Tom H Cooper
When you touch this book, it becomes your faithful companion, holding your hand and guiding you through the most beautiful natural wonders of the region of North America once known as the Wild West, exploring the scenery from a whole new perspective. Wide-ranging memories come to life and make you feel :
this book is closer to you than you ever imagined!
Tom H Cooper
… is an electrical engineer, amateur nature photographer, former jazz musician and keen outdoorsman.
For more than three decades, he has held IT, management and senior expert positions in a strategic energy company.
Since 1997, he had visited the USA several times in connection with his work, and since 2002, he has been visiting systematically the national and state parks of the West Coast as a private citizen.
He shares his travels and experiences in his first book (VADNYUGAT 2020) and, inspired by the reception of the stories in it, has written a second book of short stories and short fiction (CÉLKERESZT 2021).
He says that for him, the best mornings are those when the rising sun finds him on one of the dusty hiking trails of The Grand Circle. Both works have been privately published by the author in Hungary.
This 384+4-page work, which has all the hallmarks of a guidebook, showcases the best natural wonders of the geographical unit once known as the Wild West. Just as the national parks are well-organised home to unique formations, the short stories are structured around factual chapters.
These short stories are built on a realistic, but often astonishing or even thought-provoking, basis, and provide a glimpse of what a foreigner can see and experience in this open exhibition hall of geological wonders.
The work is the first in a 3-part series of sites within a line drawn around the meeting points of the Grand Circle states. Dozens of parks are presented, with photographs and maps by the author providing a practical guide to the impossible task of taking in the beauty of the region, glimpsing the lives of the people who live there, making a home for 2-3 weeks in places where we have always longed to be, but where we are – and remain – mere guests.
The book takes the events of over 2 dozen trips and turns them into one big voyage. The starting point is Las Vegas, the adults’ playground. It takes the reader from first superficial impressions to a coherent overall picture, giving the reader a glimpse into a world very different from national parks.
Heading north to the southernmost part of Utah, the Colorado Plateau at its highest elevation, we are introduced to the fascinating results of millions of years of erosion. Heading east, Moab and its environs enchant you, before Grand Junction and the Rocky Mountains take over. Along the way, of course, we become part of everyday life as characters on adventures, looking out the other side of the window at the movie of our lives, the backdrop for which we have seen so many times in widescreen movies. Colorado could be synonymous with friendship in this work – showing the power and value of human relationships.
With our backs now turned to the cougars of Boulder, our faces are tanned by the sun’s glow on the Arizona sky, the sun king over the Grand Canyon.
The mother of all roads, Route 66 winds beneath the wheels to complete the circle and give us time to take in the wonders of man-made wonder.
… because they were heroes and simply tenacious, skilled and merely enthusiastic, leaders and determined, who made their way into the unknown, then built dams, erected fairytale cities, protected and preserved their history and natural treasures – and finally helped us (the guests) to experience all this wonder.
This book is a tribute to the sacrifices, the example and the work of these great men and women.
Every day, most of us search for the path that leads to beauty.
Consciously or simply based on our values and desires, we strive to notice, see and appreciate all that holds the promise of beauty. Once we have found it, we seek to become part of it and to share it with others.
At sixty, this book could be an autobiography, but that is only partly true. The author’s identity, or even the place or date of his birth, is in fact irrelevant. But the journey he has taken is far more important, and yet it is dwarfed by the natural values that amaze, enchant and define a life-long journey of unmistakable beauty.
In the introduction, the author uses souvenir photographs from past decades to show where a hiking trail in one of the Garand Circle’s national parks actually begins. The answer lies in the genes we carry with us, the values we hold and the recognition that the world can be known if we have the desire, determination and dedication to know it.
The inner arch of the book is an imaginary circle drawn spatially around the common meeting point of (Nevada), Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. The timeline is essentially marked by the stories of the journeys between 1997 and 2022. Although the grey daily routine of our fast-paced world allows few to recognise the fact that in our ever-changing world we are extras and witnesses of change – of history.
Notable eras in the Earth’s history can be traced in the parks of the Colorado Plateau, a unique landscape of forms that for centuries have provided a human challenge and a seemingly inexhaustible source of close-up experiences with nature.
Just as the hundreds of beautiful photographs of the parks provide a backdrop to the almost indescribable wonders of this cruise, the stories in this book prove that those who don’t hesitate to put on their hiking boots can witness the rise and fall of human destinies as they look out the windows of the train of life.
Our common memories and values bind us together even when we are separated by a continent. Readers and writers can turn the pages of this book and recall the aching muscles of traversing a hot, dusty trail and the wonder of the images, smells and moods of what was once known as the Wild West.
The jewels of our known world pave the way to beauty with a proud nation’s repository of history and natural treasures.
It is on this path that this book offers the open-minded reader a hand, a companion, and a guide.
A tribute to those who discovered, protected, and made available to us the most beautiful natural values inNorth America.
Excerpt from the Hungarian version of the book published in 2020.
The original copy was donated by the author to the Grand Canyon NP Library in 2022 in honor of his esteem.
Arriving from the South
Arriving from Williams on the plateau – similarly to the eastern route – the route that heads north escorts us to the entrance of the park through low pine woods. Those who would like to spend a few days here can take the last (or last but one) chance to find accommodation for the night in the nearby village. From here there are seven miles left to the park. Leaving behind the multi-lane entrance, armed with maps and brochures, it still takes a while to get to the centre of the south rim. My personal favourite is the vicinity of Bright Angel Lodge. Car in the car park, wooden double swing door at the reception of the lodge. Shop on the right, lodge front desk on the left, fireplace and exit in front – these are only the fragments of pictures that I can perceive with a quick glance from the corner of my eye as I already feel that something big awaits through the glass door. Making your way through the continuous crowd of jostling, coming and going, door-blocking and loudly gesticulating people gathered here from many different parts of the world who often just see this as an opportunity to take a quick selfie, you catch a glimpse of the NORTHERN RIM – though only for a moment…
However, as you walk along on the stone path paved with great care that has been worn out by millions of shoes, the opening “window” perceived through your eyes situated above the not too tall stone edge becomes wider and wider. The clamour is slowly growing softer.
Your brain – if you simply allow it – sets an alarm bell ringing by excluding the unimportant: you, the human standing here should notice the wonder in stones, trees, the great depths and distances. In order to be able to use the word “wonderful” appropriately in the future, you must find a proper place deep in your heart and carefully plant there whatever you can see and feel right here and now. The memories that will store the imprints of the trips from Angel’s Landing, Mesa Arch and Antelope will also accompany you. They will also offer you something to hold onto in times, when other memories serving as grips are fading away with the passing of time. This is exactly what happens when you return and once again feel the burning desire you had once before; strange as it seems, everything you see needs to be processed in time even after numerous occasions.
Right before sunset, from the Trailview Overlook viewpoint, we even had time to take a last glance at the track that awaited us the next day. Wavering, tiny blobs of lights indicated those climbing upwards thus emphasising the repeated warning all around: you should not strive to make it to the river and back in a day. That day also vanished and it only took a little time to settle into our room literally just a few steps from the edge of the geological wonder that is a part of the world heritage site.
The lodge is built of massive pine logs right next to the walking path of the rim. Though our window overlooked the canyon and we were unable to see any of it in the dark, it was still a special feeling to be so close to this unique formation of earth’s history.
Owing to the cold October evenings, the crackling of matches indicates that the pine logs burning in the huge stone fireplace occupy the whole wall opposite the entrance of the lodge. The unique pieces of furniture made of thick timbers allow only a few people to spend some moments alone with their thoughts in the constant hustle and bustle. The swaying, flickering flames of fire – like the war dance of native American fighters in a circle – mesmerizingly catch the eye. The lucky one senses that this trance can be quite fruitful and allows himself to unite with the experienced and embraced beauty showing a different face of the canyon in different parts of the trail. This then will accompany us for many years as cherished memories compiled from million-year-old layers.