Friday, May 31, 2013

Our Grand Canyon Adventures

"It seems a gigantic statement for even Nature to make~"
John Muir

We began our trip in Las Vegas -- 3 days of rest and relaxation, catching up on sleep, catching rays by the pool, and of course, catching glimpses of the neon lights in the city that never sleeps.  Our plan was to leave Vegas and drive directly to our hotel in Flagstaff- from there we would visit the South rim of the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and hike around the Flagstaff area as well. We left Vegas around 10 am and planned to arrive in Flagstaff about 3 hours later~~~ until we got sidetracked!

  On our way to Flagstaff, the Gardener saw a sign for the "Grand Canyon Skywalk".  Hmmmm -- discussion time.  "Yes or no -- its says it's 50 miles." (in the OTHER direction). Well, lets just say that we are always up for an adventure AND we weren't on any set schedule, SO --

The drive towards the Skywalk was scenic and the desert flowers were beautiful.  Meanwhile, I'm checking Google (on my phone) so that I could read about the Skywalk to see just exactly what we had signed up for.  All was going well -- until we took that left hand turn as directed~

From my journal~
"we have been driving now for what seems like almost 40 miles on an unpaved road-- all I can see is dust.  Lots of dust.  I can't even see the oncoming cars for the dust all around us. We have surely done something wrong! We are in a rental car bouncing along this humpity bumpity road -- I'm thinking-- what do we have here for survival gear? All I can find is a half eaten candy bar in my purse and a can of pomegranate Red Bull that someone gave us as a free sample back at the Hoover Dam a few hours ago.  I think we are surely screwed ~" 

 The Grand Canyon Skywalk (also know as Grand Canyon West) is privately owned by the Hualapai Indian nation.  The only way into the West entrance is along the unpaved road(!!)  When we finally arrived -- the dust cleared and the amazing canyon was directly before us. Gasp --- it was gorgeous!!  To be totally honest -- there was NO way I was going to walk out on that Skywalk.  NONE!! I'm happy to hold your purse, your bag, take your picture -- wave at you across the way -- but I AM NOT walking out on that clear piece of plexiglas that is precariously hanging over top of the canyon!!!  That would be the Gardener in this photo above waving his hands -- and I would be the one taking his picture from THIS side of the canyon! 

Honestly-- I thought this Skywalk thing was kind of hokey.  And I thought that maybe I should have said NO when we had our little "on the road" discussion about fifty miles ago -- and way before we turned our rental car into a dust bomb.  As we were entering the shop area to pay our admission fee -- I asked several people who were just leaving -- "was it worth the money? Should we take the whole bus tour?" Every single one of them said YES -- absolutely, it was wonderful. So~~ we bought the tour and boarded the bus--   

 Our first stop was Eagle Point where there were more breathtaking views of the canyon. 
(there were hiking trails available but we did not have time to do those)

a short trail meandered through a reconstructed 
Native American village~
(we found this to be very interesting and loved the opportunities for photos)
there was also a lovely gift shop and cafe where we had our lunch

This part of the tour would be fascinating for young children.
There were also Native American dancers who performed a variety of dances along with their music.
(we did not stay for any of the shows,but opted to hop on the bus for the next stop on the tour-- we still had a long drive ahead to get to Flagstaff tonight!) 

Stepping off the bus at Guano Point was like nothing I could have imagined. Our bus driver had just told us that we were about to witness one of the most beautiful places in the entire Grand Canyon --- he was right.  I could only stand and stare --- not really being able to take it all in --- this was beyond incredible~

Jutting out into the Grand Canyon, Guano point is of the most stunning viewpoints in the whole of the Grand Canyon. One can walk out to the tip of the point and experience a nearly 360 degree canyon view~
(I was dying to climb Highpoint Hill -- but not realizing the hiking opportunities that were available on this tour I did not wear my hiking boots - instead I was wearing flip flop sandals with bling!! Are you kidding me?? I am such a monkey -- and love to climb anything.  I was so disappointed that I could not make the climb :(

There is some interesting history associated with Guano Point~
 In 1958 the rights to a nearby bat cave were purchased by U.S. Guano Corp. The company constructed a $3.5 million dollar tramway system to extract the expected 100,000 tons of guano (a valuable ingredient in fertilizer) from the cave below the rim. Unfortunately the original site survey was incorrect and the last of the mere 1,000 tons of guano was extracted by the end of 1959. Shortly after the mining project was closed, a US Air Force fighter jet collided with the overhead cable system, permanently disabling it. The remaining towers were left intact as a monument to man's attempt to mine the canyon.  You can read more about the history of Guano Point here.  

We were totally mesmerized by the amazing scenery here-- the ruins of the mining operation and the canyon below. Everywhere  - every view -- every place we looked, it was beautiful. We walked around for a couple of hours taking picture after picture~

the Gardener capturing THE perfect photo~
(you can see it just below here)

the Gardener was fascinated by the vintage gears housed inside the mining ruins.
To sum up our experience at Grand Canyon West--
1.Would we drive all the way out there just to visit the skywalk?
Hmmmm - no. While my husband said that he loved the experience of walking on the skywalk -- once was enough. Been there, done that.  And of course, you KNOW I'm not going there!
2. Would we drive out there for a repeat of the bus tour?
Absolutely - 100% yes!!  We would go back to Guano Point in a heartbeat.  (And-- I would take my hiking boots so that I could climb High Point Hill!!)  There was so much to do that we did not have time for -- hiking trails into the canyon from Eagle Point, a Native American ranch and village reputed to have a wonderful restaurant, and a beautiful flea market (at Guano Point) featuring Native American handcrafts and jewelry.  We visited the flea market briefly -- but it was huge and we did not have much time to see all that was there. 

And so we traveled on to Flagstaff, (arriving late and tired -) 
but feeling like we had just experienced the most wonderful
unexpected day~~

Our next visit to the Grand Canyon was a couple of days later when we visited the South Rim of the canyon. The first thing we saw was this historic Watch Tower sitting on the edge of the canyon.  I could not get out of the car fast enough , I was SO excited to go see this incredible structure~ 

Designed at the turn of the century by a female architect,
Mary Colter-- the Desert View Watch Tower is one of the most famous historic buildings on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Mary Colter was a designer who became what might be called the official architect of the Grand Canyon.  She was a female architect at a time when women were unknown to the profession.  Using local stones, and Native American themes and builders, Colter created buildings that stand today
some of the finest examples of turn of the century Native American influenced architecture. 

She designed the Bright Angel Lodge, Hermit's Rest, Hopi House, the Lookout Studio and the Desert View Watchtower. She also designed Phantom Ranch, the guest ranch at the bottom of the canyon along the Colorado River. Many of these structures do not look like they were built by an architect; they hardly even look like modern buildings at all, but more like old Native American dwellings, even ruins. This appearance of age was entirely intentional; it was all part of Colter's art, her signature. 

The Watch Tower is located right on the edge of the Desert View section of the Grand Canyon. The views of the canyon below were breathtaking. The Colorado River -- the lifeline of this great canyon-- lies almost a vertical mile beneath the South Rim.  This is one of the few sections of the canyon where the river is clearly visible.

The distance between the North and South rims of the canyon is nearly 10 miles as the crow flies -- or a distance of more than 20 miles on foot by way of interconnected canyon trails. The South rim is more than 1000 feet lower than the North rim of the canyon. 

Gazing out on this massive canyon, it is hard to imagine that it is a true piece of geological history -- shaped by wind and water, freeze and thaw-- over 5 million years ago~

As hard as we tried to capture the true beauty of the canyon -- it simply can not be done. Between the 2 of us -- we took over 1500 photos. What you see here, is nothing compared to the awesome wonder of the canyon when you are standing on the edge looking down~

  The first time I visited the Grand Canyon (years ago), it was an astonishing experience.  This trip, my fourth visit to the canyon, is no less astonishing.  Staring into the abyss from our viewpoint on the rim -- we are both awed and speechless.

~this unending space filled with air and light 
against a stark contrast of 

At the deepest part of the gorge is a distant small ribbon of water. The Colorado river is responsible for carving out
 this monumental space. 

If you were to paint this Grand Canyon-
what colors would you use?

quietly contemplating~
all this amazing beautiful scenery 
and we have hardly stepped out of sight 
of the
Watch Tower

of course we're going in
and of course, we are climbing
to the top!

a view from one of the windows
 on the middle level 
of the tower

climbing a little higher~

Mary Colter visited Indian ruins all over the southwest to draw her inspirations in designing the Desert View Watch Tower. Native American artists were responsible for the murals and drawings inside the tower.  These are THE original murals and drawings -- I am amazed that they have withstood the test of time~

Completed in 1932-- these murals are almost 100 years old.  


~love these stairs 

walking around the tower~
I'm loving the stones here.

I have this little obsession with doors~

a few more photos from the rim next to the Watch Tower~

~also have a little obsession with trees-
old dead trees~

My new favorite thing~
Collecting stamps in my National Parks Passbook.
the first floor of the Watch Tower houses 
a beautiful gift shop.  
My first stamp for my Passbook came from the gift shop there.
By the end of our trip -- I had collected almost 
20 stamps for my book. 
 I'm on a mission now! 
(if you love visiting National Parks -- you might want to consider getting your own passport book!)
You can purchase them at any National Park Visitor Center.

We spent most of our day in the Desert View section of the Canyon, visiting the historic buildings and the numerous scenic viewpoints along Desert View Drive. We ate our dinner in the beautiful Bright Angel Lodge -- another of the buildings designed by Mary Colter. Just before sunset -- we decided to take a little hike down part of the Bright Angel Trail. 

This photo is of the famous Kolb studio precariously perched right on the edge of the canyon. The Bright Angel Trail  (which leads directly to the bottom of the canyon)originates just on the other side of this studio. 

Walking down is easy~

We walked down for about an hour--
it took us almost twice that to make the trip back up!
It's a steep climb!

the setting sun cast some beautiful glows
 on the canyon

a scenic arch near the top of the trail~
we finished the trail just before dark-
almost too tired to even talk!
What an incredible first day
at the South Rim!

In the next post I'll take you all along as we hike the South Rim trail -- one of the most scenic trails in the entire canyon.  Get your hiking boots ready --- it's just a mere 13 mile hike!
 (pack lots of chocolate!!)

ps -- I'm sorry this post was so long :) 


Carole said...

What an awesome adventure you had. Thank you for taking us along for the hike. Carole xox

Catherine said...

I've always wanted to visit there ~ thank you for sharing your beautiful photos!!

Unknown said...

That looks like a wonderful trip Vicki and thank you for the tour:) I'm just in awe of your beautiful pic's. Have a fantastic time on the remainder of your journey.
I wanted to let you know I completed my Pink Scarf for your Pink Scarf project so I stopped by to let you know and was treated to beautiful visit. Will get out in the mail in about a week. I just posted it on my blog.

Have fun, Hugs and love sent your way.
Marilou xoxo

NanaDiana said...

Amazing pictures, Vicki! It looks like you had a wonderful time and a great trip. You are just beautiful and you make a good looking couple. Blessings-xo Diana

Tammy said...

Oh wow! So beautiful! What a fabulous day. I love how y'all are always up for an adventure. And hiking! I do love to walk, hike and take in the beauty of nature. When I was growing up, our summer family vacations were two weeks long -- New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado were places we visited at least a few times -- and my mom always planned hikes. I love architecture that blends into and honors its surroundings. Mary Colter was a great designer. Thanks for sharing your travels with us. Have a fabulous day. Tammy

Betty said...

A fabulous adventure and very brave of you to drive. I wouldn't be standing around on perspex platforms/bridges either - I would be petrified! I love the desert flowers - would like to see more of them, didnt know desert had flowers like this. Happy travelling.

Mr Paul said...

Amazing post Vicki. We were frequent visitors to Las Vegas and Palm Springs and we love the back road desert driving. One particular route through the Mojave has one of the smoothest unused roads we've ever driven.....except for the hidden drop halfway down! We hit that hill and took flight like the Dukes of Hazzard, mainly to the sound of me screaming as we sailed through the air:)
I thoroughly enjoyed your trip report, we have long wanted to see the big GC, absolutely stunning.
Happy weekend.

Fat Dormouse said...

Don't apologise for the length of the post - it was a pleasure to be there with you. you have some stunning shots of an amazing place, & it was great to see them. I took my beautiful Vera bag on our latest trip - not quite as breathtaking as yours!
You can see the photos on this post:

SuZeQ said...

OMGoodness. These photographs are simply AMAZING. I'd love to see all 1500 of them - bet there's not a bad one in the bunch! Dan is incredibly handsome and photographic ... and you can tell him I said so. I'm with you; ain't goin on that jut-out and looking down. No way, Jose!

Susan Elliott said...

Awesome!!!! I've never been so thanks for sharing!

E.lizabeth said...

my favorite part of the Grand Canyon was the North Side .... peaceful, quiet & just amazing views!! the South Side had way to many folks for my liking. ( :

wow, great shots. you are super tanned ... my skin never saw the light ... always had on my protective clothing.... felt like i could still feel my skin burning. it never did but the sun out there is so different from VA sun, so i think. ha. ha!!

Shane Pollard said...

A M A Z I N G - your photos are outstanding Vicki!
I've always loved those old time Western movies and the Grand Canyon has featured in many of them!
Awe inspiring scenery you will never forget and I for one have enjoyed seeing it first hand with you and the 'gardener'!!!
Thank you - you look so relaxed, suntanned and healthy - just what you needed after your year of such hard work!

Julie Marie said...

Absolutely breathtaking photos Vicki!... I have not been to the Grand Canyon for a number of years and I miss her beauty... thank you so much for sharing... truly this is God's country, and I loved all of your prose as well... you look so pretty!... xoxo Julie Marie

Jeanne said...

Absolutely wonderful shots and you make me want to go back again to the grand canyon. My first hike ever was a trip down the bright angel trail, all the way to the bottom and back in a day. Nearly did me in, but what scenery! Glad you had such a wonderful trip! Looking forward to more of this

Retired Knitter said...

I am with you, girl! No sky walk for me either. In fact, I can hardly look at the picture, sitting safely at my kitchen table!!!!

What an amazing trip! You are so very lucky to have had this experience. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Retired Knitter said...

I am with you, girl! No sky walk for me either. In fact, I can hardly look at the picture, sitting safely at my kitchen table!!!!

What an amazing trip! You are so very lucky to have had this experience. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Tanna said...

Amazing... breathtakingly gorgeous!! I laughed til I cried over making the rental car a dust bomb! LOL! Glad it was worth it! =) Still smiling. blessings ~ tanna

Gone Country said...

Thank you for posting about your experience at the 'Grand Canyon of the West'. Hubby & I have been trying to decide if we want to check it out or not. Like you, there is NO WAY I'm going out on that skywalk but Hubby would. So with that, we didn't think there was anything else there but the bus tour sounds promising.

The desert view was my favorite part of Grand Canyon. And you're right, pictures just don't do the canyon justice but y'all captured some awesome photos that convey a bit of the wonder and beauty.

BTW, my scarves for The Pink Scarf Project are finished so I will be shipping them to you next week (after I take photos and write a post of course, lol!).

Stitchy Mc Floss said...

Wow! What a beautiful place. :)

I am looking forward to your next post.

Blessings always

Mereknits said...

I'm glad the post was long because I enjoyed every minute of it. I love when you take us along on your trips.

Tanya said...

Ohhhh, I had been waiting for this - it's been years since I've been to the canyon, and this might just be the push I needed. The photos are gorgeous (both of you have such an incredible eye!) - LOVE the Watchtower (something else I haven't seen). Afraid of heights, I think I would have to skip the Skywalk too, and go for all the rest. I want to know what KIND of hiking boots you recommend? Have a lovely Saturday - you just made mine - thank you! XOXO Tanya

Julia said...

Thanks so much for letting us tag along on this amazing adventure. It's breathtakingly beautiful.
It looks like you got your money's worth.

Have a restful weekend.


Carol said...

Amazing!!! I wasn't ready for the post to end. Such beautiful shots ♥♥♥♥♥ This is on my Grand list of places to visit SOON!!! Now more than ever :)

JShelby said...

wow what an adventure! As an anthropologist I would have loved to have visited the village. I did visit the Grand Canyon with my family when I was just a tot and sadly I don't remember much. Maybe we should dust off our passports! Love that old door you photographed and the watchtower!

Unknown said...

Oh my - words fail me. If I cuold afford to travel to the States, the Grand Canyon would be at or near the very top of my 'want to visit' list (which would be long enough to need to spend a lot of time and money and do a lot of travelling!)

They skywalk looks amazing, as does the village, and the hikes, and the scenery and....well...yes!

gigi knits said...

What an amazing trip...

gigi knits said...

What an amazing trip...

kathyinozarks said...

I enjoyed all of this sooo much Vicki, thank you so much for taking the time to write this for us Kathy

darla said...

Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to your next post.

marda said...

What a wonderful adventure.. and your pictures are amazing. I'm with you.. I would NOT have gone out on that precipice either!!!
What a treat to go to the Grand Canyon with you and the Gardener.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Vicki, the side trip looks fabulously wonderful! Dave and I went to the North Rim but missed the skywalk. I'm terrified of heights but would have walked out on that...too wonderful to pass. It was a great trip and your photos and commentary made it seem like we were there.

Shirley said...

Vicki, Your post may have been long, but I enjoyed every moment of reading it and traveling right along with you. The scenery is awesome. I will enjoy the Grand Canyon by seeing your pictures. I do not like heights. They got me to the top of Pike Peak once, but I wouldn't get close to the edge. I will be watching for your next post. I can't wait. Have a wonderful Sunday. Hugs and Prayers from Your Missouri Friend.

thewovenspoke said...

Ah, the Grand Canyon one of my favorite places I have experienced inside and out. It sounds and looks like you truly enjoyed yourselves. I was up their a couple of weeks ago.

Mosaic Magpie said...

I totally agree about now stepping out onto that plexiglass platform!!! Imagine the persons that had to build it! Nerves of steel, for sure. Thank you for sharing your photos, it is a beautifully awesome sight. One little river, creating such a change...It gives us a lesson in making a difference.

Jenny said...

Aren't ypu glad you have a camera so you can go back to revisit the beautiful places you have been? Gorgeous photos. You lost me on the hike which I'd never make. Both of you took spectacular shots of the views. xo Jenny

Fiona said...

Thanks for sharing your trip. My eldest DS spent last summer in Arizona. He hiked down the canyon, but had no camera and took no photos with his phone. Someday, maybe I will visit you certainly sparked an interest.

Marlynne said...

My you make the trip live for us too!. Your really getting tan!

lynn cockrell said...

What an awesome post! This is one of the places on my Bucket List.

yaya said...

Holy smokes! Beautiful shots and a wonderful tour! I've been to the Grand Canyon a couple of times and loved it..the last time my kids were young and drove me nuts by hanging over every scenic overlook! I hate heights and would also skip on the skyway..I couldn't do the plexi glass walkout from the Sears tower in Chicago either! Thanks for taking us on this beautiful journey..without the dust!

Hindustanka said...

Grand Canyon deserves grand posts :) Thanks so much for this lovely trip, Vicki! It was awesome! Those breathtaking views - I wish I visited there once in my life:)
Have a happy day!

Maggie said...

You brought the Grand Canyon to life before my eyes, I so enjoyed the view!


Hello Vicki, Truly beautiful photos in a very Grand Place on Earth indeed. Thanks for sharing the photos.. I rafted down the Colorado River thru the Grand Canyon Many years ago which give you a very different view. Hugs Judy

Sue said...

Breathtaking! What an amazing trip, I have always thought it looked fascinating but now it is definitely on my wish list of places to visit.

Astrids dragon said...

Wow, amazing pictures and description of your trip! I've been twice and now I want to go back and see what I missed. I'll have to take the bus tour next time but I'm not sure about the sky walk, I don't like heights! I have been to the tower and now I'm wondering where my pictures are. Thank you for such a wonderful tour!

Ewenique said...

I so enjoyed reading your post and viewing the amazing pictures of the Grand Canyon. I saw it once as a child and would love to go back again someday. I'll be sure to bring some hiking shoes!

Eugenia Maru said...

¡Qué lindas fotos! Se ve que disfrutaron del lindo lugar. Es muy bonito.
Muy bien viaje.
Nosotros nos vamos hoy a Santiago (la capital) a hacer algunos trámites de mi apartamento. Sólo estaremos 4 días. Espero traer algunas fotos, aunque sea de la ciudad.
Un beso

Quinn said...

I haven't seen the Canyon in decades, but will never forget the first time - whew! I would be out on that Skywalk in a heartbeat. I've often wondered, though...isn't the plexiglass all scuffed up from the first few thousand shoes that walked on it?

Beedeebabee said...

Hi Sweetie! The photos of your trip are just beautiful! Wow!!!...My first thought when I saw that skywalk was "NO WAY". Like you, I never would have been able to go there. Your hubby is quite brave! Thank you for sharing all of this with us. I've never been to the Grand Canyon, or anywhere out west for that matter. It's all so beautiful and I enjoyed every bit of this! xoxo

Maureen said...

Wow! Incredible tour, thank you so much! I have never been to the Grand Canyon... one day I hope!

At work, I have a wallpaper on my PC of a brilliant shot of the canyon with that watchtower on the right... it's the one with the bolt of lightning lighting up the whole area! Have you seen it? It is incredible!

What a great post Vicki!

Deb said...

Hi sweet Vicki! I'm late getting over here to read about your adventure at the Grand Canyon. I LOVED seeing the canyon--it brought back memories from our 25th anniversary trip back in 2005. I have TONS of pictures, too, and I've not scrapbooked them yet!

I would LOVED to have gone on that Skywalk. They didn't have it when we were there. Everything is just beautiful, and it makes me want to go back! Looking forward to seeing your hiking adventure, too. THAT I wouldn't be able to do!

Patty said...

Hi Vicki. I agree with the others. Thanks for taking me on the trip with you. I see you had your Vera Bradley with you - of course, right?! Hope all is well. Thank you again for having the blog builder - I have so many new friends because of you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Vicki, sorry I've been MIA lately, been busy learning to spin and all about those yummy wooly fibers our yarns come from!
Wow, thanks bunches for sharing this trip with us!!! I so am with you, no way would I have gone out on the overhang thingy... eeek! The southwest is just so amazing and photos never manage to capture the beauty I guess because it is just so vast!
Hope you are well my dear friend,
Beth P

Wildflowerhouse said...

Oh this is wonderful. Thank you for sharing all these gorgeous pictures and the history. I must read more about the architect as her work was fascinating.

Sara Kate said...

Vicki, I just wanted to let you know that I've posted a link to your Pink Scarf Project on my blog The Purple Sweater (

Thanks so much for sharing your adventures...I love the beautiful photos and reading your descriptions of them.

elsy said...

just had a very enjoyable hour with your blog.....great post

suziqu's thread works said...

Oh my goodness dear Vicki. You and the Gardener have had the most exquisite journey to the Grand Canyon.
Your fantastic photos are absolutely breathtaking and just loved the stone tower at the end and the incredible view from there. It was absolutely well worth every step.
Sending you some belated love and hugs sweet friend,

ZielonaMila said...

Beautiful places, wonderful photographic documentary:) Greetings

Jody Hammer said...

Absolutely stunning!!! Thank you for sharing your pictures and thoughts!

Kathy Avery said...

Always wanted to visit the USA and see the Grand Canyon etc. Beautiful photos and prose - make this journey a must now when we retire this year. Thank you for great tips - I will remember to take my hiking boots! Thank you for sharing such an enhjoyable read thanks x