The Grand Canyon has always been on my list of must see places. It was a short drive from Flagstaff. We were fortunate to arrive there while parking near the South Rim was still available. We had thought about visiting the Skywalk, but canyon geography and time caused us to forego that this trip. Truthfully, you could spend several days exploring the canyon. Some wayward hikers have unintentionally spent longer. The Grand Canyon averages 10 miles across and is 277 miles long. We were near the South Rim and the Skywalk was Grand Canyon West. To visit the Skywalk would add another four hours driving time to cover the additional 243 miles. So we decided to walk some of the South Rim instead, which we did for about four, my dogs were barking at the end, hours.
After the obligatory stop at the visitor center and the bathroom, we followed the signs and our map to the South Rim trail. You cannot see the canyon from the parking area or the visitor center and the anxiety builds until you reach the edge for the first time and the first thing you see takes your breath away.
Suzie-Q and I have been blessed to see some spectacular sites from Niagara Falls to the majesty of the Swiss Alps, but we’ve never experienced a natural sight such as this. We also had manmade comparisons of world sites including our most recent of Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam. Taking my first look out over the canyon, the first thought that came to my mind was God made this and every manmade thing I’ve seen pales in comparison.
There was a high wind warning for our time there and it caused me to wonder how many ball caps are lying somewhere in the bottom of the canyon. The wind was not fooling around and some gusts were quite strong. I actually had some concern for people who were letting relatively small children walk along and near the edge out of someone’s grip. Even without the high wind, Suzie-Q was a little skittish but I was able to coax here near enough to the edge to get some pictures. But she would not climb a tree.
You do know that she was not pleased when I posed for this one, especially with the wind gusting.
There simply are not enough photographs that can really capture the Grand Canyon. You have to see it and consider the enormity of it to truly appreciate God’s creation.
We have scratched the visit from our list, but I think we’ll come back here again. I would like to take the mule ride down into the canyon. It may be as the Lone Ranger because Suzie-Q shared a few choice Korean expressions when I suggested it. Nearest English translation: “You cragee?”
Last stop was a bonus added by George and Chong Mi.
In Flagstaff, there was no particular thing we wanted to visit except for a decent restaurant and our hotel. It was just our lay over spot for the next day’s adventure to the Grand Canyon. Our friends, George and Chong Mi, laid out the trip for us and an overnight stay in Flagstaff was much less expensive than lodging at the Grand Canyon. For George and me, we are accustomed to the thinking of Army wives and even now in retirement common sense and frugality typically apply.
If you’ve never tried it, snapping pictures from a speeding automobile can be a challenge, but we managed a couple of decent ones. If you have driven in the American Southwest, you will find the scenery between Hoover Dam and Flagstaff, Arizona familiar. Suzie-Q and I have turned right at Dallas and driven 700 miles to El Paso. While there, we also drove around some and into New Mexico and to Carlsbad Caverns which is also a place worth seeing again. If you are from the east, especially the rolling green hills of Wild and Wonderful the desert landscape can be captivating even when it appears inhospitable. It has its own personality and beauty, but I do long for the green of Almost Heaven when I am in the area.
I heard a story once about a gentleman who arrived in Heaven on a Friday night. As Saint Peter greeted him at the Pearly Gate, he noticed a group of people secured in a cage. Astounded that he might encounter such a thing in Heaven, he asked Saint Peter what it was all about. Saint Peter gave him a quizzical look as if he should know the answer and after a moment said, “Well brother, they’re West Virginians. If we don’t lock them up on Friday night, they try to go home for the weekend.”
It was quite warm when we left Las Vegas and was still quite warm at Hoover Dam. We were forewarned to expect cooler temperatures at Flagstaff and at the Grand Canyon. We had our sweatshirts and jackets in the backpacks. The elevation of Las Vegas is around 2000 feet. In the Hoover Dam area elevation is around 1300 feet. In Flagstaff, we topped out at around 7000 feet, and at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon were we spent most of the next day it ranged around 7000 with the highest point around 7400 feet.
If you are not accustomed to elevation, strenuous activity could cause you some problems and especially if you have any respiratory issues. So rock steady on the canyon rim. It was certainly cooler in Flagstaff than it was down in the desert lowlands and the visible snow capped mountains reinforced that.
It was a nice little road trip from the Dam to Flagstaff. It led to a good dinner with good friends and a restful night. For tomorrow, we are going to the Grand Canyon. That’s worth a hooah!
In less than two hours, we made it out to Hoover Dam. Our friends tell us the way into the dam area if approaching from Las Vegas changed since their last visit. Before, you had to leave the road for parking on the opposite side of the dam from where we arrived.
With new road construction, we had to drive beyond the dam, exit the highway, and drive back up the other side crossing the same bridge twice and then down the winding road to the dam. This road funnels you into a pay parking garage and all the signage points you toward the paid tours, but there is always the option of sightseeing from top of the dam without a tour guide.
Comparing manmade structures Hoover Dam, in my view, is much more spectacular than Las Vegas. It took three years of 24/7 work to complete. I forgot how many tons of concrete was poured, but do remember the need for a cooling system otherwise the concrete would have taken a hundred years or so to cure. Men traveled from all over the country to work on the dam and numbers of them died for the good depression era wage of four to six dollars a day. A tour guide told us the operation ran 24/7 and the workers were allowed 2 days off during the year. The five-year project was finished in three.
I gauge that the Dam certainly made a greater contribution to the region than did Las Vegas. The water from the reservoir for consumption and irrigation and the electric power generated made farming and glittering Las Vegas lights possible. We did take note that the water level was down considerably from normal.
If you visit Las Vegas, make sure to take a break from glitz, glamour and gambling to make the short trip out to Hoover Dam. It is worth the time, although I feel the tours of the Dam are overpriced and the tour guides are little more than cattle herders. And, trust me when I tell you that they do try to humor you with too many Dam(n) jokes. “Now I will take your Dam questions.”
I have been places that have caused me to pause and consider the human side. Places like the Civil War battle fields of Gettysburg and Antietam. I am always left with the internal question, could I endure? Could I have done what these men did? Always deeper questions to ponder are there not?
Hoover Dam. Great visit now scratched from the list. But this is worth seeing again.