My first experience with "The Rim" came on a hot June day many years ago. I was a college student in Tucson, remaining at school for the first half of the summer to complete a special project. We had a long, free weekend and decided to take a trip up to Grand Canyon country, a place I had never seen. I had no idea, however, the amazement I would find in the Arizona countryside along the way. On that day we went through Phoenix at around eleven in the morning. It was deserted and hot, oppressively hot and had the humidity been high it would have been unbearable. Here we were, four college kids, shirtless in a non-air conditioned car, headed north.
The terrain changed north of Phoenix with the low desert valleys and sparse growth giving way to an elevation incline which brought with it small pines and cottonwood and other green folliage. But when we saw "The Rim" the incline grew greater and as we climbed we could see beautiful red-hewed rock formation off in the direction of Oak Creek Canyon. The big surprise, however, came when we reached the summit, for in a matter of moments the temperature must have dropped nearly twenty degrees and we stopped to put our shirts on. From over one hundred to only upper-eighties was a shock at first, but as we made our way farther north the temperature continued to drop. By the time we got to Flagstaff, a sleepy little college town back then, it was about seventy even. We decided to stay the night there and found a convenient motel on the main drag which gave us a view to the north of the San Francisco peaks.
From the top of "The Rim" to Flagstaff and beyond, we were now on the Colorado Plateau and I knew why so many from Southern Arizona loved to go there in the hot summer. The Ponderosa pines were massive, things were green and we could see snow still gracing the high territory of the mountains above. We decided to go for a swim before finding a place to eat and I made the mistake of just diving in. It was freezing, so I swam one lap and then quickly exited to water, grabbing a thick towel to dry my shivering body and to stop the clacking of my teeth. No wonder the other three with me just stood watching as I dove in; they were Arizona boys and enjoyed introducing their newfound eastern friends to a cool dip. It was a cool dip indeed.
The visit the next day to the Grand Canyon was breathtaking and the steak we had in Flagstaff was fit for Kansas City, so it was a good weekend. And since that time I've had a number of opportunities to repeat the drive. Now with Interstate 17 from Phoenix to Flagstaff it is a snap and it's still beautiful. But that first visit to both the Mogollon Rim and the Grand Canyon would never be the same, for the first time you see it is just so amazing and surprising, it can't be repeated.
Occasionally in the days ahead I will write blogs about my travels. I have been blessed with the opportunity to see so many wonderful places and each one adds to my belief that only a Living God could have created such beauty for man to behold and enjoy. We just must make sure, however, that we never abuse His trust and always use it with respect and love. After all, it's only ours to enjoy for the short time we are on this earth. Let's save that beauty for others who come behind us to appreciate and enjoy as well.