I got up an hour earlier than necessary. Anne had set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. Utah time, but forgot to delete the other earlier alarm which was set for 5:00 a.m. I didn't realize this until I'd already taken my shower. Oh well. I could have used the extra sleep. We are both very tired. Today will be hectic, but tomorrow will be more laid-back.
We ate breakfast in the Lodge Café. Mirek had two muffins; Hana had a bagel; Anne and I had eggs and bacon. Anne and I paid $18.64 for our meal; Mirek and Hana paid $10.16 for theirs.
After breakfast we walked along the South Rim Trail to Maricopa Point (1.4 miles, or 2.2 km), where we picked up the free shuttle bus. Along the way, we saw a mule train down in the canyon, and in the area of the Trailview Overlook, we saw several large gray squirrels, a couple of turkey vultures, and eight California condors. These were our first Condors. Two of them were sitting on a rock tower not too far from the rim. We could read the ID tag of one of them (#50) without binoculars. The other one’s number was either 23 or 26. It was difficult to read, even with binoculars. The other condors were circling around, riding on the updrafts coming up the canyon. They have distinctive white markings under their wings, and they hold their wings in a different way than the vultures. It was difficult to guess their length, but their wing span was at least twice that of a vulture. These guys also had furry looking heads. We determined that they must be immature birds. We’d never seen one before, and now we’ve seen eight.
We rode the shuttle to Mohave Point, where we were able to see rafts entering a large rapid down on the Colorado River. Then we took the shuttle to The Abyss, where it was very windy. Then we rode the rest of the way out to Hermit’s Rest. However, we could not spend much time there because we had not checked out, and check out time was 12:00 Noon (11:00 a.m. AZT). We decided that we had better catch the next shuttle back, which would be the one we rode in on, but there would be a ten minute delay before returning to the Village.
So we used the restrooms and looked out over the canyon from the closest view point. When the shuttle was ready to return we jumped on and rode it back to the Village. Of course it moved very slowly, and had two stops to make along the way. When it did get to the Village we made a mad dash for our rooms.
12:00 Noon (11:00 a.m. AZT)
Mirek and I moved our luggage into the hallway while Anne and Hana went to the front desk to check out and fix the billing situation with the credit cards. Before we knew it the women were back and everything was fine. We loaded up the Trooper and drove to the Canyon Village Market Place to pick up ice, water, chips, and some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (for our guests to try). Our shared purchases came to $24.41. We also stopped at the U.S. Post Office there to buy stamps for Hana’s post cards. Stamps for the Czech Republic were 80 cents each. The clerk said that high rate was because they had to be air mailed. Hana bought eight stamps.
12:54 p.m. (11:54 a.m. AZT)
We left the Market Plaza and headed east along the canyon rim on Highway 64 toward the Desert View area and the east entrance.
1:05 p.m. (12:05 p.m. AZT)
We stopped at an unnamed overlook to take photos of the Canyon.
1:20 p.m. (12:20 p.m. AZT)
We stopped at Grandview Point (elevation 7,399 feet, or 2,256 meters) and walked out to the overlook to take photos. There were quite a few people at this location, and the parking lot was nearly full.
We had planned to picnic, but the wind had come up and we decided that it would be unpleasant to attempt a picnic when we had to fight the wind to keep our food from blowing away. It also looked like it might rain. Since Mirek and Hana wanted to stop at Desert View to pick up a t-shirt that they had seen the day before, we decided to eat in the small quick food cafeteria near the Tower.
We all ate hotdogs with french fries. These were the first real American hotdogs that our guests had tasted. The place was crowded, so we had to sit at separate tables along the wall and near the windows. Anne and I paid $12.19 for our meal; Mirek and Hana paid $9.27 for theirs.
After eating we walked over to the Tower gift shop where Mirek and Hana bought t-shirts and a small handmade rug. Anne and I bought several t-shirts as well.
On the way back to the Trooper it began to rain lightly. It was windy and, obviously, cloudy.
2:54 p.m. (1:54 p.m. AZT)
We got back into the Trooper and headed east on Highway 64 toward Cameron. The dark clouds kept rolling in from the west.
I explained about jackalopes (a cross between an antelope and a jack rabbit), hoop snakes (a snake that bites its own tail to make itself into a wheel so that it can roll away from danger), and porcupine eggs (large cockleburs), and how some Americans living out west like to play jokes on the tourists. Mirek and Hana got a good laugh out of this.
3:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. AZT)
We reached Cameron, Arizona and stopped for gas. Gas was $1.939 per gallon. We filled up for $10.48. Our mileage was 1,794 miles.
Heading north on Highway 89 we ran into strong winds accompanied by blowing sand. At one point I checked the GPS and found that we were about 35 degrees latitude south and 111 degrees longitude west. The south rim of the Grand Canyon was the farthest southern point for Mirek and Hana on this trip.
4:07 p.m. (3:07 p.m. AZT)
We ran into strong rain near The Gap, along the Echo Cliffs, but it let up a short time later. At Bitter Springs we took Alternate 89 north.
5:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. AZT)
We stopped at Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River as it passes through Marble Canyon. Jurisdiction is kind of confusing in this area. I believe the bridge is within the boundaries of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, while the river is within Grand Canyon National Park. But the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument also meets the other two in this area. We walked out onto the bridge and saw a string of rafts, kayaks, and dories drifting down the river.
5:20 p.m. (4:20 p.m. AZT)
We spotted what looked to be another condor flying along the Vermillion Cliffs as we drove west. This is our ninth big bird of this type. We were also passing near the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.
5:34 p.m. (4:34 p.m. AZT)
We stopped at a scenic overlook as we climbed up to the Kaibab Plateau. The view looked out over the desert below the Vermillion Cliffs, and off to the east toward Navajo Bridge. Across the road I noticed a sandstone monument that had obviously been set there after being moved from some other location. I walked over and saw that it was the commemorative marker for the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition. I believe the dates were 1776 to 1976. I took a couple of photos.
5:55 p.m. (4:55 p.m. AZT)
We reached the intersection with Highway 67 at Jacob Lake. Driving south, the sky was becoming darker with clouds, and more threatening.
6:20 p.m. (5:20 p.m. AZT)
We spotted about a dozen wild turkey on the side of a hill in a meadow near the road. We also encountered cattle guards on the road, and I tried to explain them to Mirek. Some are just lines on the road that look like the real metal guards to the cattle.
6:29 p.m. (5:29 p.m. AZT)
We entered the north rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Almost immediately it began to rain. It then hailed so badly that the road became covered and icy. The hail collected along the road and covered the ground enough to give it a white frosting. We could also smell smoke from the controlled burn. There were signs along the road that indicated that the Point Imperial and Cape Royal road, and all points branching off from that road, are closed due to the fire. Bummer. That pretty much restricts us to the Lodge area.
There were cars everywhere in the Lodge area. We had to park at the north end of the long parking lot, a long way from the Lodge. It was raining lightly. We walked to the Lodge and were able to get our cabins right away. (See map.) While Anne and Hana checked in, I made reservations for dinner. The earliest available time was 9:00 p.m. AZT (10:00 p.m. Utah time). Mirek and Hana felt that was too late for them. They will eat in the Cafeteria and Anne and I will go to the dining room at our reserved time.
When we got back to the Trooper we used our walkie-talkies to find a better parking place. I walked along the parked cars and when I found a better spot, closer to our cabins (which were on the north end of the cabin complex) I radioed Anne who drove the Trooper and our guests to the new spot.
Our log cabins have two doors, one on the south and one on the north. We shared a bathroom, which was situated between the two rooms. The bathroom had its own door, and each of our rooms had a door. Anne and I were in room 147, on the north end, and Mirek and Hana had room 149, obviously, on the south. Our room has two single beds, while their room has one double and one single. Their room has a desk and a phone, while our room has a sink and a round table. Each room has two large windows with screens. The cabin is on the edge of the cluster of cabins, so our western windows open onto the forest and the edge of a side canyon. These are much nicer and more spacious than the cabins we had in Yellowstone.
Anne and I sat in the Cafeteria with Mirek and Hana while they ate. We shared a serving of nachos. Our portion of the meal came to $5.96; Mirek and Hana paid $17.32 for their.
Then, after that we walked through the Lodge and out onto the patio where we could see the lights of Grand Canyon Village on the south side, where we had stood the night before looking this way. There were flashes of lightning on the horizon, which gave the scene almost as eerie an effect as the glow of the forest fire the night before. Then we walked them back to their room and went on to see if there was a laundry at the motel. Nope. Just for the cleaning crew.
Anne and I walked back to the Lodge and sat for a while, then walked to the gift shop and looked around. Then back to the Lodge and we were able to get seated before 10:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. AZT). Our table was near the foot of the stairs. I ordered meat loaf with mashed potatoes. Anne had ravioli (the special). Her meal came to $22.00 and both were way overpriced for what we got. The total came to $48.00 for both meals and our drinks. Besides, the usually good service seemed slow, but, the place was packed, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. There were still people coming in when we left. After we ate we walked back to our room and turned in at about 11:00 p.m. (10:00 p.m. AZT).