom of the canyon, so I doubt you even care. What I do remember, though, is that after hiking, we rushed over to the Hopi House to see some dancing demonstrations. We made it just in time to catch the last one, which I’m pretty sure had to be the most impressive.

Hoop dancing, like the name suggests, involves incorporating colored hoops into the movement, weaving them together, swinging them around, and even jumping through them. This is especially incredible when you take a look at the guy who was doing the jumping; he had to be about six feet tall, but was still smoothly stepping through the hoops without breaking rhythm. It was an amazing thing to see.

We left the Grand Canyon on Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend. As we were cruising down the road on the way out, there was a line of cars to the horizon waiting to get in. Suckers!

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[…] Unfortunately for Wayne, we had places to be. We downed our cinnamon toast, kicked Jesse out of bed, and headed out. Next stop: the Grand Canyon. […]

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