Grand Canyon, AZ
Trip Start Jun 29, 2007
7Trip End Jul 15, 2007
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James is going to share his thoughts on today's discovery that has been cited as one of the seven natural wonders of the world since he's viewing the sight with fresh eyes. Mine our clouded by memories cherished from over twenty years ago (one of my most vivid memories being the soft, bleached snout of a mule pointed downward to the canyon, and at the time I was too young to make the descent.)
Beth and I both thought that the Grand Canyon would be completely packed on the 4th of July; full of giddy Americans come to celebrate the nation's independence at the country's most magnificant landmark
Some more lessons learned from this trip... Stay outside of the park (we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express...while I'm unlikely to perform surgeries or lead sky diving tours because of my good night's rest, it is a pleasant place to stay). The old hotels located on the rim of the canyon are nice, but you really don't need to be that close to the canyon (in fact, leaving at night is a nice break). Also, the national park is kind enough to offer free shuttle services (with Park Admission of course) throughout the park. During the day the shuttles run about 10mins apart and in the early morning or at night they run every 30mins or so. Our bus driver (in a natural gas powered bus...nice touch NPS!), informed us of the following about the tours run by the resorts:
* The resort's tour costs $18.50 per person and the NPS tour is free
* The resort's tour guides work for tips and are paid a lower hourly rate than the NPS bus driver (plus a tour guide working for tips is annoying)
* The resort's tour lasts a specified amount of time and you are always with the same group
* Many of the NPS buses are air conditioned (and run on Natural Gas) and the resort's buses don't have AC
So sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes you get what you don't pay for.
We had a nice dinner at The Arizona Room which kinda looked over the canyon. Food was good and not terribly over priced.
Oh, Beth and I both thought that there might be fireworks, but with the wildfire warning at EXTREME that was completely out of the question, so our fireworks were of the natural sort...watching the sunset over the Grand Canyon. It is amazing to me that something 93 million miles away that does the same thing everyday can still draw applause when it performs the feat over the Grand Canyon. The sunset really was beautiful, even if the Canyon was a bit hazy. I am amazed at what a difference the time of day makes. During the day, the Canyon looks almost flat, like a painting, but as the sun sets it takes on rich dimensions.
The Grand Canyon was definitely worth the visit; it is absolutely stunning in its enormity. Pictures of the canyon are a joke because you can't feel it take your breath away in a picture or hear the hot desert air blow through the canyon making slight whispering sounds.
Finally, my caring and beautiful wife is adorable to watch because she gets so nervous for all of the crazy people who walk all the way to the edge. Her hands sweat nervously as she wills them back from the edge, as I read the "Stay on the Path" sign that concludes by saying "Most people who die at the canyon die because they left the path." I wonder about those who die while on the path. Did a big wind gust pick them up and carry them over the edge? Did they trip and tumble over? Were they pushed? I suspect I won't find out the answer to this question, but it does make you wonder.
I'll let Beth continue the updates...I'm tired of writing and she is much better at this than I am.
p.s. To my parents who were wondering if the Great American West killed us because you haven't seen a blog entry since Nebraska...well there weren't a lot of Internet cafes 12 dirt road miles off the highway next to the Rio Grande where we stayed. In fact I only have cell coverage at the Grand Canyon if I stand in front of the hotel. Hopefully we've blogged enough today to let you know we are still going strong. Love, James
Next stop: Yosemite National Park, California