From the air —

You know what’s fascinating about flying from St. Louis to Denver and then from Denver to San Diego?

On the first leg to Denver, there is nothing below you but fields and pastures laid out in geometric squares and circles. I mean, the WHOLE way. You start to believe that there isn’t a square inch of the country that isn’t already in use. (It turns out, looking at a map later, we probably flew over Kansas the long way.)

Then the second leg, from Denver to San Diego? That’s hundreds of miles of mountains and then broken plateaus and desert — Colorado and then Arizona — all with hardly a TRACE of human activity, and you start to believe that your plane might have flown back in time and there might not be another person anywhere on the continent. Nothing but the occasional highway breaks the illusion.

Very cool.

I kept thinking about Louis and Clark and how they must have felt when they hit the Rockies. I mean, whoa.

But imagine crossing Arizona and hitting the canyon lands? That would have presented at least as big a challenge, surely? From the air you can see just how far people on horseback would have to go to get around some of the canyons. It looks impossible to get down into the canyons and then back up.

If I ever send a protagonist on a quest across unknown lands . . .

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2 thoughts on “From the air —”

  1. There’s a story, which I remember as well sourced, but I’m not going to look it up now, that when the Spaniard explorers hit the Grand Canyon and the natives informed them there was water down there, the Spaniards flatly refused to believe it. They also refused to believe just how deep the Canyon is.

    The canyon lands are a big obstacle, but lack of easy water (unless you can find and follow the Colorado) is a much bigger one.

    BTW, if you ever get a chance to go rafting through the Grand Canyon – take it! It’s well worth it.

  2. I thought of the difficulty of finding water, too, but the sheer jaw-dropping drama of the canyons would certainly stun a party of explorers.

    Of course, if you’re writing fantasy, you could cheat and build a bridge of clouds and air, or something.

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