This article was a tough start for me, mainly because it's not easy to put my experience at Meteor Crater into words. Take a look...
To give you an idea of how big this crater is, there is a life-sized cut out of an astronaut at the bottom, in the center. There is also a mine entrance. Good luck making visual sense of either of them without a telescope.
While on a road trip across the country, my family and I were allowing tons of margin in where we went and when we got there. Our electronic guide (GPS) was constantly hanging off the windshield, but was second to our main travel companion. In other words, we let God throw up the arrows and signs from day to day. I take a risk in saying that, but the truth is we ended up seeing some seriously amazing things. We simply did not have the insight to purposefully land in so many unusual situations. This was our first road trip as adults (and one as a baby). We felt the strong, "right place, right time" effect, moment after moment of the entire trip. Check out the images at the end of the article for more about that.
I'd seen Meteor Crater time after time as an armchair traveler, on television that is. I always thought it would be a cool place to see for myself, but had totally forgotten about it by the time this trip started unfolding.
So here we were, sort of randomly trekking across Arizona, looking for a city to stay in. We decided to stay in Flagstaff, but planned to only use it as a stopover for a night or two's break. As usual we figured, why not do a little research and see if the area had anything to offer. Surprise! Right place, right time. Among many other close-by, unique sites like ruins and parks, I found Meteor Crater. It took me a minute, but a flood of memories about the footage and images I've seen of this crater came tumbling into place. It was immediately placed on my bucket list.
The drive out and back was very nice. I'm a fan of desert-style landscaping, so I had lots to shoot. Thank God for a patient family. Spend a day with a photographer. You'll get my drift quickly (or painfully slowly if you mind stoping every inch to grab a few images).
Arrival was not terribly exciting. You can't see the crater from the parking lot, but there was some sneaking anticipation as we saw people climbing up the sides, via stairs that is (there's also an elevator).
Once we got to a vantage point, the experience changed... dramatically...
You can get amazing views and stroll through the visitor's center without taking the tour. So, at first, for us, taking the tour was questionable. But by the time we stepped out on the tour-only path and heard the guide start speaking, "questionable" was knocked out as information about the crater started in. It was pretty amazing to hear about the speed and brute force energy of impact. There were other jaw-dropping bits of info, like the distance of the debris field and the width and depth of the crater itself. We also heard explanations about a lower mine, storage areas around the site and an old abandoned home...
At one point, our guide talked about a previous plane crash. The pilot was not prepared, having too much fuel and not enough power to climb out after dipping down under the ridge. At that moment during our tour, along came another right place and time moment...
Our tour guide had just been talking about the serious danger in flying an aircraft above or in Meteor Crater. It was a perfect moment for the guide to get the whole crowd laughing. All he had to do was mention, the space above Meteor Crater was officially deemed a No Fly zone, sarcastically emphasizing the words "no fly". It was also a perfect moment for me to catch the above shot and name it "No Fly Zone".
There was something on the spiritual end of the spectrum in my visit here, hard to explain. It may have been the power it took to create the crater, or something about the energy left at the site. Every line, every rock, every thing held its own story about the moment of impact. For me it was easy to imagine the sounds and sights of that moment. Our tour guide and a video show at the visitor's center also helped illustrate the event. And that wasn't all. Throw in one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen and my family and I had yet another gift, neatly packaged, gladly accepted.
There were other interesting things to see on the tour as well...
I highly recommend visiting Meteor Crater. Images can't quite represent the feeling you get from standing on the edge of one of the most unique, grand features on earth. It didn't feel like a tourist trap to me. It was an entire experience and very well done by the staff that run the grounds.
More right place and time moments from our road trip:
Light OrbitThis image was shot at a church. Curious? I would be. See the entire story here. Bike (Color)This image was shot at a church. Curious? I would be. See the entire story here. Stained LampThis image was shot at a church. Curious? I would be. See the entire story here.