The Hundredth Meridian

Groundhog Days, Javelina Nights

How a people as addicted to novelty as the modern American public can remain indifferent to an experience restricted to the last three or four of the thousands of human generations, drawing their airplane window shades to watch a movie or study an organizational chart, is—or ought to be—a subject of major interest to the psychological profession. Apparently the only way I will ever obtain an aerial view of the canyon wilderness that surrounds the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers in southeastern Utah is by hijacking a commercial flight from Tucson or Phoenix to Salt Lake City—nothing serious, just a cordial inducement to alter course by a few degrees so as to pass a hundred miles east of Bryce Canyon instead of directly above it on an unswerving northerly heading. If there is a more thrilling experience than that of observing from 37,000 feet an area of remotely beautiful and inaccessible terrain intimately experienced at ground level, then it must be something I haven't tried yet, like bungee-cord jumping or gang warfare. The deserts of southern Utah and northern Arizona extend beneath an arctic sky in overthrusting shelves of rose-hued and rustcolored rock, broken by the dark whalebacked bulk of Navajo Mountain and fissured by the straightened gorge cut by the Green River below Glen Canyon Dam through uplands rising toward the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Presumably my seatmate, paging through a Morris Air...

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