edging along the North Rim of Grand Canyon

All of creation speaks of God’s power and beauty, especially at the Grand Canyon. Words cannot fully describe its essence. Even photos are not sufficient to capture the scenery. This place is both deep and wide! Way bigger than big or enormous. 3 highlights among many:

  • Walking into the Grand Canyon Lodge and seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time has to make everyone of us go WOW!!! From here we hiked over to the Bright Angel Point as well as along Transept Trail. view from North Rim
  • Going off-road towards Point Sublime in our 4-wheel-drive Xterra simply because we could. It woulda took 2 hours to go 18 miles, but after 5 miles or so, we were still winding through forests without any sneak peeks at the supposedly incredibly sublime view. We didn’t want to spend 4 hours+ in the Xterra for this round trip, because that’s what we’ve been doing for 3,500+ miles already, so we turned it around.towards Point Sublime
  • Point Imperial makes the Grand Canyon much more grander. The viewpoint spans way past the 180 degree panorama, and at its furthest point you can see 80 miles out. After this lookout, seeing smaller slices of the Grand Canyon was a little less satisfying.Point Imperial

The anticipation of seeing something new and spectacular energized me to be a morning person for a day yesterday, even though I’m not known as the outdoorsy hikey campy kind of guy (though the walking part, casual hiking, I’m enjoying more now). Much more could be said about the journey to Grand Canyon North Rim, which is only open from May to October, and supposedly only 10% of Grand Canyon visitors see the North Rim. Most visitors (90%+) go to the South Rim where there are more amenities and more people; probably way better for people watching, but who comes out here for that?

There’s lots of information all over the map about the Grand canyon, but it is hard to find the essential information. If you only had a day (like we did), my recommendation would be to see the North Rim: stay at Jacob Lake Inn (there’s a gas station here; but if you’re a long-term planner type, get a 1-year-advance reservation at Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge). Start at the Grand Canyon Lodge and get the glimpse of Grand Canyon through the big picture windows while sitting in the leather sofa. Walk over to Bright Angel Point (30 minutes round trip). Go 4-wheeling to Point Sublime. Drive over to see Point Imperial. Return to Jacob Lake Inn and enjoy a thick milk shake and homemade cookies. Sing praise to God along with all creation.

I can’t find the Kid’s Meal!

After a 9-hour driving day, we pull into Jacob Lake Inn, where we’ll stay for the next 2 nights. We left downtown Santa Fe after a 3-crepe breakfast at 8:00am, and get here just after 5:00pm. (It’s actually 4:00pm local time, because this part of Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time.) A mostly boring drive was intermittently interrupted by incredible vast open space framed with water-etched cliffs. Along the way we saw yellow cautions signs for deer, horse, and cow. One road-side stand offered Indian Tacos and another Buffalo Jerky.

We stopped for a quick lunch at KFC in Tuba City about 2:00pm. I paused longer to pick something out to order because the menu board was too busy and cluttered. Even Jeremiah exclaimed, “I can’t find the Kid’s Meal!”

Similar to KFC’s sibling Yum Brand franchise restaurants: Taco Bell, Long John Silver, A & W, and Pizza Hut, their menu boards offer too many options as if splattered by Jackson Pollack. I like the much cleaner menu boards of a Chipotle, Potbelly, Wendy’s or even McDonald’s. We have eaten once at Wendy’s on this trip, and have thus far avoided McDonald’s.

I thought we could maximize and cram one more thing in today, and drive the hour to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park so that we could catch the sunset tonight, but I was out-voted. So we’ll be staying around the Inn and resting for tomorrow’s day hike.

For those of you keeping score at home, the Xterra trip odometer says 3,361 miles. [ We’re way out in the sticks, so no cell phone coverage, no mobile Internet; I found this Linksys signal in the nicer Lodge part of the Jacob Lake Inn campus, but there’s no lobby to sit in nor an outlet to plug into, so I’m crouched in the hallway to make this post. What a person goes through to keep people updated. 🙂 ]

hey hey Santa Fe

art gallery in Santa Fe We pull into Santa Fe soon after noon, after gaining an hour for crossing into Mountain Time. Santa Fe is known as “the city different” and a “center of the arts”, the city name is translated as “holy faith”, and for a visual artist like my dear wife Rachelle, this visual beauty wonderland has no equal. So the first thing we do is drop off Rachelle along the Canyon Road art galleries for 5 hours of uninterrupted visual art feasting.

Vibrant colors dot the city just as they do the sunset:

Santa Fe sunset Santa Fe sunset draws a crowd

Travel tip for Santa Fe tourists searching for where to stay: instead of picking a franchise hotel chain along Cerrillos Road, we found 2 lovely & affordable places downtown Santa Fe (yes, walking distance to the Plaza!): dancing ground of the sun and Camas De Santa Fe. We’re staying at Camas, with free WiFi, and love it!! (and rates were super low via CheapTickets.com) [note: granted these 2 have mixed reviews on TripAdvisor, but if you want a top-rated inn on the same block, go with The Madeleine]

dancing ground of the sun Camas De Santa Fe

Beauty and Terror

Spent a couple hours in Oklahoma City on the emotional ends of the spectrum. The Oklahoma City National Memoral and Museum was sublime and terrible. One forgets how horrific this act of violence was pre-9/11. I didn’t remember that so many children died (19). The memorial is beautifully designed and conducive to reflection and memory.
Oklahoma City Memorial


Walking just a few blocks south we went to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art to view the largest collection of Chihuly glass sculptures and installations. If you’re out in Ok. City, this is not to be missed! The breathtaking swirls of colors, shapes and forms was pure joy, about the same feeling from viewing The Gates by Christo in New York City’s Central Park in February 2005. Since we just saw the movie Ratatouille last night, I told Jeremiah that when Remy the rat describes his love of food, this is what great tastes would look like: an explosion of Chihuly glass!

Chihuly glass tower

Departing Dallas

We are very grateful for David and Lucy Wang whom we met in 1991. Dave and I served as youth counselors at Dallas Chinese Bible Church and went through the June 8, 1992 DCBC Mineola accident together (cf. Jessie’s post about the accident.) All four of us knew each other before we were dating, when we were engaged, and attended each other’s weddings. It was very memorable to stay in their home this past week and I even re-slept on Lucy’s sofa that I crashed on over a decade ago. Still as cool and comfy as ever!

Since Dj doesn’t wax nostalgic (as Edna Mode says in The Incredibles, “I never look back, darling, it takes away from the NOW!”), I do all the reflecting and “what if’s” around here  What would our lives have been like had we stayed in Dallas since we got married at AABC in 1995? I’m pretty sure Dj would have turned out the same, but I would have stayed in my small circles and root deeply in suburbia. Nothin’ wrong with putting down roots, but part of my soul might have died with gaining the American dream. And there’s plenty of American dream in the country of Texas — mini-mansions for $300,000 or less and all the big box stores to go with it to fill em’ up. Out in a Frisco neighborhood for 5 days, I saw less than a dozen folks walking around the perfectly-manicured streets. Granted these were the weekdays, but the world can be so shut out and the eerie isolation so palpable you can gasp gulpfulls of loneliness. The ills of American suburbia have been widely documented and filmed, but I’m looking forward to reading these titles soon:

Dallas Discoveries

  • The ultimate scrapbooking store: Recollections, 4 locations in the Dallas area. Please, please come to Southern California soon!
  • The Craft Guild of Dallas: has fine letterpress and book binding studio

i have no iPhone, yet

One last family excursion in Dallas before we head out in the morning for Amarillo: after the opening weekend viewing of the Ratatouille movie (great story!) and French dinner at La Madeline (to match the movie and mood) — we trekked over to the nearest AT&T/Cingular store!

store closed

Our attempt to be part of history in the making was met with a “closed” sign. Apparently this store in Allen, Texas, only stayed open to 7:00pm, and our arrival after 8:00pm didn’t qualify. So I will have to wait longer to behold a demo iPhone in my hand, and a bit longer to have one in my pocket.

And why wait in line and deal with poor customer service, anyways, when I could have free shipping and convenient home delivery? Yes, you can buy the iPhone online.

And news like this, below, makes you kinda want to work for Apple:

Apple giving free iPhones to employees

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) — Good news and bad news for Apple’s 18,000 employees: they are all getting free iPhones but they will have to wait a month to get them.

“We’re giving phones to employees at the end of July,” an Apple spokesman said Friday ahead of the launch of the device, which combines a cell phone, a Web browser and a music and video player.

Chief Executive Steve Jobs announced the gift in a meeting with employees Thursday. Employees will get the high-end model with 8 gigabytes of storage, worth $600.

iPhone buzz. wait time. frenzy.

Like millions of others, I’ve been seeing the escalating buzz about the iPhone that goes on sale at 6:00pm this Friday June 29th. At the moment, iPhone is the #3 most popular search on Technorati, #15 on Yahoo, #51 on Google trends (cf. iPhone reviews). I’m of the persuasion that there’s no such thing as bad press, just no press. More conversations and more buzz, especially online and Google-searchable, is (usually) a good thing in our free information age. Lack of information is not so good. The iPhone buzz is not only escalating online, it’s all over the mainstream media too. Looks like a big win for Apple!

2 things tipped it for me towards getting an iPhone as soon as possible: an upgradeable phone software and the longer battery life. I checked with my Apple insiders, hoping to get that 15% friend/family discount and the word on the street is NO discounts on iPhone. And being the webby kind of guy, some of you may well think that an iPhone is the kind of phone I should have as an early adopter and talking it up. With the built-in camera on the iPhone and upgradeable software, the iPhone could potentially capture and stream live video during the rest of my cross country move. But alas, the lines are already mounting everywhere.

More than 2 guys are already camping out for the iPhone at the Apple Store in New York City: Greg Parker is 1st and David Clayman is 3rd. The 1st guy is playing it as an average person who wants an iPhone; the 3rd guy is using his stint to raise awareness for his charity of choice. The 2nd guy apparently wants to stay anonymous(?). Watch this video interview to see them online.

I’m working here in Dallas, so no time to camp out for the iPhone. Plus it’s been raining like crazy this week. So the conclusion is: I won’t be getting an iPhone this Friday when it is first available. I might possibly get one when I land in California, or when the rumored version 2.0 comes in January 2008. [nb: for more details on iPhone frenzy + insider notes + rumors, see NYT’s Bits blog and the Apple Phone Show blog.]

And, here’s an artistic take on the iPhone from Valerie – the painting in this video sold on eBay for $710:

first Desi radio station in the USA

During my morning commute into the office, I’m channel-surfing the FM dial, and came across a distinctly sounding radio station at 104.9 FM — playing Bollywood style music and morning call-in trivia questions that related to American Indian subculture. It’s called Radio Salaam Namaste. They’ve been broadcasting since March 2006 and they’re streaming the radio station online via web too; so whether you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex or on the Internet, listen in to this future sound of the global village!