Posts Tagged ‘grand canyon’

Digging through my scrapbooks, I found the story I did about flying in a KC-135 tanker over the Grand Canyon, a National Guard event to entice women to join the service.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain

I was having a virtual Jack and Coke Zoom night with my good friend Kim Monday when we started talking about celebrations for her approaching 60th birthday. She and I have been observing birthdays together now for just about half our lives.

My friend Kim and I right before we jumped out of an airplane to celebrate my 70th birthday.

Recalling the fantastic time 11 years ago when we had celebrated my 70th birthday by jumping out of an airplane, she wanted to do something just as memorable

Among other things, we had earlier talked about a cruise and visit to Iceland, both of which are off the radar now because of the coronavirus.

“You know I haven’t visited the Grand Canyon,” she interjected into the conversation. “But I think I’m past the time when I can hike down to its bottom.”

That brought a laugh from me, and the comment that I was way past that time. “I gave up my annual birthday hike to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion some years back now.”

“Perhaps a helicopter ride over the canyon. I could handle that,” Kim said.

Her words brought up a couple of memories for me. I’ve visited the Grand Canyon many times, including twice spending 16 days paddling through it on the Colorado River, and once flying over it in a KC-135 Tanker as it refueled three B-1 Bombers and a fighter jet. I was along for the ride as a reporter covering the outing, which had been planned to show women the sky was the limit if they joined the National Guard.

Kim during one of our outings to Zion National Pak to celebrate one of my birthdays.

Both the Grand Canyon rafting and over-flying experiences rank among the top 10 experiences of my life. As a rafter, I disdained the helicopters flying overhead the canyon, but my view of the canyon from the glass bottom at the rear of the KC-135, where the boom operator lay for the refueling process, made me rethink my attitude. While not exactly environmentally correct, I wanted everyone to have such an experience. Sometimes we have to stop thinking about life and just live it – especially if, like me, we’ve survived to become old broads.

And so, I told my friend Kim that if she wanted to do a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon to count me in. Kim, by the way, celebrates her birthday the same day as Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, which is September 22.

Bean Pat: To my granddaughter Keri, who posted “I Love You” on Facebook, noting that if people can hate for no reason, she can love for no reason. I am so proud of her.

Bean Pat Silver Lining: To Wing, a drone company, and a Virginian librarian, who will be joining forces to drop library books to kids. This is such a great idea, as are any others that encourage children to read. A home with children and no books is, to my way of thinking, child abuse. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/drones-will-drop-library-books-for-kids-in-virginia/

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.


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Deer Creek Falls

“Who I am, what I am, is the culmination of a lifetime of reading, a lifetime of stories. And there are still so many more books to read. I’m a work in progress.” — Sarah Addison Allen

John McPhee’s Encounters  

I’m reading A Colorado River Reader, an anthology of essays that range from the exploration days of John Wesley Powell to modern-day river runners. The stories have both enlightened and educated me, and brought to the forefront my own experiences of time spent on the river.

Granite Rapid: I was tossed out of the boat at the top of this rapid, and wasn’t pulled back in until the raft got to the end. What an adventure.

In 1991, and again in 1999 as a gift to myself on my 60th birthday, I escaped from the world for 16 days and rafted 225 miles down the Colorado as it flows through the Grand Canyon. On the first trip, I spent most of my time in a six-person paddle raft, communing with the river when it was gentle, screaming with glee at it when it was wild, and straining with the five others in the boat to power our way safely down the river and through the rapids.

By the time of the 1999 trip, I was content to ride in a larger oar boat and let a boatman, or boatwoman, do all the work, leaving me just to hang on for the ride. The two trips were different in experiences, but every second of both were 100 percent joyous and worth remembering, which is why I so relished the memories of those trips that were refreshed and brought to the forefront of my brain when I read John McPhee’s piece in the anthology.

Tunnel, far right, dug to access rock structure for proposed Marble Canyon Dam.

The essay, “Encounters with an Archdruid,” was about a trip down the river with David Brower, a prominent environmentalist who opposed dam building (and whom I had met and wrote about as a journalist) and Floyd Dominy of the Bureau of Reclamation, who built dams. He got the Glen Canyon Dam built, but failed to get the one he wanted to be built in Grand Canyon’s Marble Canyon, although he got as far as getting a tunnel dug in the side of a cliff at the proposed dam site to access the rock structure.

I got to walk into this tunnel during my second trip down the Colorado River.

McPhee’s essay took me along on this now legendary white-water float through the Grand Canyon, dousing my memories with the cold-water waves of Deubendorff Rapid and sprinkling them with the rainbow-lit drops of mist coming off Deer Creek Falls, an awesome side canyon waterfall whose music filled my ears as I sat by it and ate lunch one day.

As I read, my mind wandered off to give thanks to the person who taught me to read. I can’t remember who it was, just that I truly can’t remember a time in my life that I couldn’t read. Reading has enlarged and brightened my world for as long as I can remember. And I’m thankful for this great gift.

I believe Ray Bradbury said it best when he wrote that not reading books was worse than burning them.

Bean Pat: Don’t call me sweet  https://awindowintothewoods.com/2018/12/18/dont-call-me-sweet/  Take a break from the holiday chaos.

Now available on Amazon

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon. It would make a great Christmas gift for all those who wander but are not lost.

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, whn contc

The first aspens I saw were off in the distance, where their golden deliciousness stood out in contrast to the dark evergreens -- Photo by Pat Bean

The first aspens I saw were off in the distance, where their golden deliciousness stood out in contrast to the dark evergreens — Photo by Pat Bean

“Willows whiten, aspens quiver, Little breezes dusk and shiver” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, bet bit by a mosquitos, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world on the peak of Tukuhnikivats. – Edward Abbey            

Aspens at Last

            Jacob Lake, a tiny community that sits at the junction of Highway 89A and State Road 67 and which is the turnoff to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet.   I had expected to see aspen trees by this elevation, but none came into my view, although I usually began seeing these scarred, white-trunk trees around 7,000 feet. Of course that was when I lived in Utah, and now I’m in Arizona.

The second grove of aspens was right next to the road. I stood beneath this one and let it sing to me.

The second grove of aspens was right next to the road. I stood beneath this one and let it sing to me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Still hopeful that the goal of this particular road trip, to see aspen trees in their golden autumn colors, would be met, I took the turnoff  for the Grand Canyon. There was still 44 miles to go before I reached the rim of what many people consider to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world, so there was still time for this road trip’s mission to be accomplished.

And it was – although I was closer to Grand Canyon National Park than I expected before the landscape began to be dotted with patches of yellow that challenged the color of the sun. I was delighted.

Aspen trees gown in colonies from a single seedling that sends up its children through the earth into the sunlight. If you look closely, you’ll see how similar each tree in close proximity looks like its neighbor; and how different they look from a nearby patch of aspens that also hover close together with roots and branches entangled.


Near the top of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Near the top of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

Until its death, only the mother tree can send up new seedlings. Then another tree takes its place. It has to do with some chemical or such that the mother tree sends out as a birth control pill to the other trees, is how it was once explained to me. While an aspen tree can live only up to about 150 years, there is one large aspen grove in Utah near Fish Lake that is 80,000 thousand years old. Just thinking about this sends shivers through by brain neurons.

As I stopped to stand beneath one of the aspen groves, I was reminded that not only are these trees pleasing to the eye, but to the ear as well. The breeze rippling through their coin-sized leaves sent a pleasing melody into the air. The aspens sang for me.


Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Life’s Purpose   http://tinyurl.com/ocjqsok  Why limit yourself to one passion. As a person who has many passions, this blog appealed to me. Even though I know that it’s the people with only one passion who may accomplish the greatest things in life. But oh what they miss.

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”  Hunter S. Thompson

The first time I  rafted down the Grand Canyon, the Little Colorado River entrance to the mightier Colorado River was red and thick with mud from recent upstream rains. The second time it was crystal clean, and we floated in its current. I'm the middle blonde, and I was 60 when the photograph was taken.

The first time I rafted down the Grand Canyon, the Little Colorado River entrance to the mightier Colorado River was red and thick with mud from recent upstream rains. The second time it was crystal clean, and we floated in its current. I’m the middle blonde, and I was 60 when the photograph was taken.

A fantastic read.

A fantastic read.


Bookish Wednesday

A fairy tale begins with “Once upon a time.” And a river story with “No shit! There I was,” said outspoken journalist Linda Ellerbee in her essay about rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

And there she was — on an adventure one summer taken by 14 other fantastic female writers. The 15 women ranged in age, and in lifestyles that went from city women who had never peed outdoors to athletic women who considered nature their true homes. They each wrote about the Grand Canyon from their own perspective, and about how the fickle river and the high rock walls affected and changed them.

Being a female writer who has been on this same adventure twice in my life – the last time as a birthday present to myself when I turned 60 – my soul triumphed with joy when I came across their book, “Writing Down the River (1998, Northland Publishing, photographed and produced by Kathleen Jo Ryan) in the public library.

Of course I checked it out. Reading the book these past few days has brought back many memories of 32 days, 16 for each trip, that rank high on my list of the best days of my life.

Among my own writings about my Grand Canyon trip was one about the canyon wren, which often serenaded us during our early mornings on the river.

Among my own writings about my Grand Canyon trip was a bird column about the canyon wren, which often serenaded us during our early mornings on the river.

The first time I went down the river, I paddled myself almost the entire 225 miles in a small raft. I came away from the experience a whole person, accepting both my strengths and my weaknesses.

The second time I let the boatman (she was female but she was still called a boatman) oar me down the river, an admission that time had come for me to slow down a bit and take more time to smell the flowers and watch the birds – but also that my adventuring days were still far from over.

I highly recommend this trip for all women who are at turning points in their lives – and if you can’t go, at least read the book. The words and photographs can’t help but touch your heart and make you stronger.  

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

  Bean/s Pat: Where Have All the Flowers Gone  http://tinyurl.com/l89g62e In honor of Pete Seeger and my generation of flower-child music.

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 “Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.” – Standing Bear

One Last Vista for the Road

The Grand Canyon vista from Desert View — Photo by Pat Bean

The distance between the Grand Canyon’s south entrance, where I entered the park, and its east entrance, where I exited, is only about 30 miles. It took me about five hours to make the journey.

It’s so easy to drink in the Grand Canyon’s vista that sometimes we forget to look at the smaller parts that make up the whole. I try not to forget. — Photo by Pat Bean

Five hours of magic when I left all the worries of the world behind and simply let myself enjoy the wonders of nature’s artistic hand. What a grand canvas she has created.

I don’t know how people exist in today’s chaotic world without visiting Mother Nature’s museums often.

It seems, however, that I’m merely echoing the thoughts of another writer who felt the same way during an era that to me seems far less hectic than today’s world.

Wrote Hamlin Garland in 1899: “I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.”

Bean’s Pat: Kristen Lamb’s Blog http://tinyurl.com/cvto554 How to become a stronger writer. Good advice for serious writers. 

*This pat-on-the-back recognition is merely this wandering/wondering old broad’s way of bringing attention to a blog I enjoyed – and thought perhaps my readers might, too. June 11, patbean.wordpress.com


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 “The lack of power to take joy in outdoor nature is as real a misfortune as the lack of power to take joy in books.” Theodore Roosevelt

Desert View Watchtower — Photo by Pat Bean

360 Degrees of Awesome

Mary Coulter’s Desert View Watchtower that overlooks the Grand Canyon near the east entrance to the national park looks older than it is.

It was built in 1932 to resemble an ancient Pueblo Indians’ watchtower, but on a larger scale.

I think it fits into the landscape well, as do Coulter’s other Grand Canyon buildings that include the Phantom Ranch buildings on the canyon floor and Hermit’s Rest, a rustic lookout structure at the western edge of the Rim Trail.

Born in 1869, Coulter was a rare female architect for her time. The four buildings she designed for the Grand Canyon now all have National Historic Landmark designations.

A climb up the 85 stair steps is worth the effort just for the view. — Photo by Pat Bean

I braved the jam of people in the tower’s ground-floor gift shop to climb the 85 steps that narrowly wind to the stop of the tower. My reward was a 360-degree, panoramic view of the canyon, and the surrounding high desert.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Bean’s Pat: Comfort Me With Ice Cream http://tinyurl.com/7plaftb Although circumstances may be different, I can relate, although for me it’s Ben and Jerry’s (Anywhere), Farr’s (Utah), or Blue Bell (Texas) that provides the comfort. 

*This pat-on-the-back recognition is merely this wandering/wondering old broad’s way of bringing attention to a blog I enjoyed – and thought perhaps my readers might, too. June 9, patbean.wordpress.com

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 “What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt – it is sure where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.” – Hal Boyle

A mile below me flowed the Colorado River — and in it flowed a treasure chest of my memories. — Photo by Pat Bean

Memories of the Canyon Floor

If I could see the rapid from a mile away, it had to be one of the big ones. I wondered which? — Photo by Pat Bean

While there’s no bad view of the Grand Canyon, I must admit that my heart beat a little faster whenever the viewpoint allowed me a peak at the Colorado River a mile below.

I rafted that same river twice, once in 1991 when I paddled my way through it in a small six-man raft, and once in 1999, when I was oared through it in a larger raft by someone else’s hand.

In all, I’ve spent a total of 32 days at the canyon’s bottom. The first trip ranks No. 1 of all my adventures, including an African Safari (No. 2) and jumping out of an airplane (No. 3). Yes, I know, I’m an adrenalin junkie, or at least I was.

Ravens haunted every overlook where I stopped to view the canyon this day, just as they had haunted every camp site on the river below. This bold one that didn’t move off at my approach reminded me of the one that had stolen my tube of toothpaste on one of my Colorado River rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m just as happy these days going for a quiet canoe ride on a gentle river – or doing as I was this day, stopping at every overlook along the Grand Canyon’s Desert View Drive.

Each time my stop included a view of the river, memories of the time I spent on it flooded out of my memory bank to be relived.

Once again I was holding onto the paddle boat from the water side in terror after Granite Rapid claimed me for its own. Or I was lying on my back on a beach, staring up at a slim sliver of sky watching the stars drift past.

I remembered awakening to the song of a canyon wren, and drinking in the peace of the silence that always marked the first half hour of our daily time on the river.  I emerged at the end of both 16-day trips a different person than the one who began it. More peaceful, more knowing who I was, more understanding what is important in life.

Today, that was simply spending time with the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Bean’s Pat: http://thismansjourney.net/ Rhythm of the Waves. I love Galveston, and wave watching.

 *This pat-on-the-back recognition is merely this wandering/wondering old broad’s way of bringing attention to a blog I enjoyed – and thought perhaps my readers might, too. June 7, patbean.wordpress.com

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“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” – John Muir


A grand view of the Grand Canyon from Grandview Point. — Photo by Pat Bean


And What Once Was Is No More

All about the Grand View Hotel. — Photo by Pat Bean

If you had visited the Grand Canyon in 1898 to see if it was as grand as had been reported, you would have seen the landscape as it is pictured above. Oh I’m sure things have shifted a bit since then, but all the major peaks and valleys, rock profiles and water routes are still there.

You would have probably made the 12-hour bone-jarring trip from Flagstaff to see the scenery for yourself in a stagecoach. And you would have probably stayed in Pete Berry’s Grand View Hotel, which he built in 1897 after mining in the canyon didn’t pay off. You might even have ridden one of Pete’s Mules partway down into the canyon itself.

And all about Pete’s Last Chance copper mine. — Photo by Pat Bean

Shortly after the turn of the century, however, you would have probably taken the Santa Fe Railway into Grand Canyon Village and let your breath gasp in wonder at the landscape 11 miles west of this spot.

Just as Route 66, which I had just traveled, bypassed so many other wonderful places, the railroad bypassed the Grandview.

You have to look really hard to find any traces of Pete’s entrepreneur efforts, although the trail he took tourists down still exists and is still used today. But the grand view is still here, and still awesome.

Bean’s Pat: Bird Light Wind http://birdlightwind.com/ Grand view of red-tailed hawks. 

*This pat-on-the-back recognition is merely this wandering/wondering old broad’s way of bringing attention to a blog I enjoyed – and thought perhaps my readers might, too. June 6, patbean.wordpress.com



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“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, not by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.” John Wesley Powell

The view and the viewers at the Grand Canyon’s Mather Point. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Long Way to Page

I left Flagstaff early, my destination being Page, Arizona, just 135 miles away. My route, however, turned it into a 215-mile journey because I planned to drive along the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

One, at least in my book, doesn’t miss an opportunity to see one of Mother’s Nature’s miracles simply because it adds miles to a journey. I would stint myself of something else to cover the extra cost of gas.

The drive north from Flagstaff took me through the Coconino and Kaibab national forests, sometimes in view of majestic mountain peaks. I opened my RV window occasionally to drink in the scent of pine wafting through the air on this glorious May day.

As one who has twice rafted the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, I have extreme respect for Powell’s journey without the aid of rubber rafts and life jackets. This was one of the displays at the visitor center. — Photo by Pat Bean

My canine traveling companion, Pepper, alternated between looking out the window at the scenery and watching me. Both of us, I think, were taking the opportunity to savor the journey. 

It came as a jolt to my system when I entered the parking lot of the park’s visitor center near the south entrance. This was a gathering spot for all the park’s visitors, and while the vast parking lots weren’t full, they were far from empty this day. There were more people here than I had seen my entire trip so far.

I quickly checked out the visitor center and then joined the other travelers gawking down at the canyon from Mather’s Point before hurrying back to my RV and Pepper. She greeted me as if I had been gone the millions of years it had taken Mother Nature to form the canyon.

The canyon still takes your breath away, I told her, then gave her a treat before we continued our adventure.

Bean’s Pat: A Butterfly’s Kingdom http://serenityspell.com A place to visit if you’re ever in South Florida. My favorite among the awesome photographs on this blog was the piano key butterfly. 

*This recognition is merely this wandering/wondering old broad’s way of bringing attention to a blog I enjoyed – and thought perhaps my readers might, too. The Pat on the back is presented with no strings attached. June 5, patbean.wordpress.com

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 “Read, every day something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.” – Christopher Morley

200 million years are missing from this landscape. — Photo by Pat Bean

Unconformity Along Route 66

It’s amazing how much you can learn from stopping to read roadside markers. I rarely pass one by, usually only because it’s on the wrong sign of a busy highway, and I value my life more than my curiosity.

It’s amazing what one can learn from roadside markers. — Photo by Pat Bean

That was no problem during my recent loop through the Petrified Forest National Park, where I’m not sure I even saw a dozen other cars.

The educational marker shown here notes that the basalt cap on the top layer of the cliffs was deposited five to eight million years ago. The lower valley layer, however, was deposited about 225 million years ago. What happened to the 200 million years in between?

The scientist have only guesses.

During the 1990s, I saw similar unconformities in the landscape in the Grand Canyon, when I rafted the Colorado River through it. There was a fun discussion around the campfire later that night about the missing landscape.

But just like the scientists, we rafters could only speculate. Meanwhile, this wandering old broad is left in her familiar state of wondering.

Bean’s Pat: Don’t Follow the Lights http://tinyurl.com/7avfh7v I’ve gotta visit Marfa, Texas – so I can wonder some more.

*This award is this wandering/wondering old broad’s way of bringing attention to a blog I enjoyed – and thought perhaps my readers might, too.

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