Tuesday, January 29, 2013

PHX and my night at the Grand Canyon

    Day- 6

     I woke up around 7 am in a rest stop somewhere outside of Gallop New Mexico. I traveled down I- 40 to the Petrified Forest National Park. I got there early and waited till a park ranger opened the gate opened around 8 am, fortunately for me I was there right when the sun came up and the view over the painted desert was tantalizing. The place is called "painted desert" due to the many different color layers of petrified wood coating the hillsides. I stopped at Jasper forest right as the sun was shining on the color bands of green red yellow and brown around the hillsides it was an incredible overlook.  I stopped at the Visitor center which offered a 2 mile walk strewn with petrified wood.

      I left the National park sometime before noon and drove down HWY-81. I was witness to some more spectacular scenery upon entering the Tonto Nat'l Forest accompanied by steep overpasses, rivers and Mountainous terrain. I passed a stranded man hoofing it back to town on the way and felt slight remorse for not offering aid ; however my car was  stuffed to full of random souvenirs to be of much assistance. I hoped karma wouldn't strike and my car break down and that situation soon be mine. Fortunately I made it down to PHX, but not before another cop pulled me over for my right blinker not working. This was my 3rd time in the last week being pulled over for this same issue. I tried replacing the bulb in Arkansas but there was corrosion that resembled bee's wax all over it and the adverse affect was the whole lighting system was out of commission. Noticing my Pennsylvania plates and WA drivers  license the sheriff immediately assumed I was a drug runner and subjected me to everything short of a full body cavity strip search. I was out of the car being fiercely apprehended while a dog searched around my car for hidden marijuana. Finally after pilfering through all my luggage he was convinced I wasn't up to no good and left. I then called my Mother's cousin Ronnie and arrived at his place to meet family members. And much to my chagrin watched the Packers beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl later that Day.  

          I spent a week in PHX enjoying the luxuries of the  balmy 75 degree weather and sunny days in February; palm trees and cacti were everywhere, it was a different world than what I was used to, after surviving the arctic blast while traveling through the Midwest and snowstorms the past 2 weeks. I got to visit all the Delbridge family, that was a fun experience most of my Grandpa's brothers were 80 and over and they could make you laugh and crack you up like nobody else. They were all one of a kind and completely off their rockers just like my Grandpa and it was great. At one point my Grandpa's brother Bruce told a story about being with his brother on a date and him ripping off a fart only to have his friend tap him on the shoulder and say your with a girl its okay ill take one for the team and get up and walk off so they think its me. These were the kind of stories and characters they were. I also got to spend a good deal of time with Jimmy Dell (Delbridge) another of Grandpa's brothers who is an evangelist with a rich history, incredibly musically gifted he once traveled with Johnny Cash and one of his songs "Teeney Weeney" made the national top 10 list.

      I was planning on finding work and staying there awhile longer but the employment rate was bad and my efforts to find work futile. I decided there were a lot more places I wanted to see namely the Grand Canyon and Nat'l parks in California. So after reading several maps and plotting a course. Without further adieu I headed north after a week in PHX. It was the last week of January 2011 and the winter weather led to road closures on overpasses of the national parks as well as a full closure of Yosemite. However there was a lot still to see. I went up through touristy Sedona which is just south of the Grand Canyon and was witness to spectacular landscape; the town was surrounded by massive red rock slopes and channel cut ridges promenaded the landscape. It was even more scenic than I expected. After stopping and walking around the town as well as hiking a trail I left around 3 to the Grand Canyon. 

      I was feeling hard pressed for time to reach the Grand Canyon before nightfall  and felt I may have tarried to long in Sedona. It was around 5 pm when I reached the south gate of the grand canyon and the sun was beginning to set. After complaining to the ranger about the $30 entrance fee, she just responded with a "if you feel it isn't worth it swing back around for your money back" turns out she was right. I got out for several viewpoints and due to the fading light sprinted back and forth to take a few pictures then run back to the car. At multiple overlooks I found myself running into large crowds of foreigners speaking to me in a language I didn't understand, I just nodded in agreement assuming they were referring to the view. Many times I had to wait or squeeze in for room just to catch a glimpse of the Canyon below. The views were breathtaking, but nothing prepared me for how exhilarating the view was at the last viewpoint on the southern rim. It defied my imagination of what was possible; the sun was setting right on the canyon edges and the clouds projected the red and golden rays of the sun right over the canyon below, bathing the the many chasms and ravines in a spectacular glow.

      I must have been at this viewpoint for 2 hours;  there was a ridge you could walk out onto, the stars were out and there was a full moon glistening over the canyon walls; this night will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was that memorable. It was in my mind: a "thin place" where there are those moments or experiences in life that are so brilliant the distance between the divine and the material seems small, and you can experience a closer contact with the Eternal. I felt like I caught a glimpse of the divine that night standing out there on that platform. The divine supposedly transcends time and space, yet we seek it in very specific places and at very specific times. If God is everywhere then why are some places thin and others not, or why isn’t the whole world thin? Maybe it is but we’re too thick to recognize it. Either way it was a moment that still endures within my mind. After taking several photo's I finally pulled myself away from the spectacular view and left. I hit the freeway heading back South then to on I-40  West again and stayed outside in a parking lot for the night in the town of Kingman. It was freezing but the prior events of the night made up for any minor discomfort.


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