September 03, 2006

Weekend Jaunt to the Grand Canyon - Day 2

Coming to you live from the eastern-most Motel 6 in Williams, AZ! No, the Motel 6 doesn't offer internet access -- I'm using a free wifi connection provided by the nearby Grand Canyon Railway Depot. Shhhh, don't tell them! In fact, I can hear one of their classic locomotives chu-chu-chugging away as I type.

Today was a long day. The alarm went off at 6am, and I spent about an hour refusing to leave the bed. We had a nice little "continental breakfast" offered by the motel, and then made our way from Kingman, AZ out to, well, it feels like everywhere.

We left Kingman and then stopped in Flagstaff to gas up. After that, we made our way from Interstate 40 to Route 89 - which would take us through the San Francisco Peaks area (in Coconino National Forest) and ultimately into Hopi and Navajo land. We wanted to make an effort towards having a glimpse at Monument Valley, but we got as far up as Tuba City and decided to turn around and head back down to Route 64, which would bring us to the Grand Canyon from the east instead of the south.

We rolled up into Grand Canyon National Park just after noon, and had our first glimpses at the Desert View vista point. Now, I've been to the Grand Canyon previously, but this had been Erik's first time. I don't believe he was at all disappointed. The weather was warm, but the breeze was cool - and while the sun beat down on me pretty hard, it wasn't enough to be too uncomfortable. There were also a few clumps of gorgeous poofy clouds tomake the scenery that much more favorable.

As some of you may already know - I have a pretty big fear of heights. More specifically - I'm afraid of seeing people (or experiencing myself) fall from great heights. And boy, did people allow themselves the opportunity of that possibility! Something about huge canyons and 2000 foot falls lures people to do the most idiotically dangerous things. Barely-clothed young women from the UK wearing flip flops getting precipitously close to the edge of a huge drop in order to get a fun snapshot for their myspace accounts - and youngish hippies in Birkenstocks scrambling up rocky outcroppings far beyond the railing in order to please a relative on safer ground - who ultimately drops their camera anyways.

When I see these people get close, and slip a little and giggle, or step on a flat rock that tilts underfoot when pressure is applied, my heart jumps in my chest (you know, that feeling when a rush of adrenaline races into your bloodstream) and I have to turn around and try to forget where I am. But it wasn't all bad. I was able to get within a foot of an edge, while keeping my sneakered-feet steadied firmly behind a rock and leaning backwards. And Erik helped me stay alive a few extra years by not performing any acts of stupidity himself.

So we did the normal Grand Canyon-touristy-thing: We simply drove around to the various vista points, and shot off lots of pics and stood stunned at the immensity of everything. And then we tried to get near the visitor's center. And then the traffic backed up beyond belief. And then we decided to turn around and head to the new motel in Williams, AZ. It was a good choice. The park was being inundated from the south by hundreds of private vehicles and tour buses, at a complete stop for miles down the road before the south park entrance. We were mighty glad we didn't try to leave this morning to make the trip. The wait would have proved extremely displeasing.

So we got to the motel early, checked in, and walked down the main drag here to find a place to eat. The steakhouse was closed so we opted for a pizza place instead. It was quality, filling stuff. And now we're exhaused and will be going to sleep. We've got a loooooong trip ahead of us tomorrow!

posted by julie at September 3, 2006 08:12 PM