The Grand Canyon cannot be reduced to simply words and photographs. Regardless, I’m going try anyway. The Grand Canyon is kind of like a series of upside down mountains in that you get a panoramic, beautiful view from your starting elevation. With mountains, you have to climb UP the mountain to see everything. With the GC, you just pull over to the side of the road for phenomenal, expansive views. So it’s like the lazy person’s version of getting great “mountain” views. Woohoo!
Dad and I left Vegas for the Grand Canyon with a car full of cereal bars, Honolulu Cookie Company cookies, peanuts, and 3 oranges. We crossed into Mtn Time and gained about 4500 feet in elevation. It got dark about half-way through our drive, so I couldn’t tell we had gained that much elevation aside from having to equalize my ears once and the seemingly sudden appearance of snow on the side of the road. On our way into Tusayan, where we stayed, I looked out the window and saw SO MANY STARS. Because of Tusayan’s elevation and the fact that it’s Tusayan (aka pop. 550), there was hardly any light pollution. No dull orange on the horizon to outshine the stars. The only other place I’ve seen so many stars is in the Middle of Nowhere (HaMakuya), South Africa. (I say Middle of Nowhere fondly as HaMakuya is one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever visited.)
The following morning, we stopped by MickeyDs for breakfast. (Side note: I’ve eaten more fast food on this trip than I have over the past two years. I’m so done with fast food for the rest of the year.) First stop: visitor’s center. We acquired a map and advice to use crampons on the trails. Although we didn’t have crampons, we went to the Bright Angel Trailhead anyway. The trail had plenty of snow, but no ice. I guess it was cold enough that the snow didn’t melt and refreeze into ice overnight. I loved hiking down into the canyon. I get a sense of its vastness and a sense of nature’s power when I’m walking in it. I’m just a puny human being on the side of a massive rock face. I am minuscule in the grand scheme of things. It took the Colorado River millions of years to carve out the canyon; I am just a blink on this timeline. In the morning, the trail was quiet. I could hear the sounds of morning birds, wintery wind, and the crunch of my boots on the powdery snow. Dad and I made it to the 1.5 mile rest station (350 m below the starting elevation) before we turned around.
After our little foray into the canyon, we filled up on delicious, piping hot soup in a bread bowl. They toasted the bread bowl, which made it that much better. Then we drove along Hermit Road to the West and Desert View to the East, stopping for pictures along the way. We saw Rocky Mountain Elk at several points during our drive. The snow on the fur of the elk glistens like crystals under gallery lighting when the sun hits at the right angle. At one of the stops, I played with the most precious puppy ever. He was so excited to play in the snow! At sunset, we went to Yavapai point. At sunrise and sunset, I get a sense of how quickly the Earth rotates. One second the sun is there and the next, it’s gone.
The next morning, dad and I got up early and went into the park for sunrise. We watched the sunrise while shivering from the cold. I like how shadows take shape on the canyon walls as the sun rises over the horizon. Once the sun was up, we picked up hot chocolate (so, so delicious on such a cold morning!) and breakfast before hiking a bit of the Rim Trail and visiting the Geology Museum. Then we headed back to Vegas.
One thing I noticed: there were no dead bugs on the grill of our car after our drive to and from the Grand Canyon! You can’t go a mile in Florida without having mosquito/love bug/other bug carcasses splattered across the front of the car. I guess it’s too cold for bugs here!
In a gift shop, I saw some cards with Indian proverbs. I really liked this quote:
“Give me knowledge so I may have kindness for all.” -Huron Indian proverb