Yep, you read the headline right. Nope, no typo! 😉 Our first trip to the Grand Canyon lies ten years back, now. Last December, we took Sara to the Grand Canyon for a couple of hours. We wanted to make sure, she sees this big gap in the Earth for herself. Back in early May 2008, when we went there for the first time, Katelynn was 4½ years old, and Sara wasn’t even “planned”, yet. 😉 The last trip gave me the idea, that I want to blog something about the trip, we took a decade ago. And it all started by planning it, first.
In February 2008, Kevin talked about going on the road again. This is his way saying: “I desperately need a vacation!” We were brainstorming, until I said: “Remember, when we drove with your parents to California; I saw the sign, how many miles it was to Grand Canyon; and I really wanted to go up there, so bad?” Kevin remembered and said: “Well, let’s plan a camping trip in Arizona. Do some research and let me know what else you would like to see along the road.” Said, done!
In May of the same year, we drove to Amarillo, Texas to get to I-40, which brought us through Albuquerque, New Mexico again. And from there it wasn’t too far to get to Arizona. We wanted to visit the Petrified Forest National Park first. But we arrived in Arizona in the wee hours of the morning. So, we decided to keep driving and take that National Park on the way back home.
Around 6 am, we arrived at the Barringer Meteor Crater. Katelynn just woke up in her car seat. And we still had two hours to wait, before the place operated. After we ate some breakfast we had in the cooler, I put some warmer clothes on top my shirt and shorts on. It gets a itzy bitzy more frigid in the desert and at the higher altitude. Katelynn and I walked around for a little bit, while Kevin took a short nap behind the stirring wheel. (No worries! The Jeep was parked by the gate.) After sitting in the car for so long, it was nice to stretch out our muscles. I took a good look at the rim of the crater, and noticed how massive it was seeing it just from outside.
At eight o’clock the gate opened, and we could access the parking lot at the crater. After we paid the entry fee, we looked at some neat stuff, like the Apollo Test Capsule, the “Window to the Desert”, and the biggest fragment that has been found from the meteor, which impacted the area. While we waited for our tour guide, we could look outside a window to see the crater. Kevin and my jaws dropped. With being about 3,900ft (1,200m) in diameter and some 560ft (170m) deep, it is a huge hole in the ground. The tour guide told us stories about the impact of the meteor, a plane crash in 1964, Mr. Barringer’s findings, and the NASA trainings for the Apollo Missions to the Moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The tour and the higher elevation made us hungry. We decided to have lunch at the Subway inside the center, before we traveled to the canyon. By the time we will arrive, our camping lot should be ready.
Kevin, Katelynn and I spent three nights at the Grand Canyon. At the day of the arrival we built the tent, checked out the Village and looked in the canyon from the South Rim. I remember very well how I reacted, when I was standing at the rim for the first time. First, I looked all the way down. I have fear of heights, and for some reason it comforted me looking down. And as I went up with my head looking at this vast Grand Canyon, my jaw stayed in place wide open. My eyes began to water. And I must have been standing there like this for a while. Because Kevin asked me: “When do you gonna shoot some photos?” Let me say something to you: If you ever need a reality check and you need to come back down to the carpet, go to the Grand Canyon. This is one of the most sacred places, which will definitely put you in your place as a human being on this beautiful planet. We are literally only a speck of dust.
The following day, we did some more hiking at the canyon. Katelynn got a Junior Ranger Patch for doing some research, with the help of her parents of course. 😉 Kevin and I learned a lot of fun facts about the canyon and its surround area as well. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be explained in adult words. It is nice, when it is as simple that even a 4-year-old can understand it. And we did a little tour with a Park Ranger. We really enjoyed it. And we look at the desert at a whole new way. Before the tour, I thought the desert was a dry, dead place. But the Park Ranger advised us, that the desert is very alive.
On Monday, we had our busiest tour day. Since we planned going to Page to see the Antelope Canyon, we also planned a trip down the Colorado River as well. We organized this all in early March. And all what we had to do is show up and tell the receptionists we have arrived for the tours. Everything was paid ahead. Therefore it all went very smooth. In the morning, we had a Navaho tour guide showing us, in a small group, the Antelope Canyon. It’s one of the most photographed places on the planet. I was fascinated, what water can do to sandstone over all those years.
In the afternoon, we went with the raft from the Glen Canyon Dam to Lee’s Ferry. It was a 4½ hour tour on the Colorado River in the Glen Canyon. Chuck, our tour guide and rafter, told us interesting stories and read us poems about the canyon. At the NE corner of the Horseshoe Bend, we stopped and looked at the Ancient Anasazi Petroglyphs. Some of these petroglyphs symbolize that these native people found a herd of Pronghorns close by. A more hidden one shows, what we believe to be an Eagle. Back on the raft and further down the river, we saw some very interesting stone formations. My favorite one is the Finger Arch. The afternoon trip on the river was fun and definitely not boring. We were surprised, Katelynn lasted that long. But she crashed in my arms in the tour bus, when we were on our way back to Page. It was a looooong day for her. She was sleeping in the car all the way back to the Grand Canyon Village. And she was very happy to snuggle with her little lamb “Mimi” in her sleeping bag that night.
Tuesday morning, I brushed my hair while stepping out of our tent. A lady from the neighboring camping lot approached me slowly and said: “Look to your left and move slowly away.” First I thought, she is talking about a venomous snake or a bobcat or something really frightening. It was White-tailed Deer. But that young buck was so close, if I had stretched my arm out, I could have touched its nose. Not a good idea! The annual reports show, that accidents happen more with “cute little bambies & bunnies” than with any other “dangerous” wildlife. Because some stupid tourists think, oh look at that sweet little deer, do photos while hugging them and wonder why they get kicked in the groin. On the other hand, there have been “only” three bobcat attacks in the last Century. And usually the cats only attacked, because they were cornered … by tourists. Do you get the point? (I could tell some interesting stories, I’ve witnessed on my two-day trip in Yellowstone N.P. in 2010. But that’s material worth to write in another blog.) Back to the white-tailed deer buck: Kevin and Katelynn came back to our campground from getting cleaned up. I told them to be very quiet. Kevin picked up the camera and filmed the now three deer on our lot. One thought it owns the place, while the other two were licking stones to get minerals. Katelynn and I sat on a boulder and watched them from a safer place. We also invited more camp neighbors to capture photos of the deer. Sharing is caring! 😉
After the deer adventure, we packed up and drove to the Tusayan Ruins & Museum. It was very interesting to see, how ancient people lived at the edge of the Grand Canyon. The rest of Tuesday, we traveled east on I-40 to get to a motel close by the Petrified Forest National Park. We wanted to be well rested, before we visited the park and travel back home to Texas.
The following day, we looked at some interesting stone formations and petrified tree stomps. The Blue Maze and the Painted Desert just look stunning. After we purchased a couple more souvenirs, we were on our way back home.
It was a fun trip I always wanted to blog about since the last several months. This blog might be long and boring for some of you. But I really enjoyed revisiting my memories and writing about our adventures to the Grand Canyon. We had a very young child with us. So we had to plan age appropriate tours for her. Katelynn didn’t get bored. And Kevin and I still could see, what we wanted to see on this trip. When the girls are both in their teens, we still can consider, if we want to plan a bigger trip to the Grand Canyon to do a hike into the canyon or do a wild water raft on the Colorado. Meanwhile they both look at photos and chat about that huge gap in the Earth divided by a “tiny” river. “It’s biiiig!” Sara said to her Dad, when she was sitting on a bench near the Desert View Tower in December.