Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Grand Canyon

We got back on the road again (can't seem to stay too
long in one place) and headed to the Grand Canyon and
Northern Arizona. I'll be writing about some of the
things we saw over the next few days. Even though this
was my sixth trip to the Canyon over the last 15 years,
it never fails to amaze. People have asked me what it
is like. I tell them that it is so big that it looks a movie set. One almost expects to see some
prop people moving the screen aside on the soundstage to
prepare for the next scene. The last few times we've
visited, it has been in the late fall season and every
year it seems to get more and more crowded. Fairly soon,
I believe that late December through January will be the
only time of the year that will not be crowded and only
then because of the threat of winter snowstorms. We had
great weather. It was in the 50's during the day and got
down into the low 20's overnight. Since we stayed at the
Maswik Lodge (kind of a park-owned motel) on the South Rim,
we were able to get an early start both of the days we
were there. Nothing fancy about the Maswik. Motel-type
rooms with outdoor entrances, but they were clean, and
since it's the off-season, reasonably priced. We had
dinner at the Maskwik cafeteria and it wasn't
reasonable, but the food was ok.

One of our favorite stops at the Canyon is Hermit's Rest.
It's a little cabin/giftstore that is at the far end of
the west drive. I remember the "good old days" when you
could drive all the way to Hermit's Rest in your own
vehicle, but now you can only do it for most of the year
in a park-owned bus. It works out ok but it still doesn't
beat the flexibility of having your own vehicle. Inside
Hermit's Rest is a huge fireplace that would humble any
yule log. Overall, the location is really quiet and peaceful
and a long way from all the activity at the other South Rim
locations. While we were in the village we took advantage
of parking our car at one central location and using the
"Blue Route" bus that takes you to all of the major locations
on the South Rim. Although I found the Red "West Rim/Hermit's
Rest" bus to be kind of a pain, the Blue Route bus worked out
really well. Besides acting as kind of a guided tour to all
of the locations, it goes almost everywhere, giving both
tourists and employees a good transit system.

Probably my favorite place at the Canyon is Desert View.
Besides having interesting architecture by Mary Colter,
it's got great views of the Colorado River and the Painted
Desert. Recently they implemented a new parking scheme at
Desert View that isn't very popular with many of the visitors.
They built a large parking lot 1/4 mile from the rim that a
lot of elderly and disabled people are having problems with.
I spoke with a woman who worked at the bookstore at Desert
View and she told me that many people were very upset and that
the Park was going to explore using a shuttle system in the
future. I didn't find it to be a huge problem, but I could
definitely see that it would be for some.

1 comment:

Christine said...

Hi Tom,
Antz and I have been to Hermit's Rest -- I know what you's a cool spot!

Your blog is great! It's good to know what you guys have been up to. I particularly liked your Terror Alert.

Have fun on your time off. I'm a little jealous :)