Friday, 15 May 2015

Day 12 – Saturday 25th April

The Grand Canyon is certainly that, grand. Despite the rain and the fog, the Grand Canyon is a truly majestic sight to behold. I arrived preloaded with many questions. Is it anything more than a giant crack in the earth? Why do people come from all over the world to see it? Is it merely a photo opportunity? I’m not sure I got many answers to my questions, if the weather had been better I’m sure I would’ve explored a lot more about the Grand Canyon, but my time here was not wasted.
(A quick break in the rain, the magnificent views down into the Grand Canyon.)
Even though the weather was appalling, I noticed that there was still many people visiting for the day. We struggled to find a space in the carpark, indicating that even on the worst of days, the Grand Canyon still manages to pull in a huge tourist crowd. There was a wide variety of people there too, from coaches of foreign tourists, to families and even the elderly. Anyone and everyone wanted a chance to have their photos taken at the Grand Canyon. Maybe it was the weather, but a large volume of people seemed to only go to view the canyon to take their pictures, and only a small few actually physically participated in walking and venturing into the canyon. It seemed that the World Heritage site seemed to be made into a holiday site, much like Monument Valley, where you had to pay to gain close proximity to it. Another way this was evident was by the huge number of gift shops. They were everywhere, and they were all selling the same expensive generic gift shop rubbish, yet everyone was happy to pay out for it because it was ‘genuine Grand Canyon gift shop rubbish’.
(Joining the masses and having my picture taken at the Grand Canyon, it was virtually impossible to get one at the point where we were without having someone else in the edge of the shot, because of how incredibly packed the area was.)
Whilst at the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t help but notice how much they pushed the native theme. Designed by Mary Colter in the early 1900’s, the Hopi House is at the heart of this. It sells many Native American crafts, often made by the Hopi who still inhabit the land. It is easily forgotten that the Grand Canyon is part of Hopi land, and that they do still in fact live there, mainly because most people only see what is portrayed in films and on television, and often this leaves out the history of the Hopi tribe. The native influence carried on into artwork all around the visitor buildings at the Grand Canyon, be it paintings on doors, or woven rugs in the lodges.
(Native style paintings on doors and walls like this were very common to spot when walking around the Grand Canyon visitor centres.)
The Grand Canyon, despite the weather, has been a firm highlight of my time here in America. It’s such an iconic place, and to say I’ve travelled all this way, hiked slightly down into it, and learnt about the history of the site and the people here, makes me very proud. I remember commenting to Fran earlier in the week about how we’d already experienced canyons, and remarked what was so special about the Grand Canyon. Now I’ve been, I can see exactly what is special about the Grand Canyon. There is nowhere else on this planet that can rival it in terms of geological impact. Its size is astonishing, terrifying, and a reminder of just how small you are as a person on this ginormous earth.
(Photo courtesy of Claudia Colborn -  Little me feeling very small in an arch on a walk down slightly into the Canyon.)

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