As mentioned in my posting Traveling- Las Vegas & Sedona on 22 August, Rich and I took a day trip to visit the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I was very excited to make this trip because when I was a young girl growing up in England, many of my friends wanted to go America. There were those who were enthralled at the thought of visiting New York City, others who wanted to see the White House and the nation’s capital, and yet others who were attracted to the bright lights of Las Vegas or Hollywood.
But my only desire re-the USA was to see the Grand Canyon. I had seen it in a couple of movies, read about it here and there, and I believe I saw it featured in a National Geographic article at least 40 years ago. (I know, I’m dating myself here!!). From those experiences I knew it was something hugely majestic, but I had not retained much descriptive detail about it from them. So this trip was almost like visiting it with no pre-information about it at all.
As we approached the area of the Grand Canyon, I remember being somewhat puzzled, or maybe perplexed would be a better word. I think I expected the landscape to begin to change dramatically to prepare me for what I was about to see. But everything was amazingly “normal”, fairly flat country with quite a few trees. We entered the visitors center, acquired our tickets, and watched a great informative documentary.
Even as I watched the movie I wasn’t particularly struck by anything special, and we headed out afterward on the road that led into the National Park in Arizona where the south rim is located. Again, I was puzzled/perplexed because the countryside did not change. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting and I was quite surprised when we eventually saw the sign for the first “viewing zone”. We parked and I got out of the car and looked around. Nothing, just the road we had been travelling and a line of trees. But the arrows pointed toward the trees, so off we went.
I don’t think it would have mattered if I had seen a thousand photographs or hundreds of movies, nothing would have prepared me for my first view of the Canyon. As I passed through the trees and stepped out the other side, my jaw dropped, my mouth gaped. I was absolutely speechless. My eyes tried to come to grips with what I was seeing and I was somewhat aware that my mind was scrambling for words to describe it. Some of the words that came to mind were: spectacular, majestic, awesome, awe-inspiring, amazing, stunning.
But even as I tried to put the words together in my head, I realized that none of them would do justice to the landscape unfolding in front of my eyes. I was aware of tears welling up inside me. I felt completely choked up with emotion, my heart was racing and my breathing had definitely quickened. It felt like my soul was seeing a touch of home, and in that moment I knew that one word, and only one word, could describe the view that lay before me – God. I could imagine Him during the days of creation, eyeing this particular piece of the earth and, feeling the inspiration, reaching His hand down and slicing a two hundred and eighty mile long wavy line through the State of Arizona.
Just as words do not do justice to the majesty, the size, the total “stunningness” of the Grand Canyon, so too pictures cannot capture it’s breathtaking awesomeness. But I am including a couple that my husband took as we went from viewing point to viewing point along the south rim. The picture of the raven is included for a couple of reasons. My adopted Native American name is Raven Woman. When we first got out of our car at the condo we stayed at in Sedona, a raven flew onto the roof, and every viewing spot in the Grand Canyon had several ravens hopping around. I felt especially welcomed in both places.
As I stared at this miracle of God and nature, once again I found myself thinking of the first pioneers, those courageous men and women who set out from the eastern settlements of America to explore what lay beyond their known territories. I tried to imagine a lonely cowboy riding across new and unexplored country, galloping along on his horse and coming through the tree line to approach the edge of the canyon. I’m sure he must have experienced feelings similar to those I described above.
For those of you who are interested, here are a few facts about the Grand Canyon. Even as I write them I find them hard to digest and fully take in. The Canyon is nearly two hundred and eighty miles long, reaching from Marble Canyon near the Utah-Arizona border to Grand Wash Cliffs in Mojave County near the Nevada-Arizona border. In some places it is eighteen miles wide – yes, eighteen miles!! And it reaches depths of up to one mile. At the south rim the width of the chasm is about ten miles.
All I can say is, if there is nothing else that you do, no specific location that you have a desire to see in the USA, plan to go to the Grand Canyon. I do not think you will be disappointed and I am sure you will be at least a little bit changed afterward. Happy trails!
In April of this year, Rich and I travelled to Las Vegas and Sedona. We spent 3 days in Las Vegas after a frustratingly long and delayed trip. We should have arrived in our hotel by 7pm on Tuesday but didn’t get there until 2am. At first I was somewhat annoyed that we had “lost” Tuesday evening and then Wednesday morning due to catching up on sleep. In the long run I am glad (God always knows best!).
Las Vegas is, in my opinion, a sorry, sad, jaded place. I could have gotten drunk on fumes alone as we walked the streets!!!! So much alcohol, so many drunks and people out of control, so much smoking – ugh!! All the casinos allow smoking, not even one small smoke free area that we could find!. Not that we’re gamblers, but if you go to Vegas you have to put down at least one bet right? And to get anywhere in any of the hotels you HAD to go through the casino. Not going back, not recommending it to anyone. We did see The Lion King which was wonderful, but then you can see a good show almost anywhere, and we did visit the incredible botanical show at the Bellagio which is stunning (they change it for each season) and I am grateful for these two lovely moments.
The drive from Vegas to Sedona was easy and uneventful – if you can call a stop at Hoover Dam uneventful!!
What an amazing piece of human work. Some of the landscape along the way was very bleak and unforgiving. I tried to imagine what it was like for the first pioneers in this part of the country. We also passed through some of the flat "pampas" type country of Arizona and I could imagine the cowboys herding thousands of steers across them. Then, of course, as we continued the drive we elevated to over 7,000 feet and we encountered sleet and followed by snow flurries!
By the time we approached Sedona, however, the sky was clear and the view was spectacular!! The red rock formations and canyons are something out of this world and they are all around this lovey city. What an amazing piece of God’s creation. Our condo was delightful, almost luxurious, and we were very happy and comfortable during our stay. However, nothing prepared us for our wake up the first morning: a silent winter wonderland with about 5” of snow – and it continued to snow for the rest of the day! It’s a good job we had decided to take it easy that day and we just explored the town center. By the following day the snow had stopped and all but melted away, and the rest of our stay was filled with clear skies and sunshine with fairly warm temperatures.
The rock formations surrounding the town all had very specific names that alluded to their shape. The most important were Cathedral Rock, Snoopy Rock, Camel Rock, Coffee Pot Rock, Praying Hands Rock, Two Sisters Rock, and Bell Rock. This last one was my personal favorite and, because it was the site of one of the many energy vortexes in and around Sedona, we actually climbed a little over half way up it. We also visited the old tin-mining town of Jerome where we explored an amazing kaleidoscope shop and found the most glorious, decadent fudge imaginable!
There were two more notable events during our stay in Sedona: Rich took a helicopter ride around the the town and the surrounding area, and while he did that I received a massage from an intuitive massage therapist who gave me some incredible feedback, including the phrase “you are being called to more” (remember my posting Spiritual Growth- Being Called To More?). I will make that story a separate posting. And then we spent a day at the Grand Canyon. What can I say about that? So much, that again I will make that a separate posting.
Here are a few photos from Sedona.
It never ceases to amaze me how Creator speaks to me, affirming and reaffirming me as I make my way through the joys and sorrows of this earthly life. And right now I am filled with both joy and sorrow. Yesterday I spent the day at the Grand Canyon in Arizona and my heart was so filled with joy, awe and gratitude that I completely choked up several times, unable to even speak in the face of such vast beauty and majesty. At the same time, back home in Jacksonville, FL, my dear friend and sister-in-Christ, Susan, is very, very sick and probably in transition from this life to the next even as I write.
But even as I experience these two very raw emotions side by side, I am aware of the grace of God present in both situations. Two days ago I wrote about “grace”, and it does not surprise me that when I opened my Daily Word yesterday morning the topic was “grace”. And as I received the latest update on Susan this morning, I felt called to go back and read that reflection which I share with you in its entirety here.
“Daily Word, Tuesday April 12, 2011 Grace
There is no place that is beyond God’s love.
As part of God’s creation, I am blessed with the gift of grace. Grace is bestowed upon me unconditionally, without my needing to earn it or prove I deserve it. Like the father rushing to meet his returning prodigal son, God meets me when I seek the kingdom. Moreover, grace is active in me even when I am not consciously seeking, for there is no place in my mind or heart that is beyond God’s love.
Grace is visible in my life when the consequences of a mistake are gentler than they might have been. Grace is tangible when I feel blessed beyond all imagining. Love wells up within my heart until I feel the full impact of God’s presence.
Thank you, God, for your gift of grace. I know I am always in your loving care.
Grace be with all of you. (Hebrews 13;25)
Peace be with you.