Friday, May 17th
Arrived in Flagstaff yesterday evening, checked in to our hotel and drove a short distance into the old historic district off Rte 66 to stroll around and find some dinner. Another lovely little town with lots of eateries and interesting shops. We settled on the local brew pub recommended by my niece, and Bill’s cousin, Helen Sturm. A couple of pints and a Greek salad later and we were both ready for the hay pile. That’s when I realized we’d gained another hour and are now on Pacific time. So early to bed by accident.
The weather was surprisingly cool and we slept with the sliding door to our balcony open. I was awakened a few time by BNSF freight trains rolling through town but had a very satisfactory sleep in spite of that. Something about the sound of trains, especially at night. We were both up pretty early (time warp), took advantage of the hotel gym to get in a decent workout, then drove in to town again for a classic Rte 66 diner breakfast in a place that doubled in the evening as a Chinese restaurant. And where you could also drink beer at the counter. Diner, Chinese, Saloon. The Swiss Army knife of establishments. Food was excellent.
After that we split up for a couple of hours. I holed up in a laundromat while Bill scratched his guitar itch in a couple of music stores. He made a pretty good tour of downtown on foot and I got some trip planning done in between wash cycles. When we reconnected in the early afternoon, we both agreed the trip was starting to catch up with us. We’re tired today. So we headed to the Grand Canyon with no agenda other than to find our hotel at the South rim, complete some reconnaissance for a hike tomorrow, get some dinner and get to bed early.
The drive North to Grand Canyon National Park took us back through the Navajo reservation which was almost completely deserted save for the occasional mini-mart gas station deal and a few informal roadside trinket stands. It was overcast and windy and cool with a red flag fire warning in effect. A little depressing. The park entrance was manned by a older ranger who couldn’t or wouldn’t answer any of our questions about directions or the weather or what might kills us. Perhaps the sequester prevented him from being the slightest bit helpful. So we drove on uninformed until we found the first turnoff to the canyon. Wow and Holy Shit (again). There was the Colorado River. The same river we’ve been following and crossing on and off for days. And now it was a tiny little ribbon at the bottom of the biggest hole in the ground…anywhere. A mile deep. A mile. As I said before, the National Parks don’t cheat you.
We found our hotel and did a quick two mile loop from our room to the canyon edge and back. There’s a whole town here. And tourists. And lots of animals roaming around. And we’re thrilled and exhausted and need to regroup tomorrow and hike some of this and give a more coherent report. But this is really cool.
Random thoughts for the day. Only two. Bill is seriously afraid of mountain lions and for the first time on this trip we have warnings about them. I’m afraid of heights and…well, how much worse can it get than here? The crosshairs.