The Grandest Canyon of them all

Grand Canyon Travel Blog

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Today was our Grand Canyon adventure. To think that Norwood and I waffled on even going today, as the drive was long and we thought it was going to be a boring day. Much to my delight, the Grand Canyon ended up being so awesome that I wanted to spend an entire week there! Before you get grumpy at me and say ‘of course the Grand Canyon is awesome, you idiot’, hear me out. This was not the first time I have seen the Grand Canyon. In fact, I have seen it about five times before in my life. The difference is, every time I have seen it up until today, it really has been a boring trip involving a long drive down long and boring roads, followed by about 10 minutes of staring at the Grand Canyon, taking a few pictures, and then being told that it is time to get back in the car so we can head home, or wherever the next stop is.
I really thought that today was going to be much the same, but since the Grand Canyon is so awesome; I thought it just might be worth the 2-hour journey from Sedona to get there. Even so, I spent hours searching things to do in and around Flagstaff, which is on the way to and from the Grand Canyon, because I thought we would need extra activities to do on the way in order to make our trip worth the drive.

As I said before….much to my delight, the Grand Canyon turned out to be awesome! After our long and boring drive, we arrived at the Grand Canyon National Park and stopped along the side of the road next to one of the lookout points to have our first look at the canyon.
We oohed and aahed, and took a lot of pictures. To my surprise, there was the most eclectic group of people I have ever seen. Among them were: People from all countries of the world, but with very large representation from Japan, India, and the United Kingdom. There were Buddhist monks in orange robes, a guy playing the didgeridoo, ladies in stilettos and cocktail dresses (no, I’m not kidding), hippies, rednecks, Muslim ladies in headscarves, and of course families and old people fresh off of a tour bus.

We walked around a bit and looked at the canyon, but when it started to rain we visited the visitor’s center and the gift shop. I bought a book about the Havasupai Native Americans, whose ancestral land is actually inside of the Grand Canyon. I am interested to read this book and find out about these people.
Norwood told me that I am way more interested in history than he is. Perhaps he’s right, but then again, he’s a giant nerd so what is he teasing me for?   ☺

When the rain died out (which thankfully didn’t take that long) we went on our way and ended up in the village. I never knew the Grand Canyon had a village, but they had hotels and restaurants and everything. You can actually stay at the Grand Canyon in a hotel! Whoa, I never knew that! (haha, I didn’t!). The lodge had a little restaurant in it, and we were hungry so we decided to have lunch there. It was pretty good. I had the roasted red pepper soup, which was delicious, and the spinach rolls, which were actually veggie and black bean rolls in spinach tortillas. They were good, but they were even better when I put Grand Canyon brand hot sauce on them, yum!

After lunch we wandered down the road a little bit and found the entrance to the Bright Angel Trail.
I was excited, because I have always wanted to hike into the Grand Canyon, and here was my chance! Norwood and I ventured down the path, not sure how far we would go or what we would see along the way, but excited to be on the trail. The first thing I noticed (and it would be really impossible NOT to notice) was the massive amounts of donkey poop all over the trail. There was so much poop it was at times difficult to avoid it (I am proud to say that I did not once step in any). From that, we deduced that this is the trail that goes all the way down into the canyon that people pay to ride donkeys down into.
We continued down the trail and found a really neat looking archway that cut into the rocks. We stopped there to take a picture and along the way met a Japanese lady who had hiked down into the canyon 4½ hours and was currently attempting to make her way back up.
She looked like she was going to die. She kept swaying back and forth, looking as though she was going to collapse. I asked her if she was all right, and she said she was, she had just hiked all the way down to Indian Village for 4½ hours. Yikes! They say it can take up to twice as long to get back up the canyon as it takes to get down, so by that point she could have been well on her 8th hour of hiking.
We kept going down, down, down into the canyon. It was beautiful and exciting and really not that difficult to go down, so we just kept going and going. We hiked down for a little over an hour, and I would say we made it just over a mile down into the canyon, maybe 1¼ miles. If it wasn’t going to get dark relatively soon, we would have kept going down into the canyon even farther! It was so beautiful and so much fun, but given the circumstances, we decided to head back up.

Now, let me tell you something about hiking in the Grand Canyon. No matter how easy it was to go down, it is going to be a million times harder to go back up. I have the extra added disadvantage of living at sea level, and therefore having trouble with the thin air whenever I visit anywhere that has elevation. Climbing back up was TOUGH!
To illustrate just how tough it is, there is a sign when you enter the trail. It has a picture of a young, athletic woman who ran in the Boston Marathon. It then goes on to talk about how she died of dehydration in the Grand Canyon. Mind you, she and her friend were rather dumb, trying to hike all the way down into the canyon and back in one day, and only packing a small bottle of water and an apple as snacks. But…it goes to show that the canyon is not to be messed with.

On that lovely note, I would like to add that I would actually love to hike all the way down into the Grand Canyon at some point. Of course, I would give myself proper time and would bring proper supplies.

After our hike, we ventured out along the canyon by car to find the watchtower, which I have always wanted to see (It just always looked neat in pictures). It is all the way at the end next to the East entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park (We came in at the South entrance). So, we drove over there, about 20 miles, to see the watchtower. Along the way we stopped to look at an Elk that was eating some plants right by the side of the road. It was a beautiful animal.
We continued driving down the road, right alongside the canyon, but unable to see it most of the time because of all the trees.
We finally parked at the watchtower and  headed over to see. It really is beautiful. I found out it was only built in the 30’s, but that it is a replica of strange prehistoric towers that were found all over the southwest. On the inside of the tower, there is, of course, a gift shop on the lowest level. If you head up the stairs, it takes you up into a room with Native American paintings all over the walls. There is a balcony patio area that people can go out onto, or you can keep climbing up. All the way at the top, the tower boasts spectacular views of the canyon. We stood there and looked out for a few minutes, and then headed back down to ground level so we could sit and draw for a few minutes.

We didn’t really have much time to draw, as the sun was quickly setting, but we gave it our best attempt anyway.
I did a ten-minute painting of the canyon, which really didn’t come out that well because you need at least an hour’s time to capture anything in this canyon properly. Norwood did a more detailed drawing, and looked slightly panicked as the sky continued to get darker while he tried to capture the light and shadows of a particular part of the canyon. It did finally get dark, and we decided that it was time to go. Since we were next to the East entrance, we went back to Sedona from this direction, through the Navajo Reservation, and then down highway 89.

We stopped in Flagstaff for a late-night dinner at a pizza place (the only place that was open). The food was ok, but the environment of this restaurant was actually quite delightful. They were playing good music, and we had a good time singing along.
Norwood had a chicken pizza and I had spaghetti, since I didn’t really feel much like pizza. After that we drove back down the dark and winding road until we were safely back at our tiny Sedona house, where we collapsed with exhaustion for the evening.

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Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
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photo by: Sunflower300