It’s Sunday and I’m staying a second day in Williams.
Great little town.
Combo of country western and tourism.
Lots of glitter.
Lots of action.
And the gateway to the Grand Canyon, at least to its south rim.

Grand Canyon National Park, located in northwestern Arizona, is the 15th site in the United States to have been named a national park.
The park's central feature is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, which is often considered one of the Wonders of the World.
The park, which covers 1,217,262 acres (1,901.972 sq mi; 4,926.08 km2) of unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties, received more than six million recreational visitors in 2017, which is the second highest count of all American national parks after Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Grand Canyon was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.

Plus I do need the time to catch up.
Have a bunch of photos that must be blogged in.

Plus I want to take my time to visit the Grand Canyon properly.
The gorge at the Grand Canyon, perhaps the most dramatic moment of the trip.

For my first images, I offer a gallery of shots from the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon, where I spent the better part of Saturday.


So my first “Gallery of Photos.”
Driving the Grand Canyon’s North Rim is the viewing.
No place to get to.
You are there.
Driving.
The North Rim.

Every curve provides a vista.
You smile and the smile stays.

Notice #7, #1 being top left, #7 is bare.
The result of a wild fire.
Doing good.
Clearing out trees.
Allowing nature to have its way, although the Park Service often enough creates fires.

Firefighting at Norris on August 20, 1988, a day that was later dubbed "Black Saturday" due to the huge amount of land that was burned as well as the dense smoke that turned daytime to night in some places.  Before the late 1960s, fires were generally believed to be detrimental for parks and forests, and management policies were aimed at suppressing fires as quickly as possible.  However, as the beneficial ecological role of fire became better understood in the decades before 1988, a policy was adopted of allowing natural fires to burn under controlled conditions, which proved highly successful in reducing the area lost annually to wildfires.

Firefighting at Norris on August 20, 1988, a day that was later dubbed "Black Saturday" due to the huge amount of land that was burned as well as the dense smoke that turned daytime to night in some places.

Before the late 1960s, fires were generally believed to be detrimental for parks and forests, and management policies were aimed at suppressing fires as quickly as possible.
However, as the beneficial ecological role of fire became better understood in the decades before 1988, a policy was adopted of allowing natural fires to burn under controlled conditions, which proved highly successful in reducing the area lost annually to wildfires.

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Forgot to mention, driving through the North Rim yesterday, I spied three bobcats crossing the road.  Braked to watch.  Lovely creatures.

Forgot to mention, driving through the North Rim yesterday, I spied three bobcats crossing the road.
Braked to watch.
Lovely creatures.

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Today is Monday, September 17, 2018
This is my 160th consecutive daily posting.

Time is 4.06 and the weather in Acoma Pueblo is 87 and partly sunny.
Last night a had a decent slice of Prime Rib.

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Forgot to mention, driving through the North Rim on Saturday, I spied three bobcats crossing the road.
Braked to watch.
Lovely creatures.

I offer a stock photo.

And yesterday, one two occasions, single, full-grown female moose made their way into the Visitor’s Center.
They ate grass.
No one approached.
They may still be there.

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Many souvenir shops seem to do well.
They are neat and offer a wide sampling of western goods.

I offer a gallery of photos of one of these shops just several miles before you get to the park.

The size, the inventory, and the professionalism endemic to these stores is impressive.

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Got to the South entrance at 11.00am and left at 3.00pm.
Tired.

Parked the car and spent time in the visitor’s center watching an excellent 22 minutes film and getting an understanding of how the shuttle buses work.
Private cars are not allowed on the most interesting stops.

The shuttle buses run every 12 minutes and are very convenient.
Get off at designated stops, hang out, take your pictures and either walk twenty minutes to the next one or wait the 12 minutes for the next bus to ride to the next stop.

I chose three stops, recommended by the ranger at the Visitor’s Center, and disembarked for the first time.

“Holy fuck!”

The view of the Grand Canyon was my number one great sight of all time.
The eighth wonder of the world, truly.

I offer a gallery of shots for you.

I have more and will share them with you tomorrow.
But these are enough to give one a sense of the grandeur.

Americans:
This land is your land and this land is my land
From the California to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

Goodnight for today.
Love you.
Dom

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All the Marbles

[from notes from July 2006, Faykod Museum of Sculpture, Aups, France]

In the 12 years since I gathered these notes, not much has changed. The collection of her own work, sitting incongruously in the middle of what is only a step or two away from what would be called in other climes and locations "outback" or "desert," sees that many more works added since. And whereas there was no charge for entering the outdoor "museum" of her work back then, because it was Sunday, Ms. Faykod exacts a visitor fee of over six euros for adults as she did then.

I don't make too much of it in this narrative, but she has produced well over 335 works that by any measure have to be called "major" pieces of sculpture. Most of them are, as noted, in Carrara marble, the startlingly brilliantly white stone that can be quarried from only one place on earth, in the heart of Italy. More precisely it is in Tuscany, a bit of a hike from Pisa, and that much more of one from Florence. Apparently, the artist acquired a taste for this exquisite material when she was still a very young student.

Her work is installed in a number of private collections around the world, and in a small, but respectable, assemblage of museums. A significant number of pieces were commissioned for consecration in churches. Given the un-selfconscious mix of sacred, sacred-seeming, and decidedly secular (if not altogether deserving of that alternative designation of "profane") subjects, not to mention the undeniably sensual style in which almost every piece has been executed, her work over a lifetime is a testament to what can only be called –without too much analysis – eclectic.

In the end, if anyone is interested, and I admit no one has asked, I am (as I was when I first saw it in person) very impressed by Ms. Faykod's mastery of the craft of stone carving (if I may be permitted to reduce the artisanal exertion required to its most basic taxonomic category). And it was worth a hot afternoon under the sun in the rude landscape of the most primitive aspects of Provence to take in her best known work.

I was reminded of all this (and this is the reason I am refreshing my recollections here) when I read of Dom's survey of the endless landscape, even exceeding the south of France in its extent, its antiquity and its untouched rude nature, surrounding the Grand Canyon. Ms. Faykod's museum sits about a 40-minute drive from the Grand Canyon of France, which I wrote about yesterday here on Dom’s blog. And the land surrounding these natural wonders in France also is ravaged periodically by fire, caused by severe drought (an annual visitation every summer), which reduces wide swaths of growth to the primitive and stunted tough little shrubs that constitute the garrigue that I describe below, and which extends in all directions surrounding the sculpture garden.

I really thought the weather had had its back broken with a monumental thunderstorm as they can only have in Provence - the conditions are ripe for big forest fires and big storms, they seem to go hand in hand, but never in such a way that the latter can absolutely prevent the former. It was beautiful yesterday. And the first third of the daytime and the evening hours are lovely in any event.

But the heat is back, and it means that mid-day is killer.

We went on a little excursion today. Linda wanted to go someplace we hadn't been. So we stopped for coffee and croissants (it's Sunday, so we had pain au chocolat) in Aups, and then stopped on the road to Tourtour to check out a personal "museum" kept by a woman sculptor in the midst of acres and acres and acres of garrigue (an essentially untranslatable word, peculiar to Provence, like maquis, but differentiated because of the combination of flora that characterizes either of these kinds of hilly shrub lands - very rough country - the garrigue has an abundance of aromatic shrubs: lavender, rosemary, and Artemisia), with her little sculpture park at the end of almost a mile of dirt road, which has been paved over with raw concrete in places because, it's obvious, it would be impassable otherwise, especially in the rain.

Her name is Faykod (last name - the rest of it is Maria-Zsuzsa de… born in Hungary, of a Swedish father and an "Austro-Hungarian" mother; I love this kind of detail, straight from the official biography - let's see, the last of Austro-Hungary, you remember?, the Empire that whipped the crap out of the French in the 70s, the 1870s, was pretty much last seen not long after their swan-song as a great political entity, and that would be right after the WWI, when the Allies said, "thanks for the memories and auf wiedersehen") and she has done some very strange stuff, I mean aside from keeping alive in this small way what had been a great empire, in a galaxy far far away.

Working almost exclusively in white Carrara marble (the finest stuff - the stone that Michelangelo used), she sculpts mostly figurative pieces. A great many are clearly allegorical. Many female nudes. And then, in the middle of things like a draped corpse, life-size, that represents the Resurrection, there's a "Head of Diana" only it is not merely the goddess, but it's Princess Di, with a clenched-tooth smile and small round earrings. A life size figure of Mozart, with his fingers melting into a keyboard from his left hand, and a violin from his right.

Dozens of pieces in a little arid park, filled with trees, very dry lonely kind of trees, and a fountain, with a bronze female nude in the middle of it. If you keep walking along the dirt road that snakes through the property (which has a wrought iron portail guarding the entrance to the fenced in portion of her land), and a little ticket takers booth (it was free today, but ordinarily it's six euros) you reach her studio, with the manicured lawn festooned with huge blocks of marble, and guarded by a ferocious bichon frise, which is a dog about the size of both your fists and the color of raw Carrara marble.

She emerged herself from the back of a low very modern building and said hello and urged me into the studio proper, which had a lot of small pieces and some beautiful, very pricey furniture (ditto in the living portion, which I could spy through an open door). She resembles her portrait on the Website (http://en.musee-de-faykod.com), but only sufficiently that you wouldn't mistake her at a cocktail party. Her portrait shows her in a kind of Byronic pose, wearing an outfit that I could imagine Byron might look upon as pajamas. I think it's the Mittel-Europa idea of Romantic chic. The Website is a little cagey about her age, though it's clear she was finished with her earliest education, graduating from the Sorbonne in 1978. Which puts her [now in 2018] in the neighborhood of her mid-60s. And a still handsome neighborhood it is. She is trim and lithe, and who wouldn't be muscling huge hunks of expensive rock around?

Also, her tools are serious, as you can see from the photograph I shot in her atelier. She pointed me to it, after describing some pieces she was in the midst of and then sort of disappeared.

She had showed me a huge crucified Christ she's working on, and there were a number of other religious themed pieces strewn about the place, in various stages of emerging from the rock. On the handout it said she has a Christ in black marble that was commissioned by the Vatican Museum.

There's also a huge swimming pool on the property, very fancy, with a glassed in covering, very much like a nursery hothouse, and clearly meant to allow swimming year round.

Of the little pieces, the few we could come close to actually putting in a living space we could afford to live in were some very small bronze nudes, female, about a foot long in various states of prostration or writhing. These were 8,000 euros. Each. So I would imagine she is, indeed, doing OK and can afford the land, the gate, the fence around the sculpture garden and studio, which must encompass about 20 or 30 acres. This Musée Faykod has been a local feature for ten years, as of this year [and so, today, it’s 22 years, and counting]. That was how I knew about the free admission - it was mentioned in today's paper. I do recall when I first came here in 1988 there was a gallery right in the town of Aups by the same name - this museum to herself is about three miles out of town. The gallery, it turns out, closed that same year, and I assume she needed eight years to re-group and accumulate the gelt to go really big time.

In the end, she is quite prolific and eclectic in her subjects, which range from many Christs, in many aspects of his life, but particularly popular are crucifixions (one of which was the one commissioned by and now residing in The Vatican) to, well, there's no other word for it but, celebrities. For example, there's a full figure (in every sense of the word) statue of Marilyn Monroe, commissioned for use by the Cannes Film Festival, but now standing, with a hip cocked in her sculpture park, an image more or less crafted of MM in the '62 era Madison Square Garden "Happy Birthday Mr. President" period of the movie goddess's tragically short life – you remember, she wore a gauzy gold dress that fit so well she might as well not have bothered with it.

Maybe there's a minor theme detectable in that both Marilyn and Diana died at the same age. And there's an irony my mother would have immediately detected in that that age was 36, or, in Yiddish and Hebrew "double chai" or double "life," because 18 in Hebrew characters also spells the word, "life." Maybe if they'd been Jewish. But then, who knows what Ms. Austro-Hungary would have done with them. —Howard Dinin. © 2018.