Magnificent Grand Canyon

What is a trip to Arizona without a visit to the Grand Canyon? A group of co-workers were going on an organized day trip to the canyon and when I learned of it, I just couldn’t pass it up. Who knows when I might pass this way again. We ended up picking up two other people at different hotels – Helen from England who was here for a special needs teacher’s conference and John who had just come to Phoenix from Rome (he was not Italian). The rest of us all worked for the same Company and chatted as we began what would be a four-hour drive. Our guide explained we would be going through at least five different climate zones during our drive. The first just outside of Phoenix was what you would picture as the typical desert dotted with Saguaro cacti. We made a stop at Starbucks (because we need our Starbucks to get the juices flowing at such an early hour) and continued on our way. It began to rain and many of us voiced our disappointment thinking this might last the whole day but our guide assured us we were now in a different climate zone and this would soon pass. Sure enough the sun eventually became visible again and before we knew it we began to see snow along the road, apparently common for this time of year in a now different climate zone. Our guide took us off the beaten path to an abandoned one-room hut. It was almost like a modern-day teepee with an opening in the center of the roof so the smoke from the fire could escape. We were told it had most likely been abandoned due to someone having died in the hut. From his explanation this home would now be off limits to all Indians as they believe in not disturbing areas where someone has passed away. From this point we could begin to see the edge of the Grand Canyon and with quiet reverence we made our way back to the van to continue our journey. As it was nearing lunch time we stopped at the Historic Cameron Trading Post. Most of us ordered the specialty of a Navajo Taco. Be forewarned you’ll want to get the half-order as this is a very large meal consisting basically of meat, beans, lettuce and cheese in soft, puffy bread. Delicious! Of course once lunch was over we all shopped for souvenirs and I’m so glad we did. I would have been very disappointed if I had waited to purchase my items at the Grand Canyon gift shop as the Trading Post had a much larger, extensive selection of so many items and at reasonable prices. From postcards, t-shirts, Indian blankets, cactus plants in beautifully painted clay pots and of course jewelry and so much more! They will even ship your items to your home so you don’t have to worry about packing them or taking them on the plane. Once we’d all bought our trinkets for family and friends and our hanger had been sated we continued our journey to the canyon.
We became more excited the closer we got and were very surprised by how cold and windy it was. Needless to say several of us were unprepared and had only light sweaters. Would have been best to dress in layers to take off or add on as the day progressed depending on the climate. Words and pictures cannot sufficiently describe the awesome miracle that is the Grand Canyon. The Canyon stretches for almost 300 miles wide and is a mile deep. All throughout the day the sunshine brought out the various shades of color featured along the wall of the canyon from the earth’s layers – pinks, reds, gray, brown. Our guide said this was the perfect time of year because there were no heavy crowds like they have in summer. Our first stop to view the canyon was at the Watch Tower. This building was built in 1932 and if you stand outside and look up at the tower it appears to be moving. Several of us got quite dizzy. The watch tower features a small gift shop and is several floors of scenic views through large windows. We spent about 45 minutes here and continued on to various other viewpoints. There were no bad viewpoints as we made our way along the south rim stopping at intervals to get down and explore the views, take photos, etc. Eventually we arrived at the El Tovar Hotel. This beautiful hotel built in 1905 made me feel like we were in a ski lodge with huge moose heads on the lobby walls, a large fireplace and Indian rugs throughout. The train depot was visible from the front porch where our guide mentioned during Christmas they put on a Polar Express Train Ride. There were more gift shops here but little pricier and not as many items as at the Cameron Trading Post. We all agreed it had been a great excursion and we left knowing each other a little better as well has having made new acquaintances (Helen & John). Not knowing if I would ever travel this area again, I’m so glad I decided to join this excursion for this once-in –a-lifetime view of nature at its best. It was so worth it! For more info on the Grand Canyon visit http://www.nps.gov/grca/.
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