Southwest Travels Part 1
Well this is a bit embarrassing, I was an Arizona resident for four years and never visited the Grand Canyon during that time. Now a dozen years after moving from the state I have made my way back and visited the Grand Canyon and a few other sites in the Southwest that have been on my bucket list for way too long. Armed with my trusty Canon G9, a GoPro and a table top tripod we boarded our flight to Seattle. On your way south to Las Vegas we passed over St. Helens.
The plan was to get out of Las Vegas quickly and visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk for the late afternoon light. We were a bit delayed at the rental car counter and managed to get stuck in traffic on the strip. Two hours later we encountered tour busses and cars full of families that were heading out of the reservation as we made our way in. As the speed limit decreased from 45 to 25 with 20 miles to go and 15 minutes until the skywalk closed it was time for plan B. We had just passed a Joshua tree forest so we went back and stopped by the side of the road for some photos.
This one is a panorama of the Joshua Tree forest. Click on it to see it bigger and again to see it full size.
The sun dropped behind the hills and we began the drive to our hotel. As we rounded a corner we saw this through a gap in the hills. Once more we stopped for some photos. It wasn’t the start we had planned, but just hours off the plane we had seen some pretty cool stuff.
As we were driving to the hotel at dusk a coyote and jackrabbit ran in front of the car. We crested a small rise and saw the lights of Kingman just as the last of the color left the sky. Somehow we managed to get lost in the small town of Kingman and ate the worst meal of the trip. It was a shaky start, we were hoping for better things on the second day. After an early departure We had brunch at a Greek/Italian restaurant in Williams, after cooking our meal the owner came out and sat down with us as we finished the meal. He told us most of his customers commented that the Skywalk was not worth the money. Our delay the day before may have been a blessing in disguise. Making a stop at the last outpost before entering the park we watched the Imax movie on the canyon and bought a National Park season pass. The pass allowed us to zip past the long line of suv’s and motorhomes waiting to get into the park. We pulled into the first lot and found rock star parking. After forty yards and too many years I had my first look:
There are no words and honestly I don’t think photos can really give an idea of the size of this place. We spent the middle of the day hiking along the rim. As we would stop at the different viewpoints along the rim trail people would ask me to take their photo. In addition to handing many cool cameras I had a chance to watch other photographers at work. There were some fires near Flagstaff which made it pretty hazy. I was hoping this would make for a cool sunset.
Panorama alert, click to see larger and again to see full size.
Yup, this one is also a panorama.
One of the things I had read on the internet was that the back porch of one of the lodges had rocking chairs and a nice view. While sitting in one of the rocking chairs resting my tired feet I bumped into a nice couple while who have lived and worked in the park for the past 11 years. They gave us advice on where to see the sunset, where to catch the bus back to our car, where to have dinner on our way to Page. We talked for quite a while and they gave us many tips for the rest of our trip. Here is the sunset from Yaki Point.
On our way out of the park a small rodent ran in front of us and then minutes later an elk, that one was super close. So in the first 24 hours the car critter tally is a coyote, jackrabbit, rodent and an elk. One of the things our new friends mentioned was a stop at the Cameron Trading Post for Navajo Tacos. We arrived 30 minutes before closing and following instructions ordered a small taco each, we still could not finish them. Our trip karma had improved significantly on the second day.
Stay tuned for part 2, our adventures in Page.