Supermassive Red Hole

The Grand Canyon.

It’s not actually a Canyon, per se. It’s a really big network of gulches, gullies, and other things beginning with G that interweave into one spectacular, awesome entity.

I had arrived in Flagstaff at stupid o’ clock thanks to Greyhound running late again, and got up early. I stuffed myself with as much of the free breakfast as I could muster and then just barely caught the incredibly limited service out to the Canyon in the north. It doesn’t make much sense to me, but there are only two shuttle services running from Flagstaff, and they only run twice a day. I guess demand can’t be that high, for whatever reason.

I appeared to have kept up the phenomenon of bringing the British weather with me. A spate of cooler temperatures and rain has been following or preceding me across the south, for unknown reasons. Maybe it likes me. Anyway, it was an alpine 67F (19C) as we set off, and overcast. The forecast was 60% likelihood of rain and cloudy. I wanted to travel as light as possible, so I decided against taking my sun-tan lotion. This later bit me in the arse.

My traveling companions were an absolutely insufferable man in a fedora (side note: in Atlanta, I found a fedora that fitted me and actually really quite suited me, but as I was wondering whether to buy it or not, I suddenly realized: I would be the kind of person who wears a fedora), and two excitable Japanese chaps. We hit a gift store on the way that had free coffee (hooray!), where I bought a surprisingly tasteful pin thingy that goodness knows where it’ll go but it was sort of art deco and nice.

We moved north to the rim and I disembarked at a little place called Maswick Lodge. Making sure I arranged a seat back – because I didn’t fancy being stranded out there – I sat down with a map and looked at my options. However, my queries about hiking were met with an aghast response by the lady behind the desk. I was told in no uncertain words that I would probably die.

Okay, that’s not true, but it amounted to as much. I think it was a little overzealous of her in retrospect, but I decided that I’d do the rim walk first and then see what sort of mood I was in. After all, the place has claimed far more experienced hikers than I.

So anyway, I set out to the Canyon, half a mile north. One wonders what exactly the first people to see it thought, because I know what I thought doesn’t really have any way of translating to paper. It really is absolutely, ridiculously, farcically huge. And big. And big and huge. It’s almost in bad taste. I took a few hours to wander along the six or so miles of the edge, but I’m not going to attempt to describe it because I really can’t think of the words. You’ll have to sit tight until I post pictures later today.

About that suncream… I had forgotten that the Canyon fosters microclimates. Halfway through my walk, when I had passed the edge of the touristy nimbus at Mather’s Point and was strolling along with my shoes off and but lizards for company (except one man who came along the other way with – rather ingeniously – his dog carrying some of his stuff in special saddlebags slung over its back) when the sun came out, and came out pretty fiercely, like a weeaboo who’s just heard you badmouth Sailor Moon. There was no point trying to dodge it, so I am now sporting a rather fetching tincture of red. It’s already fading though, and it’s only a mild burn, so anyone hoping my face would peel off à la Indiana Jones… no dice, sorry.

Oh yes, and later there was a monsoon. I actually had to sort of wade through one area; I hope the hikers down in the canyon were okay. The timing of the rain meant that I wasn’t going to try tackling the steep and treacherous cliff routes, so I idled around in the visitor centre for an hour and then took the bus back home.

This morning I wandered around Flagstaff, which remains billed as a sort of South Park area – small, quiet, unpretentious and occasionally invaded by giant guinea pigs. People are pretty thin and athletic here – it must be all that mountain air (it’s so clean up here, it’s almost offensive to my city-loving lungs). There’s a sort of faded hippy vibe to the tiny downtown area, only four blocks in total. Maybe it’s all the Native American influence? I bought a really quite nice bear ornament that I am now wondering how to get home without breaking, got a haircut finally (there is a pale strip at the peak of my forehead where my hair blocked the sun, so now I look even dafter, hooray!), ate at a really quite fantastic pita place and then ambled back to the hostel. The last hour has been spent fixing my various affairs, and actually my time has juuuust expired.

So without further ado, I’m off to Vegas!

4 Responses to “Supermassive Red Hole”

  1. 1 TK-42-1 14/08/2009 at 2:14 pm

    hey now. would you want to go out and exercise in this heat? youd die before you got fit.

  2. 2 Renée 14/08/2009 at 2:32 pm

    “guess demand can’t be that high, for whatever reason.”
    People who go the Grand Canyon tend to do so in Recreational Vehicles, the automotive Conestoga wagon. It’s rather kitchy and awesome.

    “It’s almost in bad taste.”
    New slogan for America: Even nature is almost gaudy here.

    “I am now wondering how to get home without breaking”
    Bubble wrap. Then you also have a fun toy.

    I want pictures! Yes, I know you said you’d post them later, but I’m tired and doing homework and feel like whining.

  3. 3 flippyd 14/08/2009 at 10:22 pm

    Can’t post pictures from here, sorry. Will have to wait a little longer =)

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