A Postcard From The Volcano
By Wallace Stevens
Children picking up our bones
Will never know that these were once
As quick as foxes on the hill;
And that in autumn, when the grapes
Made sharp air sharper by their smell
These had a being, breathing frost;
And least will guess that with our bones
We left much more, left what still is
The look of things, left what we felt
At what we saw. The spring clouds blow
Above the shuttered mansion-house,
Beyond our gate and the windy sky
Cries out a literate despair.
We knew for long the mansion's look
And what we said of it became
A part of what it is . . . Children,
Still weaving budded aureoles,
Will speak our speech and never know,
Will say of the mansion that it seems
As if he that lived there left behind
A spirit storming in blank walls,
A dirty house in a gutted world,
A tatter of shadows peaked to white,
Smeared with the gold of the opulent sun.
From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch on elegies.
Last night at the Canyon, the sky was perfectly clear and I saw the Milky Way as spectacularly as I ever have with the naked eye. So I was up much too late star- and deer-watching, and today we got up early to see the canyon in morning sunlight, though it was already bright before 6. There was a condor flying around just below the lip of the canyon which was my thrill of the trip. We had breakfast in one of the Bright Angel lodge restaurants, walked around the canyon rim a bit, bought sun hats which I should have done the day before, then packed up and drove to Kingman, Arizona where we had lunch en route to Las Vegas. The landscape changed from heavily forested to hilly to flat desert with cactus and yucca to barren rock as we briefly entered California, which is the most direct route to Vegas from the Grand Canyon.
We checked into Treasure Island and immediately went to the huge pool, where the kids spent most of the time on the waterslide. The hotel itself was beautiful, enormous and mobbed; everyone has to walk through the banks of slot machines and the shopping arcade to get from the elevators to the pool, front desk and everywhere else, and it feels very playful but at the same time high-energy and stressful; I don't understand why people I know in L.A. come to Las Vegas to relax!
My uncle, his wife and their son were staying at Treasure Island too (we were originally planning to stay at the Hilton, site of the Star Trek Experience, but switched so that we could all meet up. We missed each other at the pool, played phone tag and finally made plans to hook up for breakfast the next morning since they were going out with friends tonight. Treasure Island has a pirate show every hour and Mandalay has a shark habitat, plus there are about a dozen kid-appropriate shows in the neighboring hotels, so even though we couldn't go into the casinos with the boys, there were almost too many choices for evening entertainment (and a Ben and Jerry's right downstairs within Treasure Island as well as the ubiquitous Starbucks).
We went to the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton, first eating dinner at Quark's -- Paul and I split a virgin Warp Core Breach, a massive fruity drink that I gather usually includes a lot of alcohol, and we had stuffed shrimp that were surprisingly good while the kids had corn dogs and we all watched 'Generations' on the big screen. Then we went through the Experience itself, which was a total blast and I felt like such a fan girl. It's almost worth the price of admission just for the Trek museum at the start, a massive timeline which now includes 'Enterprise' and dozens of props, costumes and documents from the films...then the ride, which is mostly smoke, mirrors and shaking floors but quite convincing and Adam was shrieking with glee (Daniel had his fingers in his ears, rather overwhelmed by it all, though upon leaving he announced that he wanted to see the Locutus of Borg episodes so we must have done something right!)
Instead of coming straight back to the hotel, we drove up the strip. I wanted to see the Flamingo and the fake New York skyline of New York, New York, which has replicas of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty in front. Paris, meanwhile, has an Eiffel Tower, while Caesars Palace, Circus Circus, etc. just have phenomenally tacky displays of lights and colorful billboards. We decided that we were sold on the Siegfried and Roy posters and that we would have to see the lion and dolphin show after breakfast with my uncle the next morning. I suspected that I would get through Vegas without losing so much as a quarter to the thousands of slot machines; why waste money gambling that could be wasted on shows, food, and tacky Trek souvenirs like the Bajoran earring I bought at the Experience?
Thanks so much for all the good wishes, everyone to whom I owe a note. Below, the thrill of my trip so far (besides my anniversary present):
...a condor in the Canyon!