Take that image and multiply it by hats and hair flying, jackets blowing and people hanging onto their brochures, cameras, purses and children lest they blow into the canyon.
It didn’t stop our fun. Armed with literature about the park we each had a list of “must sees” and we did them all. The only aspect of our plan we didn’t accomplish was sitting in the campground reading the books and magazines we had brought and writing and drawing the projects we had intended to. It was too cold to sit outside and too windy for papers to be laid out. I didn’t even cook over the fire as we’d planned: we just ate cheese and bagels and yoghurt and fruit and one night we had dinner in a lodge just before closing.
The first day after our night without a rainfly and our subsequent purchase of a tarp, we came back to check on our tent site midday and discovered that the jury-rigged tent tarp had blown off. Tech Guy is surveying the problem and conjuring a solution: more rope! We battened the hatches and went on our way again. We (I) feel a little small and foolish next to the glamorous Pace-Arrows and Prevosts, but I don’t think they have any more fun than we do.
One of the ‘must sees’ was Sunset at Yaki Point, which is the farthest east point that the shuttle busses run. We had to plan our blue shuttle bus connection to the orange shuttle line in time to get to Yaki before the sun’s show was over. His body language shows how frozen Tech Guy is:
There was a slightly cultic flavor to watching the sun go down over the canyon, and an unmistakable romantic flavor to it.
Several couples are out on the precipice in the lower half of the photo.
After this, we went to a Ranger talk that was indoors--Yay! we’re warming up—and had at least 350 people there. I remember him talking about “Why is it called the Grand Canyon” and then I got kind of dozy. Afterwards, we had a late supper at the cafeteria/food court in Maswik Lodge and headed, filled and warmed, to our campsite.
Another ‘must see’ was Sunrise at Desert View. I had read about this opportunity before we ever left home and we had determined to do it. Desert View is 25 miles beyond the furthest shuttle point and I worried about waking up enough earlier than sunrise to make the drive before the sun actually rose.
I needn’t have worried. This was the night it got down to 19 degrees. We slept in layers with ski hats on but there was a lot of tossing and turning and rubbing feet together and checking our cell phones for the time. I think we got up finally at 4:18 AM, sneaking quietly from the tent to the van hoping not to wake our tenting neighbors. We drove out of the campground with the lights low until we turned onto the main road.
We were so happy to be in the car! We didn’t care if we were crazy early for the sunrise; just to have the heater on was amazing. We drove through 25 miles of pitch black night with me hoping not to meet up with any moose/buffalo roaming or the deer and the antelope playing.
We got to Desert View and it was deserted except for one other car in the large parking lot. More people seem to be worshippers of the sunset than the sunrise. It certainly comes at a better social hour. We waited in the car for a while not wanting to freeze unnecessarily early but when we heard the occupant of the other car rustling about we decided it was time to explore.
I was amazed that the lone occupant of the other car was a woman in a wheel chair, at least 50 years old, pushing herself down the path to the viewpoint. The sky was still dark and the path unfamiliar but this woman was as bright and chipper as could be. I felt like I was still in my p.j.s with a couple layers thrown over, so I was well-impressed with her inner drive to get out and see the sunrise. We offered to push her chair for her since it was quite a walk to the rim but she refused, saying it was good exercise. As we got closer to the rim the path sloped downward and I thought we should hang onto her chair as ballast so she wouldn’t pick up too much speed and fly off the edge, but she had good control of it.
Our companions at the viewpoint were the woman in the wheel chair and a slightly self-promoting fellow who has done extreme photography all over the world and in much more trying conditions such as ice caves, avalanches and underwater while being eaten by sharks. (I made that last part up.) It was just too early in the day to deal with him.
One of the surprises at Desert View was our happening onto the Devil’s Watchtower designed by Mary Colter which we had seen numerous pictures of but hadn’t pursued. It wasn’t open yet so we couldn’t go up the tower.
Even though this was the beginning of a new day, I am going to leave it here because of the number of photos I have included. To be continued and wrapped up soon!