Monday, April 25, 2011

Red Rock West

Title of one of my favorite movies and the appearance of Bryce Canyon and the peculiarly-named Kodachrome Basin. We drove out to Bryce after our mildly harrowing experience traversing the airport in Vegas. We stopped maybe once to take photos along the way, but once you enter the southern end of Bryce Canyon (known as Red Canyon), you realize how far off the map you feel, even though the map is really well-drawn.

Strange formations, produced by thousands of years of slow erosion, begin small and grow and grow and grow until they nearly blot out the sky. And (just like everyone told me) the sky looks bluer than it does anywhere else. So pretty. Between RG and myself, we shot nearly four hundred photos in Bryce. From the 6x7 camera, I had one of our local labs scan in all my negatives. A small sample, and you can get to the rest via  Flickr:

We stayed at Ruby's Inn, a Best Western property that's been there for nearly a hundred years in one form or another. The discoverer of Bryce Canyon (Ebenezer Bryce), in laconical cowboy fashion, described Bryce as a "helluva place to lose a cow." Reuben "Ruby" Syrett built a small Tourist Rest lodge at the outskirts of the Park, and it has since morphed into a place where you can bring an RV, stay in the lodge, eat at the buffet, and so on and so on. Very tourist-tacky and yet quaint, RG and I found ourselves relatively happy with the accommodations (nice pool), and with a short ride to various jumping off points to hike into the canyon.

So, RG and I took ourselves down one trail, and it became apparent immediately that we were in no shape to do what we were trying to do. Either acclimation to the altitude or our own general torpidity back home had not prepared us for the steep climb back out of the steep, downward climb we first attempted (after walking the canyon rim for about a half mile). End of the day, we wuz tired.

Airport Conditions in Vegas? Diseased

RG and I went off to the Holy Land of Utah last week, by way of Sin City, America's Playground, Disneyland for Adults (or are they?). First comment on McCarran Airport? Lousiest airport design I've ever encountered.

Here's an airport that's supposed to cater to probably hundreds of thousands of people a day, and you still have to walk a long ways to everywhere (except when you have to take the tram - more about that in a minute). Between the gate (slot machines) and baggage claim (slot machines) were at least four choke points where foot traffic had to slow to a crawl, because there's only one escalator, and it only fits two thin people per stair (not counting their luggage). To get from the gate to baggage claim, you also have to take a tram. Exiting the tram are hundreds of people; waiting for the tram are hundreds of people (slot machines). As people exit the tram, they enter an area and veer off to the left of the people who are entering the area from the opposite side who also have to veer off to the left, thus crossing through the stream of people exiting the tram.

Collisions galore.

While the folks exiting the planes are enthusiastically giddy about arriving in this playland with a (fake) gilt edge, the folks exiting the tram are desperately seeking a fucking aircraft and really, really want to get on the goddamn plane and go home while they still have two nickels to rub together. This is a natural devolution of the Vegas version of joy: you arrive empowered by that last viewing of Rounders, certain you'll be able to beat the odds in a Vegas casino, playing against a bunch of yokels. Clue - you're the yokel. By the end of your trip (which may only last for a long weekend), you're tired, slightly inebriated from all the free drinks and the alcohol just won't leave your system, somewhat poorer, and completely overwhelmed by the crowds, the yowling, the fake breasts, the klassiness of it all, and the oversized cost of everything, since it's all entertainment, but not always entertaining.

And that's just getting to the rental car. Tomorrow for the beauties of Bryce Canyon and Zion.