Grand Canyon

After skipping a couple of weekend homes, it was great having Darlene come out to visit me (thanks, Mr. Jones) in Flagstaff.

Late Friday afternoon, she and I took a little run down US 89a toward Sedona.  As you descend down alongside Oak Creek, you are treated with vermillion cliffs that make you stop every chance you can, just to marvel at the beauty.

In Sedona, we weighed our options on eating and finally settling on The Cowboy Club where we both chowed down on a brisket sandwich.  I must mention that it had started raining that afternoon and found ourselves fighting for space under a hastily purchased undersized and over priced umbrella.  So that may have played a part in the decision for the Cowboy Club since it was in walking distance from the parking garage.

Making our way back up the beautiful Hwy 89a, we sat by the fire at the hotel and chatted with a couple of Canadians who knew more about the area than I did after 4 weeks here.

Saturday, we headed up to the Grand Canyon.  Arriving there, it was cold, wet and the visibility was less than opportune.  We were confronted with sudden storms of something called "graupel", a substance somewhere between hail, sleet and snow.  With that and the wet splattering snow, we rode east back to the eastern entrance and checked out the trading post in Cameron before giving up and coming back into Flagstaff.

Needless to say, Darlene was more than just a little disappointed in the canyon experience so for her last day here, we decided to try it again.  As we drove west on I-40, we began to see more snow and by the time we were to turn north at Williams, there was enough of it that we began seeing snow trucks dropping sand.  Within 20 miles north of the interstate, the heavens opened, the snow ceased and the sun came out and began to warm.  What  a difference a day makes.

We had not intended to walk as much as we did but found ourselves walking from the visitor's center all the way to El Tovar Lodge.  Along the way we were swarmed with Asian tour crowds and watched as they took selfies of themselves with hand held extensions for their iPhones.

Getting away from the bus stops, we still watched people taking extraordinary photo opportunities near the edges.  We heard stories of the more bullet proof visitors doing hand stand near the edge and we witnessed several near edge experiences.  Of course the older ones kept a safe distance.  Time being short, you just don't want to lose those extra days.

At one point we saw a very large bird taking advantages of the updrafts.  Having heard about the California Condors being released into the area I wanted to believe I saw one. Zooming in, I could see what appeared to be white numbers under the wings.  One man's Condor is another's buzzard.

I might have been wrong but still, this squirrel was keeping an eye out for it.

  As we walked, we couldn't help stopping, taking pictures and marveling at every turn along the trail.

Each and every view seemed to be more spectacular than the last.  As we walked, we speculated on how difficult the trail down the canyon would be and if we were able to not get down...but if we could get back up.  That place is deep. 

After walking better than 3 miles along the paved walkway, we came to a cliff that overlooked Bright Angel Trail, the more widely used trail

It's also the one that the mules take riders down.  I wouldn't ride one simply because I'd feel sorry for the mules.  It reminded me of the poor horse I rode up a trail on Maui last year.  In this picture, you can see a glimpse of the Colorado River.  The dark line in the top right is the bridge that hikers as well as the mules use to cross the river.

Anyway, we arrived at El Tovar, near the park shuttle connection, and had lunch there.  The prices were reasonable and the food was great.  I had the Reuben sandwich.

After taking the shuttle back, we got back into our car and rode around the camp grounds admiring some of the travel trailers and motor homes.  There were elk all over the place but looked pretty scruffy as they began losing their winter coats.

Along the way headed east, I was a sucker for every pull out along the canyon rim.

As we ended the trip, the sun was getting low which warmed up the canyon walls.

At Desert View, we could see the Colorado River quite well near the beginning of the larger canyon.

   It was a great trip and Ms Darlene hopes to return soon.

Noted visitors