The South Rim of the Grand Canyon, AZ -- July 19 & 20, 2007

Arrive Grand Canyon 4:45pm, Thursday, July 19
Depart Grand Canyon 10:15am, Friday, July 19

I was excited to go to the Grand Canyon. So excited that, even after I had checked in and paid for my hostel in Flagstaff, I impulsively left, throwing all my unpacked belongings into my pack at 2:52pm, and running out the door for the 3pm shuttle left from the Amtrack station two blocks away. I had summit fever or, rather, canyon fever.

Why did I leave? By the time I'd unpacked, I'd seen virtually all of Flagstaff already--I'd made two mistakes in interpreting the hostel's address which I'd written in my notebook for ease. The first, I went to North San Francisco Street instead of South and the second, I went to the area code, 928, instead of the address, 19. I cannot explain my exasperation. The temperature was close to a hundred and I hadn't bothered to change out of my jeans and sweatshirt before departing the air conditioned world.

Although Flagstaff is an idyllic town (picture taken on my way back town after searching for the 900 block)

it was worth it!

On the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Reading Immortality, by Milan Kundera....the whole time I was hiking. She said she's not a huge reader but her friend gave it to her before she left home for the Grand Canyon. The book is good so far, she said--it's about how your face is like a serial number for people, that it has nothing to do with your individuality, it's just random features put on you and that a character in the book imagines how you might feel if you never saw your face until the end of your life, how you might be disappointed, that maybe it wouldn't reflect how you want to be seen by the world.

Favorite books--Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger;
The Life of Pie, by Yann Martel; and On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, which to her is about being the same person you are, regardless of where you go.

This is the second time On the Road has come up in so many days, both times by people on vacation. Coincidence?

What would her own novel be about? The future, she says, though she grimaced, amending her answer with, I don't know. I don't like Science Fiction.

Grand Canyon Bookstores

I got up early the next morning and, while other hikers were setting out to walk down the canyon, I walked back and forth along the rim near the lodgings, seeking out people reading. There were none. There were photographers, sunscreen appliers, shoe tiers, etc. There was a French couple with a map and guidebook stretched out over their legs, but they were unapproachable. The man had some sort of insect bite on his bicep and they were trying to squeeze something out of it.

I wandered into the Bright Angel Lodge gift shop looking for a good "guilt present" to send my coworkers back in San Francisco (didn't find one) and learned, by talking to the cashier, that the best sellers for children are coloring books and, believably, Who Pooped in the Park, by Gary D. Robson and Elijah Brady Clark. It's not about latrines but rather little critters who do like we do. Walking out of the gifts shop, on the rim of the Grand Canyon. In exiting the giftshop I overheard a ranger telling a group of children about fossils. It's really morbid, she told them. You have to die first. Let me demonstrate.... !!! I didn't stop to listen to the talk. Instead I wandered onwards to the historic Kobe Studio bookstore.

If I thought I was going to escape morbidity, I should have thought again. Their number one bestseller, by far is Over the Edge, Death in the Grand Canyon, by Michael G. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers. They print a new edition every six months! (The young woman who supplied this information is reading Sunk without a Sound, a story of a honeymoon couple who disappeared while rafting the river. Her favorite book--The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.)

Other best sellers--Grand Canyon Women, lives shaped by landscape, by Betty Leavengood and The Man Who Walked Through Time, by Colin Fletcher, who made modern hiking popular when he published this book in the 1950s.

(I think this is the Kobe Studio bookstore is the building on the edge of the cliff.)


heather said...

i totally get your immediately running out to experience the canyon. so much fun, the unknown.

Monique said...

I love your detailed descriptions of the people and places. I feel like I'm there people watching with you. Only I wish I were!--monique

Monique said...
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