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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Grand Canyon da capo

Okay - not da capo but at least, once again. The day is Tuesday, the date, April 26, and we are basically headed back to Las Vegas to catch a plane home. Not right away, or course, but the tinge of homesickness we both feel colors the way we view things as we tool on down the highway from Winslow. We've decided to spend our last touring day back at the Grand Canyon. That's what really brought me out here and it's just so very big that 2 days aren't enough to do it justice. Besides, we never did make it all the way out to Hermit's rest at the end of the west rim trail. We could take the bus out to Maricopa Point and walk to the end. So 9:30 found us tooling back down I-40 with the San Francisco Mts. showing us the way.

It was almost noon by the time we hit Flagstaff, where I bought some Airborne and extra bottled water to fight off the cold symptoms. We picked up 180 and drove between the two biggest of the S.F. Mts., Humphres and Wing Mountains. By now I was driving so that BD can have some lunch but all I want is coffee, which we get at Vale where the road bumps into 64 from Williams, AZ.

We were in the park by 12:30ish and drove right on up to the Grand Canyon village, where parking was easy but oh my - those lines of people, waiting for the Red bus to points west! Who would think it was a Tuesday?!? It may as well have been a weekend.  We decided to just walk back down the path rather than wait the 45 minutes it would take for our turn on a bus to roll around. Besides, I was glad to go over the same ground again.

P1000731P1000729Each stretch of the path was so beautiful. We tried to refrain from pausing, lingering and gasping, so that we could make it the whole length of the trail, but the temptations proved irresistible.

There were fewer people along the last half of the trail - most folks did take advantage of the buses, taking in the views from each stop along the way, but skipping the exertion. Me? I'd rather walk. BD and I are both great walkers - not hikers, mind you, with all the paraphernalia of a sport. We just love the feeling of legs and feet moving us along the ground. Legs as transportation - that's what we both prefer. Besides, it was walking along the trails that gave us the little special views.

You won't see little scenes like this guy
or this delicate pine growth
from a bus.
Along the way I noticed many more flowers blooming, especially the red one that looked like a feather and some of the phlox-like flowers. From Maricopa Point westwards, the path was well trodden dirt, dotted with a few rocks, but it was easy pleasant walking and the plants all around were as pretty as a garden.

It was on this most primitive part of the rim walk that we saw evidence of elk - droppings and footprints. I also discovered that, as long as there was about 6 feet of land between the path and the drop off into the canyon, I had no vertigo issues. Less than that, though, I got the old nervous feeling up and down my legs and the faint fluttering in my tummy that prompted me to step away from the edge. And there was another feeling - of sadness - that we were saying goodbye to the Grand Canyon. It melded with the feeling of homesickness and left us sort of quiet and mellow.

In the end, we made it only to Pima Point when I knew I was too bushed to walk the last mile or so. My body just said "Here and no further". It was time to catch the bus, head back to our car and find a hotel for the night. Our destination is Williams, but this time, a more modest little motel on the north east end of town. A salad at the Pizza Hut was all I was good for - that and a shower. 

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