Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Day 7 - Flagstaff, AZ

Hole in the Ground

Flagstaff, Arizona is situated between two famous geological attractions. To the east, Meteor Crater; to the north, the Grand Canyon.

We came to see both.

And this is where things started getting scary for me.

I'm a Discovery/History/National Geographic/Learning Channel nerd, and have seen more shows on meteors hitting the earth than probably anyone on earth, with the exception of my traveling companion, Jonathan. And nearly every "meteors-have-hit-the-earth-before-and-will-again" show includes a bit about Meteor Crater.

Meteor Crater was formed around 50,000 years ago when a meteor approximately 150 feet across slammed into the earth at some 26,000 miles an hour. And after seeing so many geologists and astronomers wander its impressive rim and talk about its wonders, of course I wanted to see it for myself.

What I didn't think about every time I saw Meteor Crater on television is that I'm afraid of heights. Not just "I don't like heights" afraid, but sweating, trembling, anxiety-attack afraid. And that Meteor Crater is essentially a very big, very deep hole in the ground, and no place for someone with acrophobia.

We took a fair amount of pictures and even some video while we there, and none of them do the crater justice. Especially if walking up to its edge and looking down into its depths makes you feel the least bit dizzy or panicked, like it does me. But this will have to do.

Even in person, the crater doesn't look as large as it truly is. It's 550 feet deep -- deep enough to bring the roof of a 55-story building even with the rim. And the bottom of the crater is large enough to hold 20 football fields. That's big. And really, really scary if you're me.

As part of our tour, we hiked a trail that goes about 1/2 mile around the rim. This picture doesn't show it, but I was actually leaning away from the crater. I was that freaked out by it.

Toward the end of the hike, the group followed a more narrow trail that led into the crater a little bit. It was too much for me, and I had to hang back while the rest of the group went on. And probably made fun of me.

We spent the rest of the day in Flagstaff relaxing and doing laundry and getting ready to see the Grand Canyon the next day. Little did I know, my troubles were just beginning.

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