"How old is that?" I asked.

"Close to 1,400 years old," said Okie.

It was as if past and present had collided as one.

Okie looked toward the Colorado, running brown beneath the sun.

"Yep," he said. "That's the same river they saw."

And the Anasazi were merely members of the Newcomer's Club.

In another silent side canyon, Christian crouched and splashed water on a rock. A shape appeared, trumpet shaped and maybe five inches long.

"Crinoid," said Christian. "That's probably 400 million years old."

Our days unfolded in languid fashion. We woke, warm in our sleeping bags, to cool silence on white-sand beaches, the tops of the canyon walls catching the first tracings of dawn. Breakfast followed, the smell of coffee and bacon residing beside the river, and then the guides would break down camp and pack their respective boats, meticulously lashing down piles of gear like fussy moms. By 9, we would be on the river.

Though much ado is - rightly - made of the Colorado's vaunted rapids, most of the river is rapidless. Yes, there are more than 160 rapids between Lees Ferry and Lake Mead, but they compose 9 percent of that section of river. And so we floated, lazy as a dream, between brown river and blue sky, the canyon walls ever-rearing up on both sides, while beneath the boat, the river made small commotions and fidgets.

Great blue herons, dragonflies, gossamer strands of spider webs, they all wafted past us at a syrupy pace. Late afternoon, we would bump up against an empty beach and, in short order, we would be dining on shrimp scampi or prime rib, tiki torches throwing flickering light on the sand.