In the house of stone and light: A late winter trip to the Grand Canyon

By Mark Jacob Bartlett

March 1, 2016

Things, at least in terms of the weather, are beginning to change here in Las Vegas.  The bite of cold morning air has rather suddenly been replaced with balmy sunrises, and after an unusually cold winter, night time temperatures are also on the rise.  Thanks to a cordial invite from our friends at the Grand Canyon Tour Company, we got to welcome in spring by taking off to one of our favorite seasonal destinations, a day trip to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

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Outside of the necessity to leave at what we consider “way early” (7 a.m., which seems even more insane after a night of covering Marquee Mondays), the 277 mile bus tour to perhaps the world’s most marvelous natural wonder is an excellent value.  Including an informative video, continuous narrative by the bus driver and just enough time for some self-reflection, the journey actually goes by very quickly. In addition, a short stop on mythical Route 66 and an all you can eat buffet at the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel is an added bonus.  All told, our tour arrived at Grand Canyon National Park at 2:20 PM for an hour of photos.

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Yes, the photos.  You may have heard that even the most spectacular photographs of this wonder simply fail to do it justice, that it is a sight to behold in person and the most exquisite of photos captured by the most motivated photographer simply miss the mark. Well, it’s true. All of it.  Jonathan McGrath, a professional photographer, shared similar sentiments with our team. “This (camera) is the second most advanced available in consumer electronics today.  If you want to know the truth, I have half a mind to leave it in the van.” A veteran behind the camera for over 30 years, this was McGrath’s first visit to the Grand Canyon. “The photo opportunities here are legendary, but at the same time humbling.  There’s no way to capture this majesty through a lens.” Although our photographer expressed similar sentiments, he enjoys being paid, so please enjoy our best efforts in fighting an admittedly losing battle with an attraction best viewed by the lens of the naked eye!

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For the amateur photographer and tourist, a trip to the Grand Canyon provides an awe-inspiring change of pace from not-too-far away Metro Vegas.  And awe could be seen on the faces of child and adult alike. Snapchats and “Selfie-Sticks” were, at least at the onset, forgotten about, as the average person spends the first few minutes of regarding the Grand Canyon well, simply regarding. And for some visitors on this day, the impact of all the natural beauty and wonderment is significantly more profound.  With poorly disguised tears in his eyes, Bob Robertson revealed that he “comes here once a year on this date” for personal reasons which he preferred to “keep personal”.  Explaining the specific value of his annual pilgrimage as best he could, Bob adds “I stand over this rim and feel like I’m on an icy mountain peak deep within myself.  When I look down into this canyon, it’s like looking into the deepest reaches of myself”.

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Stephanie Nicholson makes the trip from Overton every year as well, although her calendar isn’t quite as rigid as Mr. Robertson’s.  “I simply love it here.  it reminds me of what’s best in nature, best in life.” Drawing upon her love of music, Stephanie continued, “every time I behold this view, I’m reminded of that Martin Page song, In The House of Stone and Light.  As a group, we here at Sin City Press agree in earnest, and thought that was also a very fitting title for a feature article.

(Incidentally, an astute member of our research department uncovered the fact that the vocalist actually drew inspiration to write the song from a 1994 visit to the Grand Canyon, and there is also an excellent picture book which details the ancient history of the canyon itself.  Further information and purchasing details can be found here.)

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For other visitors, a trip to the Grand Canyon symbolizes a fresh start, a launching point for a new perspective, or perhaps a life-changing event.  In maybe the most poignant moment in a day full of them, a young man who wished to remain anonymous finished the last puffs of a cigarette, removed the remainder of a pack of Camel Crush cigarettes from his coat pocket and, well, crushed it.  With a look of personal victory and perseverance, the man smiled and said in an exuberant tone: “Yeah baby! No smoking beyond this point!” And then he walked away from there.

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Whether you want to kick a dangerous habit or merely experience all the “kicks” of Mother Nature at Her most beautiful, a short trip to the Grand Canyon promises to deliver rich memories that will last a long, long time.

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