Lori wanted to hit the road to the Grand Canyon by 8 a.m. The goal seemed optimistic, because I knew the boys and I would be tired from the day before. Still, we were up early, had a big breakfast at the hotel (this Hampton now offers whipped cream and chocolate chips to sprinkle on your waffles!), packed, gassed up the RAV4, made a quick trip to Walmart to get some provisions, and were on our way at 9. That turned out to be fortuitous, because we forgot about the time change – when we got to the North Rim, it was only 10:30 a.m. The drive was nice. Going through the polygamous communities on the Utah/Arizona border always offers a degree of let’s-not-get-pulled-over-here adventure, and we made one stop at a gas station in Fredonia that had a mock Western town in back that Lori snapped some pictures of the boys near.
The North Rim, at first, was shrouded in fog – thick fog that prevented you from seeing the canyon walls below. I wasn’t complaining: The scene was so surreal, and I had high hopes it would burn off. It did after we left the lodge and drove to Angel’s Window and Cape Royal, somewhat east of the main North Rim visitor’s center. The views were great, as incredible as they were 13 years earlier when Lori and I came here for an afternoon. Ben made me a little nervous, not because he was reckless, but because he is so bouncy – I kept picturing bouncing off the edge. But he did great. Michael was a little leery of the heights, but he appreciated all the views we saw as well.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with little hikes and gawkable views. We did a ranger program on the archeology of the peoples that lived here a thousand years ago. It was informative, though the ranger, Jeremy, seemed a little annoyed he had to give a ranger program. Ben slammed through the Junior Ranger program and got his badge when we got back to the visitor’s center. We took more pictures and admired views from other locations, including Point Imperial (highest vista in the entire park) and Roosevelt Point.
We checked into our cabin, and I found some beer for the grownups. For dinner, we went to a Grand Canyon cookout, which involved taking a “train” (really, just a tram disguised as one) a mile to the tent. It was all-you-can-eat, but supposedly only one trip through the line, so we loaded up on food (important later). However, when the entertainment (a country/cowboy husband-and-wife singing team) began, we were told we could get seconds, so needless to say, we were quite full. The musicians were fun, and the dinner didn’t last that long, so we took the train back to the lodge.
I had this grand image of sitting on the porch of our cabin, or even coming to the veranda by the lodge, and writing all night with the view of the canyon above the screen of my Mac. However, I got into the room and was exhausted. The thought of drinking a beer during this wasn’t appealing because I was so full from the 3,000-calorie dinner. So, I went to bed with everyone else at 8:30 MST. I figured I would write in the morning.
And that’s what I’m doing – writing this with a sunny view of the canyon before 7 a.m. (I was actually up earlier – we all watched the sunset, and I didn’t exactly sleep well after a raging, but not unsurprising, case of heartburn). There are several people out here – everyone is on another time zone that waking up this early to see this spectacular vista is no big deal. Lori and the boys have arrived, and we are about to go to breakfast after I finish this. I’m wishing we could spend more time here, but we need to get to Vegas. But this day of vacation is definitely why we wanted a trip on our own. We love our extended families and visiting them, but the window on trips with just the four of us while the boys are still young is limited. This was a great example of what we can look forward to over the next few years.
In short, this day was grand.