Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Grandfather, grand slam, grand prize and even grand adventure are terms of significance and even respect. But “grand” is too weak an adjective, woefully insufficient to describe the panoramic, majestic grandeur of the Grand Canyon that I saw for the first time today. In fact, words simply fail to adequately describe this most wondrous of the seven natural wonders of the world. Its 277-mile length, 18-mile width and 1 mile depth are only its physical dimensions, immense though they are. Add the rainbow of colors, the linear artistry, the symphony of raucous but earnest water (the Colorado River) from which grew the silent, charactered cliff walls and it is no wonder the early Native Americans thought this place was holy. I was speechless, captivated by its mystic and marvel, spellbound by its scope and symmetry. The scene’s vast and fierce beauty devoured each photographic attempt to capture its magnificence. I immediately felt inadequate, as if this great gorge had echoed into the chasm of my own insignificance. Intimidated, I still found my stare fixed to the Canyon’s distant floor as if drawn there by a magnetic force.
We arrived there before 10 AM, having enjoyed climbing the somewhat cooler heights north of Flagstaff, Arizona. Plenty of swooping curves and pine forests to enjoy, the ride was reverent and quiet, allowing me to breathe easily while anticipating the awaiting sight. We stayed only an hour, as if to remain longer we would become enraptured fully by its allure. We needed no souvenirs, for the memory of this place will remain indelible, but I did pick up a sunburn, having forgotten that my face and arms had been shielded by helmet and gear until then.
Everything we considered doing next seemed limited as we debated our next destination while sharing a huge “Navajo Taco” at the Outpost near Cameron, Arizona. Deciding that the days of extreme heat could end now without regret, we headed north, by Lee’s Ferry, around the eastern end and northern ridge of the Grand Canyon. The road was challenging in places, but offered plenty of opportunities to view the untamed ruggedness of this land.
We ended the day’s epic experience in the southern Utah town of Kanab. Given that we had heard many languages since coming to the area, including some Londoners who enjoyed being photographed on our bikes, we were not surprised to be seated next to a tour of Australian 18-to-35-year-olds at supper. After the huge meals of ribs, rib eye steak and skewers of shrimp we retired to our humble room where we recounted the day and this last week’s events. We have truly been blessed. For me, I felt a renewal in my commitment that as long as my Parkinson’s disease does not prevent me I will ride with the Knights of the Open Road on the grandest of adventures.

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