Saturday, December 27, 2008

Road Trip Home: Grand Canyon - A few days on the edge

We got to the Canyon just before nightfall and found our way to the El Tovar Lodge that sits right at the edge of the canyon (in the picture just below). The lodge reminded me of the lodge at Old Faithful, except on a much smaller scale. I have waited 32 years to stay in this lodge. I stopped by the Canyon (a very brief one day walk about) on a cross country from California to Louisiana after living in Hawaii. Brandy was just a baby. And all I did was walk into the hotel and look around the lobby- and walk out. But I knew that someday I wanted to stay in the Grand Hotel- at this very Grand Canyon. It has a large stone fireplace in the reception area with a hugh decorated fir tree that rose up into the second floor lounge. It was a cloudy evening and we caught glimpses of the canyon as it quickly got dark.

Our first full day there it was still cloudy and rainy, so we decided to explore some of the museums. The Verkamp Curios is a store that was established in 190 by John Verkamp who came from Cincinnati. It was owned by the Verkamp family until two years ago when it became a museum. A forest ranger there is a historian and told us the history of the place as we sat around the large stone fireplace. He had come to the Canyon right after finishing a Master's Degree in history and loved the area so much he decided to stay. He applied for a job and was hired immediately, as a dish washer. He's been there ever since, now a historian relating the events of the area to visitors who come by. The amazing thing is that he is now 71 years old and mostly blind, but still mentally sharp and a wonderful story teller.

Since it was still rainy, we next went to Kolb Studio which was a photo studio started by two brothers in 1903 at the start of the Bright Angel Trail. They had an old box camera that was positioned above the trail and they took pictures of people as they rode by on the mules on their way down the canyon. This was the first Party Pics business- and it was very, very successful! As you might imagine, the studio sits right on the edge of the canyon and has been there for over 100 years. These two museums would have been places we wouldn't have seen had it not been raining, so we were thankful for the weather. The canyon is so absolutely gorgeous I know we wouldn't have paused for any of the "history" had it not been so cold and windy- but we felt really lucky that the weather gave us such an unexpected opportunity- but then weather can often do that.

But enough of this- when you go to the canyon it is all about the canyon- and what a sight! It is so understandable that this is one of the seven wonders of the natural world! If you want to learn more about the wonders of the world you can go to: But the GRAND CANYON is the real deal. So now I've been twice- and you drive away knowing that this is a MUST SEE AGAIN destination. The sun finally showed through a little so we ventured along the rim stopping at vistas to take pictures. On days like this day the canyon is an ever changing scene. The clouds moving across the sky change the shadows every minute and with the sun so far south on this December day the shadows just from the sun were spectacular.

We finished up this day parked in a spot we had chosen earlier so we could watch the sun set. Wow, was it ever worth it! There were just a few cars there with us, but we were told later that during the summer months, you have to get there very early to even have a place to stop and the traffic jams near sun down are horrific. But we were there-in fact had a front row seat- from our car so we didn't have to stand out in the wicked cold wind- and I must have taken 60 pictures. It just kept changing and each picture was different from the previous one. Here are a couple of my favorites. I do think that sun sets just don't get better than this!

The next morning we arose to 3 inches of new snow, a cold wind blowing across the canyon, and absolutely clear blue skies. So put up with my pictures of this canyon as we headed from the west end to the east end, stopping at all of the vistas along the way. I even used my fisheye lense a few time to try to get the broadest view.

Sorry for putting in so many pictures, but how does one decide how to share pictures of the canyon out of the 150 or so different views taken?? I tried to narrow it down, but the canyon is so big and so beautiful, it just wasn't possible. And it's easy to understand why we began planning a return trip with the last glimpse of the canyon still in the rear view mirror!

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