Since I have just gotten back, I can testify that the Grand Canyon is, in fact, one of the most beautiful natural places in the world. It is full of rich geological history, stunning wildlife, and home to some of the most amazing birds in the world: the peregrine falcon(the fastest bird AND living thing on earth), the raven(the smartest bird on earth), and the condor(the bird with the longest wingspan on earth). A pretty impressive place! What is even more impressive is that I discovered that the Grand Canyon is a place that women have ruled- both in history and in nature!
Let’s start with the history- with a lady named Mary Colter. Since the field of architecture was thought of as a field that only men could do, Mary Colter was one of the very few female architects in her day. She was the designer of many buildings for the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad, her most famous being located in the Grand Canyon National Park. Colter created several astounding works in the Grand Canyon South Rim including the Hopi House, Hermit’s Rest, Lookout Studio, Desert View Watchtower, Bright Angel Lodge, and Phantom Ranch buildings at the bottom of the Canyon. I had the amazing opportunity to go inside of her work Hermit’s Rest; apparently back in the day, c. 1914, it was used as a rest stop for visitors traveling to Hermit’s Camp. She handpicked every rock used in the making of it! Nowadays, it is still a rest stop, but now with an addition of bathrooms, a bar, and a gift shop.
And now on with nature! As with most aspects of nature, our next female exhibits some qualities that are a little harsh. Our next lady is the female tarantula hawk, and what she does is both gruesome, and a little awesome. Despite the name, tarantula hawks are neither hawks or tarantulas. They actually fall mostly in the wasp family. Male tarantula hawks are rather small and harmless and provide no greater purpose than mating with the female tarantula hawks. The female tarantula hawks, on the other hand, and big and colorful and very aggressive! But what is most unsettling about the female tarantula hawk is how she plants her larvae. She preys upon an unsuspecting tarantula – usually three times her size – and then attacks it, stings it, and paralyzes it. Once the tarantula is paralyzed, she creates a hole in the tarantula’s abdomen, and lays a single egg on it, and flies off. After a few minutes, the tarantula is free to walk around and live again freely, for about a week, until the egg within the abdomen hatches. Once the egg hatches, the larvae within the tarantula eats all organs except the vital ones, to keep the tarantula alive as long as possible. After several weeks of this, the wasp becomes an adult and emerges from the tarantula’s abdomen to continue the life cycle. A terrible end for the tarantula. Many other species in the Grand Canyon exhibit female dominance in the Grand Canyon. For most birds, mammals, and insects, the female sex tends to be the most aggressive, strong, and big in size, which just goes to prove that women run the Ol’ Gran’ Can’!
I cannot wait to one day return to the Grand Canyon, and discover more of both history and nature’s powerful women!