i regularly meet native arizonans who have never been to the grand canyon. i was here five years before i went. on a whim, i drove my 250cc honda scooter to tusayan, at the gates of the park, where my friend worked for one of the helicopter services. i was supposed to get a ride on one, but there were fires on the north rim and there wasn't an available copter. so i drove to the rim and hiked down bright angel trail to indian gardens, dodging mule pee and trying not to fall several hundred feet as i stared and gaped and fell in love. over 3000 vertical feet and 6 miles later, i looked over the edge at the colorado river nine hundred feel below. from the top, it was just a tiny patch of dull green. the grand canyon has a way of completely warping one's sense of scale and proportion. everything is so huge that your mind won't accept it. so you tend to perceive it as smaller, unless you have something to measure it against. 500 foot cliffs look no more than 100 feet high until someone walks past, a tiny figure against the massive expanse of stone. from my position at plateau point, i could sense some of the power of the river, and i saw rafts floating along, smaller than my mind wanted them to be. although i was 900 feet above the water, it felt like a couple of hundred. i didn't have time to go all the way down that day, but i was smitten.