You cannot see the Grand Canyon in one view, as if it were a changeless spectacle from which a curtain might be lifted, but to see it, you have to toil
from month to month through its labyrinths.
~John Wesley Powell
I’m not sure when I began to feel the urge to visit the Grand Canyon, but for some reason, it has been calling to me to come visit. Just talking about getting to see it would bring tears to my eyes. So as we left Williams to make the one hour drive north to the canyon, I could barely contain my joy to see one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World!
As you drive to the canyon, there is not a lot of homes or commercial sites. There are many tall pine trees, though and lots of signs warning of elk. (We didn’t see any outside the park.) When you get to Tusayan, you see a much more commercialized town. There are many hotels and restaurants. The National Geographic Visitor Center and Pink Jeep tours.
Last summer a sweet friend of mine visited the Grand Canyon, and she took a Pink Jeep tour. She told me that we just had to do it, too. I made a reservation back in March for our tour. We checked in and then headed into the park.
Driving into the park, wasn’t too bad. We only had to wait in line behind two cars. We received a map, and Madison became our official Grand Canyon navigator. We headed on to the Visitor’s Center and found a shaded picnic table to eat our picnic lunch—still eating Mimi’s fried chicken!
Then we headed to our first glimpse of the canyon at Mather Point. (Named after Stephen Mather—the man with the plan for the park.) Seeing the canyon for the first time evoked a strong emotion from me. There is an 18 mile path for people to explore the South Rim of the canyon here. We just walked to two viewpoints before we head to back for our Pink Jeep tour. The only negative about Mather Point was all the people. It was so crowded, I could barely get to the edge of the lookout points.
Back at the National Geographic Center, we watched a 45 minute IMAX movie about the history and future of the canyon. The theme of the movie was the fact that a man’s life is just a tiny blip of time compared to the millions of years of the life of the canyon. It is humbling to realize your insignificance when compared to the Grand Canyon. The movie also re-enacted the history of the canyon. I enjoyed learning about U.S. Army Major John Wesley Powell’s (who only had one arm) successful journey through the canyon.
It was time to get in the jeep for our two-hour tour of the Grand Canyon! Our guide was the sweetest, most patient, and knowledgeable Retired Army Vietnam Veteran, Fred Stone. (Yes, he gets jokes all the time about his name—Fred Flintstone!) There was nice family of three from Ohio on the tour with us.
Mr. Fred did not take us back to Mather Point. He took us to some less popular viewpoints. The people who named the view points did not have get too creative with their names. We visited sites along the Desert View Drive with names like Two Trees, Duck on a Rock and Grand View. Along the way, Mr. Fred provided us with many, many facts about the canyon and even had great ideas for ways to take our pictures—and he took some for us.
At the end of the tour, he took us by the Geographical Building where we were able to see a scaled map of the canyon and see a scaled model of both the South Rim and North Rim. I was amazed at how much time Mr. Fred took with us to help us understand the canyon better.
One good analogy he gave us was to help us understand how fast the water moves in the canyon. I think he said it moved 115,000 cubic feet (if you know me, you know I’m bad about remembering numbers!) of water per second moves on the Colorado River. One cubic foot is equal to about one basketball. That’s crazy!
After that, we took a quick tour of the Grand Canyon village where visitors can stay in a hotel designed by Teddy Rooselvet, the mule pens and the train station. We learned that there is a K-12 school in the park for children of the park employees. They just graduated 19 students!
Mr. Fred took us back to Geographic Center. Before we could exit the jeep, he gave the girls a Collectable Grand Canyon quarter. I had such a wonderful experience, better than I could have ever imagined, and this man was just so nice, I started crying—tears of joy. The Grand Canyon had that big of an effect on me.
Sunset at the Grand view
I forgot to mention the elk we saw in the park—too many to count. We also saw a Mountain Lion crossing sign. We really wanted to see a mountain lion, from a distance, but sadly, we did not. Mr. Fred said several mountain lions are killed by vehicles each year.
Our tour ended about 5:30, and the girls and I decided we could not leave without watching the sunset.
I do not know how anyone who visits the Grand Canyon can say that there is no God. I love the beach and beach sunsets, and here I feel God’s presence, but at the Grand Canyon, one cannot deny God’s handiwork. While we watched the sunset, all I could do was praise God over and over for his amazing creation.
I am sad that we only had one day planned to visit the Grand Canyon, but I will be back for a much longer visit.
On the Road again
So, we left the Grand Canyon about 8 pm and headed to Las Vegas. On the way, we watched the temperature soar to 108 degrees. Steve really wanted us to see the Hoover Dam; we drove right past it about midnight, but were unable to actually see it--and Claire was asleep.
As we came upon the city, we were overwhelmed with lights, and by the time we made it onto Las Vegas Boulevard, I was a bit disoriented. Imagine Times Square on steroids. Thanks to our good friend, Hu L., we had free accommodations at the Paris Hotel. We pulled right into the valet parking, walked right up to the front desk, got our room key and went straight to our room.
But our night was not over yet! We still had to take showers because the Grand Canyon was hot, and we were stinky! We finally fell asleep at about 1:30. If you know me at all, you know this is way past my bedtime! I wasn't sure what adventures the next day would hold for us, but with a good night's sleep I would be ready.