Monday, November 9, 2015

Grand Canyon NP, South Rim

At last! The Grand Canyon South Rim NP!
Grand Canyon NP, South Rim

Next morning we had our coffee as usual. It was very cold out all night and we had to use BOTH the furnace and the radiant heater to keep things above 60 in the camper.  Unusual, but I have noticed that if there is an icy wind, it stays much colder. Makes sense.  We got ourselves all ready and chose our route to the Grand Canyon.  There were patches of snow on the ground but the sky is brilliant blue and it should be a great day.  We were undecided about whether we would hike much or not.  Grand Canyon hiking is always very strenuous (for obvious reasons) but very rewarding.  Still, we have been going at it pretty hard every day and we were a little tired.

We arrived at the NP gate and showed them our ID and Annual Pass.  Best $80 you can spend if you are going to be visiting several National Parks in the year.  Just the entrance here at the Grand Canyon is $30.  We have been to 6 parks on this trip. Clearly a good investment! Plus, it's just good citizenship to support the National Parks.  They are worth supporting, and the Parks Service is doing a wonderful job keeping them amazing for us all to enjoy for our entire lives.  These passes will allow you free entrance to much more than just National Parks too, they are a bargain.

It was sunny and clear and beautiful, could not
have been more ideal to see one of the worlds wonders!
Long hikes were not on the agenda today.  Really the only hikes in park are grueling, into-the-canyon hikes or the 13 mile long rim trail.  We opted to start at one end and drive to the several viewing points and visit the exhibits there, taking time to enjoy the well-done displays the park offers, including the excellent movie shown in the beautiful theater at the Visitor's Center.

Before we began our tour, we paused in the parking lot for our brunch, and took our time as we always do. It's a great benefit to us not to have to try and find something healthful to eat at the expensive snack bars.  We are into day 11 of our trip and only one time have we purchased prepared food, and that was at a casino buffet.  (Exempt from the healthful eating rule!)  The upside to this (besides saving a ton of dough) is that we feel great during our travel.  Many people comment on a long trip that they have digestive upset or just don't feel their best, and they blame the trip, but I think it's more about the DIET. Works for us anyway.
it's the diet.  Never underestimate the impact of strange, low-quality food and drink on your body.

Inside the watchtower, built of rock from the canyon in
meticulous detail by a WOMAN no less!
As everyone always says about the Grand Canyon, it's impossible to describe, and I will have to agree.  It's just the most amazing, awe-inspiring sight, and every American should see it.  I would add that our choice to visit in the early winter was a great idea.  There were plenty of people there, but we had no problem with crowds or parking or annoying throngs of people in super-hot summer heat.  YUCK!  It was breezy and cool, requiring a coat and hat, but beautiful blue sky and blazing sun. The air was crystal clear and we could see for many miles. Ideal conditions for viewing the Grand Canyon!  Highly recommended. (This is early November).  We commented often on how miserable it would be with shoulder-to-shoulder crowds and 100 degree temps.  NO WAY!!

Boondocking, our favorite, only 4 miles outside the park gate.
Forest Road #688

We use the "Allstays" app to help us (among other tools) navigate to various things.  Places to sleep is the main reason we use it. We like it because it gives you the option to filter in or out whatever categories suit you.  We always monitor the Forestry Departments campgrounds because they are always located in National Forests (which are almost always vast stretches of wilderness in our western travels).  Luckily, only a couple of miles outside of the Southrim Grand Canyon you are back into the Kaibab National Forest, and that means Forest Service roads and campgrounds!  Most are very cheap or free and almost never full.  They often don't have entrance signs, only a small "FR" (Forest Road) marker with a number on it. We have enjoyed some of our most memorable, scenic and FREE stays on these forest roads.  Often, it isn't even a "campground" but just a long, dirt road and you can boondock on these for no cost, nation wide.  PERFECT for us truck campers!

Butterscotch trees, I love them. Their bark smells of butterscotch.
The downside? Well, there isn't one really.  Sometimes we come across a mess left by some LOSER people who leave their garbage, but that's not the norm.  Last night we were awakened by a sizeable pack of coyotes literally right outside our camper yipping and carrying on and playing and arguing.  Not such a bad thing, right?  They were probably searching for where the BBQ chicken smell was coming from, but we know to pack everything up and put it away inside when we stay in these remote areas, the wildlife is no joke there and you don't want to encourage them, also it's illegal and causes them to form bad habits around people that end up getting them shot.  Always put away your food and cooking items at night!

It was more brilliant sun the next morning as we headed south toward Williams, and then to an as-yet-undecided stopping point.  We are leaning toward Lake Mead and Hoover Dam and Vegas.  Sounds good to me!  I am really interested in seeing the devastatingly low level of Lake Mead. I have seen pictures, but I want to see it in person.  Even though we have been all over this area before, I have never seen Hoover Dam.  Must rectify that! And Vegas? Vegas is always on the agenda!

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