The Grand Canyon

Since I went there for a conference when I was a grad student, I've always been facinated with Arizona's landscapes and geology. While I've spent far more time in the southern Sonoran desert, the Grand Canyon is the most beautiful piece of geography I have been lucky enough to see. There have been far better things written about the grand canyon than I could possibly do justice to here, so I'm not going to say all that much other than the actual experience of seeing the whole thing can't properly be put into words. The really interesting part is that that the perspective is actually even hard to process in real time (yeah there is the robotics guy talking) when you are standing there: it is simply so large and open that it doesn't look like it's real. This is not an easy thing to capture with a camera, so what you mainly get are nice broad landscapes, or close-ups with lots of rock detail but little perspective on size. It's especially hard to get good pictures given the popularity of the place. There are an unbelievable number of tourists there considering it is a reasonable drive from most anywhere. Because of this, I went out of my way to go to the canyon when the tourists tend to give it a break. I happened to have an exam schedule that worked out to give me a few days free just before Christmas, and I thought it would be a great chance to see the canyon when most of the tourists would be busy doing other things.

It turned out this was a really good idea. There were a few people hanging around the village, but once you got onto the rim road (which is open to vehicle traffic in the off season) there was virtually no one. You could sit forever without anybody jostling you, take pictures without people getting into them, and risk life and limb climb over the barriers without anybody to moan about it. I also got lucky with the weather - beyond not having to worry about the car getting stuck driving there from Phoenix, the temperature was around 8c or so. Definitely not shorts weather (even for me), but it was still comfortable for hiking around.

I ended up trying to take a bunch of stitched panoramas to give an idea of the perspective:

And even better, a one minute video, alone at the grand canyon. Good for meditating with on those stressful days :)

Some other images, images, including a big drop underneath my feet (who needs a glass walkway?):


And finally, after the Canyon visit there is nothing cooler than spending some time in the desert. I headed back to the Sonoran desert, wandered around and photographed saguaros, and just enjoyed the emptiness.


The last one is a really well known cristate saguaro outside the Old Main on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. They're incredibly rare & beautiful things. It's a re-pose of a younger me (and younger cactus, but one of us has aged more visibly) that is in one ofthe front page picture rotations. I also took another video to show the details of the cactus crest.