Day 15 - Grand Canyon
|Tuesday, March 2, 2021: It's nice to wake up at the Grand Canyon.
|The evening before, a swarm of millenials piled out of this bus and set up a tent next to us. These sweet young things were always in the bathroom and never wore masks. But other than that, they were well-behaved and quiet at night.
|We originally had a reservation for the Fred Harvey Suite at the El Tovar, booked back in September, but we ended up cancelling it due to the complications of having The Ocho. We considered leaving The Ocho in a campground while we stayed at El Tovar, but with temperatures dipping well below freezing, that just wasn't an option, because we aren't comfortable leaving heat on in the vehicle if we aren't there. Someday, we'll get to stay here, and with any luck, it will be in the Fred Harvey Suite that overlooks the canyon.
|As we were driving past El Tovar, we saw the first of two mule crossing signs.
|The road out to Hermit's Rest had just been closed the day before for the season and the only option to get out there was the shuttle bus, so we opted to skip it on this trip.
|We drove around the mule pens, ...
|... and saw a different mule crossing sign on this side.
|It's always great to see the trains in front of the historic train station.
|As we drove to the east end of the park, Tom's sharp eyes spotted this big elk sitting under a tree.
|There are so many variations on these deer/elk crossing signs.
|We saw a tassel-eared squirrel scampering, but all we captured in a photo was his fluffy light grey tail.
|When we got to the turn for Desert View Watchtower, we saw the signs noting that the road out to Cameron was closed. Sad, but completely understandable.
|As we were pulling into the Desert View Watchtower parking lot, Debbie got a text from Claire's dad, letting her know that Indiana had just opened vaccination appointments for people 55 years old and up. We were fortunate to have enough internet access to make an appointment right then and there. It was the perfect way to make a great day even greater.
|Next, we headed to Desert View Watchtower. Debbie tripped, stumbled, and fell hard face down on the paved walkway, while Tom did his best to stop her but tumbled as well. The only damage done was a scraped knee and sore rib muscles for Debbie and a sore shoulder for Tom. It really is unbelievable that Debbie had made it her entire life without a broken bone.
|The Watchtower was currently closed due to the pandemic, but we'd seen it several times before.
|Desert View Watchtower was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
|Likewise, the 1956 Grand Canyon TWA-United Airlines Aviation Accident Site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2014.
|A sign at the overlook shows the location of Temple Butte and Chuar Butte, where the wreckage of a TWA aircraft and a United Airlines aircraft fell, respectively, after colliding.
|The sign showed the final resting place of most of the passengers, with the United passengers in Grand Canyon's Pioneer Cemetery and the TWA passengers in Flagstaff Citizens Cemetery. We decided to visit both locations since we were already in the Grand Canyon and we'd be passing through Flagstaff again the next day.
|Here's the rest of the scenery from this gorgeous overlook. Looking to the east, ...
|... to the north, with its great view of the miles 62 - 68 of the Colorado River, ...
|... and to the west.
|This is Tom's favorite place in the Grand Canyon.
|He was quite amused by this rock formation far off in the distance.
|In addition to the great views of the river upstream, a tiny bit of the river is visible downstream from here, just upstream from Mineral Canyon.
|We walked around to the other side of the tower ...
|... and discovered a bench perched on the edge of the canyon.
|This is our new favorite place on the canyon rim. We spent some time here listening to the wind and reminiscing about previous visits.
|When we got back to The Ocho, we took some ibuprofen to ward off the sore muscles that were on our way due to the fall. Debbie was dealing with the after-effects of a bout of sciatica she had a few days before we left, so ibuprofen was always close at hand.
|We went to Lipan Point next, ...
|... home of the best views of Hance Rapid.
|It also has great views of Unkar Rapid.
|Just upstream and to the left of the rapid is where we camped overnight during our 2006 trip.
|Here's a much closer look at the campsite.
|Here is Seventy-Five Mile (Nevills) Rapid.
|Next up: Moran Point. There was a sign telling all about the Spanish discovery of the Grand Canyon, something Tom had been reading about this week in a book called, "How the Canyon Became Grand."
|What a lovely view.
|Here's Hance Rapid again.
|Kitty! We got a better picture of the cougar/mountain lion crossing sign for our collection.
|Here's the correctly-named Grandview Point.
|A pair of elk were by the side of road at a roadside overlook, so we pulled over to see them.
|This one is looking right into your soul.
|We stopped at Duck on Rock viewpoint for a minute.
|We saw an Escape campervan and discovered later that it was the same one we had seen at Lees Ferry two days earlier.
|We had seen enough of the canyon and we were starving. We had a mission. We were going to ...
|... McDonald's at the south entrance of the Grand Canyon, just as the the sign on US-89 had foretold.
|We placed our usual order, pulled into spot #1, and had our meal handed to us, ...
|... then parked farther out in the parking lot and spent the next hour eating lunch and enjoyed the free wifi. With almost no cell signal throughout the South Rim, it was a nice treat to be able to connect to the real world for a little while. Thanks, McDonald's!
|Soon, we were back at our campsite. This time, we parked just a little farther back from the millennial clown car. We took the opportunity to heat up some water for a shower - our first non-sponge bath in a week. Our critical mistake was having Debbie go in right after Tom was finished. The hot water ran out the moment her head was covered in shampoo, so she had to dry off, wait for more water to heat up, then try it again. Lesson learned.
|We had a fun little show when a young elk came through the campground.
|He spent nearly a half hour in a campsite the next row up from us. He especially enjoyed the hammock there, ...
|... and whatever smelled so good on the ground below it.
|We looked up where the Pioneer Cemetery was located and went there. It is next to the Shrine of Ages, a multi-purpose building that we had never visited.
|We never knew that this cemetery even existed before so we were glad we had decided to visit.
|We were here to see the monument to the United Airlines passengers who lost their lives in the 1956 collision over Temple and Chuar Buttes, as the sign at Desert View Watchtower had told us. It was easy to find, not far inside the entrance.
|It was chilly out but we really enjoyed strolling among the monuments. Here are Ray and Edna. He worked on the trails and phone lines; she was a Harvey girl.
|Lon and Inger died just a year apart. Burial in the cemetery was limited to people who had lived in Grand Canyon for three years or more, or who made a significant impact in some other way. The cemetery has been closed to new burials since 2017, except for immediate family members of those already buried.
|This Boy Scout memorial was for Lon and Inger's son, Erik, who died at age 13.
|Elmer died of exposure in 1967 and was buried when his remains were found in 1974.
|Katherine and Waldo had an elaborate set of monuments, with bios on one side and bas-relief images of the Grand Canyon and Kansas on the other. The center post had their first names, last name, and Kansas written on it.
|This was a recent burial, dated 2020.
|This beautiful monument was made from petrified wood.
|This wooden marker from 1925 was still in surprisingly good shape.
|We could have easily spent another hour here but it was getting cold quickly. We'll stop at this special place again on our next visit.
|There goes the sun.
|Dinner was a teriyaki noodle side dish that we added cooked chicken we had brought with us.
|We played gin rummy again. Tom won this game, because Debbie needed the king of spades to win. Guess where it was? On the bottom of the deck, which happened more than once during the trip.
|Tom spent some of his downtime working on the trip planner software that he wrote for Debbie to use. He was busy tweaking the display of the vacation plans once pushed to our website.
|There's our sweet Claire, but really this screen shot is to show the standard connectivity for most of the Grand Canyon: one bar of cell service and no data service whatsoever.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy