The Enormously Gigantic Hole in the Ground

 

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Also known as the Grand Canyon, and affectionately known to my aunt as the Grand-Fucking-Canyon…

It took some convincing, but I was finally able to sucker Mama Rubes into flying out to Las Vegas with Miller and I.  In January… during the winter.  We did not stay in Vegas, but simply used the city for it’s cheaper airline tickets and rental cars.  After gathering my newly broken suitcase (thanks Spirit Airlines), our trio departed for Enterprise Rental Car. We got a nifty little upgrade to a full-size 4×4 SUV free of charge.  The red Jeep Patriot would take us over 900 miles over the next 7 days.

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Over Lake Meade

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My favorite dispatcher, Leah, told me we should make a pit stop at Hoover Dam on the way back east. Taking her advice, we did just that.

 

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Hoover Dam is a great mix of natural and the industrial.  And you can straddle two states and two time zones at once – Nevada and Arizona / Pacific and Mountain time.  This incredible dam spans the river, allowing you to walk from one side to the other… completely worth it.  None of us could quite fathom how the dam was built in the 1930s without some of the modern day equipment. After completing the stroll, we drove up to the bridge (aka. State route 93).  This bridge allows you to walk the length of the dam, while seeing it from a higher elevation.  Too bad the damned railing got in the way of my handstand’s splendor.

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Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

The next several hours were spent in the car enroute to Grand Hotel at Grand Canyon. Cheering on the 4 cylinder Jeep as it tried to climb the steepening roads provided us with cheap thrills.

Other cheap thrills were provided via a conversational manner. Mama Rubes is still becoming acclimated to our bantering. One such instance came during the ride, as I smacked Miller for saying something stupid…

Miller: “No hitting the driver!”

Me: “You don’t make the rules… you should know this by now.”

Me: *Pushes Miller*

Miller: “No hitting the driver!”

Me: “That was a push.”

Miller: “Same thing.”

Me: “Pushing and hitting are not the same thing.”

Miller: “Yes, they are!”

Me: “ No, they aren’t. I will demonstrate later.”

Miller: “I don’t need a demonstration, I know what they are.”

Me: “Clearly not, since you just said they’re the same thing.”

Mama Rubes sat in the back seat shaking her head. Next, we stopped at a sketchy gas station along a barren road in Arizona…

Gas Station Clerk to Mama Rubes:“The card machine is bossy and tells you what to do.”

Miller: “Just like a woman.”

***I hugged Miller and laughed***

Gas Station Clerk: “ ‘Just like a woman’ says the man… you guys have a ‘special’ relationship’.”…. If only he knew the half of it!

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Alas, we arrived at our lodge in Kaibab National Forest, just shy of Grand Canyon National Park.  The lodge, Grand Hotel in Tusayan, was located within a few miles of the actual park. If anyone ever makes a trip to the eastern-most part of the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s a great place to stay – accommodating staff, awesome rooms, a gym and indoor pool, good atmosphere, and great shop inside the lodge.  Don’t forget the great price during the off-season.  Granted, there was an odd aspect to the hotel, namely the bathroom.

I stupidly didn’t take any photos of the hotel except a single one of the lobby, but I highly recommend it.  At least during the off season (WAY cheaper!)…. http://www.grandcanyongrandhotel.com/

First off, I never intended to touch/drink/bathe in toilet water anyway, but second, can anyone please explain how foul this water is in comparison that a written warning is required to notify people additional care is required to avoid contact with this particular tank of toilet water?

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Our first day at the Grand Canyon proved to be foggy and cloudy.  Standing on the rim of the canyon was surreal.  You could not tell what you were actually looking out upon.  My height-fearful counterparts were less scared standing at the edge, as they could not tell exactly what they were peering out at.  Periodically, the clouds would part for a partial view of the canyon.  Since it was the off season, we were able to drive from the village to Hermits Rest – we made that full drive and perused the historical building (containing a gift shop) at the end.  Hermit’s Rest was built in 1914, and sits on the edge of the canyon at the western end where the road concludes.  The drive out was extremely cloudy a majority of the time, but still proved beautiful.  We stopped multiple times along the route, which typically during peak season one can only travel by shuttle.

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Bright Angel Trail… suggested crampons due to the snow and ice, so since I don’t own any, we couldn’t do the hike into the depths of the canyon… BOO.

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HERMIT’S REST……..

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AND BEYOND…..

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That night we researched the local restaurants, all three of us craving steak.  The reviews led us to Big E’s Steakhouse.  While the interior design and suffocating temperature left much to be desired, the exceptionally friendly staff not only turned the heat down a bit, but provided us with some delectable steaks and phenomenal service!  We were exceptionally pleased with our meal that night.  Thank you, Savanna, for entertaining us and putting up with our ridiculous antics.

Plus, there was a deer head with sunglasses, two American flags flying outside, along with a couple iron cowboy statues out front.  Yet again I watched my mom shake her head as I climbed up with the statues.

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With day two, came the sun.  We drove to Hermits Rest yet again, parked, and then hiked back 3.5 miles before Miller retrieved the Jeep to ferry Mama Rubes and I back to the Village.  Mama Rubes and Miller scarfed down dinner earlier than I due to Miller’s incoherence/sugar low.  Meanwhile, I took a moonlit stroll from the Village to the Geology Museum – approximate distance was 2 miles in the dust/dark.  Even at night, the canyon is breathtaking and immense.

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Our final day at the Grand Canyon began with a cold and windy morning.  As Mama Rubes would say, it was as cold as a witches tit in a cast iron bra.  Anyway, one final trip to the Village to visit the Hopi House, an adobe pueblo house built in 1904, which features original Navajo and American Indian arts, crafts, jewelry, rugs and pottery.  Including describing the insane amount of time it takes to weave a Navajo rug.  Plus the historic landmark still has the thatched ceilings.  After departing the Hopi House, we finally headed east, bound for our second stop… Zion National Park.

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The trek to Zion took us along the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon.  During the trip, we saw multiple different animal crossing signs, to include cow, deer, elk, turtle, and even mountain lion.  Unfortunately, we did not spot any mountain lions, but we damned sure scanned that entire area during the drive.  We did, however, see mule deer, elk, ravens, and wild boar.  This drive also included a multitude of “points” to pull off on, each providing us with gorgeous views of the canyon.

As I was somewhat unsatisfied with my handstands thus far, I decided one of the points could easily prove to change that.  While stopped on one occasion, we began chatting with a chick.  She was intently, and worriedly, watching a guy climbing about a rock outcrop that looked less than safe, at least in Mama Rubes’ opinion. The girl, later becoming known to me as Ashley, informed us that she wished she had the car keys ‘just in case’.  As it turned out, the gentleman she was cursing happened to be her brother.  She hoped he would not provide her with an overly awkward chat with mom back home if he wasn’t careful… “So Mom, I should probably tell you…he fell in.”  Our conversation later turned to my handstanding nuttiness.  With that said, I began descending to the rocks where her brother was exploring. Thank you, Ashley, for sending me this awesome photo!  Definitely the winner from the Grand Canyon.  Hope you guys enjoyed the rest of your trip!

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Some more from the drive….

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Upon exiting Kaibab National Forest, everything became flat, depressing and not particularly appealing.  Unless you like shed living, tumble weeds and an abundance of power lines.  To each their own…

However, after a strenuous (on the Jeep’s part) climb to 6000 feet of elevation we evaded the storm and came upon better views.  And some balance beam practice for me…

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My Aunt, Charlotte, said we should make sure to drive through Lake Powell enroute to Zion.  Can’t say we were disappointed.  The contrast of the blue waters and the red rock was great.

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The drive after that looked like we were driving straight into Hell.  The storm we had managed to avoid thus far had caught up to us and was looming ahead.  Somehow we missed the worst of it, and saw a miraculous sunset.  Thanks, pollution, for giving us colors like that!

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Next stop… Zion National Park.


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