Day 2 (Sunday, May 02, 2021)
It was a long drive yesterday, but the excitement of being inside the National Park already finally gets us up and going, and we are heading out to see the Grand Canyon. Walk & Bike paths lead from the campground directly to the Visitor Center and the Rim, from where we’ll be able to walk along the Rim all the way to the Village – with J.T.! While dogs are not allowed on trails, the path is paved all the way,
thus J.T. is welcome and happy to stroll along and collect the compliments of tourists around us. She’s the cutest dog at the Canyon, hands (paws) down!
While the high elevation is not helping (as is our lack of being in shape), the weather is perfect for our hike today. The sun is out, temps in the 70s and off we go. Masks are mandatory, since this is a federal park and COVID is, well, still here. But the crowds are much lighter than likely any other (normal, not 2020) year would be. The Visitor Center is open with limited services and capacities, as are all the other buildings, so we just walk right past and towards Mather Point. One of the main viewing points along the South Rim, the sight does not disappoint. While I’m happily snapping away pictures, Kirk is taking more sophisticated photos as well as video.
We make our way along the Rim towards the Yavapai Point and Geology Museum, but don’t look in, staying away from the crowds instead. Following our picnic lunch with a view we see fewer people pass us on the Trail of Time, a 1.4-mile stretch outlining the 2+ billion years’ worth of rock formations in the Canyon.
After about 5 miles total, we make it to the Village, the historical part of the South Rim development, although much has changed here, too, since I was last here almost 33 years ago! We check out the Verkamp’s Visitor Center and head towards the Bright Angel Trailhead, not missing out on the spot where in the summer of 1988 my brother Phillip had his memorable meltdown about wanting ice cream.
The weather has turned chilly on us and a few rain drops hit us as we were approaching the Village, so it’s a no for us and ice cream, but I can’t help snapping the photos of the wall he was standing in front of and the ice cream shop he so much wanted to be in! Oh, the memories! It’s a couple miles back to our campsite, as we follow along yet another (paved) trail past the Grand Canyon Train Station to the Market Plaza, past the Mather Campground (where we had stayed in ’88) and into the Trailer Village Campground for our (full hook-up) site where our Bambi (the Airstream)
Day 3 (Monday, May 03, 2021)
Since no sites have popped up available for another night, it is time for us to pack up and get on with our trip today. Funny side note – our site neighbors are in a Fun Finder! Not quite as small as our trailer had been but brings up great memories from our 10 seasons in that camper regardless.
Heading out towards the East Entrance of Grand Canyon NP, we find available spots in a couple of viewpoint pullouts along the Desert View Drive. The last one being at Navajo Point, with great views of the Colorado River down below and the Desert View Watchtower a little further east along the Rim. Too soon it is time to say goodbye to the park, but not before another sight not to be missed: 2 older women stuck (stalled out) in their kids’ sports car in the middle of the road – right by the Grand Canyon NP sign! With others already (trying to be) helpful, we skirt around the onlookers, take our park picture and drive on!
All view points along Hwy 64 remain closed at this time, as serious COVID restrictions remain in place on Navajo Lands, but the gas station and the trading post restaurant (for takeout) are open in Cameron, AZ, where we stop to refuel. Then we drive on north/east, crossing into Utah just before Monument Valley (also still closed) and to Mexican Hat, UT. After a last stop for gas, we turn off onto the unpaved road into Valley of the Gods (BLM land), our home for the next few days.
With sunset approaching soon, Kirk is a little nervous – he was hoping to have ample time to check out the various camping spots along the road. Most of the ones along the first couple of miles are taken, but once we get to a turn-off, he recalls from his Google Earth map search, he sends out the drone to inspect the trail. Sure enough – it’s one of his prime spots, and it’s open! Turning from the hard gravel onto the soft red dirt/sand road makes me feel a little queasy (taking the trailer seriously off-roading!), but the site is worth the detour. Welcome to being alone!