I've always wanted to visit the US Southwest and we just returned from spending 2 glorious weeks traveling around visiting various cities, museums, national parks and other interesting places. The highlights were:
Most days there wasn't a single wisp of a cloud in the sky, just a vast uniform blueness that seemed to extend up to the very edge of space. The sunshine was constant and intense and especially glorious after a dreary Canadian winter and an unusually wet and gloomy spring.
The sky at night was even more incredible, especially out in the desert, away from civilization's light pollution. One can see thousands upon thousands of stars and even the faint glow of the Milky Way arcing across the sky.
The Grand Canyon
I had a mental image of what to expect from people's anecdotes and pictures but when we got off the tour bus and walked to the edge I was shocked by how much larger, and more beautiful it was compared to my feeble mental image. It staggers and overwhelms one's sense of distance and scale and there is also an appreciation of the immense passage of time during its creation.
The village at the Canyon where we stayed overnight was busy and full of tourists from all over the world. Despite the many differences of languages, origins and cultures there was an atmosphere of shared awe and wonder that united us all in a spiritual kind of way and that feeling of group harmony was as uplifting as the spectacular vista of the Canyon.
On day when we were staying in Flagstaff we had a late lunch at a popular local restaurant that provided the setting for a totally unexpected and delightful experience. My chair was facing in a direction that gave me a good view of the front of the restaurant where a hostess greeted new arrivals and where waitresses would pass towards the kitchen to place and pick up orders.
The place was about half-full of customers but there seemed to be a lot of staff milling about, perhaps 7 or 8 waitresses in addition to the hostess. They were all busy - one was filling up salt and pepper shakers, another was cleaning menus, others were taking orders from customers. They were working diligently, but often, when they passed near each other, they would pause to say a few words which elicited smiles, or chuckles or amused looks.
I became fascinated with them, as a group, and with the positive morale they were creating by their brief encounters with each other, and it occurred to me that what I was seeing was a kind of supportive network of appreciation, similar in a way to Shybi, but up close in person, in real time. My fascination started to include happiness and I could feel the frubble building up inside.
At one point I glanced over to the kitchen order counter and I saw our waitress, and she was looking at me! When our eyes met she tilted her head slightly and gave me an incredibly broad, persistent and warm smile, a knowing smile, and I felt connected to her and the network of appreciation.