Grand Canyon National Park is a place of immense beauty on an almost incomprehensible scale. For good reason, it is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. People come from around the globe to see this divine abyss with their own eyes. Too many forget, however, that national parks are not Disney World. They feature Mother Nature, often at her cruelest.
Just this morning, a 70-year old visitor to the Grand Canyon fell to her death–the FOURTH such falling death in the Canyon in the past month.
Based on the foolish behavior we witnessed at the Grand Canyon last week, it is almost surprising that such tragic deaths are not even more frequent. You will not believe what we saw!
With the Director JJ Abrams’ tweet on Friday February 15, 2019 that photography on Star Wars Episode IX had wrapped and all the press surrounding the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy Edge at the Disney World and Disneyland Resorts later this year, I can’t help but remember our amazing family trip to Tatooine.
“We are just going to stop here for a moment,” our guide Jon casually said as he slowed his kayak. The reason for the pause lurked just around the bend of the narrow mangrove tunnel. The happy chatter and banter of the morning halted rather abruptly. We had seen many alligators sunning themselves on the banks of the Turner River that morning, but the one that lay ahead of us was in a different league, and it was blocking our path. With its eyes and snout barely poking out of the water, many, many feet back (too many) we could just barely make out the tip of its tail. Using our 14-foot double kayaks as a benchmark, Jon estimated the gator to be about 12 feet long—about as big a beast as you are going to find in this northwestern section of the Everglades ecosystem (we were technically in Big Cypress National Preserve, immediately adjacent to Everglades National Park).
The timing for this encounter was unfortunate. We had been on the water for two hours and had just reached the innermost and narrowest point of the tunnel. Turning the kayaks around was physically impossible. So we waited. And waited.