Friday, April 3, 2009


Heavy fog is enveloping our region this morning and we’re expecting some shower activity leading to some heavy downpours by this afternoon. Shower activity will continue throughout tomorrow and Sunday will be the better weekend day.

I decided to end this busy week with a light topic today. There will be no rants or raves or challenging questions. I just thought I’d tell you that right up front so you won’t be looking for something that simply won’t be there.

Gator Wife and I found ourselves watching a National Geographic presentation on the building of the Skywalk over the Grand Canyon.

We’ve been to the Grand Canyon but it was before the Skywalk was constructed on nearby Indian Nation land. Shortly after I retired, GW and I decided it was time to do some sightseeing around this great land of ours. We’ve made several trips since and always include at least one National Park on the itinerary. That first trip, however, was devoted to National Parks in the Western United States.

It was a driving trip all the way and we created the route we would follow with the help of a super travel person, now retired, at AAA. Because of demands in the parks, the only way to get lodging in them was by advanced reservation. In some instances, it required very advanced reservations, and Lynne took care of them. The hardest part of such reservations, however, is that some arrival and departure dates were rigid.

We drove to South Dakota where the Parks Tour would begin in the Badlands. The Black Hills (not a National Park) was next, followed by Yellowstone, and then many parks through Utah and Colorado down to the Grand Canyon. We had four days in Yellowstone, which was not enough. Heading south we did stay at Bryce Canyon NP, Zion NP and visited others. After a couple of nights at Grand Canyon, we headed east and visited several other parks on our way home.

I could go into detail of our parks’ visits, but that’s not what today is about. It is about a new tourist marvel. The actual location of the Skywalk is well west of the park’s village and is rather remote. When we were there, I’m not even sure the area was part of the tourism route.

Last night we watched the creation of the Skywalk from its birth as an idea in the 1990s through the design, engineering, and construction. The Walk itself was opened to the public in 2005 and construction on a tourist center continues. The Skywalk is a horseshoe shaped walkway that extends out 70 feet over the Grand Canyon giving visitors a spectacular view. The walkway is glass and steel, along with protective glass side walls which gives people on it a nearly unbelievable sight of the canyon 4000 feet below and the walls of the canyon.

It is owned and run by Native Americans, the Hualapai Nation. The Skywalk is truly an engineering marvel. We’ll never see this marvel in person as we’ll probably never again head for the Grand Canyon area. On the other hand, if we should get there, I can guarantee neither GW nor I would venture out on a walk 70 feet from land over the canyon on a circular platform made of glass which has no supports between its outer edge and the wall of the canyon. It will, however, rank right up there with the greatest engineering feats of our time.

A lady who works with GW at her part time job has been there. But she and her family also didn’t go out as the lines were too long and her time was too short. But her description when she came back to Maine whetted our appetite to learn about it and last night we had that chance.

On a sports note, Penn State University’s men’s basketball team won the NIT last night with a 69 to 63 win over Baylor. I didn’t see the game and the only reason I mention it is because had I been watching it, I would have been cheering for PSU. That’s the team that ousted the Gators from the tourney.

And how about the Maine Red Claws? That’s the newest pro team coming to Portland. This D-League (developmental league) of the National Basketball Association will begin its season at the Expo beginning next fall. It has high hopes of being affiliated with the Boston Celtics.

The Portland Sea Dogs baseball team has been a tremendous hit in Southern Maine and it has a cute name. It’ll be interesting to see how well Red Claws goes over. It doesn’t really matter to me as I’ll never see one of their games. The NBA has the most self-centered players of any sport and I don’t even watch the Celtics. I have seen many games by our variously named hockey affiliates and the Sea Dogs.


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