Sunday, May 16, 2010

Grand Canyon – South Rim

The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and now I know firsthand that this is an honor well deserved!  Wow!   It is gorgeous and awe-inspiring, and makes a person feel insignificant yet happy to part of a world with such beauty.  I think its fair to say that Lynda was every bit as impressed as I was.

Take a look at some of the photos we took – maybe they’ll give you a sense of what I’m writing about.  It’s hard to capture the magnificence of the Grand Canyon with a amateur digital camera, but we tried.

The four of us, dogs included, bundled into the rental car and took highway 64 from Williams to the South (Tusayan) entrance.  We immediately went to the Grand Canyon Village area to check out Mather campground and get something to eat.  While driving back out of the campground area, we saw a coyote hunting some unseen prey. It was the middle of the day and he could not have cared less about us.  I guess the local wildlife is accustomed to humans.  This coyote was nowhere as big as the one we saw at Big Bend, but he was still a handsome fellow.

My first impression,  and we had not yet spotted the canyon itself, was how developed the Grand Canyon Village area is – there are numerous roadways, hotels, lodges, cabins, restaurants, a post office and so on.  The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is a huge area, with millions of visitors flowing through each year and so there is lots of infrastructure to support all the people.  I was worried all this “civilization” would distract from the canyon itself.  In a few minutes, I would find out that this is just not an issue.

After getting something to eat for lunch, we jumped back in the car to begin our driving tour.  We had our first sighting of the canyon at the Verkamp’s Visitor Center, just outside the Hopi house.  It was heart-stopping beautiful and the distractions from people, restaurant smells, and cars faded away – poof, just like that!

Here is a map I borrowed from the National Park Service with our stops highlighted in yellow. We would drive along and then pull over and walk around, usually with the dogs.  Because pets are limited to the paved trails along the rim, we could not do any little hikes off the main trails.  I did not mind too much, because there was plenty to see just sticking to the main rim trail. Lynda had some trouble with vertigo in a couple spots and I doubt she would have gone hiking even if we could have.

I must say the South Rim was more crowded than I expected it to be at mid May.  Aside from Americans from California to New York, there were visitors from all over the world including Germany, France, England, India and Asia.

Of course Barley was a huge hit – people asked to pet him and he behaved very well indeed.  One Asian man even asked permission to take his photo.  Sydney also behaved very well, considering her anxiety issues.  Lynda kept a firm grip and a short lead on her, and although Sydney did get very nervous a few times when the crowd thickened (particularly at Mather Point), she did not growl at anyone.  It goes without saying that we discouraged people from trying to pet her… that would have been pushing our luck for sure!  All in all, the dogs had a great time and got lots of exercise. By the time we were driving back home at the end of the day, both dogs were sleeping soundly in the back seat!

We entered the Grand Canyon South Rim at the south entrance around 11:30 AM and exited at the east entrance around 5:30 PM, driving back to the RV park in Williams via highway 64 through Cameron and then picking up I-40 in Flagstaff.

So after a really wonderful afternoon at the South Rim, we were just a mile or so from the RV park when I got a speeding ticket!  The police officer caught me fair and square.  I did not see the sign for the speed limit decrease and he pegged me going 58 in a 35- ouch!  Anyway, I will pay the (large) fine and should eventually recover from my embarrassment.   All Lynda had to say was, “well, I was wishing you would go even faster… I’m really hungry!”

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