A secret place I can’t tell you about

Somewhere on the outskirts of Vancouver, just beyond the winding streets of urban life, a park entrance patiently sits waiting for the uncommon visitor.

It beckons silently: a simple sign before an unassuming dirt path. A hint of a forest.

A wooden staircase, so characteristic of provincial parks in this area – the variety of Capilano, the Grind, Deep Cove – leads around the bend into the lush vegetation of only the cleanest temperate forests.

The mid-afternoon December sun is bright, just warm enough to thaw frosted ears and hands and noses. We sit on the giant boulder cliff as the waves swirl around the rocks below and lap at our feet. Everything is glowing under the golden setting of the sun and I am sworn to secrecy so that it can stay this way forever.

In Photos: I might just love Victoria

I had passed through Victoria before, both for work and on a “tour from the passenger’s seat,” and so had always claimed that “I’ve been there,” but to be honest, this weekend was the first time that I got to truly experience it. The regality of the parliament-building filled city somehow only enhanced its port-town charm, and with temperatures just cold enough to make the air crisp and my cheeks rosy, I couldn’t help but fall in love.

Seat 8A [arizona]

On flight from Phoenix to Seattle.

 

6:35AM I keep hoping I’ll see the Grand Canyon out of my window but know it’s wishful thinking. I catch a glimpse of the propeller out of the corner of my eye and stop looking. But soon my face is glued to the window again. Red rock and atmosphere as far as the eye can see.

I can’t help but wonder: here, in these mountainous plains, have all the miles of rock been stepped upon? Has any stone been left unturned? These hills look flatter than what I imagine the Canyon would be- that is, vertical cliff – which makes me assume inhabitation somewhere.

And soon: neat lines of humanity carved into the earth. I love this terrain: the weather, the colour; something makes me feel good, something makes me feel right and I vow to only travel at or below this latitude from now on.

6:40AM and I think I see the Canyon. The previous range began to look like anthills when these giants arose. They are so jagged and their limestone façade glows so vibrantly red in the sunrise that I am sure I am right. The plane tilts and the sun shoots directly through the window on the other end of my row. Blinding light and I am in heaven. I know I could do this again and again.

6:46AM Either we are not that high up or the sky is cloudless. From the window the red rock turns translucent until it reaches a monochromatic rainbow – a belt of colour ranging only from white to dark blue. And it is here that I can see the atmosphere bend: I see the world is round with my own eyes and I get a weird sense of being above it, viewing it in its totality.

6:50AM and I think I see the Canyon again. We are at 36,000 feet altitude and approaching a snaking crevasse in the mountains. The gorge is obvious, recognizable, and I think it silly to have thought the previous cones of rock were significant.

6:51AM And I’ve changed my mind: Up ahead, something even more brilliantly vibrant, more gorgeously jagged, and impossibly more grand appears. And I have my confirmation. Below to my left, the pilot declares, slowly winds the Grand Canyon.

But there is nothing gentle about it: the gorge seems to plow its way, ripping the rock, twisting through the red earth in a way that affirms its very existence. I can only call it mighty and realize ‘Grand’ is not just a marketing ploy. Against a background of monochromatic crevices that sneak amidst these mountain ranges, the Grand Canyon stands out flamboyantly, demanding awe for as long as I can see it.

I take many inspired photographs though the haze. The clouds roll in but my trip is complete.