I can sum up my initial view of the Grand Canyon this way: totally fake. There is no way a river is responsible for what you see here. The Mississippi River has been depositing Minnesota onto Louisiana for eons, but it still looks like Louisiana, which is to say, an unreclaimed swamp. That's what rivers are supposed to do. They do not paint breathtaking landscapes like they were van Gogh or Monet. Even the little kid standing next to me told his mommy, "it looks fake."
But you do have to admire the effort. As fakes go, it's right up there with the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City or the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas. You can also state that the Grand Canyon is a true marvel of silkscreening and optical engineering, like the way they can make Niagara Falls change colors at night. (I once had the opportunity to work the light controls at the Falls. I turned them all yellow; it looked like Canada was peeing on the United States.)
But for a country that has seemingly come to embrace and enshrine the fake over the real, the Big Ditch should continue to be one of the most popular attractions drawing Americans and foreigners alike, especially those who with fervent certainty know dinosaurs and global warming are fake.
They "say" the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and 6000 feet deep. But they conveniently leave out how many cans of pastel spray paint it took to get all those cliffs to look just right, or how many of those old stereoscopes mounted every which way it took to create that stupendous 3D look to everything. Not even IMAX can hold a candle to what these Bold Deceivers at the Interior Department pulled off.
I can understand why past generations looked upon the Grand Canyon as real. Those were the years before cable news, and when people truly, if naively believed you could actually get your kicks on Route 66.
But I think we've matured as a country, and certain as we are that the melting of the polar ice caps is a natural and good thing (especially for the mining and drilling industries), I believe we are ready as a society to finally accept the charade and chicanery that is the Grand Canyon. We'd better be. There's no limit to what you will believe is real once you can no longer spot a fake this huge.
This year the "Grand Canyon" is celebrating its centennial. That says it all for me. To posit on the one hand that one skinny little river did all this damage to what was once a beautifully flat and one-dimensional plateau, and then has done nothing more in the hundred years we've declared it a national park, proves that the whole thing is nothing more than a cleverly designed optical illusion, demanding the same relentless pursuit of truth that uncovered the fakery of the moon landing, evolution, acid rain and that Starkist wanted tuna with good taste.
Sorry Charlie. Not buying this one.