The Grand Canyon--what a sublime place, and I mean this in the Kant/Schopenhauer/Lyotard traditions. [check out sublime in the Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sublime_%28philosophy%29#German_Philosophy
We were very fortunate on Sunday (March 30) to experience the atmospheric display of the canyon's weather system. As we left our hotel and picked up espresso at the multipurpose cafe/bookstore/viewflights shop, the agent told us all scenic flights were cancelled that afternoon, as the Park Service regularly does on wi
The evening ranger, Mike, imparted a good deal of information in his canned talk about how to behave in the park. As with the staff in the North Cascades, management is clearly having to cope with the stresses brought on by the 5 million yearly visitors. There were very large rv's and the campsites ($30 per night) required rigorous maintenance. Many visitor areas are only accessible via walking or the numerous every 15 minutes shuttles (natural gas powered, but not hybrid). As in many national parks, these are part of a park and ride system. At the west edge of this system, beginning this week, construction crews will widen the roads for these shuttles. They are currently closed to all traffic but small buses. (Here's a view from inside the bus, looking at the Grand Canyon engine [in canyon camouflage] which goes twice daily to Williams. You can stay in Williams and take the train north to the canyon for a three and a half hour visit.)
The evening ranger told us briefly about the local original inhabitants of the area and their ideas, especially the Hopi about the origins of the people being in the canyon but that they should only use it for ceremony. I like to think that our pilgrimages and contemplations of the sublime are related to this concept, if interpreted by our commercialized culture.
A little backtracking about accomodations and history. We breezed in after our experience of Monument Valley and arrived, breathlessly, at our hotel in Tusayen. We weren't too disappointed we were unable to book a room within the park when we later learned that reservations can often be unavailable as far as 23 months in advance
On Saturday, we briefly visited the Lookout and Kolb studios (Lookout was closed). The Kolb brothers were photographers who built a beautiful studio with a downstairs gallery. Classes are also offered there as is displayed a collection of wo
We enjoyed a good dinner at the El Tovar lodge, which Ranger Mike informed us was inspired by a "Norwegian hunting lodge," complete with mooseheads, despite the moose being nowhere near the park. During dinner, we mused on the omnipresence of the kokopelli image, how its commercialisation obscures its meaning. The ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan had in the 1980's enthusiastically suggested it as a symbol of the trickster nature of wildness in native seed strains, then reversed and almost apologetically noted this hic et ubique infection of necklaces, t shsirts, etc. For us, anthropology has been a way for those of us reared in the Western tradition to understand, even if not very well, other cultures. For others, photography is this "in," even if imperialist in its "male gaze," often because people don't have any other way of understanding. Jim also noted that Gustav Mahler was alive when the El Tovar was built.
Jim: Kaibabs and Albuquerque Jim do not feel the effects of altitude at this level; they generally cavort on the North Rim, where the elevation is significantly higher. Mahler aside, how does one explain the absence of moose in the Grand Canyon NP? It seems obvious to me they were chased out by hordes of fierce kaibabs long ago, even before the advent of modern anabolic steroid supplements. Kaibabs are also most likely responsible for the failure of the Spanish Conquistadores to subdue this area, and present a plausible reason to explain the mysterious movements of the old Pueblo people (Anasazi) at various times. However, Jim did sleep late most mornings, since he was on vacation hassling people.
Aside from communing with the native squirrel population, Albuquerque Jim exercised forbearance at the park. Many boorish and disrespectful people escaped harm or humiliation due to his distraction with the strength and power of this unique land, which affected him deeply and led to a mood of tolerance and affection toward his fellow humans. Those who safely visited this area recently should ponder this, and feel gratitude.
The coffee there was good: strong, and better than the espresso in Tusayan. We were not able to sample the elusive cream of polenta soup, but did enjoy cream of asparagus and onion soups. The duck dinner was also delicious and perfectly cooked. Salads in this area, as in others, seem to sport cheese spontaneously.