Sunday, April 11, 2010

Grand Canyon, Arizona - April 2, 2010

Are we there yet????

On Friday, Mel's cousin Karen joined up with us and off we went to the Grand Canyon.    YAY!!!   I was so excited!   I've heard about it, but I've never been there.   So as you can imagine, the hour long drive seemed sooooo very long!!!

Well, we finally made it to the front entrance of the park.   I was surprised by how flat the drive was.   When I think "canyon", I think you have to drive up into the mountains to see it, right?    Well, this canyon happens to be a really large hole in the ground with practically nothing (other than national park signs, ranger stations, and traffic) to warn you that it's coming!

I could just imagine some poor pioneer in a covered wagon who had traveled hundreds of miles and was looking forward to getting to their destination coming across this:

It's a LONG way across and an even LONGER way down!!!!

Karen, Mel & I walked the Rim Trail, which is a nicely paved 2 1/2 mile walk giving you spectacular views of the canyon.  We didn't anticipate the impact of the 7000 foot elevation though, and darn nearly didn't make it all the way before dark!!   NOTE TO TRAVELERS:   Bring water & snacks!!!!   There aren't any places to buy them along the way, and we definitely ran out of energy before we got to the village.   But it was soooo worth it.   Here's a sampling of what we saw....

Yavapai Point & Observation Station
Inside were windows overlooking great views and all sorts of informational displays
(but no snacks)
Here's a little piece of the rim trail.
Very nicely maintained.
Hopi House was really cool!

Hopi House was built by the same architect who designed many of the buildings in the Canyon Village area - Mary Colter.   Her designs are all meant to blend in with the landscape.   This building was cool because she used many of the same techniques the Hopi had used for hundreds of years to build their homes.   The only concession was putting doors at ground level (Hopis enter from the rooftops).    Real Hopi indians lived in the upper 3 stories for many years.

The El Tovar Hotel is the premier lodge at the Grand Canyon.   This was opened in 1901 to serve the tourists.   The Grand Canyon Village area was designed and operated by the Fred Harvey company - have you heard of the "Harvey Girls"?    If you haven't, go out and rent the movie - right now!   It's really cute!!!   Well, the restaurants were staffed and run by Harvey Girls.    I didn't know that and thought it was a pretty cool piece of history.

Incidentally - this is where we finally found snacks   :-)     We dragged our sorry tired behinds into the lounge and ordered several items to share.   Never been so happy to have calamari in my life!!!

Lookout Studio

Lookout Studio is another of the buildings designed by Mary Coulter.   It houses a shop now, and has a wonderful balcony from which you can view the canyon (which was unfortunately closed by the time we got there).   There's a funny story about the Lookout....   Apparently 2 brothers, the Kolb brothers, had set up a photography studio a little farther down the trail, where they sold pictures of the canyon.  They also took pictures of the mule trains and would sell the prints to the tourists as they came back up from their trips.   Well, Fred Harvey didn't like the competition, so when this structure was built, they called it "Lookout Studio".  So, when tourists got off the train and asked where the "studio" was, employees would happily point them out to Lookout Studio.    Sneaky, huh??

Well, about the time we made it to Lookout studio, it was time to start thinking about picking a spot to watch the sun set.     Everything we had seen or read about the canyon said that the best views, best colors, best pictures were at sunrise or sunset.    (And we didn't make it there by sunrise...).    So, we headed back towards the El Tovar hotel, where the overlook had more sweeping views, and camped out on a bench....
Nice spot, don't you think?
We even got to check out some of the local "wildlife"

But seriously - watching the changing shadows and play of light & color on the canyon during the sunset is one of life's true spectacles and should not be missed.....

Since this was Good Friday, we could not watch such a spectacular display of God's creation and without worshipping the Creator.

Psalm 19

The Witness of Creation and Scripture
   For the choir director. A Davidic psalm.
    1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky proclaims the work of His hands.
    2 Day after day they pour out speech;
    night after night they communicate knowledge.
    3 There is no speech; there are no words;
    their voice is not heard.
    4 Their message has gone out to all the earth,
    and their words to the ends of the inhabited world.
    In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun.

One of the things that struck me as so indicative of man's hubris is that the formations and landmarks in the canyon are named after ancient false gods.  How sad.....

After sunset, we wanted to finish the trail, so we headed back down past the Lookout Studio to Kolb Studio

It was closed by the time we got there, so we could not see inside, but it was situated at a stunning location, right at the beginning of the Bright Angel Trail.
Bright Angel Trail is the most popular route into the canyon.    Unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was too dark to go even a little way.

From the rim trail, visitors can take a bus down the Hermit Route trail, which I hear is a spectacular scenic ride.   We did not have the opportunity to do it.   Maybe next time....    :-)

Instead, we hopped on a bus that took us back to the visitor center where we started.   ANOTHER NOTE TO TRAVELERS:    If you park at the visitor center near Mather Point and think you'll get back after it closes, BRING A FLASHLIGHT!   There were very few lights on, and those were only within the visitor center area.   The parking lots were not well marked and were PITCH DARK.    We wandered around into a couple different parking lots before finding the right one, and then we couldn't see our car at all until we were right on top of it.    Just getting to the car was quite an adventure!!!    And no, the flashlight program you can download to your smart phone is not enough - take it from me!

I have to say, if you've never been to the Grand Canyon, make plans to go - and stay a few days so you have time to see more than we did.    It's an awe-inspiring experience and a natural wonder you should not miss. You will not be disappointed!

No comments: