A River Runs Through It

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Double-click to see a larger version of the photo.

Yes, there was a movie by the title of today’s post, but I’m not going to talk about the movie.  I’m talking about the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide (averaging 10 miles across) and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet).  It is so massive that it is deceptive.  From the Canyon rim, in various locations, one can spot the Colorado River as it snakes its way through the canyon.  What you don’t realize from such a distance is that the river averages 300 feet in width (if you double click the image above, you can see it better in the bottom of the canyon).   It is not the deepest canyon in the world (Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal is far deeper), however, the Grand Canyon is known for its visually overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape.

About 600 deaths have occurred in the Grand Canyon since the 1870’s. Some of these deaths occurred as the result of overly zealous photographic endeavors, some were the result of airplane collisions within the canyon, and some visitors drowned in the Colorado River.

Of the fatalities, 53 have resulted from falls; 65 deaths were attributable to environmental causes, including heat stroke, cardiac arrest, dehydration, and hypothermia; 7 were caught in flash floods; 79 were drowned in the Colorado River; 242 perished in airplane and helicopter crashes (128 of them in the 1956 disaster mentioned below); 25 died in freak errors and accidents, including lightning strikes and rock falls; and 23 were the victims of homicides.

And yes, there are fish in the river…kinda like in the movie!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  with all the excitement about California Chrome’s failed bid to win the Triple Crown of horse-racing this past weekend, I thought this was appropriate for today:

On this day in 1973, Secretariat wins the Belmont Stakes to become the first Triple Crown winner since Citation in 1948. Secretariat ran the mile-and-a-half race in 2:24, a world record that many believe will never be broken.

Secretariat, the son of Bold Ruler and Somethingroyal, was raised in Doswell, Virginia, at Meadow Stable by owner Penny Tweedy. He won seven of nine races started as a two-year-old and was the first horse of his age to be named Horse of the Year. After winning the first two races of his three-year-old career, he lost the third, which was also the final tune-up before that year’s Kentucky Derby.  Afterward, a painful abscess was found under the horse’s lip, which supporters hoped was the reason for his unexpectedly slow performance. Secretariat did not disappoint at the 1973 Kentucky Derby, where he set a track record of just over 1:59 to beat Sham by two-and-a-half lengths. Secretariat then won the Preakness, and though unofficial timers and spectators insisted the horse had also set a new record there, the official time keeper clocked Secretariat a few seconds slower.

Secretariat came into the Belmont Stakes in Long Island, New York, at 1-to-10 odds, making him the overwhelming favorite. Secretariat’s jockey Ron Turcotte, however, expected a close race with Sham at the longer Belmont. At the beginning of the race, Sham and jockey Laffit Pincay kept pace with the so-called “super horse” but expended too much energy in the process and eventually faded to last place, while Secretariat pulled away from the pack. Secretariat crossed the finish line an amazing 31 lengths ahead of My Gallant and Twice a Prince in a show of speed and endurance horse enthusiasts had never seen. Turcotte later said of the race, “I know this sounds crazy, but the horse did it by himself. I was along for the ride.”

Years later, Secretariat’s dominance as a race horse was attributed to the size of his heart, which was found to weigh 22 pounds, more than twice that of a typical thoroughbred.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on July 21, 2007, and sold 11 million copies on the first day of its release, breaking J.K. Rowling’s earlier records for the fastest selling book of all time.

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