Sunday, January 17, 2010


The roads to the Grand Canyon were bordered with snow-carpeted forests. One sign warned of mountain lion crossings. We didn’t see any.

Snow iced the Grand Canyon like the mother of all pastries. It was one more detail that added to the perceptual overload of the place. You can’t really see it. It’s hard to wrap your brain around it. It’s just so big. Visiting it is like arriving on an alien planet, and only having a few hours to look around before taking off again. Still, you’re compelled to try. It’s an incredible walk, made more beautiful and perilous by slippery snow.

The best way to sightsee it all would be from an electric dirigible. It would be quieter and slower that the helicopters. And there’s a revolution in airship design going on. Someone will soon come up with this perfect vehicle for eco-tourism, then look out.

Meanwhile, it’s amazing that these cuts into the Earth reveal rocks going back to the Pre-Cambrian Period. Dinosaurs, and other long-extinct lifeforms, lived there. Humans have lived there since 12,000 years ago, what I’m beginning to think of as the Atlantean Period of prehistory. The rocks trigger the time travel reflex in the brain.

Dizziness is a side effect. It makes walking on the snow and ice difficult, especially since I’ve never done it before. I slipped and slid in my warm hiking boots. I found myself studying the foot-traffic trampled snow.

If I lived in a place where it snowed, I wouldn’t bother with snowmen. I’d experiment with snow hoodoos -- build ‘em up in strange shapes, poke holes, hit ‘em with a blow dryer. The forces of freezing, melting, wind, and recrystalization make intricate forms -- the only place on Earth that gets close to the size and structure of the Martian Bigfoot. Could there be something, stuff between dirt and snow, being blown around on Mars?

Em pointed out that the Grand Canyon twists and turns, water wearing down rocks for hundreds of millions of years. On Mars, the Valle Marineris is a bunch or fairly straight parallel lines, an America-sized gash across the face of the planet. Like from a gigantic claw. How could that happen?

We discussed possibilities. Mars has no known plate tectonics. Could such things happen on an all-molten world like Venus? The other tourists were disturbed.

Later we ate at the Galaxy Diner again. Some of their decor caught my eye -- two prints from a series called “Lost in the ’50’s” by Kent Bash. I knew him from when Elinor Mavor was editing Amazing Stories, where I sold my first stories. One of the books I brought with me was Lost Continents & The Hollow Earth by David Hatcher Childress, that reprints “I Remember Lemuria” by Richard Shaver, that first appeared in Amazing.

No matter where I go, it gets sci-fi. And all roads lead to Amazing Stories. For me, at least.

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