Back from the Grand Canyon, but not because we want to be! It was so wonderful, we even stole and extra day and headed to the South Rim. I can't explain it, but I love that place more than anywhere I've ever been. And as always, photos abound! This was exactly how I wanted to spend my 50th birthday. And as my friend so sweetly reminded me - I'm only half-way to 100... still lots to do!
The first long, hot day of driving took us through Farmington, NM and Shiprock. That afternoon we found ourselves in Marble Canyon, on Navajo Bridge, looking out over the Colorado River. It was over 100 degrees down there, so we went down to dip our toes, and to see the famous Lees Ferry, where the river rafts launch and land.
We spent that night at the Marble Canyon Lodge, which I don't recommend.... it's worn out to a point long past quaint... gone 'round the bend to shabby. I'd say stay at either the Lees Ferry Lodge for it's cuteness, or Cliff Dweller's Lodge, where we had a terrific dinner, with a great view of Vermillion Cliffs, and a cooling mist spray keeping the outdoor deck tolerable.
Next morning we were heading into the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. But we like to stop at interesting things along the way, so we pulled in at this old stone house that was built by a woman who was stranded with car trouble, and just decided to stay. It's falling down now, but her family now owns Cliff Dwellers, and local Navajos sell jewelry in front of the old stone house. Yes, of course I bought something! A silver and inlaid turquoise bead!
The North Rim Lodge is a beautiful old stone cliff-hugger, with great big views of Bright Angel Canyon and beyond. The North Rim is a smaller, less built-up area than the South Rim. It's quieter, less crowded, and has fewer options for lodging and dining. But it's nice for a relaxing stay in the trees. We got used to it pretty easily! There are no actual hotel rooms inside the lodge. It's all little cabins. We were lucky to get one very near the rim, with a porch and rocking chairs. Ahhhh...
The first thing to do was go for a little nature walk and check out the surroundings...
After that, pizza and beer on the stone porch of the lodge, and a really red sunset, caused by a fire about 30 miles away... and pollution from California. Fires happen in the forest... It makes for hazy air, but is really an important part of a forest's overall health. Locals don't seem to get to freaked out about them. It's just nature!
And then... there it was... my birthday. My 50th Birthday. Holy Cow - I'm 50! I can't explain how weird that is to me. But I was the kid who cried and cried the day I turned ten, because Mom told me I was a decade old. I'm not particularly graceful about these numbered landmarks in life. And I'll admit to feeling a little edgy about it all day. We hiked the Uncle Jim Trail, chatting with the animals and flowers and even super-ancient sea-life fossils. I was quiet... not sure how to "be" my new number. OK - I didn't like it a bit. But I knew the queasiness would pass, so I tried to be brave, and hiked on, camera and notebook in hand... Rick was a big help. He always is.
Tired and hot, we got back to the cabin to find a mysterious delivery... a huge, beautiful gift basket. After a little bit of sleuthing, we found out my baby, Lauren had sent it. Perfect timing! We were in serious need of refreshment!
Rested and feeling better, we shined ourselves up for a nice dinner at the lodge. We had frou-frou drinks and a wonderful meal. And I actually insisted that the staff sing to me at dessert time. Maybe the pink drink helped... I was beginning to feel better about the whole birthday deal...
That night I had a little clip of a dream... I was sliding down a steep hillside, digging my heels in, trying to stop before going off the cliff... but as I went over the edge, I found I was able to fly...
I guess I'm processing the age thing better than I thought.
I went to the gift shop, looking for a bracelet - something regional. Something to remind me of the trip and the Canyon. Something to remind me to be Fearless... This is what I found - it's perfect! It's Navajo "pawn", sterling and coral, in a style I've never seen in the southwest. Sort of medieval... like the architecture of the castle-like lodge. It's as close as I'm going to get to carrying a sword!
We spent the rest of the day "car hiking" to far off view points. The air was smoky from the fire, and it was really hot and sticky that day. We just took it easy, and spent time meeting the locals... like Brighty, the donkey. Cute little guy. And I met Shirley, a Beadist who spends part of the year in Washington, and the other part at the Canyon. I was wishing I could spend more time there, and she suggested I apply for the Artist In Residence Program. A.I.R..... yes! I'll give it a try!
We just weren't ready to head for home, so Rick did his magic, and got us a reservation the next day at the South Rim. Oh happy day! It was stormy and dramatic when we arrived after a 250 mile drive around from the North to the South Rim. That didn't bother us though. We know how fast the monsoon rains can drift through. So we watched the show for a while, and then went for a little hike down the Bright Angel Trail. I learned that every step you take down into the Canyon is a 20,000 year trip back in geological time. I couldn't go too far in flip-flops, but we did go past the tunnel, and then down to the sharp point in the trail on the right.
We had plenty of time to watch the condors, which can only be seen at the South Rim, have beers on the deck of El Tovar, and just gaze off into the big side of the Canyon.
Too soon it was time to get some sleep. We had to go home the next day, but our stolen day was well worth the effort. As we said good-bye to the Canyon in the morning, two condors flew right over our heads, circling twice, as if to say good-bye. I cried and laughed and thanked them, and can't wait to go back again... and again...
Happy Birthday to me! We celebrate BirthMonth in my family, so tonight... we're going to the Santa Fe Opera! I'll tell you all about it later!