Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trip Out West--Part 2--Grand Canyon South Rim, and Navajo Country

 Indian Paintbrush blooming at Hualapi Hilltop

Trip Out West--Part 2 Grand Canyon South Rim 

Kenny & Dana Koogler 
Thurs. Sept. 22 thru Tues. Sept. 27, 2016

Pictures are here: Grand Canyon Trip Pix

   We left Supai village on a rainy Thursday morning.  We had planned to ride horses out.
We met the drover along with another couple staying the lodge.  We saddled up after breakfast and away we went. I was on a no name horse so I literally can say "I've been through the desert on a horse with no name."   Aside from the drover I was the most experienced rider.  He told me I was the lead.
He had asked me to leave my rain poncho off for now as it might spook the horse. I was expecting this,and preferred getting wet to getting thrown.   The horse was  gentle and so smart.  I gave her plenty of rein so she could pick the path she liked.  I only had to correct her course about twice the entire time.  I am glad to have had that experience.  I would not change it.
The steep part at the end is sheer and a little scary.  The drover turns the pack horse loose and lets it  pace the rest of us.   You have to keep moving on that steep part, but you can't go too fast or it would be unsafe.    Two things happened when I got up to the top that I did not expect. First I found that my legs had turned to rubber.  Second once I had my land legs back......... I sat down in the car and wept.  I did not want to leave.  The Havasupai are a lovely people and their poverty deeply affected me.  I have experienced reverse culture shock before, but this was heart wrenching. I knew
that  I could not change it. I also knew it would ease eventually, but there is a permanent mark on my heart. I consider myself changed for the better.

      The drive back out along the Hualapi reservation on BIA Road 18 was pretty. The mat of cloud cover was lifting.  The vastness of the plain and the blooming desert was beautiful.  I stopped to take
a few photos on the way out.  My heart aches now for the Havasupai people and the Hualapai.  I am sure not everyone who comes here leaves feeling this way, but boys howdy.. you'd have to be a soulless someone not to be moved. I have a photo up top of this blog entry of the many pretty red indian paintbrush flowers growing along the road. 


        We drove out to Seligman on  the way to Grand Canyon Village and stopped to eat lunch.
Seligman is a tiny town along Route 66.  We ate at at Delgadillo's Snow-Cap Drive In restaurant.
It was really good food and a heavy dose of Americana.  The international tourists were thick
at this place.
Just outside the Snow Cap.
We can now say we have experienced Route 66.  It was really not that great, but hey...? 

Grand Canyon Village and South Rim 

  We got to the South Rim and were glad when we went through Williams that we cancelled our stay there.   It is just a blip on the radar screen which is odd considering it is so near a major interstate. 
We arrived at Bright Angel lodge and put our things in the room.  I will warn you now.... Bright Angel lodge is also not that great.   It was neat, clean, and pretty.   The restaurant was nice.
It is a convenient location.  Trying to sleep there was something else.  Each night there were 
lots of drunken, loud mouthed guests tromping up and down the halls making a ruckus.  
I think I'd try something else next time including staying in Tusayan ,and driving to the canyon each day to tour.   We took time that night to walk around and see some of the canyon views and exhibits before the sun set.   We got a chance to see Lookout Studio and the beautiful art works on display.   We loved the view from behind the lodge.  We were too tired to do much so later that night we hit the laundry and washed clothes and went to bed early.   The rooms have their own sink and toilet, but no shower or tub.  They provide several shower rooms some with tubs. You have it to yourself while you are in there, but you share that part with other guests.  It was not too bad. It was great to have a hot shower in a nice claw-footed tub.

Grand Canyon South Rim from directly behind Bright Angel Lodge
Fred Harvey was a strong proponent of womens opportunities and education for women. 

  The next morning we had breakfast at the Bright Angel restaurant and it was great.  The food here was perfect and the service good.  No complaints.   The history here was also an enjoyment and an education to me.   I learned all about entrepreneur Fred Harvey.He has become one of my heroes.
Fred Harvey was a strong promoter of women in a world where few opportunities existed for women. He believed in education and chances for advancement for women.  I admire this very much.  
We found the temperatures at night and in the early mornings at the canyon were quite chilly.
We did not pack an adequate amount of warm clothes for this.  We decided to start our day off with a loop auto tour that started with Flagstaff.  It was the nearest town with plenty of places to buy sensibly priced clothing.  The stores at the canyon wanted $60-75 for a pair of North Face pants.
They were not gauging,but I was not willing to pay those prices.  I came out of the Flagstaff Wal-Mart with entire outfits of clothes for what we'd have spent on a pair of pants!  Flagstaff was gorgeous. It is one of the absolute prettiest towns you'll ever see and sits seven thousand feet above sea level. The view of snow capped San Francisco Peaks is devastatingly beautiful.  It is one of the four sacred mountains to the Navajo people.   Any future trips west will include Flagstaff and Navajo country. Well worth the stop.  We bought lunch in Flagstaff and tucked it in the cooler for a picnic later.
Downtown Flagstaff with the view of San Francisco Peaks in the distance.  

Cameron & Navajo Country

 Our loop drive took us through Cameron and a little corner of Navajo country. We loved it.
It was beautiful. They operate this overlook on donations which we gladly paid.   We ate lunch at an overlook of the Little Colorado River and canyon.   The facilities are perfect.  The Navajo people were terrific.  I bought true Native American jewelry right from the artist at a bargain price.  They have a good craft market here at this spot.   I would have paid three or four times that in Seligman or 
at the Grand Canyon Village.  Save your money and spend it buying from the artist or craftsman directly.    You'll be glad you did. The lady was able to tell me all about the work and the stones she used and what they represent.  I bought unakite and fire agate necklace that I really liked. 

Little Colorado River and Gorge
 Picnic grounds at the overlook
 One of several interesting and educational sign boards at the facility.

     View of the Painted Desert in the distance from Cameron at yet another overlook.

  We had lunch. Visited a short while with the Navajos and grudgingly left to continue our trip.
It seemed like no time and we closed the loop and were back along the Grand Canyon South Rim.  
We stopped at the Desert Watch Tower first. It was one of the spots I had longed to visit.  It was just as beautiful as I had hoped.   

               Desert Watch Tower was designed and built by Mary Colter a female architect. 

View from the Desert Watch Tower.  The Colorado River in the far distance.  I thought of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watch Tower" .. he wrote it.. Jimi Hendrix immortalized it.  It is based upon Isaiah Chapter 21 verses 5-9

   We drove the rim of the canyon enjoying the views at various overlooks and stopped to
see most of the historic places.   We did not hit the Tusayan Ruins which I regret, but Kenny did not want to bother with.   Don't get me wrong... the views along the Canyon are outstanding and beautiful. Unless you hike down into the canyon or get to see other parts of it.. all the views from the rim begin to seem much the same.   The only way I'd be interested in coming back is to see the North Rim and/or to go down into the canyon to see it more intimately.   Several spots I'd like to see are 
Vasey's Paradise, Phantom Ranch, Roaring Spring, Elves Chasm and Royal Arches.   

Another view from a different overlook further down.   Temples and the painted desert. 

   We finally got back to the village and it had grown late.  We would get up the next day and hit up the Hermits Rest portion of the canyon, Mather Point, the visitor center, and the Geology Museum.
Dinner that night was again at the Bright Angel restaurant.   It was pretty good, but we were growing tired of it already as the menu is somewhat limited.  

 Hermits Rest 

    Next morning we got up early and after breakfast we gathered our stuff and waited in line on the shuttles to start running.  You can  only reach Hermits Rest and all the attractions along that road from March through October by shuttle or on foot.   The rest of the year they let folks drive it.
The shuttles are free.   We found that to be an excellent way to come and go and visit all we wanted to see.  We had already made up our minds we were not going to stop at every single lookout point. 
We picked the ones we were most interested in and hit those.   Once again.. pretty and I'm glad I got to go and see this stuff, but it all starts to look the same.  Lots of people to contend with and this is supposed to be the off season.   We tried Powell Point, Hopi Point, Mojave Point and Hermits Rest.
We saw elk and the forest out along the canyon rim was pretty.
 View from near Powell Point
 Hermits Rest.. Kenny looking on

    Mule Deer buck

               Once we got back to the village we hit Tusayan for lunch at a pizza place that was good.
We went to see the Geology Museum, Visitor Center and Mather Point.  All were pretty and all were crowded.  I liked the Geology Museum best.  I learned a lot about the layers of rock and the history of the canyon's formation.  I learned a bunch of things I did not know.   The layers of rock that are exposed on mountain summits in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Appalachia are the basement rock of the canyon!  Shows how old our mountains really are and how weathered.  
 One presentation explained why there are so many "temple" formations in the canyon. It has to do with erosion and the rock layers.  They tend to form lots of these because of the way the layers wear away from wind and water.  This is taken from Mather Point
This lists the layers closest to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with the oldest rock being 
Elves Chasm Gneiss with is 1840 million years old. Just shy of 2 billion years!

I am including this diagram I found because I FINALLY understand what the Great Unconformity of Powell is thanks to this.   It is the Grand Canyon Supergroup of tilted rock between the layers of sandstone and the group of much older basement rocks.  Apparently somewhere out in this region is an area where the 550 million year old tapeats standstone  rests against the 1.7 billion year old 
vishnu schist.  Very odd. 

  Later that night we got cleaned up and went out to dinner at a steak house in Tusayan.  It was a cowboy style restaurant and had gotten mixed reviews. Glad we didn't pay them any mind. It was great!  Best meal we had the entire trip.   It was cowboy kitschy, but who cares?! It was excellent.
The name of it is Yippee-Ei-O.  We loved it.   The next morning we prepared to drive back to Las Vegas.  We had opted to avoid the boring stay in Williams and our ATV trip got cancelled.  That was the primary reason for staying there anyhow.  We went back to Las Vegas and stayed in The Stratosphere hotel two nights.   We went shopping in Las Vegas and went to Fremont Street to the light show and some great music.   That all worked out good.   
Nighttime view of Yippee Ei O!  It was a treat.  

 The Stratosphere Hotel from outside
Downtown Vegas--that is the pool area for the Stratosphere out there on the roof.

Daytime view of Vegas and you can see the shadow of the Stratosphere hotel.

Monday we visited Red Rock Canyon and did a little bit of hiking. The visitor center was interesting. 
We saw lots of tortoises there.  It is a pretty and different place, but not too great since we only found a tiny trickle of water in one spring.   Red Rock Canyon was something of a let down this time of year.   Not totally unexpected.  
 Red Rock Canyon and the various mountains.
 Red Rock Canyon and you can see Turtlehead Peak just over the top of the redcloud stone.
 Lost Creek Area of the Mojave at Red Rock Canyon
Mojave Desert

   I stood in the top of the Stratosphere at night looking out at the lights of Vegas.  I was thinking aloud.  I said "I wonder if I were rich and had the money that I could do whatever I wanted if I'd like this place any better?"  Kenny laughed and answered it for me.  "No.  It just isn't your thing. No amount of money would change that."  I'd say he's right.  Las Vegas is not a place I want to revisit. It is just a stop over .. a means to an end.  Tuesday morning we got up and packed and left for the airport and the long journey home.   Traveling is great, but it is always great to get home to your own bed which is far more comfy than any hotel will ever be.  

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