Southwest 2017:
Day 6 - Arizona


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Southwest 2017: [Day 1 - Missouri] [Day 2 - Texas] [Day 3 - New Mexico] [Day 4 - Arizona] [Day 5 - Arizona] [Day 6 - Arizona] [Day 7 - Arizona] [Day 8 - Utah] [Day 9 - Colorado] [Day 10 - Kansas]

Wednesday, November 22, 2017: We awoke to a view from our balcony of a small canyon carved by the Little Colorado river.
To our right was historic Tanner's Crossing Bridge.
We drove past it to get a better look before ...
... picking up breakfast at Burger King and heading toward the Grand Canyon.
We followed the Little Colorado gorge for much of the way, knowing exactly what it looks like when it meets up with the Colorado River.
We're here! This was Debbie's eleventh visit to one of her favorite places in the world.
We entered via the Desert View Entrance Station and got our first view of the Grand Canyon at Lipan Point.
More importantly, we got our first view of the mighty Colorado River.
A sign helpfully pointed out that we were looking at Hance Rapid far below us.
There it is. Doesn't it look fun? It is. Debbie is a three-time veteran of running the Colorado, and Tom has done it once.
Debbie was in absolute bliss.
More to the north, we could see the bend in the river ...
... where Unkar Rapid is. Just upstream and to the left of the rapid is where we camped overnight during our 2006 trip.
Looking back to the east, we could see Desert Watchtower where we'd be later in the day.
Next, we drove to Moran Point, named after either Thomas Moran or Peter Moran, both of whom were artists.
It was here that we found the exact spot where Debbie was first photographed with the canyon, ...
... so we made an attempt to recreate the photo.
We went to Grandview Point next, ...
... and took a short hike down to this rocky outcropping.
It also has a view of the river below, ...
... and the gorgeous canyon all around.
Next, we drove to the visitor center parking lot where we walked along the canyon edge, past the Amphitheater, ...
... en route to the most famous point in the canyon, ...
... Mather Point. This place was crawling with visitors even in the off-season, and Asian tourists posed for endless fashion shoots on the rocks. No kidding - the woman in this photo spent at least five minutes on top of that rock in different poses, and this was happening at every stop we visited.
But the views here are great and there's enough room for everyone.
There's another overlook just a short distance away.
Here's a glance back to the west.
Right around here on the Rim Trail is a spot where you can see Mile 88 of the river.
Here it is. You're looking at the top of Garden Creek Rapid there.
At this point, we headed back to our car and went in search of a parking spot in Grand Canyon Village.
We eventually found a spot across the railroad tracks, and we trekked toward the rim once again.
There's the famous El Tovar Hotel, with its native plant garden to the left.
Tom checked out some sights of the canyon.
Looking to the west, we could see the Lookout Studio.
Debbie tried unsuccessfully to recreate ...
... this 1984 photo, but was thwarted by ...
... the trees that have grown up in the 33 years since then.
From here, we could see quite a bit of the Bright Angel Trail, including ...
... a popular photo stop, ...
... the One-and-a-half Mile Resthouse, ...
... and the buildings of Indian Garden campground further down the canyon.
We stopped for a snack of water and M&Ms.
On the rocks that make up the canyon edge wall, ...
... we found this Boston Museum of Science Triangulation Station disc embedded.
Oh yeah, here's the canyon again.
Here's another side of El Tovar Hotel.
This sign told us about the local condors. We didn't see any in the Grand Canyon, but we did see some two days later in Marble Canyon just up the river.
Next, we went to Bright Angel Lodge, home of the restaurant Debbie remembers visiting in 1996 but Tom has no memory of.
Here's the main lobby of the building.
We took the opportunity to refill our water bottles. We're smart that way.
Now that's an attractive vending machine right there.
This is the Bright Angel History Room, featuring exhibits about the Harvey Girls and Mary Colter. Colter designed many of the buildings in the Grand Canyon Village.
She designed the Lodge and this very cool fireplace. The stones in this fireplace are taken from the different levels of the canyon and stacked in geological order from bottom to top.
We visited the Lookout Studio next.
It features several levels of terraces. Here's the view toward the Village, with all of the hotels and lodges visible on the rim.
Here's the view looking down Bright Angel Trail.
With the trail in the sunlight, it was much easier to spot Indian Garden campground and its various buildings hidden in the trees.
Here's a peek at several of them, courtesy of the 40x zoom on our little camera.
Attempts to find the location of a photo from Debbie's 1984 trip were unsuccessful. A few of the same lampposts were still there, but appear to have been relocated when the area was upgraded at some point.
Next up: the Kolb Studio. Like the Lookout Studio, Debbie had never been here before. Weird.
The building features a little history room on the Kolb Brothers and their photography business.
The attached gallery contained an exhibit titled, "9th Annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art," running from September through January 2018.
A game we like to play is to go into an art gallery or furniture store and identify our favorite pieces, then compare. We almost always pick the same favorites, because we have nearly identical taste. The left and middle paintings here were on our lists, ...
... but these two large ones were the winners. The beauty on the right, titled "A Canyon of Colors" by Michelle Condrat, was priced at $4,200 and was already sold, as were all of the other ones we liked. In related news, Michelle Condrat is our new favorite artist.
Here's another great one, ...
... and here's another one.
On our way out, we were compelled to buy a Grand Canyon license plate for the collection of license plates in our garage, plus a lenticular (3D) Colorado River magnet for the fridge.
Next, we headed to the start of the Bright Angel Trail.
We were getting close and stopped to take a look when we spotted some bighorn sheep on a rocky outcropping below.
In ten previous visits, Debbie had never even stepped foot on the Bright Angel Trail. It was time.
Alright, let's go! It's 12:05 PM. The trail was renovated in 2013 and it is a delight to walk on.
Minutes into our walk, we encountered a squirrel who had learned the fine art of performing for tourists.
Walk to the tourist. Stand up. Be adorable. No food? Move on to the next tourist. Repeat.
Here's the view of the outcropping where the bighorns were. You can also see the tunnel in the rock wall.
Her's a closeup of the bighorns, ...
... and here's a closeup of the tunnel in the wall.
Behold - Debbie's first photo of the Grand Canyon not taken from either the floor or the rim!
Tom looks like a natural at this hiking business.
About fifteen minutes into our hike, we decided that we had gone far enough. We didn't have all day to spend and we didn't know how hard it would be to ascend again, ...
... so we chose this spot as the place to enjoy our picnic lunch: peanut butter crackers, a teriyaki beef stick, and leftover Halloween candy bars.
When we realized that the mules on the trail in the distance were on the move, we decided it was time to try to beat them to the top.
And we're hiking ...
... and they're clip-clopping. Who will win?
We stopped to photograph the bighorns again.
So adorable.
We stopped as needed to rest but managed to keep ahead of the mules somehow. They kept gaining on us though.
We made it back safely at 12:56 PM, ...
... followed one minute later by the mule train.
We filled up our water bottles again, ...
... made our way past the cabins of Bright Angel Lodge, ...
... and across the railroad track. Don't worry about that oncoming train, because it's not moving. Debbie didn't realize this until after she panicked and ran across the track.
We returned to our car and drove past the train station ...
... back to the visitor center. This entire area was completely overhauled in the last ten years and was unrecognizable.
The interior of the visitor center is bright and spacious.
It features a gigantic map of the canyon and river, ...
... and a much smaller one in metal below it. We want this one in our home so badly.
Back in the car again, we passed another one of these signs, and were once again unsuccessful in getting a non-blurry shot of it.
We stopped at a side-of-the-road vantage point because we hadn't taken nearly enough photos of the canyon.
We zoomed in on some smoke on the North Rim, which we assume was caused by a prescribed burn. We had seen signs on our drive the night before noting that prescribed fires were happening in the region.
Here's our van waiting patiently for us. Note the complete lack of cars anywhere else.

Next, we stopped at Navajo Point, where we finally got a photo of the Jucy minivans-turned-RVs that we had seen several times. They're basically our van with a kitchen in the back and a pop-up bedroom. Cool.

Here's the big picture, ...
... and here are some closeups of that fantastic river below. Miles 62 - 68 are visible here, and the Little Colorado is hidden a half mile further upstream around the bend at Mile 61.8.
Here's Mile 71 - 72, just above the bend leading to Unkar Rapid.
Our last stop in the park was Desert View. It, too, had been massively upgraded since our last visit, with a huge parking lot, better group facilities, and a much longer walk to the edge.
But the Desert View Trading Post is still there where it has been for as long as we can remember.
There's the beautiful Desert View Tower, designed by Mary Colter in 1932 and fortified internally with a hidden steel structure.
Here's the main floor of the structure, then you go into a cramped, narrow stairwell to get to the second floor.
If you are very patient, you eventually get to squeeze through the door that leads from the second floor ...
... to this overlook, which is really just the roof over the round room below.
Here's the beautiful view.
Miles 62 - 68 are still visible here, but now we can see downstream to Mile 69 as well, which includes Tanner Rapid.
There's a larger, easier-to-reach overlook outside of the tower, so we went there next.
We zoomed way in on the sand bar at the end of the picture above. By the way, Google Maps offers a Street View option for the Colorado River. Want to visit this section? Click here!
At this overlook is a monument in remembrance of the 1956 TWA-United Airlines mid-air collision. The planes collided over Temple and Chuar buttes and 128 people died. Those buttes are visible on the left side of this photo in the distance.
Here's the view looking back to the west, ...
... and here we are blocking the view.
We were reluctantly heading back to the park entrance shortly before 3:00 PM. We'll be back eventually because we always come back.
Here's yet another variation of the deer crossing sign. Sure, it's a two-dimensional silhouette, but it looks like we're looking at the deer's butt, don't you think?
Back we went toward Cameron, ...
... past the beautiful Little Colorado River Gorge, ...
... and back to the Cameron Trading Post.
We were here for an early dinner in their spacious dining room ...
... with a great view.
The ceiling is made of pressed tin, and it is really beautiful.
Dinner was excellent. Debbie had the Navajo hot beef over fry bread on the left and Tom had Navajo beef stew with fry bread.
We were back on the road by 4:15 to make the most of daylight hours.
The Southwest scenery did not disappoint along the route to Page.
Pretty.
More pretty.
We saw quite a few of these hexagon-shaped homes along our drive.
This ridge is the last pass to climb before the final slope to Page.
You just cut through this slice in the rock, ...
... and then you can glimpse Page and Lake Powell in the distance.
Gettin' closer, ...
... and we're here! This blurry mess is a photo of the Page city sign.
We checked into the Page Boy Motel, a place where Debbie had stayed before her first river trip back in 1978.
It had been upgraded over the years, but it still retained that old-style motel feel.
We got settled in and then headed back out one last time before it got too dark.
It was just a couple of blocks to walk to Fred's Liquor Store.
For decades, Debbie has owned a Fred's Liquor Store t-shirt, so it was time to return.

We picked up a couple of six packs of Arizona-brewed beer and headed back to the room for several hours of well-deserved relaxation.

Day 7 >


Southwest 2017: [Day 1 - Missouri] [Day 2 - Texas] [Day 3 - New Mexico] [Day 4 - Arizona] [Day 5 - Arizona] [Day 6 - Arizona] [Day 7 - Arizona] [Day 8 - Utah] [Day 9 - Colorado] [Day 10 - Kansas]

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