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People-Watching at the Grand Canyon

Once in a while I receive an email from a reader who wants to know what inspires me to write? My answer is always the same…people. I’m fascinated by how others view the world around us. And there’s no place better to people-watch than touring national monuments.

This past October my husband and I took a three-day driving trip across Northern Arizona. Our first stop was the Grand Canyon. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon twice before and it never ceases to impress me. Did you know that the odds of dying in the Grand Canyon are 1 in 400,000 visitors? Still, I was amazed at how many people walked right up to the edge of the great abyss to take photos.

We began our day at the Grand Canyon in the village, where the historic hotel, El Tovar is located. The famous Harvey House Hotel opened in 1903 and was operated by the Fred Harvey Company. If you’ve never been to the El Tovar you might have seen it in the movie, National Lampoon’s Family Vacation (1983) starring Chevy Chase.

Across from the El Tovar is the Hopi House, built by Fred Harvey in 1904. The building was designed to resemble a traditional Hopi pueblo and famous inhabitants of the area were invited to be featured artisans tourists could buy Native American crafts.

Next, we stopped at the Desert View Overlook, the most eastern viewpoint along the southern rim of the Grand Canyon where you’ll find the 1932 Historic Watchtower designed by American architect Mary Colter.The tower resembles an ancient Pueblo Peoples watchtower on a larger scale. The crumbling appearance of its base was intentional and designed to look like the tower was built on top of the ruins of another structure.

The Desert View East south rim is also the location of the infamous June 30,1956 mid-air collision of a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 and a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation. The pilots were attempting to avoid thunderheads in the area when they collided. All 128 passengers on both flights were killed, making it the first airline crash to result in over a hundreds deaths. On April 22, 2014, the TWA-United accident site was declared a National Historic Landmark, but the exact location of the crash has remained secret. Parks visitors only know that the planes fell from the sky near the rocky outcrops of Chuar Butte and Temple Butte. All but three of the bodies were interred in a mass grave at the Citizens Cemetery in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Before we left the canyon that day, I sat for few minutes and enjoyed the awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, magnificent beauty of Mother Nature while I reflected on the many blessing in my life.

Lately, the world seems to be growing uglier and meaner, less beautiful. I hope this Thanksgiving when families are gathered together, everyone will make personal pledges to be a positive influence in the world. To be a friend, not a foe. To judge less, and sympathize more. To aspire to acts of random kindness. To be a positive role model for others.

Until the next time we Flamingle…I’ll leave you with this beautiful photograph taken by blog subscriber, Johnny bhr.


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