We didn't get up super early, but early enough to catch breakfast at the hotel before heading to the Canyon. We got to use my free pass to get in the park (woot!) and we headed to the visitor's center first. After watching a short video on a screen that was a globe (kinda cool) we wandered around then decided to go see what the fuss was about this "big ditch."
We were impressed and sad at our first sighting of the Canyon. There was a fire somewhere in the Canyon, so it was really hazy/smokey in the western portion of the Canyon. We decided to start walking west on the foot path for a little bit. Eventually, the elevation caught up to me and my head was hurting. In order to combat the headache, I decided it was time for lunch. Instead of taking the shuttle, Teh Bear wanted to walk back (sometimes, he really is the devil). We were willing to head out of the GC to find food in the town (which we knew via Urbanspoon/Yelp was going to be pretty sketchy), but we got lucky and found an overpriced cafe near the gift shop/visitor's center. Unfortunately, their machines had just went down. Fortunately, I had cash. We were able to eat and then decide on a new game plan: go on a hike or drive down to the watchtower? Since my headache hadn't really went away with caffeine and/or food, I suggested we just drive to the watchtower and take pics when we saw good overlooks to stop at. Teh Bear agreed, although I suspected he was kinda disappointed we weren't doing the hike, which we both bought hiking boots for. Hell, even I was a little disappointed. But, Teh Bear had even purchased walking sticks. I suggested that the next day we could do the hike, potentially. We agreed to decide on this the next day, headache/haze depending.
|Hello, Grand Canyon, nice to meet you.|
|Haze, please go away. Kthx.|
|Some rocks. Just some rocks.|
|Rawwwwrrrr. That's the sound Teh Bear makes.|
|YAY Grand Canyon!!|
We drove the eastern part of the south rim. I finally told Teh Bear that I felt like we were just looking at different parts of a really big ditch. It's a geographic wonder, for sure, but there's only so much I can take of just looking at the same thing from different places. We did kinda hike down (the non-maintained path, of course) a little ways at one of the overlooks, but we didn't go too far, knowing we had to hike back up. Up was definitely harder than down. We both kept taking breaks at about every other switch back. UGH! Real hiking! That shit is crazy!
|And here we have the Canyon of Grandiosity.|
|Let me see here.|
|Is it supposed to be this big?|
|This is my thinkin' pose.|
|Ahhhhh!! The wind is takin' me!|
|Smoke over the North Rim.|
|So much Canyon.|
|Just danglin' our feet over the edge of the Canyon.|
|Me and My Bear|
|An impromptu hike.|
|We're professionals. |
This is how you know.
My headache was ok until we got back to the top, then it started pounding. Le sigh. High elevation, we're obviously not friends anymore. Too much Navy, at sea-level time for this girl.. and Teh Bear is from Florida, where I'm pretty sure the sea level is a negative number. We finally made it to the watchtower where we got pics and souvenirs, including Teh Democratic Lawyer and Teh Democratic Muppet's new "Beyonce". Their Beyonce had a chili-pepper-like pattern, which was fitting considering all the "not spicy" Mexican food we had enjoyed with them. (From a recent update, I'd heard that the puppers got ahold of their Beyonce and I'm not sure that their Beyonce exists anymore. Sadface.)
After the watchtower, we headed back towards the entrance and debated our next move. We both really wanted to see the western part of the southern rim, so we agreed to drive as far as we could (the shuttle would take you to the very end part of the southern rim, but we weren't sure we wanted to go that far) and get out and see what was up. When we got to the parking lot, we walked a longer distance than I intended to (wah) to get back to the Canyon. We realized that the western side was really hazy/smoky, so we kinda gave that up and decided to find our spot for sunset pics since it was around 3:30pm. We'd spotted a few spots on our drive from the watchtower, so we headed back that direction to see what we could see.
|Soooo smokey.. :(|
|A squirrel rabbit thing critter....|
|Do you see the bunny?|
Just like the sign!
|Grand Canyon sunset|
|Watching the Canyon change colors.|
|These crazy birds were dive-bombing us and eventually landed on the car. |
The couple behind us were amazed too.
|There was an evening traffic jam due to Elk crossing. No jk.|
We decided on a place pretty quickly since it was getting to be sunset time and Teh Bear set up his tripod to be all "professional" in his picture takin. I was still a little bitter at the tripod from the starry night photo session. BTW, definitely love the new tripod (as I should since it was almost $200). It's blue and small and I can fit it in my backpack and it only weights 2.5 pounds instead of 5.. which means if it goes in my checked luggage one day, I still have room for an extra pair of jeans. I'm serious about packin, ya'll... Serious freakin' business. But mostly, I just played the "I'm awesome and don't need a tripod" card while on vacation. Teh Bear was serious freakin' business about some Grand Canyon sunset pics, though. He set up his tripod and took a whole bunch of photos. He also got some pics of us with the Canyon in the background and some pics of me being silly.. To include 2 photos that will definitely be made into a .gif because it's pretty funny when you flip back and forth between the 2 photos. Probably the 2nd funniest moment of vacation was seeing how funny those pics were when you flipped back and forth between them.
After the sun had finally set, we decided it was time to head out and find dinner (where we really learned about how sketchy the food options were in Tusayan (aka Tuscaloosa if you asked me where we were staying while we were at the Grand Canyon)). We decided on the hotel restaurant at the Best Western since it had the best reviews and an elk appetizer On our way out of the park, we hit a lot of congestion because there were some elk crossing the road. Everyone had stopped to take photos. Us included. I mean, how often are you going to catch elk crossing the road? We got back to the hotel and brought our stuff upstairs and walked over to the Best Western for dinner. On our walk to the hotel, we saw a few elk across the street and several people were stopped on the side of the road taking photos. Elk are apparently a big deal to everyone who visits the GC.
Our dinner was actually really delicious. We got to sit in front of the fire place, at my request, Teh Bear was very accommodating and gentlemanly the whole trip, extra points for him.. He even gave me the window seats when we were flying, that's true lub, ya'll, true lub. We never received our elk appetizer that we ordered, so the waitress made up for it by giving us free dessert. We ordered the chocolate piano mousse. It was literally a chocolate piano that was filled with mousse. It was delicious, even Teh Bear agreed, and he's very particular about his chocolate mousse.
WHOLE thing was edible.
So we made it go away.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to soak in the hot tub. We were joined by several hispanic dudes who, we quickly observed/learned, were prior military. The easiest one to figure out was the one with the devil dog tattoo on his bicep. Finally, we headed back up to our room and crashed.
The next morning, Wednesday, we got up for breakfast, then headed back upstairs to pack so we could check out on the way out the door. We went to the general store in Tusayan so I could mail off some of my clothes so my luggage might make weight for once (it didn't). We also looked for some souvenirs I found the perfect sticker for my water bottle and a picture frame, woo! Since Teh Bear didn't find what he was looking for, we headed back up to the GC to stop at the gift shop. While we were there, we went to the closest observation point to check out the haze situation. The smoke/haze had gotten worse and had spread further into the Canyon. We decided that we weren't going to do the long hike at that point. Additionally, my head was already starting it's shennagains again, and I wasn't willing to mess with that....
On the next instillation of the November vacation recaps aka the longest recaps I've ever done we'll FINALLY make it through the rest of AZ... finally.
Vacation Recap Map:Pre-vacation
Being in Denver for the weekend, part 1
Being in Denver for the weekend, part 2
Being in AZ for half the week, part 1
Being in AZ for half the week, part 2 (this blog)
Being in AZ for half the week, part 3
Being in NC for an extended weekend
-Carolina Renn Faire (photos)
-Biltmore Flowers (photos)
Being in MD for the remainder of vacation (this blog)