Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy (?) Good Friday

Not that Good Friday is meant to be happy.  It is meant to be a somber religious holiday, but none the less do have a happy one!

I am in a wonderful mood.  It is warm and sunny out.   We all have a holiday today and can do as we please, not having to serve our paymasters.  Some of you will be surrounded by family and or friends and others such as me are basking in solitude and able do private projects or just laze.

For me it is even better, I am listening to a special edition of the CBC radio program Q which is featuring an hour long interview with Diana Krall who is going to sing Bosa Nova tunes!  She is stopping by to chat with Jian Gomeshi about her new album Quiet Nights.  I will write my blog as I listen.

Grand Canyon - I continue my travelogue...

As I mentioned in a previous blog, my bus tour took me to the West Rim and onto the Hualapai Indian Reserve.     There was a 14 mile bumpy dirt road to travel to get to the West Rim which went through the Joshua Tree forest I spoke about in that blog.  We arrived at the small terminal building of the airport, where folks with more money than I arrived by either helicopter or plane.  There are no gas stations, convenience markets or fast food services at Grand Canyon West. Unspoiled and no safety fences  to protect if we got to close to the edge!  Our bus driver/guide warned us that a few dozen people die each year falling/jumping off the Canyon.  He suggested that there would be too much paperwork if one of us fell off.   With that chuckle, we transferred to the locally run shuttle bus which does a circuit between the 3 stops of interest.  The  route travels from Eagle Point, Guano At this point we were 5,000 feet above sea level.  There is no access to the canyon from the West Rim.  It is straight down at most points.

The first place we stopped was Eagle Point.   Named because one of the rock faces in view has the shape of an eagle in flight.
 As we snapped pics at the edge it was hard not to be in awe of the sight.  As I got close to the edge a bit of vertigo snuck up on me as I looked down - and I am not afraid of heights!   You almost feel the edge pulling at you, like you could easily lose your balance and fall off, just because you know it is a mile straight down!  Barb stayed well back at first, but after a few minutes she was able to venture pretty close to the edge.
As we wandered near the cliff edge I stepped over a crack near the edge and looked down.  The crack was a sheer cliff face which went right down to the canyon floor.  I snapped a picture and later noticed  how close to the edge   some of the folks were.  

At Eagle Point there is also a display of Native Dwellings typical of each of the Tribes of the American West.  There were at least a dozen or more, from adobe huts, to pine clad tee pees and of course the familiar hide covered tee pee you see in those old westerns.   There was also a display of native dancers which reminded me about how much I want to go to Manitolin Island this summer for the annuaWikwemikong Pow Wow.

At Eagle Point there is the famous Sky Walk.  This was built by an investor, who will receive the revenue paid by visitors for the first 20 years and then the facility reverts to native ownership and they will gain from the fees collected.  The Native Community is paid to operate the facility, so they do benefit from it by way of employment.  Some information about the Sky Walk from the Tour Literature:
 The Skywalk is a glass bridge that juts out into open space from the canyon edge. With nothing but glass under your two feet, it's almost like walking out into "air" suspended 4,000 feet above the canyon floor and the Colorado River. It is an amazing sensation with 360 degree, incredible views. 
It is the highest man-made structure in the world, affording visitors a 720 degree view of the Canyon. Able to support the weight of 71 fully loaded Boeing 747 airplanes and sustain winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, the Skywalk is an engineering first, passing engineering requirements and specifications by 400 percent. The walls and floor are built from four inch thick glass so clear visitors could think they’re walking on clouds. Visitors are provided with shoe covers to prevent the glass floor from being scratched.
The architects and engineers set out to create a structure that would balance well with the natural surroundings of the Canyon, as well as protect the values held by the Hualapai. The West Rim of the Grand Canyon used to average approximately 200 visitors per day. Since the grand opening of the Skywalk, that number has risen to a staggering 2,000 visitors daily.

The second stop was Guano Point.  Jutting out into the Grand Canyon, I would have to guess that Guano point must be one most stunning viewpoints in the whole of the Grand Canyon.  It is a narrow point of land with two summits surrounded by a bit of table land.  You can walk out to the tip of the point and experience a nearly 360 degree canyon view.  At the very edge of the point there is a building which is the remains of a cable headhouse structure which was attached to Bat Cave Mine on the south canyon rim opposite.    A cable car used to run from the point to the cave.  The 3.5 million dollar structure was built to mine the  Guano  (or Bat Shit)  from the cave.  Guano was used in the manufacture of mascara and gun powder and other things.  Unfortunately, the mine did not contain even a fraction of the expected guano and so the mine closed in 1960 at a great loss.   The cable was severed by a  hot dogging US military jet shortly thereafter and so the cable car is now gone.

I hiked out to the top of the far summit and the few was spectacular.  It made me feel so small and in awe of the wonder of nature.  We only had a couple of hours to see all the sights at West Rim, so, sadly, I was not able to spend very long contemplating the view.  I did take lots of pictures.

There is a "cafe" at Guano point which serves a simple  "wild west" buffet and you can eat while you take in the most breathtaking view in North America.  I wish we could have spent longer at this spot.   Our time was running out and we decided to move on to eat as the driver had said that the food in the next stop was better and Barb was hoping to get in some horse back trail riding in.

The last stop was not at the Canyon Rim.  There was a replica Wild West Village.   Time was short so we only had time to eat and do a quick walk about.  Not near enough time to take in the sights or for the horse back ride through the area and I the wagon ride I had wanted to do, but we had time nothing more.  Lots of reasons to come back.

I would definitely recommend doing the Canyon, but if it is at all possible and you have a few days or more, I would suggest going on your own so you can take all the time needed to take in the sights.  There are all sorts of other tours, camping, rafting, train rides, helicopters - even donkey rides down to the canyon floor.  I have put the Canyon on the "must go back" list.  There are 2 other Rims to see!

By the way, do click on the pictures above to appreciate the real beauty of the Grand Canyon.  The vistas are absolutely breath taking.  I am so happy I had the opportunity to see it.

Next blog focuses on some of the sights in Las Vegas we enjoyed!

Happy Good Friday!


  1. Your Grand Canyon photographs are magnificient! What camera do you use?

  2. It is not such a special camera - a Canon Power Shot A560 7.1 megapixels It is pretty easy to use. Glad you like my pics!


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