On my way back from Vegas, I decided to take the southern route along I-40, taking me through the balmy 60 degree temperatures of Flagstaff and Albuquerque, instead of the ice-slicked roads along I-70 and I-80.
I realized that this route also lowered the number of States I Have Never Visited to four: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Oregon (the ones that were firsts this trip were Nebraska, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico). This is kind of an odd realization to make at the ripe old age of 21, but I digress.
Also, if I had taken I-70, I would have gone through Denver and Kansas City, necessitating visits to many steprelatives I have no desire to see. Especially my stepnieces. My stepsister is very nice, but her kids are total brats.
The but the main advantage of this route is that it meant I got to go see the Grand Canyon, something I had never done, but have always wanted to do. I knew the crowds would be lower because it was winter, but I also knew it might be a little cold.
I had tried to make it there in time to catch the sunset after I left Vegas, but my fiasco attempt at trying to go over the Hoover Dam to get out of Vegas on New Year’s day (wasting 40 minutes waiting and then saying fuck it and taking about a 75 mile detour) precluded that.
I stayed in Williams, Arizona, which is where you get off I-40 to go to the Grand Canyon if you’re coming from the west. I tried to get up real early so I could go see the Canyon in the first light of day, but that failed miserably and I ended up getting there around 10am.
The Grand Canyon is stunningly beautiful. I could go on and on about the millions of years it took to create this wonder blah blah blah but it all adds up to nothing until you actually see it, look down into it, and almost fall into it.
I took part in the latter recreational activity when I scrambled up around a railing onto some rocks to try and get a better picture of a really cool rock formation that I couldn’t get from the railing-enclosed Designated Tourist Area.
I HATE heights, so I had to sit down to take the picture because I was afraid I would get vertigo and/or slip and fall into the Canyon, and that would not be a fun way to die.
As much as I laugh when they show the Simpsons episode where Homer tries to jump Springfield Gorge on Bart’s skateboard and ends up tumbling down the Gorge over and over again, I didn’t think it’d be too fun to try and re-enact as a reality show…just without the cameras.
The other great thing about the Grand Canyon is you can look waaaaaaaaaaay down and see how huge the rapids are on the Colorado river. As a whitewater enthusiast, I was salivating. I know it costs upwards of 3 grand, but someday, I swear, I’m gonna raft the Canyon.
I definitely was right about the crowds being lower. I barely saw any cars when I was driving up to the Canyon, and it was a fairly light day there. It did kind of suck that because I was the only person in my car, I had to pay the whole $20/car fee, but it was worth it.
I was also right about it being a touch nippy. One thing I didn’t know about the Grand Canyon is that the elevation of the South Rim (where I was) is somewhere around 6,700 feet, and consequently, it’s really fucking cold there.
When I left Willams, it cannot possibly have been warmer than about 10 degrees, and it didn’t get much higher than 25 by the time I left at noon. This definitely helps keep the tourist hordes away, but it certainly shortened my visit a bit.
What lengthened my visit was accidentally getting lost. I turned down a road that eventually turned into a dirt road, thinking it would take me to the Canyon, when in fact it led me to Kabiab National Forest, and thus away from the Canyon.
I felt kind of bad, because some people followed me, apparently thinking I knew where I was going, which I definitely did not, and for a while, I thought they knew where they were going. I ended up apologizing to them for the wild goose chase when I ran into them at an actual overlook later.
The other funny thing was seeing about 50 Ohio State fans wandering about, since the Fiesta Bowl was in Tempe, and many of them had stopped on the drive in from Ohio. Some of them noticed my NU license plate holder and keychain and gave me a wee glare, which was amusing.
Anyway, I highly reccomend going out and seeing the Grand Canyon, although I’m sure in the summertime the heat and/or crowds can be extremely frustrating. There’s really no way to describe its breathtaking beauty in words, you’ve just gotta see it to believe it.
I’ll try and post some of my pictures once I get around to getting them developed, which at my regular rate of getting pictures developed, should be sometime in 2006.