Maria Simon: Good Morning from a Very Quiet, bizarre Grand Canyon National Park

No EntryGood morning to you all from a very quiet Grand Canyon.

It’s a beautiful sunny morning here on this Day 2 of the government shutdown, and I am privileged to still be allowed to stay, as visitors empty out of the entire park.

This debacle has, of course, had a profound effect on the National Parks, as everyone is furloughed, save a handful of people who are retained to deliver vital rescue, fire, and law enforcement services. The South Rim is already shut down tight. And here at the more remote North Rim, all visitors will be sent packing by tomorrow noon. Staff members who choose to stay in the park may return to work if the park re-opens, though the North Rim shuts down for everyone on Oct. 15th, so it’s a big if. We are free to come and go, as enforcement at the gate is a little more relaxed on this side. Though all are concerned about their jobs and their paychecks, tension has given way to resilience here, and we had a fine party yesterday afternoon, with another potluck gathering planned for tonight and again tomorrow. I will host an afternoon of hands-on clay, probably sharing the presentation on mask-making, applying the forces of erosion and time that have formed this remarkable place. This was my planned first offering to the public while here in-residence.

06-IMG_1162It’s a sad time for bewildered visitors, whether citizens or foreign travelers, who have planned and saved for this tour of the National Parks that form a rather close circuit down here. The lodge did not inform anyone of the closure, even yesterday, as no one knew quite what would transpire. I can only imagine what foreign visitors from every continent to our “great democracy” think about America right now.

For me, this is a rare chance to meet and visit with the various characters, young and old, with few in between, who make this place “go” for visitors. Needless to say, the Grand Canyon “goes” on its own steam (or lack thereof), with or without humans around. There is one ranger living by the administration offices who has offered me access to her wi-fi reception, thus allowing me to send this blog and pick up email occasionally. No one, but no one, will be allowed beneath the Rim after tomorrow, and access to the viewpoints will all be barricaded as well. We’ll see how much longer I /we can stay on. For now, I will enjoy it to the max, and relinquish any plan I had in mind for how deep I could hike into the Canyon, and how long. This is another opportunity to keep the mind open and “vast”, right?

Tomorrow my request has been generously met to drive out to Pt. Sublime, a place my vehicle could not reach. It’s turned into a group of folks going, and this should be lots of fun.


My apology for a blog-post filled largely with political aftershock. It’s what’s happening now, and I suspect my next messages will be a bit more inside the experience of the Canyon itself, and some of the stirrings arising in me as far as my artwork is concerned. Tomorrow the weather will turn blustery, and then cold, so it will be time, perhaps, to get busy with pencil and sketchbook in my cozy little cabin, with the wind roaring around me. Meanwhile, enjoy the newest photos, and be well, all of you.


I Hid and Cried

Along the Widforss Trail 04-IMG_1150 07-IMG_1085 09-IMG_1084 Sunset near Bright Angel Point