Big...BIG...BIG WOW!!!


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Published: October 27th 2013
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Driving to the Grand CanyonDriving to the Grand CanyonDriving to the Grand Canyon

The canyon is in the distance, but you can't tell. Note the gentle undulations of the road...fun.
There is a family story I want to share. When Josh was little, and we would put him to bed, we'd kiss and say, "I Love You." He replied, "Too Wow." We think it meant 'me too'. It became a pet phrase. When Kim came along, she picked it up from her brother and used it. Then we went to Washington, DC, on a trip (Kim was about 15 months old and just starting to talk) and as we walked through the city, she would look up from her stroller and smile and say "Too wow". Then we turned a corner, saw the Washington Monument and Kim looked and said excitedly, "BIG wow!" We laughed and that has become a family catch phrase for anything really impressive...Big Wow. You can see where this is going....

We had reservations for 3 nights at the Trailer Village in Grand Canyon National Park. The ride there was wonderful and after passing through the gates with our Senior Pass (affectionately called our 'Older than Dirt' card since it has a picture of a cactus in the dirt), we arrived at the campground, checked in, and went and set up camp. It was still early so we caught a shuttle bus to the Visitors Center. The NPS had natural gas city buses running all over the park providing pollution free transportation and helping reduce overall carbon emissions. And all shuttle buses are FREE. We got to the visitor's center, saw the movie on the Grand Canyon, then toured the exhibits and learned of the history and geology. Next we hit the bookstore and bought plenty of Christmas presents and remembrances. Then we headed for Mather Point and our first view of the rim.

Big...BIG...BIG WOW!!!!

We both had a catch in our voices and tears in our eyes. I'm sure if you have been there, you recall the feeling and emotion. It is absolutely overwhelming. As we stood in silence and awe, we heard others approaching for the first time and what can best be described as an utterance that was a cross between an oath and a prayer..."Oh My God!!", then silence. It was so vast, so big, so beautiful, so mind-numbingly wonderful that you are left without adequate words of appreciation, wonder or amazement. It just is.

For three days we took the shuttle to different parts of the south rim and saw the canyon in various light hues. We shopped till we dropped (or ran the card too high--Christmas will be Southwest oriented this year) and marveled at the wonder in front of us. We took picture after picture and in reviewing them, I realize it is hard to get a BAD picture of this wonder. Some are better than others, but short of putting a finger over the lens, the Canyon is too wonderful to be spoiled by amateurs like us.

We spent one day in the Grand Canyon village learning the history of the area and that is marvelous. For instance, we learned that there is a school in the village with over 800 students, K-12. How cool is that? And we learned of the architect for many of the building, Mary Coulter, a woman today's young girls should study and use as a model for independence and perseverance.

Another day we took a shuttle bus to the west end, to Hermit's Rest. Different topography and view. We also learned from one driver, that this was the time of year when tarantulas migrate. Thought he was being funny. Nope--the males go in search of
Snow?!Snow?!Snow?!

We obviously missed the snowfall, but found evidence at the visitor's center. Three days after this shot, there was still some snow on the ground.
females and can be seen crossing roads, wandering through the sand, all looking for a female to mate with. Females (who are larger) stay in their den and wait for an appropriate male to come along then they proceed to procreate. Definitely don't want to get in the way of a determined male on the prowl.

On the way back that day from the west end, we saw a large herd of elk, including several large bull elks, grazing right along the road near the ranger headquarters. Couldn't get the camera out fast enough so missed the shot. Instead, we went back to Mather Point since they were reportedly there the past 3 nights. Guess they had moved on.

When we finally left, we exited the Desert View road and stopped further along the rim for new and different views of the wonder. This was a remarkable journey and we were and are still in awe. Instead of trying to inadequately describe what we saw, I have opted to just post a number of photos with a few words of explanation on some.


Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


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Grand Canyon NP recyclesGrand Canyon NP recycles
Grand Canyon NP recycles

We were pleased to find that they recycle in the national park. Note the instructions in several languages.


PosingPosing
Posing

This little fella actually seemed to pose for us, staying still and turning his head slowly.
Hopi HouseHopi House
Hopi House

Designed by Mary Coulter, this was fashioned after ancient pueblos. It is a Native American gift shop today.
El Tovar HotelEl Tovar Hotel
El Tovar Hotel

One of the grand hotels of the national park system. Inside is fabulous with dark wood. Reminded us of the Athenaeum hotel in Chautauqua, NY.
Fireplace in Bright Angel LodgeFireplace in Bright Angel Lodge
Fireplace in Bright Angel Lodge

Mary Coulter built the fireplace to replicate the sandstone layers seen in the canyon. This is a huge fireplace in a former sitting room where windows look out over the rim.

Western bluejayWestern bluejay
Western bluejay

He kept flitting from branch to branch, but finally paused on a high tip.
Mather Point in eveningMather Point in evening
Mather Point in evening

Third day we went back to Mather Point in the hopes of seeing elk, reported the previous evenings. No, but we passed a herd right near park HQ while on the shuttle bus.
Something bigSomething big
Something big

Could be dog. We hiked a 1/2 mile trail from Mather Point to the campground, looking for elk. All we saw were these paw prints.
Hiking to campgroundHiking to campground
Hiking to campground

If not going down into the canyon, there are many trails on top that are paved and comfortable for walking. They are also "greenways" and encourage folks to bike these places as well.
Desert View RoadDesert View Road
Desert View Road

When we left Thursday, we went out the east road to Desert View. There were many pull offs to stop and see a different aspect of the park.
Western ravenWestern raven
Western raven

These huge birds are every where. They are sometimes mistaken for the California Condors which inhabit the park. These guys also like to soar over the canyon on the uplifts.
Mt. Humphry near FlagstaffMt. Humphry near Flagstaff
Mt. Humphry near Flagstaff

This is part of the San Francisco peaks, a sacred ground for natives. It is the highest point in Arizona is is over 40 miles away.

Elk crossingElk crossing
Elk crossing

These signs are all over, but the only ones we saw were in the park, resting near park headquarters.
WatchtowerWatchtower
Watchtower

Another Coulter design, modeled after native structures. Up close, you see the stones have been carefully selected to reflect the structure of the canyon. These are beautiful architectural structures that cause reflection, amazement, and are every bit as stunning as the canyon itself.
On the way outOn the way out
On the way out

We realized we had taken pictures of the canyon, but not of us with the canyon in the background. We weren't sure we'd be allowed to leave if we didn't have one of those iconic shots in our possession.


27th October 2013

Great story!
Can you believe I have lived in the southwest for this long and NEVER been there. After your description of the experience it is at the top of my Bucket List! So so glad you two got to visit there before your trip wended it's way home!
27th October 2013
Our first view

Yes, seeing is believing!!!! Even though we have actually walked down to the bottom of the Canyon and back twice, I still stand in awe of this sight. That is the Bright Angel Fault that makes that part of the Canyon and that is where we walked. Amazing!!!!!!
28th October 2013

Great pix Don,t need words
28th October 2013

Big Wow to you, too
What a neat combination of photos. Thanks- Also appreciated your awe-filled blog. Glad you can still get a tingle at majesty. Love, Aunt Dosia

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