Friday, October 29, 2010
Saturday, October 23. To continue my tales of spooky encounters, we head east on the haunted highway of I-64, where I got a glimpse of an unusual rock formation in the Grand Canyon from the opposite side of the road.
It was an unmarked area with no paved access or pathways--just a part of the wilderness beside the two lane road.
I was captivated by the quick glimpse of light and majesty so I pulled the Zanne-Van off the road as much as I could, and with blinkers on and camera in hand, I crossed the highway to see a spectacular drama unfold over the next 30 minutes or so.
Pushing through trees and bushes, I scaled the rocky embankment to a view that abruptly descended into the depth of the canyon...
Here's my shadow indicating where I'm standing taking photos on the ledge...it's a straight shot down from here!
You can see the drop off here into the seemingly bottomless canyon floor.
My ledge-view exposed a vast ascending canyon "mountain" which looked like an an ancient Indian ruin of some sort...
...and was quite compelling as the light danced over its curiously sharp crown and ribbed staircases...
...making it appear sometimes like a priestly temple ruin...
...and other times like an enchanted dinosaur fossil.
I cautiously crawled around the cliff's edge...
...and up onto some boulders for a less branch-obstructed view.
The craggy boulders were covered with bright rust and turquoise colored lichen.
I hung out next to this ghostly whisper of a bush for company. I was quite enjoying my view and feeling very close to God and mediating on the greatness of life...when I was suddenly interrupted by a very unusual growling noise. "Gllllllrrrrroowl...glllllrrrrrroowl....glllllrrrroowl," it announced, whirling around my head!
With dive-bombing sensations and growls on my left, I startled but saw nothing. Then I felt a sudden swoosh and heard the "gllllllrrrroowl" on my right. I abruptly turned right only to feel a swooping presence overhead, accompanied by the chilling growling.
Instinctively ducking, I looked up to see huge birds dodging in and out of the air currents and then circling back over me as if something were dying. At first I thought they were buzzards, but then I saw some ravens diving close to me. Hmm. OK, I thought, we have Edgar Alan Poe sized ravens here and they are tempting me with an Alfred Hitchcock moment. I'll just ignore them and they'll go away, I thought.
(These canyon ravens were photographed later in my trip, and were extremely vocal, protective, and somewhat aggressive and unafraid of humans. The huge birds made very unusual noises...but not quite that same growl I'd heard.)
So I continued taking photos and enjoying the light playing off the majestic scenery. But is wasn't long before the I noticed that the bushes around me were moving...and not in just one spot...all over! I was surrounded by bushes that were jittering with excitement.
Hmm. I did see sign not far back warning me of cougars over the next 10 miles. Maybe I'd better get in the car, I wondered casually. But surely a mountain lion would have pounced by now? Oh well, I am on a schedule and need to head back to Texas soon, I thought.
More curious than disturbed, I began descending the boulders when I became captivated by the multi-colored lichen and moss in the rocks. It wasn't until I got home that I noticed the eerie faces and skull-like Indian faces in them. What do you see?
Anyway, I made it unscathed to my car and did a U-turn, only to pull over to the same spot! I hadn't realized that I was being drawn to this location again, until I got out to take more photos. That was weird. But I didn't think much more about it until I mentioned this incident along with the ghostly visitation at the Best Western Squire Inn to the hotel clerk. She reported that highway 64 is quite actively haunted and that the area is also known for its skinwalkers. She said that my growling incident sounded like I may have encountered such shape-shifters. Spooky!
Skinwalkers are attributed often to spirits of the Native American Navajo witch doctor who changes from human form into animal, usually coyote, wolf, owl, fox or crow, but other animals as well. In fact, werewolve fables seem to have their origin in the Native American skinwalkers. These spirits are not friendly and after further research, seem to be given credit with pushing tourists over the edge of the Grand Canyon...perhaps taking credit for the numerous "suicides" that seem to take place in this area annually.
Skinwalkers can supposedly make various animal and human noises, even of your loved ones or a baby crying to lure you out. They have been thought to have attacked homes and even cars.
I also happened to zoom in on a shot of my car parked across from this area. Do you see the strange animal looking presence in front of my car? Not sure if you can make out the ears, but it looks like something more animalian than a tree stump, don't you think?
Well, I'm not really sure what I encountered, but I do know that it was very different than anything else I'd ever felt before. I was just so grateful that my thoughts had been so full of love and light and heavenly inspiration...I'm sure it was my protection! And perhaps they sensed that I respected their hallowed grounds and meant no harm. At any rate, I'm glad I stayed on the path the rest of the time...maybe that was part of God's sign to me: Healing in Progress: Please stay on the trail!
Blogging again about the Grand Canyon last Saturday, October 23...almost a week ago. I guess it's taken me this long to get home and process so great a space and experience.
I was rather surprised when I saw myself in this photo, taken by one of my fellow travelers. Looking like quite the happy explorer in her element, I wondered, what makes some of us explorers, and what makes some of us settlers? And have we squelched the explorers in ourselves to settle? What are we settling for? Is it worth it?
What makes some of us go down one path, and others stay put? I have stayed put for most of my life, quite against my own longings...which I've heard are quite ridiculous. Do you have any ridiculous longings you're ignoring? Then, I invite you to come along and join the adventure!
These Canadians were just returning to explore more of the trail after putting on warmer clothes. (It's in the low 40's now.) The Grand Canyon is quite an international spot drawing folks from all over Europe and as far as Australia and Japan.
The views at this particular spot are quite spectacular and are aptly named,
Grandview Point and Trailhead.
Loved the lacy vista here through the trees...
...zooming in to see the gorge within, doesn't it make you want to go down and check it out? to ride the river and stare up at the canyon walls? I must come back!
How small one must feel down there...like an ant!
Up here, I want to fly out over it all...
See the tree and that little bush on the yellow rock, on the right?
I'm on the rock now...
...just this side of the rock the little bush is on. There's a rather large gap between the rocks to get out there with trees in between. I wasn't sure I'd make the leap!
...so I stayed on this first rock. Happy to zoom in and out from where I was standing!
The brave little bush has the best views...
...I rather admired his sense of adventure and determination.
Lone bush...maybe some of us are designed to grow on the edge of life!
I could do a bush calendar! I got rather carried away...something sweet about this little guy. I guess if we could speak "bush wisdom", it would say: "Travel light and never settle too permanently. If you're going to settle down somewhere, make sure you have a great view and a HUGE back yard to explore!"
Looking strait up that gorge!
Now I'm running after another Maxfield Parrish moment...
...scurrying as quickly as I can, further down the trail...
...for more grand views.
The light hitting this rock makes it appear like a sinking ship in the ocean.
Some cute Georgian men stop and take my photo...posing with my favorite gorge.
We take turns taking each other's photos on the edge...
...and being silly pretending to have fallen. (Georgia man in hat.) Then some young whipper-snappers scamper by us fearlessly, making us all feel rather old and sheepish!
Here's the other Georgia peach...loved their accent and sense of humor. Quite the Georgia gentlemen. I may have to visit Georgia next!
This fellow is from the New England area, I think...he left his wife up at the top and is off exploring by himself.
I didn't go much further than this as I didn't have the right gear, shoes or water for the day. I would have loved to join the band of 80 year old ladies who trotted down past us to the basin floor! Wow--they put us to shame!
We knew that climbing back up was going to be a chore in this thin atmosphere.
And we huffed and puffed and laughed about it all the way back up!
But it was so worth the views and the adventure...
You never know who or what will inspire you along the way.
Ain't life grand...at the Grand Canyon!?
Thank God, I got out of the settlers cabin...and into my explorer's hat!