Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Road to the Grand Canyon

It is a long drive from Denver to the Grand Canyon.  Even longer as we did not take the fastest route.  Our trip took us through Gunnison, CO so I could drop my daughter at college on the way back.

The drive from Denver to Gunnison will take you through the South Park region.  (Not the fictional town, but the part of Colorado it is named after.) I've done this trip several time and I always enjoy it.  It is beautiful, green and expansive.  (Expansive is a word I'll use again I'm sure.)

You climb out of South Park over Monarch Pass and then down into the Gunnison Basin. The town of Gunnison is a combination mountain / college town surrounded by lovely, mostly unspoiled nature.

Traveling southwest from Gunnison takes us by the Blue Mesa Reservoir and past Black Canyon of the Gunnison, where the Gunnison River carves a stunning canyon.  The canyon is a hidden gem, well worth spending a few hours.

At this point we are maybe a quarter of the way through our journey.  Up next in our trip is to traverse the San Juan mountains via the San Juan Skyway.  A lovely road with flowing curves and stunning scenery.  A real drivers road.

Coming out of the San Juans finds a short drive through common rural western U.S. when the scenery takes a drastic turn as we move into the Ute and Navajo lands.

These lands are beautiful, expansive and a hard place to make a life.  Scrub brush, dry soil, clear skies.  Acres and acres of rock pretending to be soil.  And an electric railway.

It was a loooong drive.  But it wasn't boring.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
Rock Band was one of the most immerse music games ever created.  I played hours and hours of it with my family.  Well, it's coming back.  This song was the hardest of the previous generation.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Grand Canyon

This is the first of three posts covering my trip to the Grand Canyon with my kids.  The next two post will cover my trip from Denver to the Canyon and a picture dump to show some more of what I saw.

Some years ago I went skydiving with friends from my work, a team building exercise.  Once I was on the plane, when it became real, I was quite nervous.  Nervous to the point of fear.  That is, until I my legs swung out over the door of the plane.  Looking down at the earth so far below, my fear melted away.  It didn't seem real, like a painting or a children's play rug.  One of the people I was skydiving with described it as an irrational height.  Standing on the roof of a house and seeing the ground below is rational, our minds can comprehend it and therefore fear it.  Jumping out of a plane, our minds cannot comprehend and the fear goes away.

The Grand Canyon is irrationally large.

From the south rim looking across to the north rim, you know the far edge is ten miles away.  Looking across you know the far edge is a thousand feet higher than where you are now.  Your mind, however, will have none of it.  It simply does not have the facility, the experience to assimilate the scale. The near peaks, mesas and fins are sharp, clear in rich reds and browns.  Across the vast expanse the haze mutes the far features.  This creates a surprisingly sharp contract, like a movie backdrop that was painted poorly.  Yet it is all real.

Looking from side to side does not help.  The canyon has the sense that it has no beginning or end.

Looking down does not help.  There is no sense of how far you would fall.

Luckily, all this irrationality is easily accessible.  The National Parks Service has good facilities in the park.  Lots of trails and walkways, from flat afternoon walks to multi-day trudges that will test even the most adventurous.

There are lodges and campgrounds to stay in.  The campground we stayed at was nice, and private by NPS campground standards.  Our camp came with wandering elk.

All in all, an amazing few days to spend with my family.  I need to come back with more time and explore all the way down to the canyon floor.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
This song came up several times on the drive.  I quite like it.