On Saturday evening, I got caught out in a dust storm. On Sunday evening, I got caught in a hail storm. Such is the live of an Airstream-travelin, mastiff-herding, telecommutin on the road rambling writer. We set out from the Salt Lake area late Sunday morning, with the intention of driving an easy 4 hours or so down to the Zion National Park area and camping there. We arrived in the area around 4 PM local time, and there were signs saying “Grand Canyon 130 miles.”
“Oh!” I said. “I forgot about the North Rim!” We had planned to see the South Rim because that was supposed to be more pet friendly. But 130 miles was not far at all for a one-day diversion to the North Rim. We set out on Highway 89 for the North Rim and traveled through some impressive and stark desert in Northern Arizona.
After an arduous climb (for our vehicle), we reached the North Rim park and visitor area at about 7 PM. We were all eager to get our first good look at the canyon, which we’d glimpsed through the trees on the way in. As soon as we stepped out of the vehicle, though, fat raindrops started to fall.
Undeterred, we grabbed the dogs and headed for the observation area near the lodge. It began to rain more, but still not a soaker. We finally made our way to an area where we could get a view of the canyon. Rain fell through the slanting sunlight like threads of sliver. I tried to get a photo of it. I don’t know if it worked. (It’s on the other camera and I haven’t dumped the card, yet.)
It was absolutely breathtaking. We’ve all seen pictures and video of the grand canyon, but until you’re looking at it in real life, you can’t appreciate the enormity and grandeur of it.
Hail started to fall. At first it was cute and funny, because it was preferentially hitting Glen on the head. Then, as we tried to make it back to our car and trailer, which was a long distance across two parking lots, the hail got bigger and bigger. The conversation was sort of like this.
“What kind of trees do you think these–OW–are?”
“They look like ponderosa–OW!–pine.”
When we finally got to shelter, the hail and rain stopped.
We tossed the dogs in the trailer and grabbed a bite at the deli. We couldn’t camp right at the North Rim because it was full, but we did find a great, easy, pull-through RV spot at a campground 18 miles from the gates. We all felt a bit lightheaded setting up camp at 9000 feet, and it got cold. It was 58 degrees when we turned in for the night. It felt wonderful after the 100 degree temps in Northern Arizona.
The next morning we broke camp early and headed into the main park area again. The reason was that it was the only place where I could catch any cell signal, and I needed that for my day of work. The signal was weak, and I had to modify my routine. Instead of searching and instantly getting the results I wanted, I had to open a bunch of tabs, start web navigations on each one, and then wait for something to come through. It was a somewhat painful way to work.
The troops went on a hike and went shopping at the gift shop. We had lunch in the canyon view restaurant, where I had a delicious “Navajo” taco made with fry bread.
After I filed my copy for the day, Glen and I went on a mule ride on the canyon rim. I thought the only rides available were half or whole day rides, and I didn’t want to do that for any number of reasons, not least of which is that I have experience riding horses and know that unless you are riding on a regular basis, a half or whole day ride will destroy your ass. I don’t know why anyone would do that to themselves. But I was delighted that they had a one-hour option.
We got on our mules and had a very scenic tour of the woods with some nice canyon views. I took the video camera and got some footage of the ride, plus my mule trying to steal snacks. I keep forgetting that when you go on a trail ride on rental horses, you should always say that you’re a total newbie and have never ridden before so they’ll give you the *good* one. Instead, I was roped into dealing with a problem mule’s bad habits. Nothing terrible. He just wanted to eat grass, rub me against trees, and needed frequent prodding to keep up with the others. His name was Woodrow.
The dogs did pretty good. They had several nice walks that day. Courage absolutely insisted on getting in the car and staying there the whole day. I don’t know if he felt sick from the altitude or what. We like to joke that Courage thinks he’s traveling through space, so we’re calling it “space madness.” He had about an eight hour nap in the back of the Suburban.
Chewie, of course, had to be in the trailer with me while I worked. Such loyalty! Well, you’ll see anon where that got him.