The airplane bucked quite a bit with about 10 minutes of flight time remaining. The second of two flights that day, the first of which started in Philadelphia, saw me in the aisle seat of a tiny CRJ200 aircraft during a short hop from Phoenix, Arizona to St. George, Utah when the plane suddenly began to hit some moderate turbulence. I was somewhere in between sleeping, but not really sleeping when this happened, and opened an eye to check the reactions of those around me.
Many people were out cold, with their necks craned back and their mouths wide open, while others seemed intent on finishing their books, and still others were content with whatever was being transmitted to their brain through some oversized, noise canceling headphones. I noticed that a handful of people seemed to have their faces pressed up against the windows, and as I craned my head around the nice lady seated to my left by our row’s window to have a look for myself, it became immediately clear what had a few of the passengers excited: we were flying directly over the heart of the Grand Canyon. I have been to the Grand Canyon once in my life, and it was as humbling an experience as I can remember; standing on the rim’s edge will remind you of your place in this world in ways not much else can. I’ve flown over it quite a few times as well, but never flown over it at such a low altitude. The updrafts from the canyon and surrounding mountains might have jostled the plane a bit, but they reminded me that I was about to spend a week in a landscape unlike any elsewhere on the planet.