sunrise facing west at Homolovi Ruins State Park

Sunrise facing west

This morning’s sunrise was un-photographable facing east. Or rather, the photograph was dull — black ground, then a line of bright yellow and gold, then blue above. It didn’t convey at all how pure and clear and bright the morning was. The above photograph was facing to the west, with the sun directly behind me. At, I believe, 6:09 AM.

At least my phone thinks it was 6:09. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t. Arizona is in a very confusing time zone that I think translates to “whatever time we want it to be and probably not the time you think it is.” (They claim it’s Mountain Time without Daylight Savings, but are we saving the daylight when we spring forward or when we fall back? I know I should be able to figure this out but it feels too much like rocket science. Maybe after some more caffeine.)

I wanted to write more about the Grand Canyon yesterday and I just did not feel well enough. I spent most of the day in that state of recovery from stomach misery where I was hungry but not hungry enough to risk eating and then when I finally did risk eating regretted it.

I also have had a sequence of refrigerator screw-ups that make me really sad: first, I accidentally shoved the fridge up to 7, its coldest level. I’ve done that before — it’s easy to do when stuffing the fridge too full — and it’s so annoying. Everything on the top shelf freezes solid, everything in the middle comes close. Sometimes some of the produce survives but not the most delicate things. Cucumbers and salad greens really don’t like being frozen.

But then, just to really screw up my food supply, when following the instructions to get my generator going again, I turned the fridge off. Not a big deal. If I had just remembered to turn it back on again. Gah. I was miserably sick if that counts as a stupidity defense. But everything in the fridge has first frozen and now defrosted. I’m trying to save what can be saved and acknowledge reality on what can’t, but it means my food choices are more limited than usual. Fortunately, I’ve got plenty of rice, which is probably the only thing I ought to be eating right now anyway.

But back to the Grand Canyon! On Friday morning, I went and found propane, and then took the dogs on a scenic drive. It was a beautiful winding road and a beautiful day. I looked at the Grand Canyon and was awed. And then I moved on to the next spot and looked at it again and was… well, a little less awed. And then I moved on to the next spot and looked again and thought, yep, canyon. Big hole in the ground. And then I moved on to the next spot and started looking at the people around me and wondering what their stories were and making up stories for them and glanced at the canyon. Yep, beautiful. By the time I finished the scenic drive, I was over the canyon. It is quite spectacular and you have to admire it, but once you’ve seen it, it’s seen. It was what I expected it to be.

I was feeling sort of sad about that as I returned to the campground. Here is this amazing, incredible spot — truly, one of the wonders of the world — and I’m already jaded about it. I’ve seen it in so many pictures, read about it in books, viewed it on television — there is no mystery. No wonder.

And then, when I was waiting for the ranger so I could check back in (I’d had to move campsites), I saw this squirrel. Weirdest squirrel ever. It was the second time I’d seen it (or its cousin). The first time had been from a distance and I hadn’t even been sure it was a squirrel. I thought maybe it was a tiny skunk. It was black, with a pure white fluffy tail. And from up close, it had the funniest ears. Not quite rabbit ears, not even close to the rabbit ears on some of the jackrabbits I’ve seen out here, but big ears, much too big for a squirrel. What the heck? I couldn’t get a picture of it, because Zelda was with me and the squirrel was not dumb enough to stand still to let Zelda investigate, but I asked the ranger.

Me: “That squirrel with the white tail, is it some kind of genetic fluke? Part albino? Or do you have special squirrels here?”

He didn’t laugh at me, but he did smile. Yep, they have special squirrels. It’s the Kaibab squirrel, found only at the North Rim. (The Wikipedia pictures are not as cute as the real thing: if you’re really interested, try a google image search for much better shots.)

That brought back every bit of the sense of wonder that I had when I first saw the canyon in the morning light. R was animal-obsessed when he was little. We watched vast quantities of Animal Planet, plus Zoboomafoo every day — I actually got a TiVo, one of the first DVRs, because not making it home in time for Zoboomafoo stressed us both out so much. And yet here was an animal that I’d never heard of, never seen, in my own country. In a major tourist destination in my own country. It was so satisfying. It felt magical.

So, Grand Canyon, two thumbs up. Worth the drive.

Homolovi Ruins State Park, also two thumbs up. I haven’t seen the ruins yet, because I have not been up for much in the way of long walks. Z and I headed in that direction this morning, but I cut it short when I started feeling tired. Total walk was a mile and a half, so not nothing, but I’m really not interested in pushing myself. I will, however, have a second chance and maybe a third, because… well, because I’m not interested in pushing myself. This is a nice, peaceful, quiet campground — big sites, reasonable showers, excellent internet signals, electricity — and so my big plan for the day has turned into “drive back to the ranger station and pay for another couple of nights.” The weather has been lovely, daytime temps in the 70s, nighttime temps in the 30s, and at night, the stars go on forever. I know this because both of the dogs seem to be as confused about what time zone they’re in as I am and have decided that 4AM is the appropriate time to go out. I’m not terribly happy about that, but at least it’s meant seeing some beautiful nighttime skies.