"" Writer's Wanderings: The National Park Road Trip - Grand Canyon

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The National Park Road Trip - Grand Canyon

Of course we couldn’t visit the Grand Canyon without viewing at least one sunrise so we awoke early at 5:45 and dressed warmly. The temps were into the 40s at night and it was a chilly morning. Many were gathered at the rim on the side of the El Tovar Lodge, holding their coffees in one hand and cameras in the other. We watched as the sun came up and began to light the walls of the canyon. When we’d had enough and were chilled, we returned to the room—Bob back to bed and me to the computer to catch up on recording our trip.

Looking across to North Rim 18 miles away
After a bowl of cereal and some fruit along with a shot of caffeine we were ready to begin our first hike. The parks all have these nice newspaper sized guides that include great maps and information. Using ours for the Grand Canyon, we had looked at the three different shuttle routes that would take us where we wanted to go. To the east was the orange route and to the west was the red route and in between was the blue which connected all the hotels and village facilities and connected you to the outer shuttles.

We chose to make our first trip out in the red shuttle area and walked to where the red shuttle began not far from the lodge. You can opt to get off at each stop/viewpoint and look around then board the next bus which should arrive about 15 minutes later. We decided to ride it all the way to Monument Creek Vista where a paved trail would take us all the way to the end of the shuttle run at Hermit’s Rest. The trek would be about three miles but at the end of it we promised ourselves a snack at the snack bar and a ride back on the shuttle.

California Condor
The walk was wonderful. Fresh air and beautiful scenery and with the sun at our backs and beginning to warm the air a bit, it was refreshing. I was snapping picture after picture and wondering what I was going to do with them all. The most difficult thing was to try to capture the depth and breadth of the canyon. The canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide at its widest point and a mile or more deep. Next to impossible to portray in a photo.

When we made it to Hermits Rest, we headed for the snack shop and as we rounded the corner, I could smell chocolate—fresh baked chocolate. Who knew there would be homemade cookies all the way out there! We split a sandwich and got two coffees to go with our cookies. Best reward for a long hike, right next to the views of course.

Arriving back at the lodge, we noticed that the Grand Canyon Train was in. It arrives daily around eleven in the morning and leaves again just before four. That also happens to be the busiest hours around the Grand Canyon Village as that is about the same time the tour buses arrive. The train comes from Williams, Arizona, on a daily basis. There are several different packages available to choose from for the trip and you can find information about it at their website, Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel. The train has been running since 1901 and one of the original steam engines is on display at the train station in the village.

After a short rest, feet up, we decided to go to the lounge to get a drink and a snack. We ended up with a nice plate of Navajo Nachoes which we devoured (guess the hiking makes you hungry) and then we were off again for an afternoon trek. This time we went out to the yellow line and got off at Mather Point and walked to the Geology Museum at Yavapai Point—about .7 mile on a paved walkway. I was getting spoiled with all these paved walkways.

The Geology Museum was what you would expect, showing the evolution of the canyon and the elements that make up the walls and of course the variety of colors and layers of stone.
Back on the bus and back to the lodge for a shower and another feet up rest and we were ready to take on dinner at the Bright Angel Lodge. We ate in the more casual restaurant and enjoyed a quiet time rehashing what we’d seen and what was yet to be seen.

Notice the people on the cliff edge. 
Bob still had enough energy to go to one of the ranger programs that centered on the history of the Canyon told through the works of art by many different artists through the years. He was very impressed with the information. When he returned we tried unsuccessfully once again to take a picture of the night sky. Where could I find out how to capture the jewels that sparkled in that clear night sky? A thought suddenly occurred but with the time difference it was too late to follow up. Tomorrow I would for sure.

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