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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – October 3

I am blessed to be on vacation in a beautiful part of the world, the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Today we were doubly fortunate to tour an area north of the National Park, and see amazing canyon sandstone formations and float down the Colorado River among the Vermillion Cliffs.

That alone was a wonderful, magical experience…special enough that I hesitate to complain in any way. But man-oh-man, what an opportunity the tour guides missed. And they were as annoying as the scenery was awesome.

All three guides persisted in trivializing the natural features by relating them to something else. “This is the rock we call ‘The Anvil’ because it looks just like an anvil.” “If you look back at this formation you’ll see Abe Lincoln’s face,” or “On your left you’ll see E.T.”

“Look back at this point and you’ll see Bill Clinton’s nose!” And all of this mixed with misinformation: “Invasive species take over when the native landscape is unhealthy.” (???)

Tell me the history, instruct me about the geology of the area, or let me know the names of these plants. Make it entertaining, sure, but make it accurate… and please leave the cutesy, pop-culture references out of the tour.

I realize that these guides were trying to engage their audience, but they only succeeded in dumbing down the experience.

Nature is powerful, beautiful, impressive and entertaining enough all by it self, thank you very much. Let people be able to feel that for themselves.

This majestic canyon sandstone doesn't need to be reduced to familiar objects.

Tamarix is an invasive species in these parts, but to the casual observer it does blend into this landscape well.

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