Saturday, 5/15/21: The North Rim

We made it - the Grand Canyon!

Again, with this crack of dawn bit. I checked the website, the Grand Canyon North Rim is open. However, as we drive through Freedonia, a small Arizona town a third of the way to the Park, we see a sign that proclaims Highway 67 to the Grand Canyon is closed. It must be an oversight - the Park Service just forgot about that sign since it was so far away from the Park. That’s the theory. We hope. We press on.

When we reached Highway 67, we see a zillion big yellow signs, just like yesterday. My heart sank for just a second. Then we saw that the big yellow “Road Closed” signs from yesterday, were replaced by big yellow signs with all sorts of cautions. I didn’t even bother reading them - they weren’t Road Closed signs so I didn’t care what horrible hazards lurked ahead.

The best word to describe the Grand Canyon is “Grand”. It is 10 miles across and I mile deep. The Colorado River did all that. Of course, it took a few million years, but that’s a lot of erosion for one river.

We were on the North Rim. I liked that. The North Rim is 1200’ higher than the South Rim. The North Rim only gets 10% of the tourists. I really like that. Being opening day and being on a weekend, there were a fair number of people at the Park, however the Park is gigantic and it easily absorbed the onslaught. Outside of the main visitor center, there really wasn’t very many people.

It was darn right cold up on the rim before the sun could do its job by 1 pm. The newly opened Highway 67 leading to the rim still had some snow in its ditches. OK, I had to begrudgingly admit that maybe waiting until May 15th to open wasn’t so crazy.

Gaia GPS tracked our hiking and pegged it at 5 1/2 miles. We took the spectacular Bright Angel Point Trail first and then a portion of the Transept Trail.

The South Rim is 10 miles across the abyss.

There is a gorgeous side road, Cape Royal Road, that follows the rim for 30 miles. Surprisingly, it was a smooth but narrow blacktop road. I was expecting gravel.

At the end of Cape Royal Road, we walked the Cliff Spring Trail and the Cape Royal Trail. Of course, we stopped at every overlook and pull-out to gawk and take photos.

I have always imagined going to the Grand Canyon and I can now check it off my bucket list. Funny, we have visited many geological places that advertised themselves as the Michigan’s Grand Canyon, or New Mexico’s Grand Canyon. I assure you, that is silly advertising. The immensity of the real Grand Canyon is nothing like these other imposters. Yet, it isn’t the grandest of all canyons.

I Googled it. It is something like number 7 in the world, depending on how you measure it. There is width, depth, and length. Some canyons might be longer but not as wide or deep. I couldn’t ascertain exactly which canyon was the biggest in all three dimensions. All I can say is, America’s Grand Canyon is awesome.

The Colorado River continuing its work on the landscape.

An example of virga, a phenomenon typical in the desert. A rain cell passed us by. The rain evaporated before hitting the ground, which is what virga is.

The Cliff Spring Tail. This trail ventured off into a side canyon that fed the Grand Canyon.

Hand prints from ancient man?

Ahhh..., probably not. This is the hand print I made with the red clay soil and the water from the spring.

MAJOR DIGRESSION: For the past week, we have been listening to a brand new recorded book from Andy Weir, the author of the terrific sci-fi book, Mars. His new book is The Hail Mary and it is wonderful.

Although I love sci-fi as a genre, I really don’t like most sci-fi books or shows. It’s the lack of psychics that bugs me. Star Trek only lands on planets with perfect earth-air and earth-gravity. Star Wars weapons make swooshing noises in the vacuum of space. The concept of speed, time, and gravity in space are just ignored. Can you imagine the Gs you’d pull jumping into so-called hyperspace speed. They’d be scraping the crew off the back walls with spatulas.

And so many aliens are clumsy lumbering monsters with claw appendages, yet they build intricate machines able to travel through space and time. How could they even put a screw into a hole with those goofy claws.

Andy Weir was a NASA engineer. His sci-fi stories thrive on physics and engineering. His heroes are McGiver-like problem solvers tackling complicated but very plausible engineering issues. His storylines depend on real physics.

Anyway, I highly recommend both Mars and Hail Mary. The movie version of Mars, staring Matt Damon was pretty good, but the book was far superior, as it usually is. The recorded versions of the books are spectacular. The reader for Hail Mary, Ray Porter, does a masterful job. He doesn’t read it, he acts it out. His voices for all the characters are spot on.

Well, we finished the recorded book.That is both sad, as we really got sucked into the characters, and happy, as we got to experience that rare treasure that a great story gives you.

Oh, and here’s another issue with stupid sci-fi. They invent these high-tech laser guns but can’t hit the broad side of a barn with them. Wouldn’t they have come up with some kind of advanced automatic targeting system to go with that advanced laser weapon?

Glossary of terms used for newcomers: 1) V-Jer. The name of our camper. 2) Saturn. The name of our Van. 3) Duende. Our mischievous gremlin that breaks things. 4) Tata. The good gremlin that helps us fix Duende’s dirty work. 5) The Black Hole. This is what we call Walmart because every time we go in for just a couple of items, we come out spending way more than we figured. 6) QT. Quaint Town.

Dave and Wanda

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