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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Beldar & sons' Grand Canyon road trip

I'm still recuperating from a just-completed five-day 3000-mile road trip with my sons Kevin (19) and Adam (14). Our main goals were to get some vacation time with each other and pay a short visit on my father in Lamesa, Texas. But our secondary goal was to see the Grand Canyon — albeit only during a couple of hours of strolling along the south rim, rather than in the greater detail available through a guided tour or an ambitious hike — along with some of the mountainous country of southern Colorado, and the varied Texas countrysides of all sorts that we would traverse en route.

Herewith follow more pictures and comments:

Road trips include pizza. Hiking and camping trips probably don't.

Adam will be a freshman at Houston's Bellaire High School this fall.

Kevin begins his sophomore year in the University of Houston's Honor College program in about two more weeks.

One of our "campsites" (on the two nights we didn't stay at my dad's house). This one was a budget motel in Flagstaff, Arizona; the other was in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

We were surprised how little of the rim was railed or fenced, and at how many tourists were venturing out onto sharp tongues of rock, from which a small slip would obviously lead to painful and probably fatal consequences. Perhaps my sons and I have watched too many Roadrunner cartoons, but we had no desire to imitate Wile E. Coyote, and we generally stayed well clear of the edges.

The interplay of the fast-moving clouds' shadows on the canyon cliffs' colors can't really be captured in a still photo, but it's pretty neat.

Adam in profile, against an amazing backdrop. There had been heavy rains before we arrived, which may have diminished the typical August crowds at the Grand Canyon, but they made for a temperate partly-cloudy afternoon that we much enjoyed.

Kevin bought a camouflage-patterned fishing hat in the Grand Canyon village outside the park. We'd watched the IMAX film there, correctly figuring it would give us some appreciation of views from the river and from other parts of the canyon that we wouldn't be able to see from the relatively short span of the south rim we'd have time to visit. Kevin plans to wear the hat on campus this fall. I pointed out that some of his professors might think that the words "Grand Canyon" sewn onto the front of the hat might reflect poorly on what currently fills the space between his ears. His riposte was that the words describe capacity, not current contents, and were thus an implicit challenge to his professors rather than an admission against his own interests.

On the drive home, as we were passing through San Angelo, Texas, I noticed (but neglected to get a photo of) a nifty set of highway signs denoting three available destinations depending on how one turns: "Eden," "El Dorado," and "Big Lake." All three place-names involve substantial hyperbole. By contrast, we decided that the Grand Canyon's name is appropriate or even modest.

I was struck by the relatively large number of tourists who were speaking languages other than English, and the relatively low number of obvious tour groups. My sons were struck by the relatively large number of tourists who were attractive young women in flattering, skimpy summer clothes.

We saw one brief but moderately vivid rainbow while strolling the rim. Later that night, while dining outside in Tuba City, Arizona, we saw a better one — actually a double rainbow — over the Painted Desert's landscape. I probably ought to have taken pictures of it, too, and I certainly should have photographed some of the mountain views that we saw driving back through Durango, Colorado, and Taos, New Mexico. But I didn't, so we'll just have to remember them, and you'll just have to imagine them.

Nor am I a proficient enough photographer to even have tried to capture the amazing night skies that we stopped to study about 20 miles outside of Santa Rosa, New Mexico, far from any competing "light pollution." Growing up in Houston, my boys weren't even familiar with the Milky Way other than from photographs, and my ability to identify constellations beyond the Big Dipper and Polaris has long faded since my Boy Scout days. But I think they'll remember this trip, and all of the sights we saw on it, for a long time — as will I.

Posted by Beldar at 02:56 AM in Family | Permalink


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(1) Mary Flood made the following comment | Aug 7, 2007 11:14:08 AM | Permalink

Beautiful shots of your kids and the glory of that special place. Terrific respite from the business of the law -- both your trip and my reading about it.
Mary Flood

(2) Halteclere made the following comment | Aug 7, 2007 9:33:30 PM | Permalink

Great pictures of the Grand Canyon.

No wandering over to the Grand Canyon Skywalk? I'm waiting for someone to give a first-hand description.

(3) Neo made the following comment | Aug 8, 2007 10:41:55 AM | Permalink

I think I was there .. about 40 years ago with my folks.

I'm sure your sons will never forget it.

(4) DRJ made the following comment | Aug 11, 2007 4:37:16 PM | Permalink

Nothing beats making memories with your kids ... and they both have great taste in hats.

(5) RadiCalMan made the following comment | Aug 15, 2007 4:02:45 PM | Permalink

I took my family on vacation there about 4 years ago, a really beautiful place. After the Grand Canyon, we headed up through Monument Valley towards Moab, UT and I decided to take the "Valley of the Gods" side trip. From Mexican Hat you head out into the desert until the road turns to gravel. You then come up to a precipitous cliff that the road climbs via a number of switchbacks. As we climbed the cliff, my wife and mother-in-law, who were on the outside of the turns, exclaimed "Oh My God!" as we rounded each switchback. So, I finally understood why they call it the "Valley of the (Oh My) Gods"! %^)


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