You park, cross two sets of tracks, go up these stairs, and then you're almost there. (Jessi, Margo, and Patty)
We only had about a five drive to get us to the Grand Canyon today, so except for a short stop, in Flagstaff, we would be driving straight to the South Rim Entrance of the Grand Canyon. We were up, ready, and had a bite or two of the continental breakfast at the hotel, and then by about we were on our way. We ended up making a pit stop at Holbrook, AZ and got some snacks at the Chevron station there off of I-40. An hour and a half later we stopped again in Williams, AZ, as we made the turn from I-40 to head north on AZ-64. We gassed up there, too thinking this was probably going to be the cheapest we would find gas for awhile.
The EverReady Bunny ain't gotten nothin' on this place.
An hour later, we pulled into Grand Canyon, AZ.
Grand Canyon, AZ is a group of businesses that cater to the tourist crowd. It is located outside the park, just south of the South Entrance. There are several hotels, including the Red Feather Lodge that we were staying at, a campground, general store, a McDonalds, and an airport for all of the tours. We checked into the hotel, and unloaded. We would do the serious unpacking later, but right now we wanted to get started. Our first stop was McDonalds. We had snacked some, but hadn’t really ate. One could argue that even after eating at McDonalds we hadn’t really ate, but we were happy. The IMAX Theater called to us next. We were doing the theatre first for two reasons. First, the movie “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets” sounded like a good way to get everyone into the spirit.
Me and a really big hole in the ground
Second, they had a vending machine that dispensed Park Passes. By getting one here we could jump into the short line, and could drive right into the park. The movie was about half an hour long and had a scene where some white water rafters went down the Colorado, through the canyon. This got Patty’s attention. She knew that we had plans to be on the Colorado the next day. She doesn’t swim well, and was not at all enjoying the thought of any whitewater rapids. But, that was not the kind of trip I had planned, and I assured her she would be fine.
With that it was time to actually enter the park. Our plan worked with us driving right up to the Ranger’s station at the front.
Margo and Jessi
We were given a handful of maps and other informational kind of things and turned loose. We were all getting a bit excited now. We had not yet seen the canyon on this trip. Until we actually entered the park, and into the village there on the edge it was just too far too see. There are several parking lots and we found a spot that was not too far from the main gate. Once we climbed the flight of stairs we could see more shops and lodges. To get to the canyon you had to walk into, and through one of these businesses. Once outside we got our first look at the Canyon. Wow! We, except for Patty were here, on the North Side, in 1989. (Jessi was a baby, though) I remembered it as being big. That seemed like an understatement. But, the sheer scope of it just grabs you, and wraps itself around you. You get a feeling akin to vertigo just by looking out on it. We are not even talking about looking down. Just looking out you get the feeling you are gazing out onto a whole other world.
Jessi and Patty (Jessi's grandma)
One filled with dangers and wonders that are a bit intimidating.
After just staring for a few minutes we took a few pictures, and then started to wander down what is called the Rim Trail. But the part that we were on was more akin to a street, with all of the businesses on one side. But rather than detract from the experience I felt they added a degree of security. Civilization was right here, and there was nothing to worry about. We wandered in and out of the shops. Each Lodge, like the Bright Angel, Thunderbird, or Kachina has some sort of restaurant or gift shop and we hit them all at some point. As it was very hot ice cream and soda’s were in order so we got those and ate them while enjoying the view.
In what seemed like a short time we were getting hungry as supper time was approaching.
Jessi, in awe.
While more than tempted to stick around, eat, and watch the sunset, we did need to get back to the hotel and unpack some. We would only be staying for two nights, but we had just dumped everything either in the room, or left it in the car. So with that we drove out of the park. We ate at the Tusayan Café, right next door to our hotel. Then that was pretty much it for the day. A little TV to unwind, and our normal bookkeeping stuff to keep us on budget and we were off to bed. Tomorrow was going to be the highlight of our trip. We would be not only flying over the Grand Canyon, but we would helicoptering down into it!