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Ruining The Grand Places

“… It is apparent, then, that we cannot decide the question of development versus preservation by a simple referral to holy writ or an attempt to guess the intention of the founding fathers; we must make up our own minds and decide for ourselves what the national parks should be and what purpose they should serve.”-Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

“… The difference between the present reservoir, with its silent sterile shores and debris-choked side canyons, and the original Glen Canyon, is the difference between death and life. Glen Canyon was alive. Lake Powell is a graveyard.” – Edward Abbey, “The Damnation of a Canyon”, Beyond the Wall

When you love the Desert Southwest, sometime, somewhere, you will stumble into the writings of Ed Abbey. Like me, Ed was not born there; he discovered his love of the place while riding a boxcar through it on a trip across the US; I discovered mine on a trip through myself. His writings helped lead me home, for that is what the desert southwest is to me: home. I don’t live there for one simple reason, i.e., I have not yet been able to put myself in the financial situation I need to be in. For now, I visit when I can, mostly during my long vacations at Christmas.

A couple of years ago during one of those, on a whim after spending a few days in Arches National Park, my wife and I detoured to the snowy, icy south rim of the Grand Canyon. We journeyed toward it from the east side but got turned back at the National Parks’ gate; the road was snowed under from there on up. After retracing our steps, we traveled down to Flagstaff and spent the night, driving in my four by four truck up to the South Rim the next day. It was an eerie experience to stand on the edge of the South Rim and see only cloud; fog shrouded the canyon’s great gap, leaving us with visual doubts that anything was really there. Defeated, we hit the Visitor’s Center and gathered information so we could go back sometime in the spring or fall with weather more to our liking.

We haven’t done that, yet.

This year we had planned to take a guided river run down the great Grand Canyon. Right now, that probably is not going to happen, either, due to other family obligations that eat vacation and other financial priorities.

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