Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Doing laundry at the Grand Canyon is far more fun than laundry in West Palm. As I sit and listen to the whir of the washing machines and the gentle hum of the driers I feel as if nothing can touch me. As we hoped, Sunday was a relaxing day. We grocery shopped, recharged, fixed the problem with the car chargers (2 blown fuses, who knew?) and backed into a car at the gas station. It's always an adventure, remember?
Once back at site 148 we made some dinner, situated ourselves and found an elk wandering through the woods behind our site. Turns out those huge deer I mentioned seeing on our way up the mountain were actually elk. That explains their girth. Kt LOVES all the animals we are seeing. She has chased down multiple ravens, elk, and squirrels for pictures who seem less than thrilled about their photo-ops. I'm exaggerating a little, I don't think she actually took a picture of the squirrel.
Later, we went to the rim of the canyon for a pink and orange sunset passing two more elk that were within 10 feet of the car. As we sat on the edge, feet dangling precariously close to the 300 foot drop, we quietly waited among people of all nations for the sun to fall below the rocks and drop the sky down to a lavender blue. Talk about feeling invincible.
As the sky dimmed from purple, to deep blue we attempted to go back to our campsite. I managed only to drive to the exit twice before finally finding the way back. This has become a normal occurrence for me as the signs here are less than par. Nonetheless, we did make it back and quickly started our fire, made s'mores and drank a Grand Canyon Ale. The neighbors we alienated the night before by hammering our tent stakes in at midnight, wandered over and managed to forgive us as we shared our fire. Ironically, they were also from Florida and one of them even frequents the Port St. Lucie Walmart where we made our first stop. They gave us some good tips for Yellowstone and even left us with a gift of their extra camping supplies (thanks Micheal and Alex!). They also gave us the suggestion of biking to Hermit's Rest, which is a trail restricted to shuttles, pedestrians and bicyclists.
We woke up refreshed Monday morning and rented bikes as suggested. After loading them onto the shuttle, we were dropped off at Hopi Point and began our 5 mile ride to the end at Hermit's Rest where we would be picked up. This really is one of the most amazing things I have ever done or seen. (Do I keep saying that?) The GC is bigger than any picture shows and dwarfs everything near it, including people, cars, rivers and rafts. Every point provides a different perspective that is equally impressive.
We made it safely to Hermit's Rest and hiked about a quarter mile down before turning around. Traveling into the canyon changes your perspective again as dots become trees and bushes, and rock formations seen from afar become ledges and turns in the trail. Once back to the top we decided to ride back to Hopi Point instead of waiting there. What we didn't realize was most of the ride had been downhill. Uphill is not as fun. We walked the bikes a few times and at one point I heard myself telling Kt to save herself, one of us needed to make it out alive. Turns out we both did.
We crawled into bed early last night and plan on hiking the Kaibab trail this afternoon. Tomorrow we pack up and head towards Joshua Tree. I think it will be hard to leave the beauty we found here, but I know there is more waiting for us.
***I know I keep promising pictures, but my internet signal is too weak to upload right now. Patience! Also a big congratulations to my sister who got engaged this past weekend. Congratulations!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I had picked up a map of New Mexico at the KAO by chance (you taught me well mom) and had also grabbed a KAO guide that included basic maps of each state. Using a combination of the two we somehow managed to find our way. Yep, I am now a professional cartographer. I will not say we did not miss a few road signs or that we smiled beatifically the whole time, BUT we did make it to the GC safely. Albeit 14 hours later. To be fair, we drove blue highways and mountains and weren't afraid to stop for a picture or two. We drove through the smoky mountain-esque Lincoln National Forest, saw White Sands, past the Valley of Fire, the site of the first atomic bomb, the Malais Mountains, the village of Tularosa (twice), stopped at the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert State Park, onto the Coconino State Forest, through a few restricted Native American reservations (oops) and crossed into a new time zone (who knew Az (only parts mind you) didn't do day light savings time?).
We made it to Flagstaff around 9:30 and headed up more mountains and into Kaibab State Forest. Kt saw 4 deer (I only saw 3) one of which was a 6-8 point buck about to cross the road. I don't think we are in West Palm anymore. The higher we climbed, about 8,000 feet, the cooler it got. By the time we reached site 148 we were exhausted and ready for those KOA yellow shirts to greet us. Except we aren't staying in a KOA. As we set up the tent, things got increasingly tense. A word of advice to those who may follow our path: it's not the dark that makes putting the tent up hard, it's 14 hours on the road, dark, cold, and exhaustion that make it difficult. Though we alienated all of our camping neighbors, we did manage to finally set ourselves up and were giggling while we fell asleep. After all, we are in the Grand Canyon.
Today we are taking it slow and getting settled. We will be here four nights and could use a little relaxing. We had our first glimpse of the GC today and....it deserves it's own post.
***Special thanks and a note: Kt drove the ENTIRE way to the GC. I think she deserves a few woot woots (it's the farthest she's driven in one stretch!). Also, I still don't have service and we are having a hard time charging so the blogs may be few and far between as well as the phone calls.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
More than anything I can’t wait to see the desert. I appreciate it’s wonder better than I did a few years back, but I know my knowledge of it will be nothing compared to what I’ll see with my own eyes in a few days. I’m overflowing with anticipation. Will it be what I expect? I have a feeling it’ll be infinitely more. It makes me smile with the excitement of a child taking his first trip to Disney World. Except I’ll see more sand and less creepy adults dressed like treasured cartoon characters.
New Orleans was magnificent. My favorite part was seeing the Mississippi. I think of it’s significance in time and in my life. It makes me feel small in a good way. My first impression was one of amazement. ”THAT is a river.” I dipped my toes in it. What else will my feet touch along this journey? The sands of the Painted Desert, the Pacific Ocean, the fallen leaves of the redwood forests…
Welcome to Texas!
We just crossed the state border and the rain has graduated to a watery blizzard. I’ve never been to Texas, have I? Childhood memories of a family trip to Oklahoma play hide-and-seek with my recollection. Either way, we just passed a livestock weigh station. Yep, we’re in Texas. See you in a couple hours, Uncle John!
In just a few weeks we’ll be home and this journey will be over. But in a way it’ll just be starting. My memories and reflections of this trip will last my whole life. Pictures I can only take in my mind are what I’ll hold dearest. Talks with old and new friends, strangers from our stops and with my own thoughts will serve as my tour guide along this path that I’ll likely only travel once. And that’ll be enough for me.