We pulled into the Grand Canyon today. We did our best to prepare ourselves for the onslaught of tourists that was inevitable, however I don’t think any amount of prep would have been enough. Even though it is pretty much slack season, there are still hoards of tourists wandering around being tourists. I find the energy output by hoards of tourists to be exhausting. So we took in a few views and made our way to a forest service road about 10 miles away to settle in for the evening with a plan returning fresh the next morning. The forest service road was silent with the exception of the occasional coyote yip and howls. The moon was about 3/4 full and you could see reasonably without any lanterns or headlamps. We cooked a meal of ramen and added in a bunch of broccoli, onion and papers to spice it up a bit. I collected a bunch of wood yet we opted to forgo the fire and instead curl up in the tent to read and draw.
We awoke to one of the coldest mornings we had experienced yet. The entire shell of the tent was encased in a thin layer of ice. Our breath billowed like smoke from a fire. Our blood must be thickening though because we were both reasonably comfortable. We made record time of tearing down camp and headed into town for coffee and breakfast. A quick stop at the only sign in town that read espresso led to the most disappointing coffees of our trip. We continued onto the local grocery store in an attempt to assemble a simple breakfast. We had a bit of granola and a single yogurt. Our plan was to get some milk, bagels and another yogurt. Aside from being $5, the bagels in were all expired and moldy, the yogurts were all at least 3 days past expiration as well. If the milk was not ultra pasteurized and therefore good for practically a year into the future I am sure it would have died on the shelf as well. Seeing the first pint of Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream we had seen in a couple weeks we laughed at the $8 per pint price. The price and the fact that we had not entirely thawed out from our slumber, we agreed we could wait a few more weeks to indulge our Ben and Jerry’s fix. We settled on the milk for our granola which we augmented with a banana and some pomegranate and headed toward the grand canyon for a fresh start.
We read about a 16 mile bike ride that you could do to approximately 7 viewpoints along the grand canyon. We decided to give this a try and were pleasantly surprised to find that only bikes and shuttle buses were allowed on this ride. It was a rolling and scenic ride in a perfectly pleasant ~50 degree temps. We took our time and were amazed how few tourists opted for this shuttle route. We were reminded of a quote about the national parks in the lonely plant book we read while prepping for this trip. Lose an amazing 90% of tourists by getting off the main drag. Lose 99% of people by taking an actual hike. This proved brilliantly true at the grand canyon. We returned to the car in the mid afternoon. Feeling refreshed from a bit of exercise and dodging most of the traps laid out for the tourists we decided to get out of town before our luck ran out.
The national parks are great though Deja and I are both done with them for a while. If I were to do it over I would probably target one national park per trip, do it in the beginning and then move onto some of the local scenery and culture. I am glad that we have the national parks and all of them have been worth seeing. Though my favorite moments from the trip continue to be the ones along the journey rather than these destination locations.
Good to have those bikes…