"Given enough time, nothing is more changeable than rock." Enos Mills

Mr. Wood's Classroom

            I cannot think of a more majestic place to celebrate Christmas day then at the Grand Canyon National Park. This natural wonder makes one feel trivial and yet powerful all at the same time. We drove into freshly laid snow, green ponderosa pines and red sandstone cliffs. Nature’s decorations trump droopy Christmas trees and rumpled wrapping paper any day. And at night, to quote John Denver, there are no “stars across the land”. It is pure nature at it’s finest.
            Of course there are pictures, books and websites galore to learn about the Grand Canyon. I will keep this synopsis short and sweet. For one thing, winter at the GC is cold, sometimes windy and usually under a cloudbank. We consider ourselves fortunate that we could see across the 10-mile span to the North Rim. Due to the chill, we visited a couple indoor ranger-led talks; something we probably would not do when trails and hikes are so accessible in the summer. Curiouser, John and I noticed during this trip how more able we were to perceive the tremendous expanse of the GC. We either have been here enough times that we no longer are awestruck or the grey skies and fresh snow helped frame the landscape, making it seem more visually accessible. Whichever, it's still the real deal and pretty much awesome. 
Storm moving in and decreasing visibility.
We learned that Fred Harvey, in conjunction with Santa Fe railroad was instrumental in helping to tame the Wild Arizona West and populating much of the surrounding areas.  The introduction of the railroad line skyrocketed the tourism into Arizona and there was a need for quality eateries.  Harvey built the first hotel at GC, the El Tovar and it is the second oldest hotel in a National Park System. As most men in the area were miners and ruffians, he recruited educated women from the East Coast to serve the tourists, as well as Mary Jane Coulter, who was employed to design and decorate all the original buildings; very progressive thinking considering this was the late 1800’s.
Hard to see but you can see from North Rim
down to Colorado River.
Many standards were established for these single woman and they were highly respected; required to wear very conservative nun-like uniforms.  Over a span of 40 years historians estimate 100K women worked as a “Harvey Girl” and approximately half settled in Arizona after their 9-month or more employ.  The “Girls” lived on-site in a boarding house, which continues to present day in the same building described as the “all female dormitory.”
Additionally, the Grand Canyon is it’s own village with a zip code, power plant and recycling center. There is a year-around resident population of ~1500 and this number doubles during the summer months with increased employment demands.  Housing is a combination of dormitories, apartments and cabins and includes the NPS staff. Sales tax is upwards of 11%, which includes an environmental fee for water potablility. We stayed in a hotel within the park and highly suggest doing the same. However, during the peak months it's very busy and book-out months in advance. 
We continued to learn more about the geography of the GC at the Yavapai Point Geology Museum.  I will not bore you with the fundamentals of canyon development; however, I learned three interesting things: 1) The south rim is 1000 feet lower than the north rim and mostly due to dynamic uplift. 2) If you had a book of geological time, the bind would be approximately 6 inches wide and man’s history would only be recorded on the very last page; pretty impressive visual for little kids. And 3) Geologist have confirmed this area, the Colorado Plateau, has been under the ocean 7 different times. I find myself wishing to be able to live long enough to see a noticeable change in topography, I simultaneously hope I won’t, but global warming just might be a big enough event to change the earth’s features within this lifetime, that could be quite disastrous for our future, we might not get to page 2.