grand canyon of the east

“ with its river / a sky in the palm of a hand / never unknown and never known / … the river still seems not to move / as though it were the same river"  –W. S. Merwin, from "No Shadow”

Photo: Gorge along the Genesee River as it flows through Letchworth State Park in Western New York.  Some of the rock walls are as high as 550 feet, prompting the area to be called the “Grand Canyon of the East.”


The Grand Canyon is unreal. It’s feels as if you are staring at a painting or a backdrop for a John Wayne movie.

Jess and I visited the South Rim. I really would have liked to to gone to the North Rim just to avoid the Disney World crowd like madness. Our trip was originally planned for coming up from southern Arizona so the South Rim made sense. Due to the fires in the Coconino area and our reservations being cancelled our trip changed last minute and was rerouted.

After setting up camp we headed to the visitor center to attend to our ritual, postcards and a sticker. The visitor center had to have thousands of people there, total madness. The stress levels started to rise. After coming from Bryce and Arches, the crowds just were too much to handle.

Luckily Jess and I read up on a few cool hikes to beautiful views of the South Rim away from the overwhelming crowds. We headed to the first hike’s trailhead, two other cars in the small parking lot was a great sign. We headed down the trail excited to get “our” views of the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is a very spiritual place, I didn’t want that compromised because of the stampede like crowd of tourists. So two cars in the parking lot was an exciting view. The trail was only a little over a mile each way, cake. Coming around the last bend was more than we could have asked for. A ledge that ultimately sticks out into the canyon, I saw Jess’s face light up. After spending hours that only seemed like a mere five minutes we headed back to camp.

This morning we woke up with a family of Elk in our campsite. Grazing the grass and paying no mind to Jess and I’s excitement. We hung out with the elk as one while we ate our egg white burritos. The smile wouldn’t leave my face, waking up with Elk 50 feet from us is what it’s all about.

This morning we are headed to a few more view points including Desert View which I am pretty excited about. I definitely would like to come back to the Grand Canyon and hike down into the canyon. Unfortunately when I booked the sites, all the backcountry permits for camping were booked up. Always next time. Now we are headed
back into the magical state of Utah to experience Zion National Park. We only have two nights there. We will be nonstop, fitting in as much as we can. We can always sleep this fall when we head back east.

On the road to Zion…



An unfortunately blurry but nevertheless serendipitous catch of Santa Fe trains 23 and 24 (the east and west former Grand Canyons) meeting at Streator Illinois. February 1968.


“A house site – east of Bissell Point.” Grand Canyon, Arizona

Creator: Amelia and Josephine Hollenback
Date: 1897
Negative Number HP.2011.26.4

“…the precipices right down from this ancient fort like dwelling looked in some places to be fully 2,000 feet, Mr. Hance was actually scared at the sight in some places, and called it ‘awful, sure thing!’ We took several pictures of the point, the last one with my large camera showed the best advantage with Captain Hance standing down at the foot of the wall and Minna up on some of its ruins.”

Solar System: Things to Know  This Week

This week, we’re looking at MAVEN’s exploration of Mars, the Orionid meteor showers, Mercury’s “great valley” and more.

1. Celebrating MAVEN

MAVEN, the Mars Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution, was the second mission selected for our Mars Scout program and the first to explore the planet’s upper atmosphere . It launched on November 18, 2013 and entered orbit around Mars on September 21, 2014. 

+ MAVEN Quick Facts

2. Jupiter Moon Dance

This time-lapse sequence of Hubble Space Telescope images shows Jupiter’s moon Europa as it moved across the planet’s face over the course of 19 minutes. Europa is at the bottom center on Jupiter’s disk, the Great Red Spot to the left and Europa’s shadow to its right. The video was created by combining six snapshots taken in ultraviolet light with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.

+ Learn more

3. The Orionid Meteor Shower

Orionid shower peaks November 28. Look for the constellation Orion in the Southeast sky by 9 p.m. Using binoculars, look for the Orion Nebula. 

4. Comet Warming Up!! 

Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdu áková will brighten to expected stunning binocular visibility in mid to late December, but is near Venus on November 23rd.

+ Track the Comet

5. Mercury’s “Great Valley”

A newly discovered “great valley” in the southern hemisphere of Mercury provides more evidence that the planet closest to the sun is shrinking. Using stereo images from our MESSENGER spacecraft to create a high-resolution map, scientists have discovered that revealed the broad valley – more than 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) long – extending into the Rembrandt basin, one of the largest and youngest impact basins on Mercury. About 250 miles (400 kilometers) wide and 2 miles (3 kilometers) deep, Mercury’s great valley is smaller than Mars’ Valles Marineris, but larger than North America’s Grand Canyon and wider and deeper than the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.

+ Learn more

Discover the full list of 10 things to know about our solar system this week HERE.

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