(Thursday April 9th, written Tuesday April 14th)
We finally made it to the Grand Canyon! We snuck in under cover of darkness, and it’s about a 30 mile road from the turnoff to the entrance, and then another 30 miles to get to where the campgrounds are. All in pitch black, unable to see one of the most jaw dropping sites in the world. We were in the park a good twelve hours before we ever actually saw the darn thing! First we had a filling breakfast in the forested campsite. Much needed as it had been literally below freezing the previous night and I we both spent it buried in all the blankets and sleeping bags we could find …
Then I got pulled over by a cop. Yeah, that’s right, I managed to commit a traffic violation in the middle of the Grand Canyon, with only one other car around! And the guy was a total asshole! So I’m driving along, trying to find the Visitor’s Center, because even just the complex of the Grand Canyon is massive and overwhelming before you even get to the actual hole in the ground. And I’m following behind another car, and not going very fast, and all of a sudden there are flashing lights behind me and the Ranger Fuzz are on my tail! Whaatttt?!?! So he immediately demands my license and registration. OK. Then he says I “blew through” two stop signs. Well, I was going about 25mph, so I HIGHLY doubt I blew through anything, AND I was following another car which means he “blew through” them too, AND there’s not another car on these roads. But OK. So I apologize. Then he orders me to take my keys out of the ignition. Like Marigold and I are gonna go all Bo and Luke Duke (or mayber Thelma and Louise considering the location) on him! I have NEVER been asked that by a cop before in all my (multitudinous) traffic stops. THEN he demands to know if I have guns, or drugs, or illegal items in the vehicle! I actually chuckled. And thanked my lucky stars I had ignored friends who suggested I bring a weapon for protection, or pick up some pot in Colorado. Or smuggle jewels (OK not that one.) He was just mean and rude all out of proportion to the offense, he could have just said-hey you missed some stop signs-pay attention out there. He did, smugly, let me off with a warning, so I guess there’s that, but it put me on guard for him the rest of the visit.
But once we finally arrived, what a sight it was to behold…
For some reason The Grand Canyon has always been sort of the lynchpin of this trip for me. Yes, I’ve always wanted to see it, but more for the fact of it being a bucket list item, a must do, a classic piece of Americana, than any real desire or curiosity. It’s just so iconic. Whenever I would talk about the trip, I would use it as a reference: “I don’t want to be worrying about an Air B&B guest losing the key when I’m standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon.” “I’m not going to pick up that phone call when I’m standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon.” “The worst time for Annie to pull a runner would be standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon.” That sort of thing.
And it IS cool. And HUGE. So huge you can’t really take it all in. It’s more than the mind can comprehend. And more than even a Selfie Stick photo can properly capture.
It was also cold. And CROWDED! Oh my goodness, so crowded! An estimated five million visitors pass through each year, and even though it isn’t yet prime tourist season, they were ALL at the main Visitor Center and overlook area. I guess that’s why there had been none on the roads. It was a mob scene, and claustrophobic (On the edge of a gaping chasm) and I constantly felt like we were in the way of someone’s photograph. Annie, on the other hand, was making friends left and right. It was funny how so many people would rather take a moment to scratch her ears or tell her how cute she was than look at one of the Wonders of the World.
But who can really blame them-I’m just as smitten.
In an attempt to get as far from the madding crowds as possible, we drove Desert View Drive (which is basically the 30 mile road we took to get into the park, just with the added bonus of daylight, stopping at many lovely overlooks, enjoying a picnic in some pines, and finally ending up at The Watchtower. I had never heard of The Watchtower before, and at first glance it appeared to be another cool “Anasazi” dwelling like the ones at Hoven WEEEEEEP (as I like to say it). Alas, it was built in the 1930s a sort of a tribute to all of the different Native American groups that used to populate this area, and it was nice and all, but kind of inauthentic after seeing all the real things.
The other problem, which I really had to work not to show in these pictures, is it was MEGA crowded. Take all those folks spread out along the rim, and condense them into one rather narrow space and I just wanted to run screaming. And many of them were kids. Bored kids. Noisy kids. Always in my way kids. The problem with tourist attractions is there are just too darn many tourists!
So we went back to the campground and took a nap, and did some laundry, and tried to avoid the weird hiccuping dude who wanted to stand over me the whole time I was folding my underwear incessantly apologizing for his hiccups when what he really needed to apologize for was HOVERING OVER MY UNDERWEAR!
Another freezing cold night lay ahead of us…