Our exploration of the Grand Canyon rim continues. The overlooks for the eastern third of the park are more widely spaced, so shuttle buses do not run there and we could explore it by car. The watch tower is the marker for the eastern end of the park. It looks like some sort of Indian ruin, but is as historic as a sight at Disneyland. Mary Colter, a pioneer female architect who is responsible for many of the other park buildings, designed it from scratch. Although it looks like a stone edifice, inside it is built of steel. She hired local native Americans to stucco the inside and decorate it with symbols meaningful in their culture. She intended it to provide great views and that it does.
I am running out of words to describe the magnificence that is the Grand Canyon. Every stop is amazing and reveals a different aspect of what the Colorado River has carved over the millenia. Historic markers placed at the overlooks remind us of the amazement of those who came before us. An exploration party lead by Coronado were the first Europeans to see this place. They were not expecting it and could not fathom its size. They thought the river below might be six feet wide and sent a small group down into the canyon to find the best way across. They climbed back up at the end of the day shaking their heads and never made it further north. Their lack of success lead to their court martial when they returned home.
At the Grand Vista overlook we read about the first man to build a hotel here after he had made a small fortune mining a vein of high grade copper on his property here. He brought tourists to his hotel by stage coach; a bone jarring twelve hour ride from Flagstaff, fifty miles away. Then the railroad passed right by and built the El Tovar at is terminus and his business dwindled to nothing. Today there are no signs that his hotel was ever here. The beauty remains.
It’s strange to be at an American national park and hear few other people speaking English. As we take our photographs we watch the international visitors enjoying the canyon. Large multi generational groups of Indians come to the viewpoints to take photographs of each other. I’m not sure how important the canyon views are to them; they could be taking the same photographs at Times Square. Some come here dressed as if being out in nature was the last thing on their minds. I especially enjoyed the young Japanese woman dressed in very tight cut-offs over pantyhose with Ugg boots and bright blue streaks in her hair. If you see someone with a scarf wrapped around their neck, they are always from Europe. When we travel internationally we always try to fit in, but I imagine that our foreignness is as obvious to them as theirs is to us.
Keep those foreign tourist dollars coming!