Another day, another drive - this time south west. We saw a lot of this. Emptiness.
Had to make a stop at this famous geological landmark - do you know what it is?
Four Corners - the only spot in the United States where four states touch. At the same time you can stand in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. It's not exactly scenic, but it is unique, and it was right on our way to... can you guess?
Next, a midday stop in Kayenta. The boys got to explore this Navajo hogan, complete with contents, of all places in the parking lot of a Burger King. Ooooookay...
Actually, we stopped at the Burger King because it houses a Navajo Code Talker museum. Tate was especially intrigued, but all the boys were interested. But why in a Burger King? Apparently the manager's grandfather was one of the code talkers. He had several great displays, with lots of artifacts and information.
It was at Kayenta that the boys discovered the wonders of Sonic, and carhops on roller skates. Yah. Hey, anything to keep my travelers happy :D And they were good travelers, through many, many miles. Until finally, we looked out our windows and saw...
Is that the Grand Canyon, Mom?
Well, yah, that's part of it. But you ain't seen nothin' yet. Press on...
Once again we were climbing. I hadn't realized so many of the places we were going were so high! Because to us, high means mountains. Doh. I'm still learning.
This is the Grand Canyon. This is what we've come all these miles to see. The boys were duly impressed, if not overly cautious.
Yes, it really looks like this. It seems too beautiful to be real - like a painted background. We were all well and truly amazed.
Desert View Visitors Center is the home of the Watchtower - designed to look like an Anasazi watchtower, though probably bigger. And yes, you can go up in it :D
Afternoon thunderstorms are quite common this time of year and we watched some beautiful clouds rolling through.
Kerry, as well as the boys, was seeing the canyon for the first time. My only visit, in 1976, was to the North Rim, so we were all experiencing something new. It's really too much to take in.
And - for the faint-hearted - the boys are actually much safer than they may appear... the advantages of a telephoto lens ;D
It's incredibly difficult to get a grasp on the true scale and perspective of the canyon. We're looking about 12 miles, across to the North Rim, which is at 8000' in elevation - about a thousand feet higher than the South Rim.
We read that the first Spanish explorers who saw the Grand Canyon (part of Coronado's band, looking for the Seven Cities of Cibola) tried to climb to the bottom to get water. They could see the Colorado River and assumed it was a stream, about a yard across, not realizing the canyon can be more than a mile deep - over 6000'! They looked down at boulders they thought were as tall as a man, and when they reached them, found them bigger than houses. They gave up
We also learned something interesting about the Powell Expedition. Tate and Gunnar and I had been reading about John Wesley Powell - not the first to discover the canyon, but in 1869 the first to attempt a government-sponsored scientific expedition to document what was there (plants, animals, geology, etc.) They came down the Colorado River from Wyoming. When they reached the canyon, three of the men bailed out. They refused to go on, climbed up out of the canyon and were never seen again. For years people were led to believe the Indians killed them.
Not so. It was the Mormons, putting the blame on the Indians. They didn't want any kind of US Government officials anywhere near their 'promised land', interfering with Brigham Young's rule (or polygamy, for that matter). Similar story to the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
But, setting history aside, we soaked in the grandeur and beauty at several viewpoints, then continued just a couple miles out of the park to the south to our hotel in Tusayan to settle in and let the boys have a swim.
Again, what a blessing to have Tate's Access Pass, as we were in and out of the park several times during our visit. Kerry's brother George works for the food concession, so Kerry called him to see about meeting for dinner. We don't see much of George. He's not a particularly social guy (ASD). I could only hear one end of the conversation, which was confusing, to say the least.
After he hung up, Kerry told me that we were going back into the park to meet George for dinner and we would pick him up at Yabber Pie, so I should look at the park map and figure out where that was. Where??? Yabber Pie. Okaaaaay...
Um, could you possibly mean Yavupai Lodge?
Yah, that would be it.
Had a fabulous-without-breaking-the-bank dinner at Bright Angel Lodge. We also discovered that sunset is Really Early at the Grand Canyon, because they're part of a little pocket of Arizona that does NOT go onto Daylight Savings Time. Alrighty, then. Can not remember how many time zones we went in and out of. Boggling.
But all is well :D Tummies are full and happy, the hotel is clean and nice, and
we are at the Grand Canyon!
Day 9 Miles : 338 Total : 2503