Flying with Condors

Statistically, the length of the average visit to the Grand Canyon is said to be 45 minutes. Not long enough, by far, to appreciate the grandeur of this wonder of nature, but long enough to SLIP AND FALL OVER THE EDGE! The odds for safety are in your favor. Of the hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, only an average of four manage to fall over the edge; two by accident and two by intention. Forgetting the two by intention for a moment, there are two innocent individuals out there who sometime this year will be walking innocently along the path when they will suddenly SLIP AND FALL OVER THE EDGE! One moment walking along, chatting cheerfully with friends when there is a misstep, perhaps catching your foot in the numerous crevices in the uneven, too narrow path and in a second you TRIP AND FALL OVER THE EDGE! Launched over the edge to plummet the mile or so to the canyon floor; perhaps providing entertainment to the hikers or those brave enough, and thin enough, to trust their lives to the mules for a ride to the valley floor and back. You may have assumed the sky diver’s pose (c’mon you know it, arms out, legs spread)in the hope of gliding to the canyon floor; perhaps causing the duller of the bystanders to mistake you for a condor and snap your picture. ?Look at this picture of a condor I took at the Grand Canyon, Gladys.? ?Umm, they certainly are ugly, aren’t they.? ?Yes, but they look so graceful as they fly by. And they have the most interesting call, sort of like aaaaAAAAHHHhhhhh!?

That two individuals will actually go to the Grand Canyon this year with the intention of jumping over the edge is beyond comprehension. I have to assume that they will not assume the sky diver’s pose and so will not get their picture taken. Imitating a condor’s call is probably optional.

It is interesting to see the number of people in wheel chairs visiting the canyon. The National Park Service is up for their visit and has done much to ensure an enjoyable visit for the handicapped. I watch them smiling with pleasure as a spouse or loved one pushes them along. For me, it would be a white knuckle ride, especially fearing that when going down a slope, said friend or spouse might trip and fall and I would go CAREENING DOWN THE HILL AND GO FLYING OVER THE EDGE! ?Look, Gladys, isn’t that Evel Knievel??

I haven’t always been afraid of heights. Time was I could scamper up and down a ladder with abandon and gambol and the roof in the noon-day sun. While not exactly turning cartwheels, doing chores on the roof was of little concern and I could walk along the eaves without being afraid that I would suddenly SLIP AND FALL OVR THE EDGE! This all changed one sunny late-fall day. I had been on the roof for a final clean-up and strode confidently to the ladder. Throwing my foot over the top of the ladder with a flourish, I put my weight on the first rung when the the traitorous ladder slipped; leaving me half on, half off the roof, the ladder under one leg, inches from departing altogether. I had actually SLIPPED and almost FALLEN OVER THE EDGE! There is little one can do in such a situation. Completing the journey to the ground was not an option; nor was getting back on the roof. Calmly summoning help (I’VE SLIPPED and almost FALLEN OFF THE ROOF!), my son Erik and his future bride, Maggie came to the rescue. My association with the roof of the house changed on that day. I still ascend the ladder to the roof with the usual bravado, but it is hollow since, as I climb up, the roof whispers to me; ?careful or you might SLIP AND FALL OFF! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!?

The Grand Canyon is large, beautiful and deep. Despite my fear, I find myself mesmerized by the impossible distance that opens up below me; much as a bird is said to be mesmerized by a snake. It is a deadly fascination that leaves me strangely tempted to walk right up to the edge. The canyon whispers, ?forget that ladder. You are on solid ground. See, it really is perfectly safe to walk up to … ? ?Look Gladys, there’s another condor.?