Friday, October 14, 2011

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Less than a week ago I was standing in front of this incredible view taking this picture.  Today it seems unreal!  My father had always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon and invited me to go for a quick trip with him.  It was truly quick -- only one day at the canyon -- but I expect both of us to remember it for a very long time.

Did you know that the elevation of the South Rim is 7000 feet? I found it a little hard to catch my breath up there. The North Rim is even higher at over 8000 feet. The bottom of the canyon is more than a mile from the top, but still a couple thousand feet above sea level.

Popping up all over the rocky soil surrounding the canyon were these blue asters. The only blue-flowered aster in my Field Guide to the Grand Canyon is Erigeron formosissimus but I think it probably isn't that.  I do hope it's a native species.

Golden crownbeard (Verbesina encelioides) was another common sight up there around the South Rim.

Not a good picture of globe mallow (Sphaeralcea parvifolia), but I wanted you to see the leaves and how the flowers are arranged.  You did want to see that, didn't you?  The leaves look just like nutmeg geranium to me and I rubbed and sniffed several times before I gave up willing it to have a scent.

This is a closeup of globe mallow. You can see how much it looks like other mallows. Cotton, okra and hibiscus all have that prominent androphore as well.

This is probably the Erigeron formosissimus I mentioned earlier.  Fleabane.

Things are tough in the rocky ether at the top of the canyon.  This tree and most of the others seem to grow straight out of a rock.  Ponderosa and pinyon pine, juniper and gambel oak are common species.

Squirrels with spots!  Don't you love how he posed?  These guys aggressively go after trail mix.  Don't rustle any bags around them!  Again referring to my field guide, I would say this is a rock squirrel (Spermophilus variegatus).

With one more look at the view and a vow to return some day, we headed downhill to Route 66 and Williams, Arizona for the night.