The Peak of the Canyon-Part II

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October 6, 2019, Jacob Lake-

I made a silent promise to my long-departed maternal grandfather, whom I never met in this life, but who has appeared to me, a few times, that I would not give in to a more irrational level of acrophobia.  He has been one of my spirit guides, all these years, exhorting me to face life and overcome obstacles.  He and Grandma imparted that message to my mother and her siblings; an examination of their lives bears out  that exhortation’s fruits.

So, as I readied for visits to three of the overlooks at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, there was no trepidation at engaging the heights of this wondrous place.  The North Rim exists at the highest point of the western Colorado Plateau. Had the canyon never been carved, one would face a 2,000 foot increase in elevation, from Tusayan to  the site of Grand Canyon Lodge.

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My first order of business, after looking around the Lodge for a bit, was a walk out to Bright Angel Point.  As today was one of the most gorgeous Sundays in quite a while, there were dozens of people, of all ages, walking about or at least lounging on the Lodge’s patio, which also offers views of the canyon below.

Here are a few of those scenes available to the sedentary.

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I then availed myself of a couple of overlooks, close to the Lodge.

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Bright Angel Point involves a fairly strenuous hike, mainly due to the elevation.  Those with pulmonary issues do best to stick to the Lodge area. An intrepid woman using trekking poles made it half-way, before concluding it would be a mistake to continue.  There were several of us late middle-agers who made the walk, though, along with folks as young as five.

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It was at the above guard fence that a little girl wanted to climb up, for  “a better view”.  You’d best believe her mother’s hands were firmly on her, for that exercise in bravery!

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The various striations in the sandstone clearly show the levels it has taken, to build this most magnificent of geologic records.

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In the next post, Point Imperial and Cape Royal offer a northeastern perspective of the Canyon’s wonders.

 

 

North Rim

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October 7, 2019, Kanab-

I will, as usual, post photographic accounts of my current jaunt, once back at Home Base.  In the meantime, here’s a verse on the topic.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Serene, confident teenager

stretched herself out

and took in the view,

of the gaping maw below.

Mother’s watchful gaze notwithstanding,

the girl took pains to keep herself safe,

as a much younger child,

asked her mommy,

“Can I do that, too?”

“Maybe, when you get

to be that big.”

The North Rim,

eight thousand,

three hundred feet

above the Colorado River,

at Bright Angel Point,

is not for those

with acrophobia,

or shortness of breath.

I promised my late

maternal grandfather,

spiritually,

that I would not

entertain the former,

and, as yet,

I do not suffer,

from the latter.

So, down the narrow trail,

I went,

and gazed over the edge,

at Bright Angel Point,

again at Point Imperial,

and, lastly,

at Cape Royal.

where two dozen of us,

watched the sun dip,

below the horizon,

accenting the smoke

from a prescribed burn.

Ms. Colter’s Long View

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April 22,2019, Grand Canyon National Park-

No visit to this most spectacular of Mother Nature’s North American wonders is complete, without due honour being paid to the incomparable figure of Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter.  One of the few female architects of her time, Ms. Colter was a driving force in the building of structures that well served the U.S. National Park Service, the Santa Fe Railroad and the Fred Harvey Company-which was a major concessionaire to both entities.  Her buildings have withstood the test of time and uniformly add luster to the communities in which they are, or were, found:  Winslow, AZ (La Posada Hotel), Harvey House (now Imperial Western Beer Company), in Los Angeles’ Union Station, La Fonda Hotel, in Santa Fe and the majestic, but now defunct, El Navajo Hotel, in Gallup, NM.

Mary Elizabeth’s most enduring body of work, now listed as a National Historic District, lies in the magnificent buildings which she designed and built, along the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and at the bottom of the Canyon itself.  These include Bright Angel Lodge (in which Penny and I stayed, in 1983); Hopi House,Hermit’s Rest and the arresting Desert View Watchtower.

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There are cracks and breaks actually included in Ms. Colter’s design.  She also placed a seemingly demolished brick wall, on the Tower’s south side- perhaps as a wind break.

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The views from each level of the Tower are second to none. Below is a view of Venus Temple.

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The area west of Desert View constitutes the Inner Gorge of the Grand Canyon, and features many of the “Eastern” and “Egyptian” formations, named for Indian and Egyptian mystical figures.  The Colorado River itself, though, is never far from focus.

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For that matter, neither is the North Rim, which will be the focus of a second Grand Canyon visit, in late summer, in this year of the Park’s centenary.

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Temple Butte, seen below, marks the eastern end of the Canyon’s rim.  From that point, eastward, lie the Navajo Nation and the Painted Desert, itself a defining feature of the Little Colorado/Puerco River Basin.

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The interior of the Watchtower is no less captivating. Ms. Colter was enthralled from childhood with Native American art and lore, starting with Lakota Sioux drawings which she obtained from a friend, whilst living in St. Paul.  After goong to work fro Fred Harvey Company, that interest quickly extended to the art of the Dineh, Zuni and Hopi.

The panels below illustrate some Hopi spiritual concepts, painted by master artist Fred Kabotie, a key collaborator with Ms. Colter, in the course of her building decoration.

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These stairs were likely used by Mr. Kabotie, during his time as the Watchtower’s caretaker.  Now, they are a simple decoration.

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Animals being a major element of Hopi and Dineh culture, figurines have been carved and left in conspicuous places.

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So, too, are pictographs, drawn here by Fred Kabotie  and his associates, but found in many places in the Southwest-and around the globe, as remnants of  ancient cultures. Pictographs are drawn rock art, as opposed to petroglyphs, which are carved into the stone.

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The ceiling of the Watchtower is the one place where Ms. Colter let her associates run riot with colour painting.  The idea was to represent the fullness of the Universe.

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It is from the third floor of the Watchtower, that images such as this may be gleaned.

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From here, I headed a bit further west, to Navajo and Lipan Points, getting further perspective on the Inner Gorge. The formations in the foreground are of Redwall Limestone and Supai Group of sandstone deposits, from the Pennsylvanian Period (332.2-289.9 million years ago).  This scene is from Navajo Point.

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Redwall Limestone, (340 million years ago), is prominent, as the Canyon rises up to its Inner Gorge temples.

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Here is a zoomed view of the Watchtower, from Navajo Point.

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Also from Navajo Point, is a glimpse of what makes rafting the Colorado such an enticing experience for many.

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As I reached Lipan Point, I found this to be the last scene from my present SIM card on the Samsung.

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So, my trusty cellular was pressed into service.  Lipan Point, which juts headlong into the Inner Gorge, gives the area a compressed quality.  Don’t let the appearance of compactness deceive you.  The Inner Gorge is 18 miles across, at its widest point.

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Here one sees the Kaibab Formation, the present “top” of the Grand Canyon, at the North Rim. 22 miles from Lipan Point, as the condor flies.

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From Lipan, I drove into the forest a bit, for a look at Tusayan Ruin, a Pueblo II ( 900-1150) settlement which appears to have lasted well into the 13th Century, in the midst of Pueblo III cultures.

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Here is a communal gathering place, perhaps for spiritual activities.

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This  space appears to have served as an apartment for one of the larger families.

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The people who lived at Tusayan likely intermarried with those of the Pueblo III culture, who had moved into the area, from the northeast, towards the end of the 12th Century.

My daylong venture along the two great gorges of the Colorado River system came to an end, but not my appreciation for one of the finest talents, of the Twentieth Century,  in southwestern architecture.  Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter surely rates on par with Paolo Soleri and Frank Lloyd Wright, in terms of contribution to the public square.

 

The Carving of A Confluence

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April 22, 2019, Cameron, AZ-

I set out from Flagstaff, around 9: 30 this morning, heading to the western edge of this once sleepy sheep-ranching community, which is now tapping into the growing number of people who want to visit the Dineh (Navajo) people, see their starkly beautiful land and learn of their culture.

Here, at the foot of Gray Mountain, on the way to Grand Canyon National Park, lie two overlooks which capture that stark beauty and share an area regarded by the Dineh people as their point of emergence from the underground, following a long ago calamity, and thus a sacred site.

It is the last segment of the Little Colorado River, approaching and reaching its confluence with the Colorado River, after a 338 mile journey, from the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, through the Painted Desert and Coconino Plateau.

A two-hour exploration of the twin overlooks offered these scenes.  Whilst some will say, “Well, what is so special about black and brown stone?” , the geological story told by the three main layers of limestone (top), granite (middle) and shale (bottom) is, like that of the Grand Canyon itself, a classic account of wind and water working together, with a fair amount of help from volcanic and seismic activity.

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In the far background, please note Navajo Mountain (Naatsis’aan), an igneous rock peak, the rises 10,387 feet, towering over Lake Powell, and like the lake, straddling the line between Arizona and Utah.

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The layers of sedimentary deposit are quite visible, as one scans the rock, from top to bottom.

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The water, whilst uniformly scant, looked clearer from the first overlook than from its western counterpart.

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You may not that there is considerably more silt being washed into the river, as it moves closer to the confluence.

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Looking closely, it might seem as if the granite canyon fascia resembles petrified warriors.

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The algae working this limestone bench seems to show everything from a man with outstretched arms (foreground) to pictographs.

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On the right hand side, below, the tall shafts of sandstone appear to be standing guard over the shallows of the Little Colorado.

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In all the bareness, sage, a medicinal staple of the Dineh and Hopi, alike, grows in abundance. Desert bottlebrush is its accompanist.

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The relatively wet winter has produced an effusion of greenery in the Gorge.

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This struggling, but intrepid, river and its gorge, lead to the most spectacular sight on the North American continent.  In the next post, I will focus on the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, at its east end, and the Desert Tower that overlooks the beginning of its Inner Gorge.

 

Heavenly Flow

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April 21, 2019-

Today brought me close to two faith traditions:  A musical, somewhat relaxed Evangelical Baptist service- which I attended at the invitation of a former co-worker.  I didn’t see her  there, but met up with another former colleague with the Red Cross.  After exchanging pleasantries, I took a seat in the congregation, while he took his place in the choir.  My part was to sing with the rest of those in the congregation, join in greeting those around me, and respond to an occasional call.  I only regret not raising my hand when the pastor asked who believes in the Christ. I do, certainly.  One cannot accept the Message of the Father and discard That of the Son.

At our Baha’i community’s gathering, this afternoon, I joined with about 45 fellows in Faith, to commemorate the first day of Baha’u’llah’s declaring His Mission, even as He and His companions prepared for a long journey overland, from Baghdad to what is now Istanbul.

The message is similar:  None of us is squeaky clean, and God alone can absolve us with Grace.   The sufferings of each Divine Messenger are what free us from our wrongdoings.  Only by acknowledging this, and not wanting to be distant from the Divine, does one progress spiritually.

So, that was my day of spiritual fellowship.  Connection with the Divine, though, is what has eased my path, even when I find myself alone.  In times of uncertainty, as to my course of action, I find my Spirit Guides provide a very clear framework, within which I must make informed choices.

This week, for example, will bring me to Flagstaff, then to the Desert View Tower, at the eastern end of Grand Canyon National Park- honouring the Centenary of that great national entity.  From there, it will be time to honour an old friend, who passed on, last week.  His services will be east of Tuba City, at another lovely locale:  Coal Mine Canyon.  Then, I must return here to Prescott, and look after my own health, with a lab test on Wednesday.   Matters of faith, possible acts of service with the Red Cross, another friend’s birthday party and a presentation by Slow Food-Prescott will fill out the week.

The flow of celestial energy is constant, and bears heeding.

 

 

 

 

 

A Step at a Time

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March 31, 2019-

I made it to Planet Fitness, despite a sense of fatigue after a trip to Phoenix and back, having attended a worthwhile, but somewhat tiring, meeting.  I was glad to have not had to drive, with a competent friend at the wheel instead.

Tonight’s workout came after a twenty-minute catnap.  I feel better, having done the 30-minute express, followed by ten minutes on the hydrobed.  Bittersweet March has thus, in the end, affirmed that there is still quite a bit left in this sexagenarian frame.  I get appreciative glances from ladies, the younger among them knowing, as well as I do, that that is as far as it goes.  It feels nice, regardless.

It is now full-on Spring.  Tomorrow, we will see what practical jokes remain to be played.  Later in the month come Chalk-It-Up, Earth Day, Easter and the Twelve Days of Ridvan, commemorating Baha’u’llah’s Declaration of His Mission.  I will get my annual physical at the VA, sometime during the month, and will visit the Grand Canyon, on Good Friday.

April, as a wise colleague once remarked, cannot be the cruelest month.  Sorry, T.S. Eliot.

Another One Out Like a Lamb

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March 28, 2019-

There is one more work day and one more trading day left in March.  A quarter of my sixty-ninth year will end on Sunday.  March has been roiling, as we have seen, in the areas of weather-based crises and human conflict.  It has also been a time of great joy for me, personally.

As I get ready for the last two months of a fairly successful work year, and begin to ponder what life might be like, after I leave full time employment and devote my time to family and to several months of the year as a traveling writer, there may be a catch.

Having said, a few times, that I am likely to leave Prescott, and Arizona, after nearly thirty years straight and thirty-eight years, all told, in the Grand Canyon State, there is the matter of who might prevail on me to remain here.  Most of my friends here will wish me well, regardless of what path I choose to follow.  There are some, not  counted as friends, who will be glad to see me leave.  One or two special people, who will remain nameless, could yet get me to stick around.  In any case, I know my meanderings would bring me back here, time and again.

This is all conjecture, at present.  I have two very full and rewarding years left, before “retirement”.  The March Lion will bow out, and April will bring pesky standardized testing, the beauty of Ridvan and of Easter, and the Proms.  May will likely see the first 90-degree day for Prescott, and 100-degree day in Metro Phoenix.  The weekends seem to be fully-booked, but I could very well get in a day trip to Grand Canyon, on the Centenary of its National Park.  This one would be to the east side of the Park, and Desert View Tower.  That was my Dad’s favourite spot, when he and Mom visited, in 1985.

Enough meandering, word-wise; I had a busy day and rest is of the essence.  See many of you, tomorrow.

Starting at Home

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January 27, 2019- 

One of  my mother’s favourite sayings, “Charity begins at home”, was made a basis for many of my actions, as a child and as a teen.  Nothing was made, or done, that wasn’t shared with family, on some level.

So it is, also, with conservation- as the late John McCain was also fond of saying.  A few weeks ago, during the height of the ill-fated shutdown, I went up to Sunset Crater National Monument, to see if I might help with a clean-up.  It turned out not to be necessary, though there was a mess, on Federal land, some twenty miles west.  Others took care of that clean-up.

With the shutdown over, however temporarily, I decided to take some time, after a study session this afternoon, and check a popular local trail, Lynx Lake, for residual clean-up that might be needed.  I was thanked by a few other hikers, especially accepting three pooper bags in my larger trash bag.  It was rather cute, that a lone duck followed me in the water, as I walked along the north shore, collecting a few plastic bottles.  It was almost as if it knew that the toxic items were being removed.  Long story short, I put a half-filled trash bag in the dumpster of the  south beach.

It was a minor effort, in the scheme of millions of acres of Federal land needing attention, after the lengthy hiatus.  I can only hope that there were thousands of others stepping up and doing their part, with there being way too much to be done, as it is, by those returning to work.  I think of the first National Historic Site I ever visited:  Saugus Ironworks, of the most extensive I’ve ever seen:  Grand Canyon and of the park I visited most recently for the first time:  Valley Forge.  Then, there is Arlington National Cemetery; today would have been the 95th birthday of my father-in-law, who is interred there, along with his wife.

I can only hope there are no more shutdowns of government, but if there are, I know to be ready to help, as a citizen.

Nine Tasks

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January 19, 2019-

Many people make resolutions, the first thing, when the calendar rolls over.  I don’t indulge in that particular practice, knowing that making firm commitments to new practices takes time.

There are nine task areas, labours of love, that have defined my life, since the passing of  Penny, nearly eight years ago.  I will focus today on what these mean, relative to 2019.

1.  Family- With Aram and Yoonhee based in Busan, for at  least the rest of this year, my focuses are: To be in Korea for their sacred wedding ceremony, in March; to tend to such of their needs as can only be addressed on this side of the Pacific; to meet them in the U.S., should they visit here in the summer.

2.  Work- I remain committed to working, during the regular academic year, through at least December, 2020 and no later than May. 2021, depending on the needs of the school, preferably in the High School Autism Program.  Thus, work is a major daily focus through the fourth week of May and from August-December.

3. Faith- No day has gone by, since February 23, 1981, that I have not begun my morning in devotions and a fairly long recitation of prayer.  Service to Baha’u’llah remains  a prime expression of my inner joy and love for humanity.  This year marks the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab (The Gate), Who we revere as both Baha’u’llah’s Herald and His Twin Messenger of God, as al-Bab’s spiritual Dispensation took place from 1844-1853, immediately before the beginning of Baha’u’llah’s.   Their birthdays also fall on two consecutive days, on the lunar calendar.  This year, these are October 29-30, with al-Bab’s  anniversary occurring first. (Historically, Baha’u’llah was born in 1817 and al-Bab, in 1819).  There are also regular Spiritual Feasts and other Holy Days, throughout the year and I  am participating in regular study groups and other activities.

4.  Community Life-  I take part in volunteering on community projects, with the American Red Cross and Slow Food Prescott.  The focuses are on disaster response, home safety, school gardens and,  new this year, food recovery.  These activities largely define my giving back to Prescott and Yavapai County, for having been a large part of my solace, in the Fall of 2011.  The American Legion’s Post 6 celebrates its 100th anniversary, in May, and I will have a part to play in that celebration.

5. Writing- Blogging and journaling have also been critical to my inner healing, even in the midst of my caretaking, in 2008-11.   They remain an integral part of who I am, and so Word Press, with its being extended to Facebook and Linked In, remains my primary means of self-expression, through this year and beyond.  I also maintain a pen and ink private journal.

6, Hiking-  This has been a huge lifelong pastime, pretty much since I was old enough to walk.  Since I’ve been old enough to take off on my own, without getting into trouble, many trails and paths, from my native Massachusetts to the desert Southwest, Colorado, southeast Alaska, Korea and northwestern Europe have seen my bootprints.  This year, my focuses will be on further segments of the Maricopa Trail, at least two visits to the Grand Canyon, more beach walks in southern California, Fall hikes in Utah and the Navajo Nation, and several walks with Aram and Yoonhee, whilst in Korea.

7. Travel-  This has also long been one of my passions, often dovetailing with hiking.  The Korea trip will take me to Gwangju and Jeju, as well as Busan.  Prior to that, will be a Presidents’ Day weekend visit to southern California, hopefully connecting with friends in Orange County and the San Diego area-with La Jolla, Dana Point, San Clemente and possibly Crystal Cove being on the itinerary.

June and July largely hinge on my little family’s schedule.  Carson City, in late May, is a given, with a new extended family member having been born, this past week.  A 1-2 week visit to the Northwest, Vancouver Island/Sunshine Coast and southeast Alaska is likely-as is the now customary jaunt through the Midwest to New England and back through the mid-South.

October (Fall Break) will find me in Monument Valley and southeast Utah- returning to Capitol Reef and Natural Bridges, as well as the Goosenecks of the San Juan River.  Christmas, God-willing, will see a return to Massachusetts.

8. Diet and Exercise- Planet Fitness and our daily Adaptive Physical Education regimen have largely provided my continuity as a healthy physical specimen.  Stretches at home have also proven critical, as I recovered from a posterior knee strain, over the past ten weeks.  Things are 99% back to normal and I want to keep it that way- up to, and maintaining, 100%.  I am cutting back on coffee consumption, not out of any pressure, but because my body tells me that’s what it wants.  Less red meat is also finding its way onto my plate-and what there is, is certified grass-fed and organic.  A greater percentage of my diet being of vegetables, fruits and whole grains is on tap for this year, as well.  Yes, I will drink more water-that’s not an empty statement. Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, including Lifelong Vitality Supplements, are a continual source of sustenance.

9. Study-  My mind is always looking to keep current with advances in health, trends in positive thought and expanding my awareness of subjects in which I have scant knowledge- as well as continual study of Baha’i texts and new correspondence. This will continue, as 2019 progresses.

This is a longer post than usual, but there you have my year’s plan.