Monday, July 1, 2013

Grand Canyon and Zion: Day 4

I have learned from Dan when it comes to vacations. Sometimes, it’s ok to just relax a little bit. You don’t have to do ASMUCHASHUMANLYPOSSIBLE all the time. So I let him sleep a bit later on Day 4, and didn’t force him into any hikes – or get up at 6:00 a.m. to go hike the narrows like I wanted to.

Instead I took the car down into Springdale, which is the little town surrounded on 3 sides by the park. From there I mailed the WPA Parks posters that I have been collecting at each of the parks we visit. For a grand total of $3.75, the posters arrived home the same day we did (and for a lot less money!)When I returned to the cabin, Dan was ready for breakfast. You know what I had… lots of bacon. Like maybe 5 pieces… ok, it was 6. I had to fuel up for that long car ride down to Page!

On the way out, we stopped in a few places to take photos once again. Then we got into the cutest traffic jam ever. The tunnel that you must pass through to use the East Park entrance is so tiny, that RVs and double-wheeled trucks need to go through with an escort. So if you get stuck behind an RV, expect to wait for the tunnel to be cleared before you can pass through. Stopped on this mountain, everyone got out of their cars and started wandering around to take pictures – that’s how awesome this place is… even after you have already been there, you feel the need to stop and gawk.

tiny black hole is one of the "windows" in the tunnel"

Dan driving by the "window"

traffic jam

Once out of the tunnel the photos continued through the windshield until we arrived in Page. It’s just amazing how all of these unique areas are clumped together.

We arrived at the Colorado River Discovery Center just in time to go to the bathroom and hop aboard the buses that would take us down yet another tunnel into Glen Canyon, far below the terrifying bridge we crossed 30 minutes earlier. Once out of the tunnel, you are on U.S. Government Land and must obey all safety laws, so we strapped on hard hats for a total of 30 seconds as we walked down to the rafts that were waiting on the Colorado.

The raft trip was one of the first things I booked for this vacation; I thought it would be a great way to really get to see the Canyon. Here’s the thing: if you want to do a half-day trip (meaning, if you don’t want to sleep in a tent down by the River) you don’t really get to go inside the “Grand Canyon”. But I still thought it would be fun - I will say that it was just OK, probably not really worth the $89 each plus tax. We rafted down along the Colorado enjoying the sites and the hot summer sun, which we were certain would burn Dan up. I tried to keep my sunglasses off as much as possible to avoid the dreaded racoon eyes. 

The guide was a nice guy, laid back; but he didn't offer a ton of information about the landscape or history, just little anecdotes here and there. The raft floatilla had one planned stop at which everyone piled out and hiked about 1.4 mile down a little sand path to see some ancient hieroglyphs. Though it was quite hot on the river, it was about 100 times hotter on this path, from which Dan declared it "couldn't be worth it." I took a few pictures so he could see later. The interesting thing about the glyphs is not the artistry, or the fact that they have lasted thousands of years (actually, that is pretty impressive, isn't it?) but it's the fact that with more erosion, we see more glyphs. I thought that was kind of interesting - at one point the River was lower and tribes lived around it, then it got continuously built upon by layers of sand, only to be eroded once more. 

Back at the River, Dan was standing in the scorching hot sand. I could not understand this, and was wondering about his sanity as I rushed to dunk my feet in the river, fearful that the fiery hot sand would actually eat away at my flesh. About 4 seconds after dunking my feet, I could feel them go numb. What a painful place to have feet? Between the hot desert sand and the freezing cold Colorado, we probably should have just stayed in the boat! Our guide told us that the River averages about 48 degrees F, because it comes from the depths of Lake Powell through the dam, and is never warmed by the sun because its always moving. 

I forced Dan to take a few pictures at this stop, which he was not pleased about, but I'm hoping someday he will just accept it. I like photos, we take them a lot... get over it!

Then, the drama ensued when 3 people (old people) slipped and cut themselves badly when trying to get into the raft. Not sure how they didn't realize that having wet feet on a metal and rubber surface might cause them to slip, but they did and then they spent the next 10 minutes drawing attention to themselves and laying down in the boat to avoid passing out, or other very likely scenarios. 

From this point, we continued down river to horseshoe bend, which is not quite as impressive from the inside looking out. Then, due to the landslide, we turned back up river and motor-boated ourselves to the dam. If the landslide on Route 89 hadn't happened, we would have continued on to Lee’s Ferry, pulled out and ridden in a bus back to Page. In the end, it was a unique experience, but I don’t think I would recommend it to others.

The Canyon walls are pretty tall...

inside Horseshoe Bend

When we got back on dry land in Page, I was starting to get hangry so we stopped at a Drive-In that was somewhat sketchy. It didn't matter; the food filled me up so that we could make the rest of the 3 hour journey back to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  At this point in the trip, we were really “over” driving, so nothing exciting happened – we both just wanted to get there and get the drive over with - though the sunset was very pretty.

We finally got back to the Village area around 8:30 and both had separate meltdowns about insignificant things like how close we could park to the cabin and which cabin was actually ours… for some reason, I am completely unable to navigate in these tiny areas. I’m always pointing us in the wrong direction, or going the roundabout way. Meanwhile, Dan is always getting mad about it… makes for some enjoyable scenes. This time however, our scene was ended by an elk that refused to get out of the way. He was in a very public area, where tourists wouldn't move (because they were afraid) and the elk wouldn't move (because he was afraid)… quite the standoff. Needless to say, we went around the long way.

In our cabin (which did not include the rim view as advertised) we opened the windows and wondered why they hadn't bothered to include AC (the Bright Angel Cabins, in case you want to avoid this mistake in your planning). Dan was pleased to find a TV in the room, and tuned it to a horror movie in which a bunch of twenty-somethings go out on a hike, sleep in some cabin and all get killed. Not surprisingly, I demanded that he change the channel immediately.  After whining that there was “nothing else worth watching” I found re-runs of the Big Bang Theory and fell asleep pretty quickly. 

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