Canyon of Mystery

A few days ago, I read about Grand Canyon rafters who went looking for old mining equipment after stopping for the night at a little-used campground along the Colorado River. Instead, they discovered the smashed wreckage of a small red plane wedged between large boulders which had concealed it from searchers since 2011. The plane’s emergency locator signal had been detected, but planes and helicopters flew 2000 air miles and covered a 600-square-mile area without finding the home-built aircraft.

On our way to Arizona last February, our jet flew over the Canyon which spread itself over a vast corner of the state like an etching of some infinitely-branched tree.

From the edge of the Canyon, all the scenery is down. It’s amazing to think how native Americans lived in those hidden depths for thousands of years. And it’s easy to see how lost planes could elude discovery. These photos were taken from the South Rim, where most visitors go.

One of the two main “highways” into the Grand Canyon starts here at the Grand Canyon Village on the south rim of Grand Canyon, and descends 4380 feet to the Colorado River

Looking down at the Bright Angel trail. To Phantom Ranch in the bottom of the Canyon it’s 9.9 miles.
Sunset at the Canyon…did the Bright Angel lose her shadow?

Visitors come from many nations to gaze in awe over this vast gash in the earth.
The Colorado River (in middle distance) and geologic uplifting sculptured eons of layered rocks. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and over a mile at its deepest.

One of the resident elk having a snack.

At the South Rim Visitor Center, enjoying the view

Jewels on the Wing

When my spirits need lifting, just watching a butterfly dip and float through my garden is enough to make me smile.

While visiting a dear friend in Phoenix this winter, we spent a few hours with her at nearby Scottsdale’s Butterfly Wonderland. I couldn’t stop smiling.

We paused as we entered to observe chrysalises of different shapes and sizes hanging in a glass-fronted emergence gallery. Brand-new butterflies clung to their empty cases as they pumped body fluids into the veins of their colorful wings.

After their wings had stiffened, their owners took their first slow flights around the gallery. Then they were released into a large, glass-enclosed atrium filled with lush tropical vegetation, a trickling stream, flowers and fruit for them to feed on, and hundreds of other flying jewels. Controlled temperature and humidity mimicked conditions in the butterflies’ native rain forests.

People of all ages explored the paths while tropical beauties skimmed our heads like stained glass in motion, lighting on our hair and clothing as if we were just more exotic plants in their new environment. Even active little boys hushed their voices and stood quietly when a butterfly fluttered near.

In addition to the conservatory which houses the butterflies, Butterfly Wonderland offers a 3-D theater featuring a film showing the life cycle and migration of the Monarch butterfly. A live ant colony and a bee hive allow visitors to view these amazing insects going about their daily activities.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you needn’t travel all the way to Arizona to enjoy time among the butterflies. We have several butterfly gardens nearby (go to this link for the information below and more: )

BRENTWOOD BAY, B.C. Victoria Butterfly Gardens. The 12,000-square-foot conservatory on the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoriahas, on average, 2,000 butterflies flying freely in a garden of tropical plants that includes more than 400 orchids. $8. 1461 Benvenuto Ave.; 877/722-0272.

ELKTON, OR Butterfly Pavilion. See monarch and painted lady butterflies in all stages of their life cycle in a screened open-air pavilion; look for their wild cousins in a 4.5-acre garden planted with butterfly-friendly Oregon shrubs and trees. Closed Mon; free. 15850 State 38 W.; 541/584-2692.

Oregon Zoo. The zoo’s Winged Wonders exhibit runs through Labor Day. Wander among more than 20 species of North American butterflies; in midsummer they’ll be joined by Central and South American species. $2, plus zoo admission ($10). 4001 S.W. Canyon Rd.; 503/226-1561.

Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House. Washington state’s only year-round butterfly exhibit is a walk-through display; expect butterflies to surround you. Free with science center admission ($10). 200 Second Ave. N.; 206/443-2001.

Vancouver Aquarium’s Graham Amazon Gallery. Visit the walk-through Amazon aviary (mid-Jun to mid-Sep) and you get a bonus: clouds of free-flying tropical butterflies. $14. Stanley Park, 845 Avison Way; 604/659-3474.