Friday, June 24, 2016

Arizona May 2016 Westward Ho! 19 Kaibab Lake National Forest Williams AZ and the Grand Canyon

Every summer, while we were still working, and taking camping trips with Richard, we discussed taking "the trip" to the Grand Canyon.  We had it all planned in 2006 and then the division of the company that Don worked for became a free standing business that year and all summer plans changed and were truncated.  No Grand Canyon.  I figured with our time limit to get to California this year (Jun 9) and not wanting to rush things we would not be able to go again-"maybe this fall"-but then when I was looking at the AZ map and the fact that we were leaving Dead Horse Ranch on May 23 and had LOADS of time AND that the Kaibab Forest was actually quite near the Grand Canyon I made our reservations and we were finally getting to one of Don's "bucket list" items.

The drive from Cottonwood was nice, although we were concerned at one point by signs regarding a nearby forest fire, and we got to the campground with plenty of time to spare.  That was good because the site I'd booked-a pull-thru-was not at all level and OH NO... shade! we need sun for the solar panels so we don't have to run the generator. I took Phoenix for a walk and saw an unreserved site that would be perfect-level, private and sunny with a few trees that would make it cooler without being too shady.  We moved over and set up and settled in.

The forest fire seemed well contained when we passed and none of the warnings about possible smoke came true

Sadly, Kaibab Lake is suffering from the drought in the area and the lake we saw bore little relationship to the vast water mass on the map at the registration board.  

First day was laundry day in the town of Williams and I found that it was the last town bypassed by old Rte 66 when I-40 (the interstate) was opened.  A somewhat funky town, it's obvious that the town was bustling at one point.  Not only is it one of the "gateways" to the Grand Canyon and the terminus for the Grand Canyon Railway, the streets are lined with restaurants and saloons and art galleries.  At one time it was also the stop along the Amtrak train that takes people across the country but supposedly the residents complained about the noise so now the train stops in Flagstaff and Williams gets only the tourists who drive over. (They still hear the train whistle as it moves through town though.) As I stood in the laundromat I noticed a restaurant across the street that looked familiar.  Then I realized that I had a menu from the same place that Don's grandmother (a veritable pack rat of travel memorabilia who put even me to shame) had procured back in 1953 when she and his grandfather had traveled across country to visit Don's family when they were living in San Diego.  Don's dad was a doctor in the Navy and they traveled quite a bit until after the Korean War when he went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.  I resolved then that we would have to eat there one night.

If you have a lot of left over train cars this is a good idea

Former train station now Welcome Center

Here's a thing about AZ.  It's on its own sort of time zone.  They don't switch to Daylight Savings (which I actually appreciate) but that means that you move into Pacific Time when they are on Daylight Savings.  BUT, the Reservations are on daylight savings (not reflected here) If you drive due north into Utah or (from the far western corner of the state) Nevada you will go forward an hour and when you come from NM you go back and hour BUT when Daylight Savings ends then NM, NV or UT to AZ stays the same but going to CA goes back an hour...crazy making...a little 

I still have a menu from here from 1953 and now I have one from 2016

Since 3 am was WAY to early for us to get up so I could catch the sunrise at Grand Canyon we had decided to leave later in the day so we could watch the sunset.  After a lazy morning and lunch, Phoenix ensconced in her place in the car, we drove up to the Grand Canyon.  We'd seen there were kennels and figured if we could not find an appropriately cool place (the day was very cool) we'd place her there.  As luck would have it, we found a parking place under a huge tree in the corner of a parking lot that would have shade all day.  We were dong the visit in legs and would not leave for more than 4 hours at a time so off we went.  We took the bus headed to Hermit's Rest with the idea of going all the way out and then hiking back.  But, it would have been a long hike and we noticed that people were getting off and visiting a site then getting on the next bus so we did the same.  With Don's acrophobia, it meant that I was the one hanging over the edge and traipsing along the rim trail while he stayed closer to the road and not the edge.  There were clouds and quite a bit of haze when we went but by later in the afternoon the sun was low enough to play with the clouds and create wonderful shadows and highlights.  We hiked for awhile from that first stop, Maricopa Point to Mohave Point -- and then hopped back on the bus to the Abyss, took some pictures and then got back on to Pima Point, the penultimate stop where we turned around as it is the last return point.   At this point let me say that for several days before this I was becoming concerned that I might be underwhelmed by the time we got there.  We'd seen the mountains, springs in a desert, unbelievable caverns, lava flows and badlands, red rocks and white rocks and petrified forests.  We'd seen them in sun and rain and under thick clouds or blue skies or blue skies with fluffy while clouds.  We had seen so much beauty that I was afraid it would be too much.  It almost was but nothing can take away the awesomeness of the expanse of that place!  Amazing! 

 Maricopa Point to Pima Point

Grand Canyon Village with Bright Angel Lodge

Walking back to get Phoenix

Grandview Point to Mather Point

As we walked to the car a bird tweeted his goodbye to the sun

We managed to get a bus back-they were quite crowded and stopped at the Grand Canyon Village for ice cream, some trinkets and a rest.  Then the buses heading where we needed to go to get Phoenix were full so we set off on foot.  We passed through an area that had recently burned-the ash was still smoking in places-and arrived to find her sound asleep.  We roused her and took her for a walk and then we all got in the car to head to the eastern side toward Desert View and the eastern entrance station. (We'd come in the south.)  Now, here were some views and with the clouds that had come in, the sun lower in the sky and the air a little clearer I was able to get some nice shots and we got a better appreciation for the beauty that accompanies the grandeur.  We made a brief stop at Grandview Point for ...a grand view, and then turned back to spend some time visiting Mather Point. A link to a panoramic map of the south rim is HERE so you can get an idea from this and the pictures below. We'd planned to stay for the sunset but the clouds came in quite forcefully then and it was apparent that the sun would set behind a thick curtain of condensation, rendering it invisible.  We returned home and had nice subtle colors over the San Juan Mountains in the distance. 

Although we'd thought we'd go back to the Grand Canyon for a second day we ended up not doing so and spent part of a day walking around Williams and then having dinner at the restaurant I'd seen- Rod's Steak House.  The story of the present owner was inspiring-he'd started as a dishwasher for the first owner- and he and his wife were there watching and helping the staff.  The steaks were great and we were happy. 

You'll get this is you remember who the Cartwrights were.  If you don't, here: Bonanza

Our last day we headed to Flagstaff.  One of my sister's best friends from childhood and her older sister whom I knew, live there and I had tried to get in touch but the craziness of telecommunications touched us that day.  No matter how many times I dialed the number she'd given me-which I knew was right-the call would not go through.  I was vex! But, we went to town, walked all over and found some of the most incredibly beautiful murals I have ever seen!  It was a lovely way to end our brief sojourn in AZ and other than plans to visit towns on the old Rte 66 and boondock for a night right over the border from California, our time in AZ was at an end-until the fall.

This mural impressed me so much I took multiple detailed pictures of it.  I think if I'd spent a day there I would not have found all the little details hidden among the bigger ones!

MAP of our Travels in AZ

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