“Get up! Gary, get up! You have to see this!” I was yelling over my shoulder not wanting to take my eyes away from the view outside our window. I jumped into my jeans and boots, threw on my parka and stepped out onto our snow- covered balcony. Below me, the Grand Canyon, stretching out in all directions, crowned by clouds and light. Nothing like I could have ever imagined.
“Put on your clothes and come out here!” We were on the third floor of the El Tovar. Think old Swiss chalet crossed with an older Norwegian Villa. No elevator.
“Gary, don’t miss the sunrise!”
We had arrived after dark the night before and had no idea what was outside our door.
It had snowed during the night. More snow off and on throughout the day. We didn’t care. Exhilaration and awe kept us going. We hiked through flurries about two miles on Bright Angel (easy, but slippery with icy patches) and another two miles or so on South Kaibab (steeper, narrower, muddier). Then more hiking around the rim (mostly flat and paved).
We had wanted to take Ariela to the Grand Canyon, but she nixed it. Maybe she knew that she would only be able to roll around the rim, or that it would be hard to see with her limited vision. This is what we talk about.
A cold wind hit our faces. It was late afternoon. We hiked to our rental car and drove to a popular point to view the sunset. Other people were already there, taking all of the marked parking spaces. Gary spotted a place in a turnout. Then, as he backed in, BAM! A tree branch jumped out of nowhere and collided with the rear window. Shattered glass was everywhere –on the road, in the car, on the tree. Damn tree. Poor tree. Poor Gary. He has spent days planning this road trip, our first in almost forty years of marriage. I’m glad I wasn’t driving. Of course, this was just the first day. I’ll get my turn.
Don’t make the Grand Canyon an if. Make it a must. Because the Grand Canyon is nothing like the pictures, and nothing I say about it will describe it. You have to see it. If you are able, get in it a ways down. And, don’t worry about parking. Free shuttle buses take you everywhere.