Wednesday, September 1, 2021 (continued)
As we make our way to the Grand Canyon, I am slowly drying out and Al has put on a video about the history of mule rides down the Canyon. Interesting stuff. Not ever going to do it. The video said the mules love to work and live to walk up and down the Canyon. With my luck, I’d get the mule that just wants to retire to the barn or has decided that he wants to take a more direct route into the Canyon. So, a hard pass.
Al also double-checked with us to see who is taking the morning excursion tomorrow – helicopter ride over the Canyon. That would be a second “no.” The Canyon is big. I get it. Not going up in a bucket with a propeller to prove it.
He reiterated about hydration, knowing our limitations if we hike, not getting too close to the cliff edges – they crumble – people have died. Got it. Oh, and don’t get too close to the elk either. They usually ignore you but don’t get too close. They are big and have attacked people. Okay. No problem. I have a zoom lens.
Then, Al started talking about mountain lions in the Canyon and what to do if confronted – don’t run – wave sticks, stand big, yell, throw rocks, as a last resort – poke them in the eyes. Poke them in the eyes? I didn’t hear “faint dead away” as an option which would be my go-to move. How about I just stay on the marked trails with a lot of other people, so the mountain lions stay away or at least have more to choose from other than me?
We arrived at the South Entrance about 3:00. After he paid the entrance fee, we drove to Mather Point and parked near the Visitor Center. So worth the drive and the earlier rain. We take the short foot path to the Point.
Here, it looks a little rainy in the distance but the sun is trying to peak out above us, and the views are spectacular. All the different colors and formations. Breath-taking. I’m just enjoying the sites, breathing the fresh pine-scented air, and not judging all the people taking selfies too close to the cliff edge (with no guard rails). Okay, I am so totally judging them. I have to move to another spot.
I get my first wildlife picture – a squirrel. He ran right up to us and sat up. When we didn’t give him a peanut or something after I took his picture, he gave me a “look” and ran off. The signs clearly said no feeding the wildlife, but he made me feel guilty about not offering one of my trail mix bars. My cat gives me the same look when I don’t give him the snacks he wants. He usually just retaliates by clawing my chair.
We stayed in that area for about an hour. Time to get back on the bus to go to our lodging. Which way was the bus parking lot? We had wandered up and down the ridge so we’re not sure of the original footpath to the bus parking. The paths look the same. No directional signs either. Plenty of signs about COVID precautions but not one sign to get back to the lot. We spot another couple from our tour wandering. They say they know the way. They didn’t. We broke away from them when Chuck whispered “I know they are not headed in the right direction.” I trust his sense of direction. They chose to keep going in their direction. Time is getting close.
I wasn’t really worried about getting left because the lodging was pretty close to Mather Point according to the map and we could get on one of the Park shuttles that I kept seeing. But I hate to be late. I have always hated to be late to anything. If I am “on time,” I am late. Finally, we see the sign for the bus parking so I can breathe again. Two of the couples were late – one was the couple who said they knew the way and ended up in the separate car parking lot.
Once we were all back on the bus, Al had Wade drive us around the property pointing out the Market, Post Office, Park Headquarters, the El Tovar Restaurant, etc. He explained how the Park shuttle system worked – don’t get on the Purple bus as it goes outside the park unless you want to pay to get back in – Stay on the Blue bus as it goes around the Lodge area! The orange bus goes yada yada yada, the red bus goes yada yada, yada. I am now in official information overload. The only other piece of information I can still make room for is what time tomorrow to be on the bus.
As we drive around, we can see elk are all over the park. But I can’t seem to get a decent picture from the bus. They are all turned away from me. Will get some pictures this evening.
Okay, more information from Al – Due to Covid and a staffing shortage, not all restaurants in the park are open and the market has shortened hours. In other words, if you want something from the market like food (or alcohol for tonight and tomorrow night – no alcohol sold on the Navajo Reservation) buy it sooner than later. I shove old information out to remember this information (birth dates – who needs them?)
We finally pull up to two buildings. Our lodging for this one night is in the Yavapai Lodge area. Both buildings are located near the market and the main lodge. The restaurant in the main lodge is serving dinner but not breakfast so we need to plan accordingly. We are also within walking distance to another spot on the South Rim and we’d like to see the sunset. Al gives us our room keys as we exit the bus, and the bags will be delivered to the room. Love this feature especially since our room is on the 2nd floor and I don’t see an elevator. Look around the room – clean? – looks it; coffee maker – yes; towels – yes; hair dryer – yes. We are good to go. What to do first? – Market, Restaurant, Walk to Rim?
One thought on “National Parks Tour: Grand Canyon”
Haha! I feel the same way–if I’m on time I’m officially late! And when we were there years ago a girl eating snacks had squirrels crawling all over her and enjoying it–yeeeee. I still have that picture somewhere. What a fun trip for you guys!