Contrasts in Beauty

After a good nine hours of sleep last night we were up early and ready for the next adventure. We flew out of Page, Arizona and our first stop was an unexpected one about 20 minutes down the road. Along the highway we saw one of our brown National information signs that said “Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.” My driver asked, “Wanna stop?” Well, why not? It’s right here!

2016-09-19-11-05-092016-09-19-11-03-53Well, it did involve turning around because we actually missed the first turn, but we did arrive at the Information center for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s not actually a national park, but managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and provides thousands of acres of land to explore and discover. In fact, dinosaur bones have been discovered on these lands and scientists have shown through their research how once these dry desert lands were covered with water when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. A geologist or a paleontologist could have a picnic here, there must be so much to see. But, not being equipped for desert exploration, we walked through the little museum and read the informational signs and hopped back in the car for our next destination.

2016-09-19-12-03-24-1About two hours later we stopped in Fredonia, AZ at the site of Pipe Springs National Monument. It is a place in the high desert where water naturally flowed from the red rock, making it a sought after location for travelers and settlers alike. Both the native Kaibab Indians and the Mormon settlers claim history in this unusual spot. There is still a homestead that stands from the first white family who settled there. It is almost like a living history farm, with crops growing and livestock on the site. It made for a lovely little respite in the midst of the high desert. No wonder those who lived here thought it a special place.

The highlight for today’s itinerary was to make it to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s a little bit of a jaunt, about two hours from Fredonia, and the only thing at the end of the road is the Grand Canyon.

2016-09-19-13-07-04One week ago today we spent the day on the South rim of the canyon, so we were interested in seeing the north rim. Little did we know we would feel like we were in an entirely different country on the north rim. Driving up to its 8827 feet of elevation we went from dry desert red rock to short brush; to conifers; to meadows and larch trees turning yellow among the pines; to several 2016-09-19-13-22-05-1miles of burnt landscape coming back to life; and eventually to the North Village along the rim which was built in the early 20th century and is still serving guests today who wish to rent cabins or stay at the massive lodge. The drive was stunning and we kept marveling at how very different the north side of the canyon was from the south side. You can compare the pictures for yourself. Look back to last Monday, then contrast them with today.2016-09-19-13-56-29-1

2016-09-19-15-22-472016-09-19-15-39-52Having enjoyed the views driving up, by this time it was 3:00 and we felt famished. (We did get an early start this morning.) We decided on an afternoon meal at the lodge, only to find out that they quit serving lunch at 3:00 and opened for dinner at 4:30, with no reservations available until 9:15! Well, that settled it. We walked over to the deli shop and had a young man from Turkey who was working the counter make us a turkey sandwich. He explained how turkey sandwiches were his favorite, because he was from Turkey! Well, why not?

2016-09-19-15-29-47The sandwiches nicely filled the hole and we went out to visit the views. To our surprise, the north rim is not as developed as the south rim, and “taking a walk along the rim” was an entirely different experience. As I have mentioned before, neither of us are ones for “living on the edge,” so we viewed the beauty from as close as we dared. And, it was stunning, even at that distance.

2016-09-19-15-16-25The day was slightly overcast and there was lingering smoke from a controlled forest fire, so my pictures may not be as clear as from the south rim, but you can compare their beauty. The north rim displays more colors, (at least to my eye) and more variations of jutting rock of different composition. I find it so beautiful! Not more or less than the other side, but a kind of contrasting beauty. It makes me so awed with creation and the Creator! What other words are there?

2016-09-19-15-16-04If you have never been, you must come someday and see the wonders of this unusual and amazing place. Beauty unparalleled. A desert rim and stretching 5 to 7 miles across, a high alpine meadow and forest rim. I can only wonder what the first people to find this place must have thought!

2016-09-19-15-53-26Being at 8827 feet above sea level, I found it a little difficult to breathe. We live about 100 feet above sea level in Seattle and that’s quite a contrast. I kept thinking about the pilots in WWII who would have to go on oxygen at 10,000 feet!! We were pretty close to that. No wonder it was difficult to breathe.

As the afternoon lengthened, the clouds gathered and we decided to go back down to the desert waiting for us with a clean room and a bed in Kanab, UT.

2016-09-19-16-27-56The drive back down to Kanab was as equally thrilling as the drive up, only this time the sun was spotty, making the yellow leaves on the larch trees look like they were aflame. AND we saw a herd of buffalo, as well as several herds of deer in the far off distance. It was a beautiful, beautiful day. A day of contrasts, a day of surprising sights. A day of grace.

2016-09-19-19-43-27We made it back to Kanab as darkness fell and the sun at the horizon shone through the cloud layer to create a creamy orange and purple sky. We stopped for a salad bar and small pizza at a local establishment and made our way to our lodgings for the night.

It could not have been a more surprising or unexpected day!