Day 1: Sunday, May 26, 2013
After 3 days of poolside lounging and late night boozing, we packed up on Sunday and left Phoenix bound for higher elevation and much cooler temperatures (thank God). Stephen and Nicole’s wedding was a beautiful and highly entertaining event – check youtube for the best father-daughter dance ever… if theirs doesn't come up, someone is doing something horribly wrong.
Most of the day was spent driving up to the Grand Canyon, an adventure that was largely uneventful. Hungry Mandy made an appearance, but Angry Dan didn't bother to show up much. In his place was a new character – highly intent on rushing us around for no apparent reason. This side of Dan is certainly one that I have not seen before. Usually traveling slow is high on his priority list, and I don’t think he has rushed for anything in the past 10 years, except during a flag football game or two.
Point is: nothing really happened; the drive was long and boring.
Arriving at the visitor’s center, I discovered that nearly everyone in the entire world had the same inkling to visit the Grand Canyon that I had. Oh yeah, and the visitor’s center closed at 5:00 p.m.
We found our way to the Kachina Lodge and brought our piles of luggage and food into the room and then spent the next 30 minutes trying to find a place to park. The rooms at the lodge must have been recently renovated – they look nothing like what Xanterra has posted online, which was a nice surprise.
After finding a parking spot 3 lodges away, we ate a quick dinner of questionable pizza and hurried back to get my camera and get out to Hopi Point by sunset. It is one of the best spots on the South Rim to watch the sun set over the Canyon because it juts out from the rest of the rim, providing a nice look westward. Apparently, this is not a secret – so we had plenty of friends to share the experience with. Actually, we almost missed it because the buses that take you out there get completely and totally packed with other last-minute people like us trying to be in the right place at the right time.
Unfortunately, I’m not that great of a photographer so my photos just can’t do the view any justice at all. And the whole thing happens so fast that you can’t figure out the necessary adjustments in time. Before you know it, you’re standing on the rim of the biggest wind tunnel in the world wondering how the hell it got so cold so fast in the middle of the desert. Luckily our bus driver on the way out gave us a little tip about the pick-up spot being in a different place for the return trip, so we were able to get on the second bus back.
I have been to some of the biggest, most popular cities in the world. Places like NYC, Paris, London, Rome, Barcelona. But it took a bus ride in the Grand Canyon to really get a glimpse of diversity. I have never seen so many different nationalities represented in such a tiny space. In fact, I’m fairly certain that Dan and I were the only Americans on the bus – no kidding! I didn't realize what a mecca that Canyon was for international tourists.
There were so many people everywhere that I’m pretty sure the NPS could double its budget if they raised the Park entrance fee by $10 per vehicle.
A rather uneventful first day to be sure. The hiking begins tomorrow, followed by another long drive up to Zion National Park in Utah.