Sunday, February 2, 2020

A Grand Celebration

You really have to be there.

A couple weeks ago we drove up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon for my birthday, renting a cabin at the Bright Angel Lodge. We've been there before, once many years ago for just a night after I attended an ophthalmology meeting in Las Vegas where we rented a car and visited the Canyon and Sedona, then again in 2015 on a day trip while staying at an RV park in Williams, AZ. Our previous brief visits didn't allow us much time to explore so I thought this would be a good opportunity to spend a little more time and check out the park when the crowds were low. The only downsides were the cold temperatures, snow, and ice on the trails.

Our cabin near the rim but no view

The afternoon we arrived we walked the Rim Trail a few miles to catch the sunset. The paved trail was very icy in many spots so we had to tread carefully.

After our walk we ate dinner at the Bright Angel Lodge dining room, where I just had to take a photo of this sign above the toilet in the ladies room.
Is this really even necessary???
I was awake early the next morning so I bundled up and went out for a walk to try and catch the sunrise. Sadly it was cloudy to the east so it was a non-event, but still a brisk and beautiful walk as daylight filled the canyon. 

Only saw two other people on the trail. 

After breakfast at El Tovar we visited all of the museums and gift shops, then drove along Hermit's Rest Road to the end, where we parked and walked along more of the Rim Trail that we didn't make it to in previous visits. We also walked about a quarter mile down into the canyon on the Hermit's Rest trail, but turned back when the trail turned to snow and ice.

Since it was in the 40s the ice on the Rim Trail turned to mush, so it wasn't too bad to walk on.

The next morning we woke up to cloudy skies but none of the snow that was predicted overnight. As we were eating breakfast we looked out and saw blowing snow, which began to accumulate. Luckily it stopped by the time we packed up to leave and the roads were mostly clear. 

We had never entered the park from the east via Hwy 64, so we decided to leave this way and check out the overlooks along the road. The wind was bitter cold but the sun came out so it was almost tolerable. We don't do cold well! You get a different perspective of the enormity of the canyon and the Colorado River at each different spot, so it's worth stopping at all of them.

It was SO cold and windy we could barely smile!

I think our favorite stop was at the Desert View Watchtower, close to the east entrance station. Being able to climb up the tower and get an even higher view was pretty spectacular.

The watchtower itself is definitely worth seeing. It was designed by architect Mary Colter and is full of art on the walls and ceiling.

Looking up at the ceiling

It was a good birthday celebration and a nice little break from the desert. Spent our last night in Flagstaff dining on pizza and beer at the most excellent Your Pie, which was close to the Comfort Inn we stayed at. It was nice to get home, though, and back to some warmer weather. We've been out hiking and biking, and visiting with Mark and Bobbie, who arrived a couple days ago. It seems funny to see them in our old Lazy Daze but we're happy they are making good use of it. 

Getting away from this for a few days made us appreciate it even more.