DAY FIVE-- Grand Canyon

This is my personal blog, and is NOT a news story. As such it is my opinion and does not reflect the opinion of the station, my family nor anyone else. Some people haven’t understood that this is a personal blog, NOTE: Due to a lack of internet service at the Grand Canyon hotel room, this entry has been delayed.

Day Five—Navajo Nation and Grand Canyon

What an unusual day to be traveling in another nation… on September 11th. We start our morning with a moment of silence, and note that every American flag we see today, whether in the Navajo Nation or at Grand Canyon, are at half staff. This is the third or fourth time that we have been on a trip during this time, but it somehow feels different this time.

We leave our hotel, saddened by the fact Peter McDonald, the surviving Navajo Code Talker, could not make a public appearance, due to health concerns. However, we watch the hour long PBS documentary on Secret Code Whispers, which documents the treatment of the Navajo as well as the development of the Navajo code used in WWII. It is a moving piece and features our missing guest speaker prominently.

We take a break at Cameron Trading Post, and buy some snacks for later. We will be here twice, and so we visit the post office next door and secure a large “If it fits, it ships” priority mail box for $19.95 and save it for tonight’s housecleaning. (Some travelers ship home trinkets, souvenirs, gifts, excess clothes, dirty clothes or unneeded items to lighten their bag in the second half of the trip.) Tomorrow, we will seal and mail our shipment home to ourselves.

Later in the morning, we arrive at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. We set our clocks back another hour, as they observe a different time zone, even though the Navajo Nation doesn’t. So we arrive by noon.

Our first stop is the Desert Tower, an old observation construction designed by Mary Colter back at the start of the last century. There are 85 steps to the top of the circular tower, and I am able to do 2 Facebook Live update from the top and outside, overlooking the spectacular canyon.

The colors are dramatic with overhead sun that shows all the way down to the Colorado River. That level of the canyon is the oldest rock, some 200 million years old. The variation in rock strata going up the walls are younger, but still millions of year old. It’s one of the most studied geological columns in the world.

We travel on to the Canyon Village, and break for our light lunch, which we carried in from earlier. Many walk along the south rim trail, and stop in the Hopi House gift shop, or the Welcome Center which was formerly a general store for more than 100 years. We enjoy an Ice Cream cone as the wild squirrels attempt to tease us for scraps. The park rangers and frequent signs warn NOT to feed squirrels or wildlife, as the squirrel is the most viscous animal in the park. They will aggressively bite fingers when feeding. They are cute and bold, but we adhere to the warnings.

We travel to the main welcome center and sit through a 20 minute movie introduction, narrated by Peter Coyote. More than a few of us nod off in the pleasant darkness....but then a short walk to the Mathis Point refreshes us.

There are large numbers of international tourists here, and many pose dangerously on the railings for selfies and romantic pictures. Everyone cooperates, snapping pictures for each other until there is a sudden gasp. The air is shattered by the sound of splintering glass, as a mother drops a frapichino glass bottle while trying to open it. It just misses my wife and shatters on the walkway. No one is hurt, but our nerves take a few minutes to quiet as we help clean up the shards.

We return to find our hotel rooms, simple but clean and adequate. And we gather once more at 5:30 to ride the shuttle service out to Mojave Point to watch the sun set. We miss a couple of the shuttle buses due to the crowds, but our guide has timed this right, and we arrive with a little time to spare. The sunset is spectacular in many ways, with the golden light playing across the canyon, the full moon rising in the east, the sun blazing on the western horizon, and an absolutely clear sky. Many people snapped dozens of spectacular photos which we will be sending back to the station in the hopes they can use them.

The temperature begins to drop immediately from the high 70s with dusk and we are glad we have brought jackets and flashlights for the return shuttle trip to our hotel rooms. The advice and guidance from our tour director has been spot-on for this extra excursion. It’s another reason why we travel with Holiday Vacations, and experienced tour directors.

Thursday, we return briefly to Cameron Trading Post, ship our boxes, and then head for Zion National Park. It will be another full day.

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