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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

VACATION – Exploring the Grandest of the Grand Canyon

(this post is about Monday, March 28, 2011)


We woke up to frosty cold ground and temps of 30 degrees.  The sky was clear blue without a cloud in sight.   Not a lick of a breeze either.  It was gonna be a GREAT day to explore the Grand Canyon!

The heater mostly stayed working all night, but sputtered a few times and we had to click the ignition to relight it.  Better than using the big noisy built-in furnace.  We ate up some breakfast and headed out to explore part of the park.  We left the doggers back in the rig this time, in case we wanted to enter into buildings or take a break inside somewhere.  Dogs are allowed throughout the park on leash anywhere on the trails or viewing areas.  But not on the shuttle busses or in the buildings.

We decided to explore the eastern end of the park, all the way to the Desert View area and all the stops in between.  The morning was peaceful and that area of the park attracts less visitors.  We took the Tracker all the way along the eastern drive by the rim, though we could have waited for the free shuttle bus service too if we wished.   The route along the eastern side of the south rim is about 20-25 miles.  

Yup.. the Grand Canyon is REALLY here…  they left it here for us to find it.  It didn’t get moved or filled in or anything.   It is here for our generation and many many more after us to come and see it.  Just like the millions of years before, it is here.  And amazing and spectacular and immense and awe-inspiring.  Words can’t describe it, so I will stop trying.

We stopped at several pull out areas to check the view.  Danged if I didn’t drop my newest digital camera in the parking lot! ARGGGHHH   It kinda dented the telescoping lens and it sometimes extends automatically and sometimes don’t when you want to turn on the camera.  I shifted it a little and it will come out, but the little metal band around the edge of the lens is dented and prevents it from retracting correctly.  I removed it for now, but will try to smooth and straighten it and glue it back on.  It protects the automatic lens cap mechanism from dirt or damage, so I have to get it back on the camera.   But it still worked--- sometimes!  But never fear, my digital video camera combo can also take digital pics too.  So we won’t be without pictures, oh no, not me!   LOL

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We went to the Watchtower, which was designed by a woman, Mary Colter, for the park back in 1930.  It was an interesting place and we got some great views of the canyon from the easternmost section of the park.

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I like how they used the pots on the wall for lighting sconces to illuminate the tower’s interior

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We did the “tourist thing” and indulged in a souvenir from the gift shop! It’s a small woolen woven rug that we can use as a table runner on our small table in the motorhome.  It was woven by a Zapotec Indian weaver in Oaxaca, Mexico, by the name of Luis Mondoza.   The National Park has a deal with those weavers to make rugs for their shops, and it helps the economy of the tribe to create them.   This one is 2 feet long by 1 foot wide.  in pretty browns and greens and creams, with twisted fringes and a balanced pattern.

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We had also bought a smaller one in S. Dakota a few years back too from the National Park there.little wool mat

As we headed back along the route, we saw some elk on the side of the road, grazing and looking at US like we were some kind of attraction put there for their amusement???

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After all our gadding about the eastern end of the park, we returned back to the motorhome to make some lunch, let out the dogs, and take a nap!  Yawwwnnn this vacation business can get to be a tiring thing?

The air was filled with helicopters flying past every few minutes, I kid you not!  But we slept anyhow.

After our naps, we returned to the park and left the Tracker in a parking spot near the Grand Canyon Village (a cluster of hotels, shops and museums)   We walked along the rim, checking out the buildings.  This one was a Hopi Indian shop with many interesting things inside.  We didn’t buy anything, but looked around.

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This part will interest the weaving buddies who read my blog:

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Some of the rugs were interesting, and we went from room to room in the building to see them all…

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This display (poorly photographed by me)  had all the natural herbs and plants used to dye the various colors in the wool for the rugs.   What a nice addition for a weaver’s studio.

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We strolled along the rim and enjoyed the views from every angle.  We had to set up the camera and do a Tourist Shot of course.   Think this should be our next Christmas Card?

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Behind the bigger lodges and newer hotels, we saw these adorable little cabins, still being used today as rentals for guests at the park.   I can only imagine how primitive they were when first built, but now adapted with heat, electric, water etc.   In days of the past, folks used to ride up 12 hours in a stage coach to come to the park from Flagstaff.  Later trains ran up to the rim for easier access to the park.  Teddy Roosevelt did a great thing by preserving this park for the future generations.

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It was getting near sunset, and we decided that instead of walking along the rim to the west, we would take a shuttle bus.  The run every 10 minutes around the park, and are free.  So we hopped on a bus destined for the far eastern route to the place called the Hermit’s Rest.  It stops at various lookouts along the way.

At the fist stop, an elderly couple got on the bus and sat down in front of us.  He had on a Packer hat and jacket--- heh heh  fellow Wisconsinites!   They are from around Madison, but had lived up near Two Rivers.  They were visiting the canyon and then going on to their daughter’s house in Utah to babysit the grandkids for a week.  What a fun trip they were having.  They had been at the park in the 50’s and a LOT has changed since then they said.  The shuttle busses were a big improvement over the old open trolley cars.

We stayed on the bus till the end of the route at the Hermit’s Rest, and got off there to look around.   It was the furthestmost point of the west end of the park that we could go to. 

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The views were spectacular as the sun began to set…   I can not even describe the huge vastness, the open spaces, the immense beauty of this place.  If you have been here, these photos will help you recall that feeling.   If you have not been here, I hope you can go sometime.

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One can see all the pretty post-card-like pictures, but it is NOT the same as being here…

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On our way back from the bus-stop to the parking lot where we left the Tracker, there was a small herd of mule deer alongside of the road.  It was getting dark, so this was the best I could do with the photos….

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We headed on back through Tusayan, and stopped at a Wendy’s for a quick dinner.  It was already past 7pm but we had defrosted steaks for a planned supper.  Since we took the tour bus, we decided that it was too late to grill out the steaks.  So fast food it is….   it was okay, as I ordered a favorite, the baked potato with cheese and bacon.  Imagine my surprise when instead of the crumbled bacon bits on my potato, there were three pieces of crisply fried bacon STRIPS laying on top of the potato!  Guess that is how Wendy’s does it in Arizona, huh?

We pulled in behind our motorhome in the dark, and saw that a third motorhome has moved in while we were gone!   It had backed in around the other gal’s rig and was situated between us now.  A bit closer than we would have liked, but perhaps they too saw the big muddy hole further down the road and decided this was better than nothing.   We noticed they were running their generator well into the night, so they must not be solared up for quiet boondocking.  Arggghhhhh    As we went to bed, we put on a DVD and let it drown out the faint noise from the outside.  The dual paned windows in our rig drown out a lot of sound, but the tv noise helps too.


Tomorrow is another day….



77 miles travelled today in the Tracker

no miles travelled today in the motorhome


  1. Great shots of the Canyon, when we were there we took the steam train from Williams and then road the shuttles all day. You missed a great lunch if you didn't eat at the Fred Harvey House at the Grand Canyon Station at the south Rim. Looks like you had a long day though, enjoy those steaks today. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna...

  2. As usual a fantastic blog. Having spent many trips to the Canyon it is always a humbling experience to be in such greatness. Years ago when you could take a helo flight into the canyon, it was definately an awsome experience. While you are in the area you must take the Tracker and make a trip to Jerome. Well worth the trip to see the old mining town. Thanks for sharing your vacation and for being such an outstanding blogger.
    Butch Pelfrey

  3. What a great day you had at the canyon. We were there in 2005 and loved it. We thought the same as you, that pictures just don't cut it. They look beautiful and all but just can't show the immense size or depth of it. This will forever be a great memory for you as it has been with us.

    Kevin and Ruth

  4. Know what you mean by not being able to describe what you are seeing. Pretty well sums up the whole American Southwest. I have stood on both the south & north rims of the Grand Canyon & had the same awe inspiring thoughts & feelings you did. Can't capture it with photos. People just have to come & see the beauty for themselves........

  5. I first visited the Canyon in 1973 after I graduated High School. My dad, brother and I were on a motorcycle touring trip. We got a kick out of buses that would pull up, people would get off for a while and then hop right back on the buses, they couldn't process the magnitude and beauty that they were seeing.

    In 2005 I took another trip with Marti, we rode the Grand Canyon Train up. I couldn't beleive how much the canyon had changed...it was a whole milimeter deeper! :c)

  6. Just want to say that yer blog post fer today were one of the best travel blog posts I.M. has ever read. There's a couple of folks out there that try to post a travel blog everyday and do a good job. Y'all has just elevationed the level of the playin field. Sorta like yer Packers do in football.

  7. Thanks for the great pictures... My Daddy always planned to visit the Grand Canyon - he flew over it many times on business trips for the Army, but wanted to experience it fully because he thought it was one of the most amazing places on Earth. He traveled all over the world with his job, but never got to visit the GC. He planned to take "early out" at 59, buy an RV and travel "out west". He died of cancer 4 months before his 59th birthday... We never know how much time we have, so we should live every day to the fullest. I promised him before he died that I would do my best to make the trip for him...

    So glad that you guys are getting to enjoy your trip. Thanks for another great post!

    Stay safe...

    Kerri in AL :-)

  8. Karen, you took some beautiful photos of the Canyon. I (Janna) have hiked to the bottom of the Canyon twice staying at Phantom Ranch in the bottom. My Mom and my sister as well as friends did both hikes with me and those trips will always be cherished memories.

  9. great shots of the Grand Canyon today, Karen..even with a broken camera!!..thanks for sharing your day!..one day we, too will be there!!

  10. Thanks for bringing back such great memories! We visited the Grand Canyon in 2009 and experienced the feelings you describe - awe, and humbled. The vista from Hermit's Rest was fabulous.

  11. looks like the two of you should be doing this full time...


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