September 30 - October 5, 2018:  Grand Canyon, Arizona

From Mesa Verde to the Grand Canyon, we drove along Highway 160, 89, then 64.  First...this area was about 95% Indian Reservations and...flat, barren, dry, and...beautiful at the same time!

Absolutely amazing how out of the middle of flat sagebrush, all of the sudden a pinnacle or chimney rock would appear and then...be gone.  Then we'd see a gorge (I called them mini Grand Canyons), then...flat....red dirt and rocks....sandstone...more chimney rocks, gorge, etc.  The landscape was really cool.

I swear, I should have been a geologist, I just love all kind of rocks and always have!

Traveling this route, we went through the Four Corners National Monument.  Of course, we had to stop and plant a body part in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico at the same time!

My little ballerina Craig

Instead of staying inside the Grand Canyon at a campground or RV park, we opted to boondock in the Kaibab National Forest.  We had a couple of spots picked out and decided on one off of County Road 310/Coconino Rim Road.  Wow...what a great location!  It was in the forest surrounded by Ponderosa Pine, Fir, and other pines.  We got settled into our camp spot and made a game plan for the next few days.  In the evenings at our camp, you could hear the elk bugling to each other - what an eerie and neat sound.

As you can see, our only and closest neighbor was about 500 yard away.  You cannot even see them.

Sunset our first night in camp

The next day at Grand Canyon, we did all of the normal tourist stuff.  Stopped at the Visitor Center to get details, maps, etc.  Then walked the Rim Trail from there to the Kolb Studio.  Part of this trail is also the Trail of Time which is a walking timeline of the geologic time frame of the canyon.  It also has examples of the rock layers which was really cool.  Along the way we stopped at Mather Point which is one of the most famous spots on the South Rim.  At the Yavapal Point and Geology Museum we listened to a Ranger talk on the geology  We then proceeded to the Verkamp's Visitor Center and stopped for an early dinner at Bright Angel Lodge.  We visited the Market Plaza and found out where the Camper Services (showers, rv dump, potable water, etc.) were located.  The weather was PERFECT, about 68f with off/on cloud cover to keep it cool and a few light rain showers at the end.  Needless to say we got back to trailer after dark and man...it was pitch black!

Mather Point in the background

Walking along the Rim Trail

Walking along the Trail of Time, they wanted you to find how old you are and see what it looked like then

Craig doing his Nacho Libre pose

This day we saw about 3 bull elk and 12 females just hanging out near the Market, Visitor Center, etc.  They are VERY tame and not afraid of humans

If you haven't noticed, I have this thing for dead trees and their branch structure.  You'll see them in a lot of our pictures.

Of course we found ice cream at Route 66 in the Market area.  It was Dreyers, but...really good and nice big scoops!  That was Craig's treat for walking the Trail of Time with me.

This one was absolutely amazing!  We are using two different cameras so the colors will look different sometimes

On our second day in Grand Canyon, the area got hit by the aftermath of Hurricane Rosa.  We had hoped to do a hike this day, but knew there was 100% chance of rain.  And rain it did!  It began about midnight the day before and rained off/on about 90% of the time until 7pm the next day.  Hard, heavy rain, then soft sprinkle, then HARD, soft, etc. for the entire day.  We decided to take this as a down day and stayed in the trailer the entire day reading books and watching a movie.  Oh...except Craig...we have not washed the trailer since we left Boise in June, so he figured Mother Nature was giving us a hand.  Craig donned his rain gear and proceeded to wash the trailer in the rain : ) 

This is the Bright Angel Trail, look at those switchbacks!

How I spent most of my day, tucked under a blanket reading

These were some of the puddles outside the trailer

And of course, guess what I am doing...rock shopping...AGAIN!

Craig read and worked on the computer most of the day, however...here he is washing the trailer.  The picture is taking from the inside through the screen because it was POURING RAIN!!!

We decided to use a bucket to collect the rain water from one downspout on the trailer.  This was only about 1 hours worth.  We used it to wash rocks, the trailer, etc.

One of my primary goals or bucket list items was to do a hike in the Grand Canyon, so on day three, with the weather cooperating, we hiked the South Kaibab Trail to the Cedar Ridge area.  This was a 3 mile round trip with a 1,120ft elevation gain.  It took us about 2 1/2 hours and the weather was perfect!  Sun, clouds, a slight breeze sometimes, about 68f.  We would have liked to go further however, the next "stop" would make it a 6 miles RT with 2,040ft elevation gain which was estimated at 4-6 hours.  We knew another storm was coming in, so we opted to not go that far. 

We hiked to Ooh Ahh Point, then onto Cedar Ridge.  Notice the vertical drop in the picture above.

If you look you can see the trail switch backing down the mountain

Pretty obvious - Ooh Aah Point

Craig hiking down the trail

Holly hiking down the trail

Craig at Cedar Ridge

Funny how we never saw the cacti on the way down the trail.

"I am women hear me roar, numbers too big to ignore..."  (Helen Reddy)

We stopped to eat lunch at Cedar Ridge, we sat on the edge of the world and enjoyed the view!

Another great tree and it's branch structure

Starting the hike back to the top.

What a phenomenal hike!  Craig was a trooper and even though he does not like to hike, I think he really did enjoy it.  Was it enough of a hike for me?  No, I want to come back for 5-7 days and hike the South Rim to the North Rim, staying at Phantom Ranch which is at the base of the Colorado River.  Another time! 

On our way back to camp, we stopped by Grandview Lookout since it is near where we are camping (about 4 miles).  Again...great views!

If you look real close, you can see the Colorado River

I think...this is a California Condor.  Craig thinks it is a Vulture.  They are trying to reintroduce the California Condor back into the canyon, so...   It flew about 100 feet from where Craig was sitting and just watching him.  Granted, he was 'talking and whistling' to it  : )  I told him it was going to attack him!

Oh a side note.  When we got back to the trailer (before dark this time), we had about 15 minutes before...another major downpour with lightening and thunder this time.  Crazy!!!!

We opted to stay another day in Grand Canyon because there were still some things we had not accomplished. So on our fourth day, we visited the Kolb Studio, attended a Ranger History tour, and visited the furthest end of the South Rim, the Hermits Rest and other areas, and...watched a sunset on the canyon!

Overall, our trip to the Grand Canyon was awesome!  Yes, there we a ton of tourists, but most of the time we could get away from them and have some solitude.  The views are amazing and I cannot even describe them and the pictures do not do them justice.  The weather was PERFECT!  Yes, even with the day of solid rain.  What a fabulous time!!!

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