On the Way to the Canyons

April 18, 2012

A snow shower over the mountains outside Kingman, Arizona

The Hualapai Mountains and Kingman, Arizona, April 15, 2012

(St. George, Utah, April 18, 2012) The people of the Southwest live with nature in their backyard. A weather forecast of “partly cloudy with a chance of showers” back in Boston might prompt us to bring an umbrella. Here, open skies and nearby mountains can put on quite a show. Small rain showers race across the landscape, while bigger clouds hover over the peaks, bringing snow in April or even May.

The Grand Canyon, April 16, 2012

With our fellow Road Scholars, we make our way to St. George, Utah, where our journey to Zion and Bryce Canyon will begin. It’s a short drive from Las Vegas, but we take the long way, through Flagstaff, Arizona, and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The extra miles pay dividends in spectacular views, made even more dramatic by the fresh snow. Several other hikers we meet in St. George agree.

Is it St. George Tabernacle or a very red Old North Church?

St. George Tabernacle

St. George is a gem. Founded in 1861, it’s modeled after a New England town. The Historic District looks just like one, built with red sandstone. Our headquarters, Dixie State College, is home to 80 Road Scholar programs this year. Program Leader Marcia Cooper has a joke for all occasions, and Geologist Keith Norlin starts our day with a lecture on how the lands we will trek formed over the ages. His “Ages of Rocks” list ends with a cross-section of the scenery we will enjoy for the rest of the program. Nice.

Douglas Alder as Erastus Snow.

Professor Douglas Alder, former President of Dixie State, follows with a rousing history of the town, including a performance inside the St. George Tabernacle as Erastus Snow, who helped found St. George in 1861. Later in our tour of the city, he channels Judge John MacFarlane, and presides over an 1880 trial of a local water thief, generously portrayed by participant John MacFarlane (no relation).

But above all the charms of St. George, Dixie State, and our Road Scholar hosts, the canyons of Zion and Bryce beckon. We are all eager to get there.

“If you are old, go to Zion by all means, but if you are young, stay away until you grow older…It is not well to dull one’s capacity for enjoyment by seeing the finest first.” – Henry Gannett, US Geological Survey (1846-1914).

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3 Responses to “On the Way to the Canyons”

  1. June Anderson Says:

    Wow!! fabulous pics. This is June, Maura’s Jamaican friend in Whitehouse, Jamaica. A different kind of beauty in a different part of the world. Nature is awesome – ain’t she?

  2. Steve jennings Says:

    Looks good, Tom; prose is as good as the pics! Joan and I are in Escalante and missing you guys and the rest of the gang already. Hope to see U and Cameron again one day soon!


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