Thursday, December 3, 2009

Time at the Grand Canyon

First, I must apologize. :) I had trouble with my Internet connection while I was in Arizona. (in other words, there wasn't one) I was thankful to be able to check in on my iPhone, but updating my blog was out of the question.

If that wasn't bad enough, once I finally got back, I was pretty sick. Thankfully, I'm better now and ready to re-connect with the outside world.'s a trip recap:

I drove from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon via Williams, Arizona. It was a neat place--lots of leftover Route 66 remnants. I spent a little time there before heading north to the Grand Canyon.

I could hardly contain my excitement as I drove through the entrance for Grand Canyon National Park! I drove straight to the lodge area and checked in to my room before my first view of the canyon. I opted to stay at the Bright Angel Lodge--a little rustic, but so close to the rim! I threw my stuff into my room and stepped outside for my first view...

There. Are. No. Words.

You know the song, Jesus My Lord? If not, here are some of the lyrics:
Have you ever look at the sunset
With the sky mellowing red
And the clouds suspended like feathers
Then I say you've seen Jesus my Lord

Have you seen Jesus my Lord
He's here in plain view
Take a look open your eyes
He'll show it to you

That song immediately came to mind upon seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. Just awesome.

Once I was able to tear myself away from gazing into the canyon, I set out for a walk along the rim. Totally amazing.

Side note: I am a naturally clumsy person. Like I trip sometimes even when there isn't anything to trip over. (don't let my years as a ballet/tap dancer and cheerleader fool you--I learned to hide my clumsiness, but it was always there) The lack of railing at the edge of the canyon made me VERY nervous.

After a quick trip to the visitor center (via the handy shuttle bus) I watched the sunset from Yavapai point. Being November at 7000+ elevation, as soon as the sun set, it got COLD.

Speaking of elevation, it took me a while to get used to it. The least bit of walking left me breathless and I learned how important it was to stay hydrated.

Another side note: By the time the sun went down on that first day at the park, I was feeling pretty awful. I went to the Bright Angel restaurant and ate some soup, then went right to bed. There are few things worse than being sick and far away from home.

The next day (my first full day at the park) was a good one. Thanks to my friend Benedryl, I felt better. I spent the morning exploring the village area--the lodges, the General Store, etc. After a quick lunch in my room (I'd come prepared with groceries) I set out on a lengthy hike along the rim.

First of all, the views are just amazing. Really just breathtaking. But I am a little bit afraid of heights sometimes, clumsiness notwithstanding. The rim being so close and the huge drop offs made me very nervous. There aren't rails for the most part, except for the key lookout points. Which is good, because they kind of detract from the natural beauty.

A third side note: I can't tell you how many people I saw doing stupid things. One of the rangers I talked to shared my feelings and told me that despite the warning signs posted, some people just didn't understand that there were real dangers. I watched small children running around, dangerously close to the edge. I saw many, many people with pets (leashed) whose owners weren't paying attention. When it was an especially large animal, all I could think was if that dog sees a squirrel (which were everywhere) and goes after it, both dog and owner will topple over the edge. And then there were those people who would climb out onto places that clearly weren't mean to be climbed onto just for a photo opportunity. My lesson from watching these people: I think you need to have a healthy respect for the canyon and many people clearly do not.

Okay, back to my story. :) So despite my fear of heights, I plunged ahead. A couple of times I had to stop and sit on well-placed benches away from the rim just to talk myself into going on. But each new vista was worth the fear. I hiked all the way to Hermit's Rest, where I rewarded myself with a cup of hot chocolate from the snack bar. I took the shuttle back to the lodge and watched the sun set.

I decided to try the Arizona Room for dinner. It seemed a little fancier than the Bright Angel Restaurant. The food was delicious. Warm bread and butter, chicken corn chowder and a yummy burger and fries.

All in all, a perfect day.

The next day, I explored a little more. This time, I went to VerKamps visitor center and checked out the displays. Then I attended a ranger program that was very interesting. I talked to the ranger for quite a long time--explaining that I was a writer and telling her a bit about my Walk in the Park series. She was excited about the books and was happy to answer my questions.

After lunch, I set out on what I knew would be a tough hike. I still wasn't feeling that great, so I didn't push myself too much. I desperately wanted to hike down into the canyon though, so I set out on the Bright Angel Trail. I only went about a mile or so down. It was amazing! I had to stop to let a group riding mules pass me. I know those are very sure-footed animals and all, but there is no way I'd ride one down into the canyon! I preferred my own 'hug the canyon wall' method of hiking.

I'm not going to lie. Coming up was HARD! And I can totally understand those people who go to far and get in trouble--hiking down was easy. And it was SO TEMPTING to go around another bend to see the view that waited around the corner. But hiking up was very difficult--I can't imagine doing it during the summer heat.

I headed to Hopi Point for another beautiful sunset.

The next morning, I got up before daylight and went out to watch the sun rise over the canyon. First of all, it was FREEZING! But such an amazing sight to see.

I treated myself to breakfast at the El Tovar. It is the "fancy" place and I have to say the food was delicious.

Sadly, all good things must come to and end. I spent the night in Flagstaff, then drove to Phoenix early the next morning. One cool thing--on the way back to Phoenix, I drove past some kind of hot air balloon event and saw tons of hot air balloons. I wish I could've gotten a picture of them flying over the red rocks.

Despite the sickness that plagued me, it was a fantastic trip.

Song of the week: Elevation by U2. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just left a huge comment, and the system was unable to process it! Yikes! Mostly, I said that I could definitely understand the height thing at the Grand Canyon. The first time Dan and I went, all his pictures had the Colorado River in them, and all my pictures had the rim in them, because I was standing about 12 feet back. Two years ago when we went, I surprised myself, and stood right up by the fence taking pictures of the sunrise, which was awe-inspiring, just like you said. The other thing we had in common was that I got really sick as we were leaving to come home. I don't know where it came from, and I never knew what it was, but I had a fever of 104, along with vomiting and just plain pain and agony. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it home on the plane. Actually, going to the Grand Canyon would be my answer to the question you asked in another post about what we would do with an "extra day", either that or go snorkeling in the Bahamas.

Susan Manchester
Jacksonville, FL


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