Magnificent! Spectacular! Those adjectives are far more accurate descriptions of the natural wonder that we call The Grand Canyon. It is very difficult to capture in a photograph the enormity of this “hole in the ground”.
An early explorer, with the catchy name of James Christmas Ives, was unimpressed. He dubbed it a “profitless locality” and predicted “the Colorado River, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.” Had cable news been around during his day, he might have had a brilliant career as a pundit. (I leave it to you to decide which station would hire him).
After meeting at the Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort in Scottsdale, our group of 35 headed off to the Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs via Sedona and Flagstaff. Our hotel is on the reservation, right by the railroad tracks. Somehow that image didn’t make it into the hotel’s decorative window.It occurred to me that the trains’ engineers might have been a little annoyed that they were working while others were sleeping. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for blasting the horn multiple times as they approached the town. And yes, there were many, many trains–about 1 every 15 minutes. Made me feel really sorry for the people who live in the Peach Springs.
The big attractions for the western Canyon were the helicopter rides down to the canyon’s bottom, river rafting to Lake Mead on the “snout rigs”, and the Sky Walk.
First the Sky Walk. It wasn’t quite what I had envisioned. We didn’t go out on it, but we saw it from the top of the canyon,
then later from our river raft. It’s that silver oval, jutting out from the top of the photo. What do you think? Worth an additional $70?
We didn’t think so either.
Back to the western canyon–here’s the view from the rim–very subdued colors, with a sediment laden river (that very brown ribbon) winding along the bottom. The Colorado River is quite low because of 12 years worth of droughts and the additional water needs of the area’s growing population.
Mike and I were in the last group of chopper riders, so we had time to become “one” with the landscape and to take pictures of our new friends as they climbed aboard.
Prior to this trip, we had toyed with the idea of rafting and camping through the canyon. Our ride on the snout rig absolutely settled that issue!
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Those rigs are not the most comfortable way to travel. And if you are seated in the front, you are guaranteed to get wet, even when there are no rapids. Guess what–the water is COLD.
Our land transportation, on the other hand, was luxurious. Good thing, because we traveled from one end of the canyon to the other: from Lake Mead to Lake Powell, logging many hours on that bus.
Our next stop was the one most visited by tourists–the south rim. The advantage to going a little later in the season was that the park was not crowded. Fortunately, we didn’t go TOO late. Had we waited another week, we would have found the park closed, thanks to our fine congressmen. But that’s another story.
There are so many possible captions for this next photo. “Death Wish”, “Just one more step back, honey”, “Did you send the check to the insurance company?”…
For the more adventurous, the South Rim offers the opportunity to hike (or ride) along Bright Angel Trail.
Dinner at El Tovar was not part of our tour package, but we decided to forgo the Maswick Cafeteria and enjoy that beautiful setting.
The next morning, while my two favorite traveling companions caught up on their beauty sleep, I returned to the edge of the rim to catch the sunrise.
If you look closely at the next photo, you will see our rafts on the left hand side of the river. We get there via a two mile tunnel carved through the rock.
Drew, our fantastic river guide, kept us informed and entertained, as he guided us down the river. A former Marine and lawyer, he chooses to spend his days piloting rafts on the river, and we all benefited greatly from that decision.
Drew explained the significance of the petroglyphs, including the “modern” one. Can you make out the word “Trent” carved into the rock? it seems Trent just had to leave his mark, and in doing so, he also contributed many dollars and hours of community service for defacing a historical site. Yep, he got caught.
The best part about being in such a remote area is the skies are magnificently dark. We were lucky enough to have a professional astronomer with us–Mike gave us a wonderful impromptu lecture on the heavens. It was a great finale to a fantastic trip!