Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Grand Spring Break

We haven't written as often as I wanted, but we have been busy doing good things, and here's hoping we make up for it with quality.  Among the good things: camping at the Grand Canyon over spring break. People travel from all over the world just to see this place, and living as close as we do (a mere 7 hour drive from our house), it would be just plain wrong not to spend time taking it in.  More on that in a moment, but fortunately for us, that seven our drive is filled with wonders of its own.

Our first stop on the way south was a quick overnighter at Ruby's Inn, Utah. Why stop there, you might ask?  First and foremost because my amazing niece, Taylor Bailey Pollock, and her husband Dave work there on the weekends, and any chance to see them (and when possible their cute little boy) is absolutely a good thing.  But it is also nice that if you wake up early the next morning, a five minute drive will yield this view:

It was cold, as the snow still on the ground will attest, but standing over Bryce Canyon, watching the oranges intensify as you wait from pre-dawn through sunrise to post-sunrise, leaves you in awe of the power of light to shape and color the world.  Pale pinks and blues gradually give way to brighter and more intense yellows and oranges, green pine needles take on their verdant tones,  and the world comes alive in color.  By mid-day it will all wash out with the intensity of the sun, but these moments are pure magic.

The views here are from Bryce Point, and if you have only one sunrise at Bryce in your life, that is where you should go.  As the sun rose, the only sounds were the wind slipping over the high plateau, and birds greeting the morning. Later, the hushed whispers of a few souls joined that spare soundtrack, but the fact that they were hushed, in reverence of the moment, added more than detracted.

You learn here, perhaps more so than anywhere else in the world, that God is a sculptor as well as a painter, whose handiwork can lift your spirits in ways that no other art can.

Later in the morning, we hiked through the Queens Garden as a family, with Keegan leading the way down. I worried that he would be less enthusiastic about hiking back up, but that fear was unfounded. He was a total trooper, full of excitement and energy despite the steep climb back to the top.

Following our jaunt through Bryce we drove Highway 89 to Kanab, UT, and spent our second night there.  Why Kanab?  Well, to see Jordan Bailey, the wonderful young man that is my nephew.  He took us on an evening drive down dirt backroads that were just numbers on a map, showing us all the amazing, unnamed places that make this state their home.  Here is a family photo with Jordan:

And here is an example of the day to day beauty that he loves so much:

The following morning, we headed towards Page Arizona and Lake Powell, along the edge of Grand Staircase National Monument.  I have long wondered why they called it that, until I saw this view, on a windy, dusty day, from a lookout in the Arizona strip.

Up close, those rising cliffs are filled with spectacular color.

 A short distance from the photo above, a dirt road headed into the heart of those cliffs, so of course we took it. Here is what it looked like:

The colors and patterns all around us were unreal. If you came to this place and painted what you saw, no one would believe you. Yet here it is, as we saw it -- just another nameless place in the Grand Staircase.

We stopped to celebrate Kate's 15th (gulp) birthday here -- amidst a kaleidoscope of wonder for a wonderful and colorful girl.

The boys were so cute with their big sis -- they had insisted on buying the cake, on the sly, before we left Kanab, and had somehow kept it a secret from her on the drive out of Kanab. I love that my kids love each other -- I don't know of any greater gift that a parent can get, and it wasn't even my birthday (thank goodness).

From there, we headed to see Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, which was scary low.  Most of the fields you see below were covered in water the last time I was here -- it looks like the lake is down at least a hundred feet, which is a huge water loss.

Not so long ago, environmentalists were on a tear, seeking the destruction of the dam, to restore Glen Canyon to its natural state.  Now those same folks (yes, that is you, Sierra Club) clamor for the clean power of the dam rather than what comes from the coal fired power plant in the background, having found a new crisis, of the climatic nature, to be up in arms about.  Sure glad they didn't win the first time, and still have the hydro "clean" power created by the dam to help them now.

I hope you will forgive me my skepticism, and a moment of diatribe, but as a good friend would say, "I've been to that movie before,"  and when the scare-tactic-o-meter goes through the roof, I dig in my heels.  While it may be that carbon dioxide levels are warming the planet, I am not sure that a colder planet is better, and I have serious doubts about the "dire" consequences forecasted by a bunch of people that can't even get the weather right ten days out. For example, I am sure any number of these climate "scientists" would say with utter certainty that the dropping lake level above is caused by that power plant behind it -- man made global warming.  And yet equally lettered archeologists will tell you that the Anasazi's mysterious disappearance from these parts a millennia ago was due to a lengthy, persistent drought in the region -- long before the carbon age was born or carbon dioxide levels had reached their current "disaster" levels. Combine this with the fact that carbon dioxide levels have been this high before -- in the age of the dinosaurs, supposedly, when no one burned any coal or oil (because the dinosaurs and all those plants that made that stuff were still alive and above ground), and maybe you'll understand my skepticism --which has nothing to do with being a "denier." (a perjorative term I hate because it seeks to stifle dissent through a bullying association with holocaust deniers).  I suppose I should add here heaven help us if I am wrong, but I am not that concerned this ten seconds.  I read "Chicken Little" when I was a kid.

Ok, sorry for that little aside, but the last photo above seemed to call for it.  From Glen Canyon, we headed just downriver to the most amazing place.  I don't know if it even has a name -- such is the case with so many wonders around these parts -- but it is spectacular.

Those are boats down there, with people in them, which should give you some scale on those cliffs. As you get to the edge, you realize it is well over a thousand feet straight down.   It didn't seem to phase Keegan at all, which of course phased his father a lot, and I became a partial nervous wreck watching his every step.  It was here that I first thought "gee, maybe going to the Grand Canyon wasn't such a good idea after all."

That guts-in-your-mouth feeling faded with a little time in this beautiful place, though.  We finally got the family together for a picture near the edge.

Well, that is a lot of amazing and we aren't even to the Grand Canyon yet.  Have I mentioned lately that I love where I live?  More to come in the next post.