Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Things Grand...

OK, the cafe with the free wireless hotspot didn't materialize, so I'm sitting in a Starbucks-Analog in the village, writing this for the next time I get internet access.

The drive from San Diego to the Grand Canyon (Tusayan Village, actually), was a long one, but relatively uneventful. The directions were fairly simple so we skipped the GPS in favor of printed directions, but I was glad to have set up the Valentine 1, as we had one or two moments with the California and Arizona Highway Patrols.

I'd been worried about our first hotel, ambitiously named "The Grand Hotel", after reading some last minute bad reviews on Expedia or some other travel site... Turns out to have been unfounded. While far from "Grand", everything was clean and the food in the hotel restaurant wasn't bad. If you're ever in the area I recommend the Tenderloins of Elk in a Cherry Madeira Reduction with Shitake Potato Hash.

The Grand Canyon the following morning was suitably beautiful and of course more aptly named, especially so in the chilly November morning. I'm not sure if it was the early-ish hour (9am?) or the turning of the cold season, but we enjoyed a very quiet morning at the South Rim. We started with one of the basic vista points, which impressed Kimberley quite a bit, took a bunch of pictures, and started to head out on our way when she spotted a small herd of Elk grazing on the side of the road. Yep, Elk. One male and two females, by my count. They hardly noticed the group shooting photos, only the male took any notice of Kimberley when she stood on a small rock to get a slightly better photo...

After that we bounced west along the south rim, stopping at a few places to look and take pictures. We stopped in at the village post office to send a couple of postcards and had another reminder of how tech-centric we've become. Kimberley had forgotton her parent's mailing address, and there was no cell phone coverage, so we attempted what was, for both of us, the first pay-phone call in many years. Apparently you can't call California from Arizona from a payphone with coins anymore. We actually had to get a long distance operator and use a credit card to make the call. I guess there's still a place for calling cards these days, but I haven't used one in years since its always cheaper/easier on a cellphone...

After that minor adventure we ended up at the rim lodges. We started out on the hiking trail that follows the rim. It was a beautiful walk, but I figure we only got 2 or 3 miles before the altitude and the climb (quite a bit of elevation change) got to Kimberley and we started taking the rim loop shuttle. If you're not up for a long walk, this is definitely the only way to fly. You can get off at any of a number of vistas, see the views, then get back on the next shuttle. The loop ends at Hermit's Rest, where the views are even more amazing.




After that, we had a beautiful lunch at the El Tovar hotel, and then on our way to Sedona.

I'll just say that the drive and the vistas were exceptional. More photos to come when I've got more time.

Cheers...

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