At home in the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon feels like home and it has since the first time I visited. I had a View Master when I was a kid and not very many many reels. Among them were a couple on the Grand Canyon. I looked at them a lot and so everything here seemed familiar from the start. This is my second visit to the North Rim. The North Rim is 8000 feet, about 1000 feet higher than the South Rim. It is cooler on this this side gets more rain, so there are more forests. I will write a note about that later.

Pictures, however, cannot do it justice. It is just one of the most strikingly beautiful places on earth and very interesting in multiple dimensions. Start with the actual multiple dimension of the rocks.

The Colorado River eroded through rocks that show millions of years of earth history. You can see it in the bands of different rock. The Colorado Plateau was once under the ocean. You can see that in limestone. It was a desert. You can see sandstone. It was a swamp, a forest and most other things and the evidence is in the rocks.

A couple of interesting facts. Most of the earth’s surface is made up of igneous rock, but much of the land surface is covered by sedimentary rock, so we think it is more common. The most common type of sedimentary rock is shale, which is essentially compressed & transformed mud, but the one we see the most is sandstone, since it stands out in cliffs and buttes. Sandstone, as the name implies, is compressed & transformed sand, but there is often shale underneath or holding it together. Limestone makes up around 10% of sedimentary rocks. It is made from the skeletons and shells of sea creatures and coral. That is why there are often fossils. And one more little fact. You do not find dinosaur fossils at Grand Canyon. I mentioned the layers. Evidently the Mesozoic layer was soft and washed away. There are lots of dinosaur fossils at the Vermillion Cliffs, which you can see from the Grand Canyon when the air is clear.

Above are a few pictures. The top you see that most of the good picture places are taken by others. There were strong thunderstorms at the Canyon. On the way up it rained so hard we had to drive very slowly and considered stopping as sheets of water rolled down the roads. From the Canyon rim, you could see the storms and lightning at various points. Everybody was trying to get a picture when the lightning struck.