Thursday, May 7, 2009

There and Back again - Day Three

Caption: Our little fam in front of the sign.


That's right, you guessed it. We were going to see the canyon. We spent a lovely night in Flagstaff. My adventurous husband spent the evening plotting our course while I spent the entire night worrying about my 3 kiddos throwing themselves into the Grand Canyon. It's one of those irrational things. I know that my kids aren't gonna take a flying leap but somehow my heart and my head where not on the same page. So we got up and at 'em. After a brief trip to the Target, to acquire a jacket for me, we headed out making our way north to the Grand Canyon. I have to say I was having mixed feelings. I mean it's the Grand Canyon for crying out loud. Who doesn't want to see it? That would be me. I really wanted to see it but within reason. If that makes any sense?

We had to drive thru this National Forest area. I'm sure I can find the name of it online somewhere. But right now it escapes me. The drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon park was interesting. As I said Flagstaff and the surrounding area is evergreen forest. The national forest area was very similar and then you come to the end of the forest and you are in the grassland with a great view of a snowcapped mountain in the background. Very panoramic. Worthy of a ton of photos which are still on the other camera.

Caption: The view of the mountain and grassland on the way from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon park.

So we arrive at the gates of the Grand Canyon park. I cannot imagine what the wait must be like during the summer. That is not something I ever want to experience. As it was we only had to wait for about 20 minutes to pay and drive thru the gate. The ticket we got was good for up to 7 days. Not that we needed it, just a little fyi. So now we come to it. The Canyon.

You can't describe it. And no matter how many photos/videos you see, you can not be prepared for the view. You just get out of the car, walk up a small sidewalk and BOOM! You are hit with the most awe-inspiringly beautiful scene. You can't imagine the size of it until you stand at the edge of it. Well not exactly the edge unless you are one of those crazy people who want to walk up to the edge. It is huge. And wide. And deep. And beautiful. And majestic. And all the other things people say about it. You just stand and stare because your jaw drops. You can't take it all in.

Caption: Those are people over on that rock. That's the first viewing area you come to.

The only thing it is not is railed. As in, the majority of the walkway around it is not lined with rails. It is wide open and the walkway is less than 5 feet wide and the near side of the walkway was, oh let's say, less than 5 feet from the edge of the canyon. We are talking shock and awe. Those were the emotions I was fighting with. We walked up part of the walkway. It was beautiful. There were some really strange plants there and more cactus. We drove further to the east. We drove the South Rim stopping at every viewing area.

Then we came to a really pretty area called Navajo Point. It's the highest point of the canyon right around 7000 feet. There was an old watchtower with a gift shop. It was a great view. And it was the last stop on our way through Grand Canyon park.

Caption: This is Navajo Point.

Some facts about the Grand Canyon:
- It is 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29 km) and attains a depth of over a mile (1.83 km) (6000 feet). - from wikipedia
- It can take 5 hours to drive around the whole canyon - from park literature
- The Pueblo people consider the Grand Canyon to be a holy site - from wikipedia

So with much ado, one small camera filled and dead, and the other camera not even close to filled we headed out of the park and into the desert. North toward Utah.

But the day wasn't even close to over. We drove through the Painted Desert. We went through a small but growing town called Tuba City. The town's first McDonald's had just opened that weekend and when we were there a busload of European tourists decided to check it out. They were trying to order and didn't speak English. It was right out of a movie. We grabbed our early dinner and headed on. The plan was to get as far as we could into Utah that night.

Yeah, about that. Google is a lovely thing. Google maps has issues I think. It's dark now. We are driving into Utah. We've never been there before and there is nothing but open range as far as you can see in the pitch black of night. We look forward to any small town that we catch glimpse of. We pass through a small town and Google maps tells us to take a left at the light. Okay, sounds good. We leave the town and all signs of civilization. There are few houses and they are way off the road. I say road because this no longer resembles an interstate. Still open range. A truck from time to time and then some rock formations in the moonlight.

Google maps decided that we needed to see or rather not see Monument Valley at night. You know Monument Valley. It's in every old western movie. The giant desert with the huge rock formations that take your breath away. Yeah, you remember the whole Agoraphobia thing? (see Day Two) So we drove through some of this country's most beautiful landscape at night. And there's nothing but desert out there. For miles. You should Google "Monument Valley". Go ahead, I'll wait. I'd post pics but I'm still a little freaked out by it.

And then we come to another small town. It's called Blanding, Utah. We stayed there that night. It was cheap, it had two beds, we didn't care that it was a big fake wood paneled box. We slept.

More tomorrow. Isn't this fun?

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