Monday, October 10, 2005

Finishing up the Grand Canyon Trip

When we left off, Kathy and I had finished the mule ride and returned to the Bright Angel Lodge.  We were staying at the Grand Canyon for another full day -- we had planned to do some hiking along the rim.

Ha ha ha ha ha. 

Kathy was feeling fine, but I was walking real slow -- especially when stairs were involved.  That night, we revised the plan -- we chose a couple of bus tours to take the next day.

Here's the thing about the Grand Canyon.  You know how some people say Microsoft and/or Disney are taking over the world?  Here's a company to look out for in the area of world domination:  Xanterra.  Xanterra has an exclusive contract with the National Park Service to run the hotels in Grand Canyon National Park.  (And, if you look at their website, they're in many other national and state parks as well.)  But Xanterra doesn't just run the hotels.  They also run all the restaurants, the gift shops, and the tours -- up to and including the mule ride. 

The unanticipated result of this was that, on each of the bus tours, the tour guides were totally plugging the mule ride.  And Kathy and I ended up being mini-celebrities on our busses, because everybody had all sorts of questions about the ride.  (One woman was going on the one-day ride the next day.  She seemed quite nervous about the experience so I made every effort I could to not walk gingerly while I was in her line of vision.)

The first tour we took drove for a ways along the rim to the East, stopping at the Desert View watchtower.  Our guide encouraged us all to walk the steps up to the top of the tower.  (Yeah, right.)  I stood on the observation deck at the bottom and practiced my photography skills, trying to catch the crows (ravens?) in flight.  Here's a couple:

There were also more breathtaking views, including this one where you can see the river at the bottom of the canyon.

After that tour, we took an evening tour -- a so-called "Sunset Tour" which went along the rim to the West.  We stopped at a viewing area for the sunset and everyone snapped a billion pictures.  (OK, fifty.  But still.)  The thing was, the sunset itself didn't seem all the impressive.  Compared to the big honkin' canyon it was above, the sunset was a clear second.  But, when I got home and looked at the pictures, the canyon seemed hidden in shadow, and the sunset ended up looking much more impressive.

And that's pretty much the end of the story.  The next morning, we packed up the car and headed back to civilization.*


*"Civilization" here being defined as a place with good cell phone reception, supermarkets large enough to carry ThermaCare wraps, and broadband internet connections.

1 comment:

jasonslove1 said...

I worked at the North Rim of the Grand some **mumble mumble fifteen mumble mumble** years ago.  Your story here has really made me want to go back.  I did a day ride on the mules and can relate to your pain.  There was one particular corner our guide referred to as the "oh my God" corner, because it looks like you're going to go right off the edge into the canyon.  Red, my trusty mount, decided to stumble around this corner.  I was a bit nervous for the rest of the ride.  

This has been a great series of entries on your most recent adventure.  Keep them up.  The next best thing to doing these things ourselves is hearing your descritpions of them!