We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, October 19. 2018
About a year ago our niece had a child. Shortly afterward, my in-laws felt it was time to go meet their great-grandchild. It became a family event. 5 of us flew from various locations to Arizona. We rented a van and took the 8 week old on her first grand family adventure, spending a weekend traveling through Sedona, up to Williams, and riding the Grand Canyon Railroad up to see the big hole in the ground.
A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of an old church in Europe, commenting "I wish we had old things like this here in the U.S." My tongue-in-cheek reply was "We do! The Grand Canyon is much, much older." In many ways, the Grand Canyon is much more beautiful than a church or any architecture man could devise.
I had never been to the Grand Canyon before. I can't say anything which hasn't already been said about its grandeur. I'll toss in a few pictures of Sedona and the Grand Canyon, but the reality is pictures simply can't capture the immensity and beauty.
We were on the South Rim, about mid-point of the canyon. It's 18 miles across at this location, and the North Rim is higher than the South Rim, so you look 'up' at the far side. Nowadays, there is no private property in the area, except for whatever was grandfathered in when the park was created. At this location, the El Tovar Hotel is right on the rim. We didn't stay, but it is a beautiful hotel if you enjoy the look of rustic West (I do).
The Grand Canyon Railroad is a fun way to get to there, especially if you're a family with kids. You don't get much time at the canyon itself, about 3 1/2 hours. However, you don't have to drive, you get to take in the scenery, the kids interact with cowboys and there is a train robbery on the ride home. It leaves at 9:15 am from Williams, Arizona (the last town bypassed by Interstate 40, and a town chock full of Route 66 memorabilia) and arrives at the canyon around 11:30. A tour guide gives a running commentary as cowboys stroll up and down the train strumming guitars and singing tunes for tips. There are a variety of vistas which are passed. High plains, forest, ranch, and mountains are all part of the two and a half hour trip. We saw elk, antelope, and jackrabbit galore.
I really enjoyed this trip, and there's so much to see I am inspired to return. I doubt I'd do the railroad again, and I'd like to see the canyon from several different places. I'd also like to go down into it, which I didn't have time to do. Always leave something for the next time. That's pretty much my motto when I travel.
Williams. Route 66. Canyon Club for good karaoke and cocktails.
The Red Garter, Williams. It was what you think it was, but isn't anymore.
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See "Bright Angel Trailhead Canyon views, mule corral; drinking water, restroom, emergency phone. Access to steep trail with day hikes down to 1 1⁄2-Mile Resthouse, 3-Mile Resthouse, and Indian Garden. Ask for a hiking brochure at visitor centers or Backcountry Information Center." under "Village". For those of you who are adventurous enough to hike:
You used to be able to camp about halfway down Bright Angel Trail, but I see that is no longer an option. I hiked down that far with a friend and camped out a number of years ago, and then we hiked back out. I ended up carrying BOTH our gear out when we started back and he decided it was more than he wanted to do, and was ready to rent a mule. Definitely a significant amount of exercise. MAKE SURE YOU STAY HYDRATED.
I took my (then) 10 year old son there over 20 years ago. At that point I put a rim to rim hike on my bucket list. Hopefully I'll make it at some point.
We just did rim to rim a few weeks ago, it had been on our bucket list for many years. we did it the "easy way"; started at the north rim, camped halfway down night one, at the bottom for night two, and halfway up the south rim night 3. You can certainly do it without as many stops, but this also gave us time to enjoy it leisurely. They run a lottery 4 months in advance for the campsites now, but if you don't get your exact itinerary we'd suggest getting there a day early and asking if anything has opened up. DO IT; its a great experience.
I went to the Grand Canyon last year when I was in Flagstaff and had an extra day in the area due to my stupidity of mis-booking my return flight. Best screwup I ever made.
I messed up on the directions that some Flagstaff locals gave be but it was for the best. I got to the East Entrance early in the morning. I had all the good lookout spots mostly to myself as I drove along Desert View Drive. I even had some time to go on short hikes and sit on ledges and dangle my feet over the sides. I liked that the NPS hadn't completely baby-proofed the park and there were still places you could go and experience a modicum of unsupervised danger.
I got into the Village area in the early afternoon just as it was starting to fill up and get busy. I had no problems seeing the good sites in and around the Village. It was a good thing I got there when I did. Any later and it would have been an intolerable mass of humanity around there. As I was leaving the park via the South Entrance I was bummed out to see the huge line of cars waiting to get into the park but thrilled that I blundered into the taking the route I did.
While I was in the Village I looked at the train the comes up. I thought that that would be the ideal way to get into the park. However, I cannot stand the stupid fake cowboy schtick. I don’t even think I could stomach it with the grandkids. A naturalist or a geologist giving a talk along the ride would be acceptable. Otherwise just give me an annoyance free train ride, please.
We have friends from Finland. They visited us when they were young newlyweds. Only had 3nights 4 days for the entire trip. When they came home they showed us their pictures. Down the trail to the bottom. I said, "oh, I am surprised you were able to get a bed down there." Their response: "oh--it wasn't a problem we did the round trip in one day!" The pictures proved their famous Finnish Sistu!
"My tongue-in-cheek reply was "We do! The Grand Canyon is much, much older." In many ways, the Grand Canyon is much more beautiful than a church or any architecture man could devise."
That actually is my tongue NOT in cheek answer; I do believe that the "old" world has its majestic man-made beauty - such as the pyramids, the Taj Mahal, European cathedrals, the Great Wall of China, etc.
But, none of that comes close to the majestic beauty of natural North America; whether it be the great plains, the high Rockies, or fantastic canyons like the Grand Canyon. One of my favorite drives in Arizona is a lesser known scenic route - Salt River Canyon. Not known for being a tourist destination; but, it is a beautiful scenic drive right outside Phoenix.
We camp a week at the grand canyon twice a year. There are enough hikes to hike 4-8 miles everyday. You would think it would get old but I really look forward to it. We try to find a new hike each trip. A great hike is to take the bus to Hermit's rest and walk back to the lodge, about 8 miles. Walk the inside trail, the one closest to the edge. Sometimes you are inches from the edge and sometimes a few feet. It is not scary but I could see how it might be for some. We hike down Bright Angel trail too but after two lung operations I really can't go that far anymore. The three mile house is my limit. As they say " hiking into the canyon is optional, but hiking out is mandatory" So be careful how far you hike down.
I will say that without moonlight, the canyon is not much of a view at nighttime.
Unless you're in it! I spent a night on the Tonto Trail between Mohave Point and Hopi Point a few years ago. Midnight, the heavens were framed by the canyon (Hopi) wall. I lost count of how many stars there were. ;)
Everyone should see the grand canyon at least once in their lifetime. I went when I was forty it made me feel like a child. Don't tell anyone but I stole a rock and I also left a rock from Pennsylvania. The rock is prominently displayed in my living room. This was twenty years ago and at the airport they scanned my bag, (it was a pretty good sized rock), they just laughed when I told them what it was. Couldn't get away with that today.